|Photo of Simon from May 16, 2014|
Yesterday I drove to Emporia, KS and back to give a presentation with a colleague to a small group of people. I’ve been reading Paul’s letters for the last couple of months, and realized I was longing to hear Christ’s words so I started listening to the book of Mark through my Bible app while I drove. I drifted in and out of paying attention, but something really caught my ear in Mark 8:14-21.
While traveling, the disciples apparently forgot to bring enough road snacks, and a few of them were starting to get a little “hangry” and complain-y. (Mark 8:14 & 16) There are several points that could be taken from this biblical account, but what caught my attention was not as much Jesus warning the disciples about King Herod’s worldly influence, or the Pharisees’ legalistic influence - it was how Jesus addressed the disciples grumbling about not having enough bread to get rid of their hunger.
They were on the heels of Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 4,000, but the disciples seemed to be struggling with their short-term memories, at least in some respects. Jesus asked them questions (in a “dad voice,” I’m sure) that went something like this, “Have you forgotten how many leftovers you guys got after I fed all those people? How much was there?” They said, “No, we remember. We had like 7 bags of bread and 12 baskets of fish or something.” Jesus then said, “After seeing what you saw and hearing what you heard that day, do you really think that you will go hungry as long as you are with me? You’ve seen what I can do, and you still don’t get it? Do you not yet understand?” I can just see Judas mumbling something like, "We'd understand a little better if you could come up with a dozen Snickers bars right about now..."
I’m really trying to understand what Jesus has done for my family over the past year. I may never really get it, but I’m hoping this next week will get me closer. So I’m fasting. I started the process over two weeks ago by taking all sweets out of my diet. Then it was caffeine (that one hurt more than expected). Then I started shrinking my portions. Then it was skipping meals. Now I’m off food all together (for the most part). It has been over 36 hours with very little food and I feel pretty good. My energy levels are low, and I know I’ve been quieter than normal (Amy has told me that too). The days feel longer and I feel like I have more time. I move and think far slower than I’m used to.
My desire by fasting is to feel what I felt a year ago: complete reliance on God’s provision. I want to go into deeper places of understanding of what Jesus has done, and also what he is doing in my life. I plan to write about it over the next several days. It is going to be tough, and I'll need to be carried through much of it. I appreciate your prayers.
When Jesus asked the disciples in Mark 8:21, “Do you not yet understand?” I believe he is asking them if they realize that he is all they need. He is the bread of life, and whoever follows him will never hunger or thirst (John 6:35). He explains later in John, using the same “bread” metaphor, that, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread you ancestors ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
What a ridiculous promise! Whoever “abides,” or is in relationship with Jesus will live forever? It would certainly be ridiculous had it not come from someone who predicted his own death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, and then actually went through with it.