October 16 & 23, 2011
What Does God Want Us to Learn?
“Do you still not understand? Remember the five loaves of bread that fed the five thousand? And remember that you filled many baskets with the leftovers? Or the seven loaves of bread that fed the four thousand and the many baskets you filled then also?” (Matthew 16:9‑10 NCV).
It is very important that we draw the right conclusion from the mighty signs and wonders that are recorded in the Scriptures. But like the disciples of Jesus during His ministry, we often fail to get the point. We may be impressed with what the miracles say about God’s existence, and we may even understand that they are evidence of God’s power and authority. To our loss, however, we don’t always see what these signs say about God’s nature, God’s purposes, and God’s intentions toward us.
What, for example, should the disciples have learned from Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21)? If they saw this amazing feat as a demonstration of Jesus’ supernatural power, that was a first step. And if they understood this demonstration of power to support His claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God, that was another step. Yet Jesus’ feeding of the multitude should have convinced the disciples of more than His godhood. It should have prompted them to place more of their trust in His goodness as God!
Later, in another situation where they showed a lack of trust (Matthew 16:5-12), it was evident that they had not gotten the point of the earlier miracle. “Do you not yet understand, or remember?” Jesus asked them. The real lesson of the miracle had been lost on them. “So little had they learned it yet, that they remembered the loaves but forgot the Father – as men in their theology forget the very Logos” George MacDonald).
To every “What?” in life there is a corresponding “So what?” And if each word or deed of God recorded in the Scriptures is a “What?”, then it is our business to answer correctly the question “So what?”
Sometimes we don’t do any better than the Lord’s first disciples, but it will help us greatly to learn from their experience. God desires to show us God’s nature. God wants us to learn not only God’s power but also that God can be trusted to use that power for our good!
“The lesson He would have had them learn from the miracle, the natural lesson, the only lesson worthy of the miracle, was, that God cared for His children, and could, did, and would provide for their necessities. This lesson they had not learned. No doubt the power of the miracle was some proof of His mission, but the love of it proved better, for it made it worth proving: it was a throb of the Father’s heart” (George MacDonald).