What is your first thought when you have a need that exceeds what you are able to provide or a problem you can’t solve?
Do you start planning and scheming, trying to figure out a way to fix things? We would all probably admit that’s our first response, as we quickly revert to our fleshly nature and confidence in human wisdom.
Mark 8 reminds me that the better response is to step back and view the problem from a spiritual perspective, with eyes that see Jesus for who He really is. When we know and understand the nature of the God we serve, we have a better foundation from which to address our issues.
In this chapter, Jesus once again performed a miracle by multiplying seven loaves and a few small fish to feed four thousand people. Jesus didn’t make just enough for everyone to have a bite or two to hold them over until they could get back to their own source of food; He fed them until they were satisfied and had seven large baskets full of leftovers.
A few days later Jesus once again is accosted by the Pharisees demanding a “sign from heaven” to test Him. Apparently raising people from the dead, giving sight to blind people, and healing the lame wasn’t enough to convince them that Jesus came from God. Jesus refuses to perform and leaves this unbelieving, arrogant group of religious people.
Within the hour, the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee with Jesus as they had often done. At that time, it would take the good part of a day to get from one side to another. Someone must have grown hungry, and they soon realized no one had taken responsibility to bring the lunch. They had one little loaf of bread on the boat.
Picture it. Twelve men thinking about their stomachs, discussing among themselves what they were going to eat for lunch, in contrast to Jesus who was trying to feed them spiritually as He made a point about the encounter they had just had with the Pharisees. Twelve men who had just seen Him feed four thousand people a few days before.
Mark 8:15-16 – And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.
Jesus was trying to focus their attention on the more important spiritual matter of the deceptive teaching that was leading people away from the truth, but the disciples were too distracted by their temporary physical needs. They were so concerned about missing lunch that they completely misinterpreted Jesus’ words and missed the opportunity for spiritual growth.
This is the hallmark of spiritual immaturity.
God does amazing things in our presence and for our benefit, but instead of growing in our trust and worship of Him, and increasing our spiritual understanding, we keep circling back to the temporary, physical issues of life. Unless we truly open our eyes, see Jesus for who He is, and start focusing on the spiritual kingdom He has called us to serve, we will never move beyond a shallow faith.
The disciples knew Jesus could provide for their physical needs. He’d proven this many times over. Not only could Jesus meet the need, but what He provided would completely satisfy them. This should not even have been a matter of discussion. Their immediate conclusion should have been, “When we need to eat, Jesus will provide what we need. In the meantime, let’s sit at His feet and take in the spiritual food He’s giving us, in this moment of opportunity.”
Don’t misunderstand me. The Bible doesn’t teach that we sit at home refusing to go to work and expecting manna to appear on our coffee table while we read our Bibles and pray. God both expects and commands us to work. He’s given us talent and knowledge and strength and jobs to serve others and provide for our basic needs, but our priorities in that work are different than the world’s priorities because we’re citizens of His kingdom.
Hearing His disciples discuss the lack of lunch, Jesus asked, “Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? And do you not remember?” Focusing more on the physical leads to immature faith.
Jesus’ very pointed questions offer three simple solutions to shallow faith:
- Open your eyes and see what God is doing. Really look, with a heart to understand.
- Stop hardening your heart with worldly concerns; be tender and attentive toward what the Holy Spirit is teaching in this moment of need.
- Remember what He’s already done and trust Him for what is to come.
Are you sitting in the boat with Jesus but too concerned about your stomach to pay attention to what He’s saying?
Stop it. God has promised to meet our physical needs in this life, and He’s proven His ability to do so many times over.
Instead, set your eyes and attention on the kingdom of God, where your citizenship as a follower of Jesus is held. Eat and drink deeply the spiritual words of life found in His Word and get to know the true nature of the God who created you. Only then will you begin to understand your physical life and work are but a temporary scaffolding for the greater spiritual work that God wants to do in you and with you.
3 thoughts on “Do You Not Yet See Or Understand?”
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Thank you for the teachings. I have been remind of my God who is concerned with our needs.. It is my prayer that God will help me always to understand that he is the one who provides for our needs. Even at this time we are experiencing drought in Kenya.
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Yes, He is always faithful. I pray that He supplies all you need from His abundant, heavenly supply!