Friday, March 1, 2013
God's Provision Misunderstood
Mark 8:14 ¶ Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Mark 8:15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out—beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”
Mark 8:16 They said to one another, “It is because we have no bread.”
Mark 8:17 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
Mark 8:18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?
Mark 8:19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.”
Mark 8:20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.”
Mark 8:21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Just a couple of days ago we were talking about the way in which God cares for his people. The disciples were tired and hungry and even in the midst of ministry Jesus had made sure that the disciples had received the care that they needed. He wanted them to realize that he was all that they needed and that he would be their sustainer.
It's just a little time later and the discussion turns again to bread. They had only brought one loaf with them and Jesus mentions to them that they are to beware of yeast -- that of the Pharisees and of Herod. Immediately they think that Jesus is talking about needing to get bread and what might happen if they got bread from the Pharisees when they landed on the other side of the sea.
At this point Jesus is a bit frustrated. He can't figure out why they would even worry about bread. Have they not figured out that Jesus will take care of their needs? He was always looking out for them, making sure they had enough food and rest. The miracles that had been performed were not just for the people around them, but for the disciples themselves. Yes, Jesus was a bit frustrated that the disciples would jump to this conclusion when it is not what he meant at all. Jesus' concern was for the influence of both the Pharisees and of Herod. Their influence could act much as yeast does -- just a small amount can permeate the whole loaf.
How many times does Jesus have to provide for us before we learn to trust in him? Trust is really the key when we misunderstand God's provision for us. There was duality of mission in Jesus' provision for his followers. Yes, Jesus fed the 5000 but the result was that the disciples were cared for. Do we ever become disappointed because God doesn't provide for us in the way that we would like? Do we become frustrated because it's not just all about us, but instead we are part of a bigger picture of provision. It's quite possible that the disciples had a hard time seeing the fact that Jesus was caring for them in the midst of ministering to many others. Jesus had to remind them that when the others had been fed, it was the disciples who went home with all the extra baskets of food! Sometimes we complain about what the Lord is doing and we fail to see that we are the ones who get to go home with the extra blessing.
We must be careful to think that provision is always about the material world. There are many times when we have to walk through difficult times both emotionally and spiritually and it is also in these moments that he goes with us and provides for us. I think that this is the area in which I struggle the most. I know he's been with me in the past but somehow today I seem to think that I have to face the battles all on my own. And I think Jesus looks at me with frustration and says, "Don't you understand?"
When we fail to understand the true intent of God's provision, we fail to give glory to God. The story is not about the "stuff" that we receive from God, but about our trust and dependence upon him. It has to do with our life of faith -- or lack thereof. In this case the disciples seemed to fail to see that past provision meant present and future provision as well. This was a great lack of faith and Jesus found it quite disturbing. If Jesus has been caring for us, leading us and providing for us, why do we find it so hard to continue to have faith and trust in him? The result is that we become overwhelmed with the problems that we have to face today! Again, we take the issues of life and we place them in our own hands, and we think we have to find our own solutions. Jesus is saying, I cared for you yesterday -- I will care for you today, I will care for you forever.
Lord, thank you for your care and love and provision. May my memories of yesterday sustain me today and into the future. Amen.