It’s kind of funny writing a children’s sermon on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. It’s as if the lectionary gave us a sandwich with nothing but the bread.
A couple weeks ago I referred to “sandwich stories” where Mark cuts one story in two and sticks another in the middle like the tuna fish between the slices of bread.
This time the lectionary gives us two slices of bread: two similar sequences of Jesus in ministry with crowds of people seeking his help.
But the tuna fish is gone: we hear not a word about Jesus feeding the 5000, going off to pray, walking on the water, or calming the winds, all of which happens in verses 35-52.
What we get is two sort of “day in the life” passages pushed together. There’s no heavy message emphasized here, as there might be in a parable or a focused miracle story.
On the other hand, this division of the text highlights one important feature of Mark’s telling of Jesus’ story: the sense that Jesus was so enormously popular that crowds hounded him everywhere.
It’s something I first noticed at a theatrical performance, where an actor had memorized the entire book and simply recited it to the audience over the course of the evening. I’d read the book many times, but had never heard it in one sitting. (Two, counting intermission.)
You don’t notice it so easily if you encounter the Gospel in tiny bits for meditation, or study, or sermons.
A children’s sermon on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 is just the time to show it to everybody. It comes in a sort of three act drama of busyness.
I admit, the bit about the mayor may be over the top.
A Children’s Sermon on Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Hello! Good morning kids! Im so glad you are here today. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
A couple weeks ago, in the story we heard from the Gospel, Jesus sent his friends out on a mission trip. Out they went, two by two, to the villages and towns all over the region. Everywhere they went they tried to do just what they’d seen Jesus do.
Well today’s story from the Gospel tells what happened the day they came back from their mission trip.
A couple weeks had passed, and Jesus was really excited to hear what had happened on their trip.
They knew just where to find Jesus, down by the lakeshore. Two by two they drifted back, and they all started swapping stories.
“Jesus, you won’t believe it!” said Peter. “This one time? In this one village? I taught about the kingdom of God like for two hours! And you know what?—“
But just then somebody tugged on Jesus’ sleeve,
“Excuse me?” she said, “But my daughter is so sick. Could you come and help her?”
So Jesus had to excuse himself for a minute.
“Hold on, Peter! I really want to hear your story, but I need to help this woman’s daughter. I’ll be right back.”
Well one thing led to another. Jesus healed the sick girl, but on his way back someone else needed help. Then someone else. And then someone else.
About an hour passed before Jesus made his way back to where his friends were waiting to tell him about their amazing mission trip. But when he got close he saw they were surrounded by a huge crowd, all wanting to be helped and healed.
“Just a minute, guys,” Jesus said. “Why don’t you get on the boat and I’ll join you in a bit.”
So the disciples got on the boat, and Jesus took care of the people.
Then all of a sudden Jesus jumped on board and said “Quick! Push off! Let’s sail to somewhere quiet where we can all get a little rest.”
Off they sailed, talking about the mission trip all the way.
But back on the shore, back where Jesus had just finished healing people, there were still people arriving.
Someone said “Hey where did Jesus go? My wife and I are both sick. We wanted him to heal us.”
“Look!” someone else said “They’re sailing over to that cove down past town. Let’s go!”
And so the whole crowd took off. The healthy ones ran. Some people walked. Some were on stretchers, so others had to carry them.
When Jesus and his friends were near land they looked up. They had a big surprise. The whole crowd was there waiting for them.
“Hi Jesus!” they shouted, waving from the shore.
“We’ve been waiting for you!” some said.
“What took you so long?” others asked.
As they were stepping off the boat, Peter was on the middle of a story. “So then we went into another village, and they had already heard about how I taught in the first village. So they said ‘could you teach us too?’”
But then a little boy tugged on Jesus’ sleeve and said to him “I have a wart on my foot, Jesus. Can you heal it?”
“Sure, bud!” Jesus said. And he did.
But by the time he was done, all the people who wanted Jesus’ to help them crowded around him. It took almost another hour before Jesus could find his friends again.
When he did, he said, “Quick! Get back on the boat! And don’t forget our dinner!”
So they all piled back on the boat. They pushed off from shore and set sail for another town a bit farther away, called Gennesaret.
But the people on the shore were still watching.
Word travels fast through small towns and villages, and long before Jesus got to Gennesaret, another huge crowd had gathered.
As Jesus stepped off the boat a man stepped up to meet him.
“Welcome Jesus!” said the man. “I am the mayor of Gennesaret. I know you are a very busy man, so I’ve organized this to make your work quick and easy.”
“Oh?” asked Jesus.
“We heard how you healed a woman merely by letting her touch the hem of your garment. So I’ve lined up all the sick people in two rows. If you could kindly walk down the line between them, I’ve instructed them to reach out and touch your clothing.”
Jesus looked at the man, wondering. “This isn’t how I normally do it,” he said. “I kind of like to talk to people. You know: get to know them. Let them know that I really care.”
“Well,” said the mayor, “no need to worry about that today. People will feel plenty cared about when they are healed. Just step this way please.”
And pretty much everywhere Jesus went, whether in towns and villages or on people’s farms, they reached out to touch him knowing that he had the power of God to make them better.
- I wonder how Jesus felt when everywhere he went people came running to ask him for help.
- I wonder how the disciples felt when they wanted to tell Jesus about their mission trip but people kept interrupting, asking Jesus for help.
- I wonder of you’ve ever had a problem and wanted to reach out to Jesus for help.
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