Phil Cox

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They had not understood about the loaves

16th March 2008

Jesus had spent the previous day teaching and healing a huge gathering of people - 5000 men plus women and children. At the end of the day, they were hungry. The disciples went among the crowd, looking to see what food they had with them. Between them all, they had just five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus gave thanks to God for what they had, broke it, and give it to the disciples to distribute among the crowd. A great miracle happened, and everyone had enough to eat, and there were twelve baskets of food left over.

That evening, Jesus told the disciples to take a boat across the Sea of Galilee, while he dismissed the crowd.

In the middle of the night, and in the middle of the sea, the disciples found themselves in the middle of a severe storm. Jesus went to their aid.

Mark 6v47-52
When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.
About the fourth watch of the night [about 3 am] he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Donít be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.
They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

When they first saw Jesus, they thought He was a ghost. They didn't believe a man could walk on water, not even Jesus. They were so frightened that they "cried out" in terror. Jesus responded to them in their fear - in their lack of faith - saying "Take courage! It is I. Donít be afraid".

And the same happens today. When a Christian is at his lowest ebb, when all seems dark and frightening and the winds seem to be against us and the waves of life are crashing against us, the voice of Jesus comes. "Take courage! It is I. Donít be afraid".

Jesus seemed to be going to walk straight past them, but when they heard his voice, they were willing to take him into the boat (John 6v21). In the same way, when we hear His voice, He gives us the choice, to welcome Him on board or to let Him walk on without us. May we always choose to welcome our Saviour!

And when they welcomed Him into their situation, He caused the winds to die down. They were saved.

When this happened, the disciples were amazed. Mark writes that "They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened."

They were amazed that Jesus could walk on the water, because they hadn't learnt earlier the same day, that Jesus can turn five loaves and two fish into a meal for more than 5000 people. Jesus demonstrated that He can do ANYTHING. The One who can control the molecules of wheat and yeast that make up loaves of bread can also control the water and the air. But they hadn't understood. And Jesus also proved, by feeding hungry people, that he cares about us, enough to intervene miraculously when necessary. But they hadn't understood that either.

If Jesus can feed 5000 people with 5 loaves and two fish, then He can walk on water and He can command the wind and the waves. He can do anything He chooses to do. He can fix your situation, just as He did for the hungry crowd, and as he did for the frightened disciples.

And the reason they hadn't understood this is because their hearts were hardened. Our hearts are not as receptive as they should be to God's word or to learning from our experiences of Him. Why? There may be many reasons, but here are a few: because we live in a humanistic, scientific society which has taught us to be sceptical about anything divine; because we've prayed for miracles before and not always seen them; because we're damaged by the sin we commit, and by the sin committed against us; because our enemy wants us to remain like infants, not growing up to maturity in our faith in Christ.

But whatever the reason, let us choose to believe in the almighty power of God to transform lives and situations, to provide for us and to keep us safe.

William Hendriksen, in his commentary on these verses, remarks:

The fact that faith should be sufficiently wide awake to derive legitimate conclusions from firmly established premises is the lesson which Scripture teaches (Matt 6v26-30, Luke 11V13, Rom 8V31, 32) but which is not always taken to heart.

We must fight the tendency in our hearts to disbelieve, to forget what God has done and what God has promised. We must derive the legitimate conclusions that Jesus can do anything, and that He loves us. No matter how great the storm, God can keep us safe and bring us to dry land.