Are you like me? Somewhere along the path of faith did you come to think of the wilderness as a place of spiritual dryness? a place to be avoided? a place of hunger and thirst? Through this morning’s service, I am coming to a new understanding of the wilderness.
The sermon this morning was from Mark 6:30-44, The Feeding of the 5000. The disciples have just returned from a time of ministry, and Jesus invites them to, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” [Mark 6:31] Jesus invites them into the wilderness to rest. Wait - the wilderness? How can the wilderness provide them with rest? But it is there in the wilderness that Jesus fills their minds and hearts with teaching for most of the day. He provides the spiritual food they need. He restores their souls.
Then Jesus provides the disciples, along with all the others who have come to hear Him, the physical food they need to sustain them. Jesus invites them to sit on the green grass and eat. He breaks bread with them and for them, a foreshadowing of a meal yet to come. The disciples and the 5000 men are fed. They eat until they are satisfied. And after they are satisfied, the baskets overflow.
So many lessons are revealed in this account. But the one that hit me so hard today is that it is Jesus Himself who calls us into the wilderness. The wilderness need not be feared but can be entered boldly because we do not go into the wilderness alone. Jesus is there with us. He invites into a place that is desolate so that we will know beyond all shadow of a doubt that it is He alone who provides for us. The wilderness cannot meet our needs. But Jesus can. In the wilderness, Jesus fills us. He fills us until we are satisfied. And He satisfies us with Himself.