Jeff Strite relates a true story found in Reader’s Digest of a family sitting down to dinner one evening.
One of the girls was unhappy because they were having leftovers. And she let everyone know by complaining.
Her father was not pleased with her complaints and suggested she needed to be more thankful. To drive home his point, he asked her offer thanks for the food. So, she bowed her head and prayed:
“Thank you for this food….again.”
Too often we’re like that little girl. Unappreciative. Unthankful. And unable to see God’s provisions and blessings in what we do have.
In today’s Bible reading from Mark 8, we get another glimpse at the spiritual dullness of Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus had just fed the 4,000 with only 7 loaves of bread and a few little fish. After everyone had eaten all they wanted, there were 7 large baskets of leftovers. Yet, the Pharisees began to argue with Jesus, demanding a sign to prove His Deity. What did they want? Something more spectacular? Bread raining down from heaven?
Marks says Jesus sighed. He was deeply disappointed in the religious leaders who were so blind. So hard-hearted. So unbelieving.
Jesus and the disciples then got into a boat to cross to the other side. Suddenly they realized someone forgot to bring enough food. All they had was one loaf of bread.
At this point, Jesus warned them to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” They thought he was referring to literal bread, but He was speaking metaphorically. The Bible often uses leaven in a negative way. It may refer to false doctrine, sin in the church, or hypocrisy.
Their lack of understanding exasperated Jesus. So He chided them with these words:
“Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?”
He then reminds them of His miraculous feeding of the 5,000 and more recently the 4,000. In each case, there were leftovers, more bread than what they began with. Then He asked, “How is it you do not understand?”
Unfortunately, we are too often in the same boat with the disciples.
We read the Scriptures. Participate in Bible classes. Attend worship services. We’ve filled out our sermon notes. We’ve been edified, encouraged, and enlightened. Then we promptly go home and forget the lessons we’ve learned. Forget God’s blessings. Forget about his promises. Forget about his past providential care.
It’s not that we literally forget, but like Jesus’ application in the parable of the seed and the sower, we become consumed with “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things.’ We worry about elections. Agonize about the economy. Fret about our freedom. Fear the future. Stew about some minor issue. Become consumed with our hobbies and happiness. And allow a host of other issues to occupy our time and attention. These “choke the word” and render us unfruitful.
Yet, our God is alive and well. Providing. Preserving. Protecting. And prospering His people as He exercises His providential care in our lives. The Bible says “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
We need to read the Bible narratives and see the Lord at work in our lives. He can take the single loaf of bread and multiply it beyond our wildest dreams. He can calm the storm. Heal our hurts. Lift our spirits. Renew our hope. Light our path when the way is dark and dreary. And open our eyes to a greater understanding and deeper insight.
Let us be careful not to become so preoccupied with this world’s bread that we neglect the bread of life.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman