History Repeats Itself

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip,  “Where shall we buy enough bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what He was going to do.  John 6:5, 6.

John A doesn’t really record many of the early miracles of Jesus, probably because the other gospels did such a good job he decided to focus on other things.  What is interesting is that he makes sure we know they were ongoing as well as public for most part, since the Jews in chapter 5 were challenged to check them out as evidence.  As John A moves on from the discussion in chapter 5, he immediately brings in a miracle to illustrate Jesus’ arguments.  Yet notice he says Some time after this…  which suggests the incidents he wanted to record weren’t back to back.

Feeding a lot of people with five loaves and two fish then having some leftovers sounds fantastic, especially when one realizes this meal was for a young boy and only enough for possibly two meals for him.  We make much of the fact that Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children, but the fact is even if it had been more than two with twelve baskets leftover it would have been a miracle.  We get all excited by numbers because big means something to us, whereas with God a miracle is not on a scale of human measurement as such, because the smallest particle in our bodies or in nature itself is a miracle beyond our reckoning.

By the time Jesus fed the multitude He was pretty popular as a teacher and healer it sounds like.  Word spread around Israel that a healer wandered from town to town teaching and making people well.  I don’t know how long it would take to gather such a crowd as this miracle indicates (around 15 to 20,000 people) but in that time frame it would have been at least a year or so because news didn’t travel at the speed of light like it does today.

This fact hints Jesus built His ministry up with slow steady advances in order to maximize His abilities and mission reach.  Knowing as we do now that He already had it in mind to perform such a miracle using whatever food was available tells us a great deal about the way He thinks (Jesus is alive so we keep these references in the present tense).  God knows His creatures so He primes our hearts for the message by peaking our interest and building our curiosity.  Granted this method won’t necessarily convince or attract everybody, but it does get the word out.  Enough people were healed that the evidence of Jesus’ power was irrefutable at the time, which kept the skeptics at bay.

The Jewish history as a nation began with miracles, one of the last to be manna for forty odd years.  Jesus arrives on the scene 1000+ years later and uses the same method.  Deuteronomy 18 records Moses telling the people of Israel a prophet like himself would come in the future teaching the way to life.  Jesus did just exactly that yet they rejected Him as a whole, though in the one place and time they wanted to make Him king by force.  What Moses tried to get the Jews to recognize was the Prophet’s methodology.  The one to come would be like Moses in that He would guide them into all truth and deliver them.

The problem for us humans always reveals itself in our expectations.  We are no different from the Jews in this respect for we build big theologies based on theories of interpretation, which then grow into immovable doctrines.  I suspect the Jews were extremely disappointed in the Jesus’ performance since He didn’t deliver them from their oppressors, but they failed to see (and many times so do we) that His mission was a spiritual one first which would work itself out in physical later.  Deliver the person of their oppression from sin and He delivered them from bending to human expectations, period.

The Jews who followed Moses rebelled and rejected God’s methods; the Jews who followed Christ rebelled and rejected God’s chosen vessel.  Evil creates stasis not mobility.  We who follow Jesus grow entrenched in our own thinking, expectations and methods as much as those who rejected Jesus did.  History tends to repeat itself.  For us to really know God as He is we must open our eyes to absorb what He shows us not close them and pretend He’s conforming to our understanding.  Instead we ought to be studying to discover truth, adjusting our perceptions of it to fit the revealed Word of God and constantly challenging our own grasp of reality in Christ.

The generation who followed Moses out of Egypt saw all the miracles, knew the God they served could deliver them, yet still rejected Him as their Savior, protector and Lord.  They even went so far as to create a god in an image they liked better than the One who took them out of slavery.  In doing this they opened themselves up to a slavery more bitter than any they had known in Egypt.

Again, history tends to repeat itself because people refuse to change.  Jesus offers us life to the full yet so many refuse to come to Him that they might have life.  Instead of falling in love with the Master who provided the miracles in the first place, most of us fall in love with the miracles themselves, ignoring the God who provided them.

Yes, Jesus knew what He was about to do for He and His Father wrote the script before the world began and recorded it again throughout the Jewish history as a guidebook of sorts.  His test of Philip and the other disciples just shows how blind we can be to the possibilities in Him.  Our limited perspectives deal mostly with possibility thinking.  The reasoning goes like this:  “Yeah, Jesus can heal the sick but who can feed 5000+ people with five loaves and two fish?!”  What’s harder to do:  feed five thousand people or heal a disease?

Do you see our problem illustrated here in this story?  John A is showing how limited our thinking is and how utterly closed our minds are.  The disciples had seen water turned to wine as well as healings, yet they didn’t even consider their Master could feed all these people with just a small starter.

The lesson is clear:  We need to stop limiting our expectations of God, on the one hand, and gain the heavenly view of life on the other.  One teaches us to see beyond the physical limitations sin brought about; the other gives us a heart of understanding to know God well enough so that we can know what to expect.

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2 Responses to “History Repeats Itself”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I love the teaching to the disciples in this passage. The one that sticks out to me is when asks what do we have in our hand to feed these people? This is powerful because he makes them see that they are problem solvers. The next thing he does is bless the bread and fish and HAND IT BACK. When the disciples got the blessing from Jesus, all they had visually in their hands was exactly what they started with. It wasn’t until they proceeded to move forward with the blessing that it multiplied.

    Isn’t God good? When he gave us dominion he meant it. He’s not spoon-feeding us, he’s making us think and move and act. It’s in the activation of our faith that things actually happen.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    Thanks for making that point and I whole heartedly agree.

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