Posted on February 26, 2014
#43: When God Gives a Repeat Performance
Recently, a minister preached on a verse that caught my attention because I’d read it earlier that morning in my devotions. The next day, the same scripture was “Verse of the Day” on my favorite Christian radio station. Then a friend posted on Facebook a beautiful picture featuring—you guessed it!—the same verse.
Have you ever experienced one of God’s “repeat performances” when He brought a truth before you several times in rapid succession? That’s the time to say, “Lord, I recognize this. What are You trying to say to me?”
If you’ve been following this study Knowing Jesus, you’ll recognize today’s account as a “repeat performance.”
Pick up your Bible and read Mark 8:1-10.
A few weeks ago we read the “Feeding of the Five Thousand”—the only one of Jesus’ miracles found in all four gospels, an indication of its impact and importance. Today, we read about Jesus providing a second feeding for thousands, known as the “Feeding of the Four Thousand.” Why the repeat? What did He want His disciples to learn? What did He want the crowds to learn? What does He want us to learn?
There’s obviously more than one possible lesson, and your answer may differ from mine. But I can see at least three lessons.
He has resources we can’t see
When Jesus mentioned the crowd’s need for food to His disciples, they responded, “Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” Anyone?? How disappointed He must have been. If only one of them had said, “I recognize this situation. Last time, You multiplied the bread and fish to feed a bigger crowd than this one. Here’s seven loaves and a few fish, Master. We know what You can do!” Instead, they acted as though they’d never before seen such a dilemma.
Before we shake our heads over their stupidity, how many times have we panicked over a crisis of the same sort in which we’ve experienced His power before? Will we ever learn that when He is our partner, what we see in front of us is never all there is? The twelve saw seven loaves and a few small fish; Jesus saw bounty! I may see only my overwhelming circumstances; He sees a chance to exponentially grow my faith—and hopes I get it this time.
He’s generous to satisfy
Mark specified that the people ate and were satisfied (vs. 8). This wasn’t a snack to tide them over; they were filled. He’s the source of all, and the giver of all good gifts; He has no need to be stingy. Neither do we.
When He sees our miserly idea of giving (both as individual Christians and as church congregations), He must long to ask, “What are you holding out for? Are you afraid of the next rainy day? I already have it covered—and the one after that!”
For example, if we have plenty stored up but offer no help to a fellow Christian who’s struggling, we grieve God. A pious offer to pray for that brother rings hollow. As James wrote, “If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” James labeled it dead faith. We serve a generous God who satisfies. Living faith will do the same.
He wants us to make the most of His gifts
Every account of both Feedings records that the Twelve gathered the leftovers, even telling how many baskets there were: twelve baskets (mid-sized, like picnic baskets) after the five-thousand were fed, and seven baskets (large, of the same type used to lower Paul over the Damascus wall in Acts 9:25) after the four-thousand were fed. We’re not told what was done with the leftovers, but I’m sure they weren’t collected just to be wasted.
How often do we waste His gifts to us? We do the least we can get away with, offering one little act of service, then say, “Whew, glad that’s done!” and go back to our easy chairs. Instead, what if we asked how we could serve Him the most, give the best, use every bit of our strength and ability for His glory, leaving no leftovers?
D.L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him…. I will try my utmost to be that man.” What would happen if you were that woman? What if you lived passionately for Him—trusting Him fully, receiving His generosity and passing it on just as generously, content with nothing less than devoting all you are to Him? You might be the disciple who greets God’s repeat performance with, “I recognize this, Lord. I know what You can do!”
© Diane McLoud 2014