He Had Compassion on Them (v. 34)

Context makes this phrase amazing.  Jesus was hungry and exhausted; so were His disciples (v. 31).  They tried to get away for rest (a good model for us to follow as well).  In His time of rest needy people found Jesus.  Unlike us, Jesus saw them.  More than He saw His fatigue, He saw their lostness.  They were “sheep without a shepherd (v. 34).”

Reflective Questions: What physical need or relational desire do you get least and crave most?  When, how, or with whom does this frequently make you blind to ministry opportunities?  Do you intentionally plan times to fulfill these longings so that you are not so famished that your cravings further blind you?  Should your first action step be one of fasting (to put to death self-centeredness) or resting (to care for the body and life God has given you)?

A Model Testimony By Omission

Take a moment and compare the account of Jesus walking on the water after feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14 with the account in Mark 6.  Do you see one major omission? Mark leaves out the fact that Peter also walked on the water.  That is significant because Mark’s Gospel comes from the preaching of Peter to the church at Rome.

What are we to make of this?  Should we never reference ourselves or significant events when giving our testimony or sharing the Gospel? That would be a bit extreme.  After all, Peter is a major character in the Gospel of Mark.

I think a more accurate point would be we should not speak (or speak less) of ourselves when it distracts from the message of Christ.  Peter acknowledges that he left a successful fishing business to follow Christ (Mark 1:16-18), because that highlights that Jesus was worth it!  Peter omits his walking on water because people would want him to prove it or get his autograph and miss that Jesus was Lord of all Creation.

Consider the following questions as you seek to prepare yourself to give your testimony in a way that brings the most glory to Christ.

  • What were you like before your conversion?  What things were most important to you?  How did you spend your time?  How did you reward yourself?  What was the best of all possible days?
  • When you accepted Christ what was it that convicted you of your sin?  What made you realize that Jesus was the only remedy for your guilt?
  • What things changed immediately in your character, behavior, language, relationships, or values?  What things resisted change?
  • What have been some of the more significant moments in your Christian maturity?  How has God changed you in ways you would have never expected?  What circumstances, people, or passages of Scripture were most prominent in your process of change?
  • What were some of the good things that God has done that (in the moment) you completely missed or did not like at the time?  How do you see God’s patience, kindness, and even sense of humor in this process?

I hope these questions guide you to tell your story with God as the main character and that these moments of reflection have made your more comfortable sharing your story with others.

They Were Amazed…Their Hearts Were Hard (v. 51-52)

Is it just me, or do these two phrases not belong together?  The disciples experienced a great miracle (one even participated in it), they are amazed at the power of God in Christ, but they didn’t get it because their hearts were hard.  If nothing else this verse should give us pause to saying (or thinking) “I understand” or “I know how I hurt you” when someone speaks or we are reading a familiar passage of Scripture.  Too often these responses are instinctuous pride responses that reveal a hard unreceptive heart.

Another question worth examining is, “What did the disciples miss?”  They missed the implication of feeding 5,000 people with 5 fish and 2 loaves.  If Jesus can do that, then the laws of nature are subject to Him.  Might they have been able to answer a theology quiz if given time to use deductive reasoning?  Sure.  But when life happened (in the form of a storm), they were amazed (read shocked/surprised more than worshipful celebration).

One final observation, Jesus did not condemn them for their hard hearts (v. 50, Jesus comforted them).  Jesus was teaching them.  If they did not lack understanding and faith, His presence would not be needed.  This is something we must remember with those we teach and shepherd (particularly our children).  If they did not lack maturity, discipline, understanding, or “common sense” they would not need parents, teachers, supervisors, or pastors.

Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.