I pray often for family and friends to believe in Jesus. Over the years I have been perplexed and frustrated while pondering questions such as; what would it take for my loved ones to believe in ever-lasting life? What does it take to convince them to believe in Jesus whom they can’t see? Would seeing something tangible help them to just believe? The bible is full of descriptions that help explain this longing…if only they could meet Jesus. They would meet the Great I Am:
· The Vine- John 15:5
· The Way, the Truth and the Life- John 14:6
· The Resurrection and the Life- John 11:25, 26
· The Good Shepherd- John 10:11
· The Door- John 10:9
· The Light of the World- John 8:12
· The Bread of Life- John 6:35
These are all examples of Jesus’ attempt to teach and reach a blind, hard hearted people. He labored describing spiritual truths through stories, parables and miracles to help us understand the condition of our souls and our need for Him. It is no different today. What does it take to find one simple truth? Jesus saves. How do we help our nearest and dearest understand that truth? Especially, when those who see still don’t understand? A clear example of that perplexity is found in John chapter 6. Two miracles are sandwiched together to set the stage for Jesus to increase the faith of his 12 disciples and confront the lack of faith in some of his other followers.
Multitudes of people were following Jesus because of all the miracles he performed. The miracle of feeding 5,000 people happened at a place across the Sea of Galilee. Approximately 5,000 men were there, which means there could have been as many as 20,000 people when women and children are counted. For food, they found 5 small barley loaves which is comparable to a loaf of Hawaiian bread today and 2 small fish. Let’s pause here and be in awe of such a little amount of food they had to work with. After the multitudes ate until they had full bellies, 12 baskets of leftovers were collected. Jesus’ abundant provision was an obvious tangible miracle to see and experience. They were so elated with him because of these miracles that they wanted to take him by force to be their king. But, did they believe he was the Messiah? No…
After that miracle, Jesus fled to be alone and in the middle of the night. The 12 disciples headed by boat to a place further down the Sea of Galilee. They rowed against a storm with forceful winds. At some point during the night storm they looked up and saw Jesus walking on water. Another miracle; why now? Why after feeding the 5,000 did Jesus decide it was the right time to show his 12 disciples another miracle- just for them to see and understand? It was his heart to show them his provision once again. Jesus provided for them in the midst of the storm. After Jesus had been received onto the boat, it was on immediately on land. The disciples were safe and sound. But, did they believe he was the Messiah? Yes…
The multitudes eventually caught up with Jesus and the disciples further down the Sea of Galilee. Jesus knew the condition of their hearts. Still He allowed them to seek him out and follow him. Their hearts weren’t pure. They weren’t seeking to know the Messiah. So, Jesus confronted them:
John 6:26 NIV - Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
Sadly, they were seeking provision to satisfy their own bellies. The miracle they experienced benefitted their bodies and they wanted more food. That is the ugly truth. It’s the truth for me at times and the truth for those who haven’t met Jesus yet. Matthew Henry a 15th century minister and author said, “Many followed Christ for the loaves and not for love”.
Experiencing a tangible miracle doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will come to the full knowledge of Jesus. Some of those disciples walked away when Jesus confronted them. However, when the 12 disciples were confronted by Jesus, their faith was strengthened and they continued to follow Him because they knew he was the Messiah.
John 6:69 NIV – “We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God”.
My heart sinks in sadness for the multitudes who had such an up close, personal experience of Jesus and still walked away not able to comprehend that Jesus is the only spiritual food we need for eternal life. They missed the everlasting miracle. There is goodness woven through two miracles of feeding the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water. They intersect one another to help us reflect on our own motivations. As Christians, are we seeking Jesus for his loaves or for love? Perhaps the loved ones we are praying for are observing our motivation for seeking Jesus. Are we chasing after him to satisfy our bellies or are we seeking a different kind of provision for our soul? As you ponder that, keep praying for your loved ones. Keep praying for God to keep strengthening your faith!
Sheri Page has been married to her husband for 10 years and cherishes their blended family of 6 adult children and 9 grandchildren. She has worked in and alongside ministries for over 30 years. She has served many roles with in the walls of a church including, a Women’s Ministry director and assistant to a Care Pastor where she served people who were walking through Baptism, Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care and benevolence. Sheri loves to share her curiosity and unique understanding of life with Jesus by her side. She is a 5 year breast cancer survivor and considers that experience to be the one of the greatest gifts God has given her. More writings from Sheri can be found on her blog: https://thelordsdwellingplace.com/