You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me?
Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9
“About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again.’” – Mark 8:1 NLT
Wait a minute! Haven’t we already read this story before? Didn’t Jesus just do this? Hadn’t He fed 5,000 men, plus their wives and children with just 5 loaves and 3 fishes? And weren’t the disciples there? Yes, they were and, not only that, they were given the job of picking up all the leftovers and there were exactly 12 baskets of food remaining after everyone had stuffed themselves. So now we find the disciples and Jesus in a similar situation. You would think the disciples would have remembered what had happened before and simply turned to Jesus with whatever meager provisions they had and said, “Do that thing You do!” But no, they seem to be suffering from short-term memory loss. Jesus remarks to His disciples, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way” (Matthew 15:32 NLT). Notice that, unlike the first occasion, this time Jesus doesn’t ask the disciples to do anything. He doesn’t ask them to take care of the problem. He simply mentions His concern for the people. Again, you would think this was a perfect set-up for the disciples to turn around and say, “But Jesus, You fed the 5,000. Why not do the same for these people?” No, the disciples respond, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?” (Matthew 15:33 NLT).
They hadn’t learned a thing. They were still stuck in a temporal zone, marked by physical limitations and hampered by human reasoning. They looked at the situation in front of them and saw impossibilities. Jesus saw the crowd and their need. The disciples couldn’t see past the perceived problem. Even after all the miraculous things they had witnessed Jesus do, including feed a crowd bigger than the one that surrounded them at the moment, they still couldn’t bring themselves to think out of the box. Their human nature overpowered their faith, causing them to doubt rather than believe, to question rather than anticipate great things from a great and powerful God. But Jesus patiently led them through yet another lesson in faith. He fed the crowd yet again. And as before, there was plenty of food leftover – another reminder of God’s ability to meet needs above and beyond our wildest expectations – even when we don’t have any expectations.
When it was all said and done, Jesus sent the crowds home, fat and happy. Then He and the disciples got into a boat and sailed to their next destination. The disciples were learning, slowly but surely. All of these events were being burned in their memories and when Jesus returned to heaven after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit would help them make sense of all the seemingly nonsensical things they had seen happen over their more than three year adventure with Jesus. One day they would be able to look back and see what they hadn’t seen before. And their faith would grow stronger as a result. In the meantime, Jesus would patiently teach and instruct them, lovingly repeating some of the lessons over and over again. He knew their day would come. He was preparing them for the future, when He would be gone and the Holy Spirit would take His place. Then these stubborn, seemingly slow to learn disciples would turn the world upside down with their faith and unbridled boldness.
Jesus, You are still patient today. With us. We can be just as guilty of missing the miracles You perform in and around our lives. We can end up concentrating on our circumstances and seeing only the problem and never expecting You to provide a solution. Thank You for lovingly, patiently putting up with us. But may our faith grow with each passing day and may we begin to expect great things from You, even when everything looks impossible. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men