“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.” (Matthew 13:13)
In my reading lately I have been presented several times with the concept that Jesus was both Divine and human – subject to fears and longings, emotions and needs just like the rest of us. But even with living with these human things Jesus never sinned; or at least that is the writers’ contentions. I am not saying that Jesus did sin, but having fears and longings, emotions and needs are not what makes us sin. It is the choices we make and the interactions we have with others; that is where we sin, treating and interacting with others in a less than perfect way. The writers I have been reading tell their readers this so that their readers will not feel reticent in coming to Jesus with their human-ness hanging out for all to see. And I appreciate their efforts and intentions. But feeling our human-ness is not what causes us to sin.
Now, you may wonder where I am going with this. My point is this; Jesus had just heard that John had been put to death by Herod. And he was mourning the loss of his cousin and evangelist companion. Many times when we get word of a loss, our instinct is to withdraw and deal with our wounds and pain. Jesus was no different than any other human who has felt loss.
But he was different. And the people sensed that. That is why the crowds followed him. Of course they might have had their own agenda as well. That is part of being human, having an agenda. But the agenda of humanity and Jesus’ agenda can be quite different.
“When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (Verses 14 -16)
Food is a basic human need. The crowd who followed Jesus needed food as much as Jesus did. But Jesus knew more about supply and demand than the crowd . . . . and the disciples did.
“They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.”
Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.“ (17 – 21)
Several things occur to me:
First, many times something (and/or someone) needs to be “broken” before it can be put to best use.
Second, when it doubt just sit down, rest, and wait on the Lord. I needed to be reminded that of myself lately. I had gotten myself all worked up about my job situation, or actually lack of it, and I needed to be reminded to just “sit down”, rest, and wait on the Lord. So I am waiting patiently on the Lord.
Third, the limitations we think are in place . . . . are not in place for the Divine. All sorts of amazing things can happen when we think they can’t or aren’t expecting them.
Fourth, there is great abundance in the Lord God. And most of the time it cannot be measured or counted.
Now, to where I started – sin. I am also being told in my readings that all of humanity is sinful and it can’t be helped; that is, we can’t help but sinning. Jesus did not, but we do. And that notion peeves me, until I revise my definition of sin. Like needing to be broken and made contrite. Doubting the Lord, and putting forth my agenda instead of waiting on the Lord’s agenda. Placing limits on my faith and trying to direct what the Lord’s action in the world should be according to me. Doubting the Lord’s grace, abundance and just general Divine Providence.
Now if we want to point fingers at conventional sinfulness, we need look no farther than Herod who put John to death. But the disciples not taking action and having faith in feeding the crowds can be seen as “sin” as well. Not a very popular perspective I am sure, and one that causes dis-ease in me as well. But perfection, Divine perfection, is so beyond us. So, actually, are miraculous feedings. And Jesus and the Lord God know this, and love us anyway! Praise be to God! And Selah!