Perception vs. Reality
January 23, 2021
When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, "This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food." But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish" (Matthew 14:15-17)
It is not incidental that Matthew recorded the words of the disciples to Jesus in this situation. In fact, it is quite instructional. First, Matthew said, it was evening. We are told that there were 2 ‘evenings’ in the days of Jesus. From 3:00pm to 6:00pm was considered the ‘first’ evening (what we call afternoon/evening today). From 6:00pm to 9:00pm was considered the ‘second’ evening (what we call evening/night). The disciples came to Jesus near the end of the ‘first’ evening, near sunset, and too late to figure out a solution to the needs of the crowd. Second, the disciples said, this is a deserted place, meaning “Hey, there is nothing out here for these people to eat, especially not at this hour.”
Crisis. How do you deal with crisis, especially when you know it’s coming; when you’ve had some idea or warning that something was about to happen? Remember, Jesus had given Philip and Andrew a ‘head’s up’ earlier in the day regarding the needs of the people. I have no doubt they discussed the situation amongst themselves, but there is no indication they came to Jesus and asked, “Master, You have the power and resources of heaven at Your disposal. Is there something You plan to do to answer this situation?” I am sure many of us think, “Well, that’s what I would have done!”, but would you, or would have tried to resolve the problem yourself as the disciples?
“It would seem to have required so little faith and to have been so natural for the disciples to expect Jesus to feed the crowd. They were like a person who stands in front of Niagara Falls and asks where he can find a drink. They were face to face with the supreme power in the universe and yet were spiritually blind” (MacArthur).
Does Jesus expect us to depend upon Him for everything? Does Jesus expect us to figure out some things for ourselves? Does faith in Jesus have to be applied to every situation we face in life or is that an ‘abuse’ of faith? Maybe it depends upon your perception and reality. Maybe it depends on the nature of the crisis. Maybe it depends on your relationship to Jesus.
The fact remains that after 2 years of walking with Jesus, 2 years of hearing Him teach the miraculous power and truth of the Kingdom, 2 years of seeing and experiencing for themselves that same power and truth, they failed the test (John 6:6). But I would not be so critical of the disciples until we honestly examine our own faith.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, that even when I fail to trust You in every situation of my life, You never abandon me; You are there to help me up when I fall flat on my face. Thank You for Your grace and mercy that saves me each and every day, all day long. To Your praise and glory, Amen.”