Handling the Truth – Luke 18:34

Handle_The_Truth_Jack_Nicholson“But they didn’t understand any of this. The significance of his words was hidden from them, and they failed to grasp what he was talking about” (Luke 18:34, NLT).

What Jesus was talking about was His impending death and resurrection.

Has this ever happened to you? A significant work of God–even a miracle–occurs right in front of you and it goes completely unnoticed by you, until later!

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The Terrified Disciple – Mark 6:49-52

terrified“When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, ‘Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:49-52, HCSB).

Have you ever read a familiar passage in the Bible and found something new in it? That’s what happened to me as I read again this familiar story of Jesus walking on the water.

Admittedly, Mark’s version of this story does not include an important element described in Matthew’s account (Matthew 14:22-33). In Matthew’s version, Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water toward Jesus until he notices the wind and the waves, and consequently, begins to sink. So Peter’s faith (or lack of it) is usually the focus of this story for us.

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Opportunity Knocks – Mark 6:37

opportunity-knocks“But Jesus said, You feed them. With what? they asked. We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!” (Mark 6:37, NLT).

Before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand (or ten or fifteen thousand, actually), He first commanded the disciples to feed them!

Now His command could be interpreted in two ways. Either Jesus was commanding the disciples to let Him empower them to perform the miracle or He was trying to teach them a lesson about God’s miraculous provisioning.

We usually interpret His command to the disciples in terms of the latter, but let’s take the perspective that He was actually commanding them to feed the five or ten or fifteen thousand.

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Filling Empty Pockets – Matthew 14:19-21

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers”  (Matthew 14:19-21, NLT).

We sometimes think the way God provides for His people is to give us what we don’t have or more of what don’t have enough of.

Our pockets are empty and we expect God to fill them.

For example, if we are experiencing financial difficulties, we pray for a miracle to increase our income; if our car is broken down, we pray for a new one.

However, God’s care over our lives is more often provided by extending the resources we already have as they are offered totally and willingly to the Lord than by giving us what we don’t have or more of what we already have.

God’s provision is demonstrated by the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four gospels (cf. Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13) and is recorded with substantial narration in each of the gospels, which may suggest its importance among the supernatural events of Jesus’ ministry.

Undoubtedly, the miracle itself was significant based solely on its scale–feeding an estimated 15-20 thousand men, women, and children from five loaves of bread and two fish and then having 12 baskets of leftovers!

Jesus had been preaching to the large crowd for an extended period of time in a remote location and the people needed to eat. When the disciples indicated the unavailability of food at the location, Jesus suggested how He might intervene: “Bring them here,” he said (vs. 18) referring to the loaves of bread and fish.

In these three words—BRING THEM HERE—we see the practical application for receiving God’s provision:
Bring everything you have to Jesus and when you offer any and all of yourself and your possessions totally and willingly to God, His care is provided by extending or expanding your possessions and capabilities even to an abundance.

Great Faith, Miracles Occur – Matthew 8:10

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel.” Jesus was amazed because a Roman army officer requested Him simply to speak words of healing for his servant from where He was at rather than coming to the sick servant. While the officer’s faith was pretty amazing, so was his perception of Jesus. The Roman officer recognized that Jesus had the power and authority of God. Jesus recognized that the officer had the prerequisite faith to receive God’s help. This faith had a certain quality/quantity because it is the kind of faith that sets in motion the power of God. It is great faith; it is supernatural power-activating faith! In addition to the great faith of the Roman officer with a sick servant there are several examples of people who exercised great, supernatural power-activating faith:

  • a woman who had suffered with constant bleeding for twelve years (“Your faith has made you well.” – Matthew 9:22)
  • two blind men who followed Jesus and shouted out for Him to heal them (“Because of your faith, it will happen.” – Matthew 9:29)
  • a Gentile woman with a possessed daughter (“Your faith is great.” – Matthew 15:28)
  • some men who let down a paralytic man on a mat through the roof of a building where Jesus was teaching (“Seeing their faith…” – Luke 5:20)

These all did something and/or said something that demonstrated a level of faith that caused Jesus to acknowledge their faith and take supernatural action in response to their faith. When you have faith that can be seen, it commands God’s attention. And when there is great faith, miracles occur!

God’s Pattern for Supplying His Provision and Care – John 6:1-15

God’s care and provision are demonstrated by Jesus in the miracle of feeding the five thousand. The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four gospels (cf. Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15) and is recorded with substantial narration in each of these gospels. The telling of this miracle in all four gospels may suggest its importance among the miraculous signs of Jesus’ ministry. The feeding of the five thousand was a significant miracle based purely on the scale of the miracle itself by feeding an estimated 15-20 thousand men, women, and children from five loaves of bread and two fish. The miracle demonstrates God’s pattern for supplying His provision and care. God offers His care and provision to us not by creating more things but by taking resources that already exist and extending or expanding them to meet a need, even to an abundance. When you offer any and all the resources you possess totally and willingly to God, He provides His loving care by extending or expanding those resources to meet your needs, sometimes even to the point of prosperity.

Signs Everywhere – John 2:11

“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” During political campaigns, signs begin to be posted everywhere advertising a person running for a certain office. The miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana was Jesus’ first miracle and a sign, as John referred to Jesus’ miracles. It was not a public miracle but rather a miracle to be seen and understood by a select few–His disciples. The miracles of Jesus that John included in his gospel were signs that attested to His identity as Messiah and Son of God and generally meant to lead unbelievers to faith (see vs. 23). The miracles or signs John writes about revealed Jesus’ divine nature by the performance of an exceptional or outstanding accomplishment: a large quantity/high quality of wine (2:6, 10), the official’s son healed over a long distance (4:47, 49–50), the invalid’s recovery from a 38-year medical condition (5:5), the large quantity of food produced (6:13), the man’s recovery from lifelong blindness (9:1–2), and the raising of Lazarus from the dead (11:17, 39). While these miracles showed the glory of Jesus as the sovereign Creator and ruler of the universe, He is still working personal and private miracles today in the hearts and lives of individuals. His signs are posted everywhere advertising that He can be your Savior.

The Principle of God’s Provision-Redux – 2 Kings 4

At the beginning of the chapter a widow of a man of the school of the prophets appealed to Elisha help her with a creditor who threatened to take her two sons as his slaves for payment of her debt. Elisha told her to gather as many jars as she could and pour the little oil she had left into the jars. As she began to pour, the oil from the original jar did not run out until all the jars were filled. Elisha then commanded the widow to sell the oil and pay her debts and to live on what is left from the proceeds of the oil sale. Elisha repeated essentially the same miracle at the end of the chapter when he received an offering of twenty loaves of bread and fed a hundred men of the school of the prophets (and possibly their wives and children). And this is the same type of miracle Elijah performed in 1 Kings 17 with the widow of Zerapheth. God provides by increasing or extending one’s need or deficiency rather than giving you more of what you already have in abundance, especially when your deficiencies are offered or surrendered totally and willingly to the Lord.