I find that sometimes we become so familiar with the gospels that we miss the importance of some things contained in them. It is important that as we read we also pray, asking the Spirit to allow us to see the Scripture with a fresh heart. Sometimes we become too familiar with the parables and the miracles so that they lose any significance to us. We seem to be prone to this because we do it with people in our lives as well, taking for granted those that mean the most to us. Spirit give us a fresh heart so that we will see with new eyes the nuggets of gold from your Word today.
Most of us do not give any thought to the miracles Jesus did in his three years of ministry on this earth. Plenty of us understand that the miracles of healing were in response to the suffering humanity that he faced every day, but what about the other miracles? Jesus did other miracles which had the purpose of provoking people to ask, "Who is this man?" In today's reading we are looking at the feeding of the five thousand. We see that this is a group of people who followed Jesus and for whom he had compassion:
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)
This was simply an out pouring of God's love as he reached out to this suffering crowd of people with compassion. As evening approached his disciples suggested that Jesus send the crowd away because there was no food in the vicinity. It is here that we can see that the tone is somewhat different and Jesus' response is frank:
"They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." (Matthew 14:16)
There was a lesson coming up for the disciples, big enough to cause them to wonder, question and seek a better answer for "who" was this they were following. It is similar to the response from the first miracle when Jesus was told by his mother to do something about the lack of wine at a wedding. Jesus did not do this miracle out of compassion but out of obedience to his mother. Even so, it was used to cause the disciples who were with him to realize that this was no ordinary man:
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (Matthew 2:11)
Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed him. Jesus did this many times for the benefit of his disciples and at other times for the crowds who followed. Jesus wants his glory revealed. He wants people to know that he is not some wise man, philosopher, great teacher who tried to give us words to live by. He came with power and authority, he saves with power, he transforms with power, he keeps with power, and he is revealed in power.
We have lost our belief, understanding and faith in such matters. There is a difference between healing from compassion and the signs and wonders that reveal Jesus' glory. There are times that the Spirit prompts us to reach out in compassion. There may be no other result than the fact that the person is healed. It may not result in salvation at all but is a simple work of God's grace and compassion. Then there are times when God wants to use us as he used Moses, when he tells us to stretch out our hand because he is about to reveal his glory. Our problem is that there are not many who walk this planet who still believe that God desires to reveal himself in signs and wonders. There are not many who are willing to trust their reputation to him and be willing to work in obedience. There are not many who are willing to become a target as Peter and Paul became. We read about their lives, dream about their lives, imagine we are like them, but we fall short in our willingness to allow Jesus to do what he wants to do through us.
The way the world is turning completely away from Jesus, there has been no better time for his disciples to start laying down their lives, reputations and all. There has been no better time to start understanding the purpose of the signs and wonders. There has been no better time for God's glory to be revealed to a world that has stopped believing. Jesus still heals the suffering out of compassion and he still reveals himself in signs and wonders. The only question is will you allow him to do it through you? Perhaps he will not use you to do signs and wonders but the question remains, are you willing, expecting and available? There is a world dying without Jesus Christ! What are you willing to do in obedience to Jesus? Go! Be! Do!