Editor’s note: These devotional thoughts are excerpted from the sermon series that accompanies CTA’s new theme for Easter preparation, The Shepherd, the Lamb. The sermon series includes six sermons and six sets of discussion questions based on them – all free! They are designed for use with our new product line, The Shepherd, the Lamb. We think you will find much of value here as you help members prepare to observe Good Friday and celebrate our Savior’s Resurrection!
Read Mark 6:30-44 as you begin.
In just a few short weeks, we’ll be celebrating Easter. Yes, of course, we’ll all come to church that morning, sing our songs and hymns of praise, and rejoice in the resurrection. But, in the afternoon, we’ll have a celebration of a different kind—a celebration of food.
Bring on the ham! Bring on the casseroles! Bring on the pie! . . . After we’ve filled ourselves to the brim with these Easter delicacies, the leftovers will take their place in the refrigerator.
Today’s Scripture reading includes details about good food and leftovers. As we open our Bibles to Mark 6, the first thing we see is a boldfaced title that probably reads something like this: Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand. And that is exactly what we read about in these verses. . . . But if we’re not careful, we can miss one crucial detail in this story. Listen! (Re-read Mark 6:43.)
Did you catch that? Leftovers! Not only did Jesus fill the stomachs of each and every person there, he provided extras, too. He multiplied the loaves and fishes so generously that the hungry crowd couldn’t even eat it all! . . .
Time after time during his earthly ministry, Jesus showed his power as our Sustaining Shepherd. Time after time, he turned things we consider leftovers into unbelievably wonderful blessings. And, we can look to our own lives and our own hearts to find many personal examples of how Jesus infuses life and renewed meaning into situations that look like useless scraps, lifeless leftovers.
Think of those things that lie broken in your life. Has sin wormed its way into your marriage, eating away at your love and devotion? Have you had a string of rough days or weeks or months, and now realize the extent to which anger and bitterness have taken over your heart? Have you lost hope in God’s promises and instead invested in the self-reliant ways of the world? . . .
On Good Friday, Jesus took our place. He hung on our cross, absorbing our guilt into his holy being. As Christ’s dead body hung on that cross, it must have seemed to his disciples that it was all that remained of his love, of their high hopes, of their Sustaining Shepherd’s promises.
They were wrong. God was about to transform those dead, lifeless leftovers. This was not the end. This was, in fact, the new and glorious beginning! God’s people had been waiting and searching for something that would heal their wounded souls. They had been clinging to God’s ancient promise to send a deliverer, a Good Shepherd, a Savior. This was it! Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection would overcome sin and Satan once and for all. It would restore our souls and reconnect us with our heavenly Father forever.
Oh, how wonderful it is that we have a Sustaining Shepherd! We have a Sustaining Shepherd that can take anything in our lives that is broken and make it new again. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17.) Christ has shown that he can take the chaos and confusion of a broken life – the leftovers – and transform them. He takes what is shattered and makes it whole again.
Jesus is your Good Shepherd, your Sustaining Shepherd. He knows that you are broken. He knows that you deserve a life of leftovers. But still his wondrous grace and mercy cover you. He will never abandon or reject you. His love will sustain you always!