SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- This chapter starts off with tragedy: Jesus’ cousin, John, is killed as a prisoner. Jesus hears of this and tries to go be alone, but can't get away from crowds of people who don't know (or don't care) that he's grieving. Jesus has compassion on the crowds and heals their sick. And then he takes it a step further by miraculously feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.
- The reading ends with Jesus walking on water. What kind of person walks on a lake in the middle of a stormy night? A confident and daring person, that's who! Jesus went from grieving the unjust loss of his cousin to triumphing over the forces of nature. Then Jesus invites Peter to join him and gives him the power to do the impossible.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Did you notice how Jesus fed all the people? He first took what the disciples had to offer. Then he gave God thanks and broke it into pieces. He then gave it back to the disciples, who gave to the people what they received. God can work though our lives in a similar way. When we give ourselves to Jesus, he blesses/breaks us and sends us to “feed” the crowds. When we give of ourselves to others it may seem that we’re not going to have enough to make a difference, but God shows up and accomplishes the work. Jesus is asking us to trust him, especially when it doesn’t add up.
- Peter was a normal person (just like you) but was able to do something abnormal (walk on water!) because of his relationship with Jesus, and because he was willing to get out of the boat. If we have a relationship with Jesus and are willing to follow him wherever he calls us (even if it's scary), we can do things that people normally can't do.
- Notice that Peter was having no problem walking on the water when he was focused on Jesus. It was when he "saw the wind" that he became afraid and started to drown. In the same way, the object of our focus is critical. If we lock eyes with Jesus, we can do things we could never do on our own. But if we stare at what makes us afraid, we will start to sink.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- God wants to use your life in a big way. So... is there something he's asking you to give to him (a dream, some of your resources, an ability) that he wants to help you use to "feed the crowds"? If so, what's keeping you from giving it to him?
- Or is God calling you to get out of the boat, but you're too afraid to follow him? If so, what are you afraid of? Know that Jesus will keep you from sinking, and with his help you can get out of your comfort zone and go where he is leading. Spend some time asking God what he wants from you, where he's leading you, and then focus on Jesus and ask him to help you to do it.