(Today's post by Adam Cooper)
Jesus hears about John the Baptist being beheaded, Jesus feeds the 5,000, and Jesus walks on water. Wow! Could I get a better portion of Matthew to write about? Of course that question is rhetorical.
Beginning in verse 13 we read about Jesus hearing that John the Baptist has been beheaded and He “withdraws” to a secluded place by Himself. What is interesting here is that Jesus’ actions speak to His humanity; something we will hear about again in John 11:1 when Jesus deals with Lazarus’ death. Jesus takes time to address His humanity but at the same time people are still seeking Him.
What Jesus does next is go to those people that are searching for Him and heal their sick.
Then He feeds what is most likely 15,000 people (5,000 quoted but the tendency during the time this was written was to count men only when reporting numbers) with an amount of food that would be nothing more than a lunch for one person. What we are told in Matthew is that He immediately sends the disciples and the crowds away and He again goes off by Himself to pray.
Next we see Jesus walking on the water through a storm to meet His disciples in their boat and during this miracle he frightens and tests them. After calming the storm and questioning His disciples’ faith, He again is met by a large crowd and heals their sick. Some were healed by doing nothing more than touching His cloak.
We see a couple of things in this series of verses. First, as I stated earlier, we see Jesus’ humanity. Second, we see a tremendous and visual explanation of faith. Twice Jesus’ followers displayed a lack of faith in Jesus: first when He tells them to feed the multitude and they question Him; and, second when they are frightened on the water and Peter almost drowns. We also see the multitudes and the tremendous faith they seem to have in Jesus’ powers in the way they bring their sick to him to be healed and the way they believe that a touch of His garment would heal them.
In a previous post I said that sometimes those who seem to be the closest with God are sometimes the ones that are the most blind to what is happening around them: these verses describe the same thing. The disciples, recruited by Jesus, walking with Him daily, in person, seeing everything that He does, yet they still doubt. The multitudes, coming probably only from the rumors they have heard, display the faith that can heal them from a mere touch of His garment.
Another aspect that I think is important is that these verses also portray Jesus as a provider of needs. He provides for us when we are sick, He provides for us during the storm, and He provides for us when we doubt. He also provides for us when He is heartbroken about the things in this world even though we don’t necessarily deserve that provision.
But is Jesus’ provision really the focus we need to have? While it is important to understand the provision that Jesus makes for us all, it is important for us to understand that we do not ONLY need to focus on Jesus for His provision. Our faith in Jesus should not be focused on the fact that He provides for our needs. We need to lift Jesus up always; keeping in mind the sacrifice that He made for us and realize that is enough. If our lives are difficult, or full of challenges, the fact that Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself for a world that was, and is still, steeped in sin should be enough.
The question I ask you today is whether that sacrifice is enough for you? Or is Jesus your provision “sugar daddy” that you go to when you have a need?
But what I want you to remember today is that when you struggle, when you doubt, remember that Jesus always provides in His time and in His way and even the ones that called Jesus Rabbi and friend, and witnessed His miracles firsthand doubted. Don’t let your doubt control you. Stay focused on Christ and let your faith be bigger than your fear.