Those Hilarious Disciples
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the Feeding of the 4000. It’s in both Matthew 15 and Mark 8. You probably know the story, that there are so many people riveted by Jesus’ teaching and being healed by him that they stay with Him 3 days, and Jesus becomes concerned that they will collapse on the way home. But He doesn’t just fix the problem. He presents it to the disciples. And they react like they always do: “What can we possibly do? This place is too remote to find any food.”
Now this may sound like a reasonable response to Jesus except for two factors. One, he has just been healing the lame, crippled, blind, and mute. The disciples have been watching this for 3 days, so you think they would realize MAYBE Jesus could solve the problem.
The second factor makes this absolutely a comedy sketch. Visualize it from Jesus’ viewpoint and see his patient amusement, maybe? (because He’s God and God is love) or eye-rolling disbelief (likely, because of the dimwitted disciples). Here’s the comedic factor: THEY JUST WENT THROUGH THIS EXACT SAME SCENARIO THE CHAPTER BEFORE. It’s called the Feeding of the 5000. Look it up in Matt. 14 and Mark 6. They even had the same food (bread and fish) and voiced almost the same objections. Talk about short-term memory loss. Don’t you think you would remember such a momentous event? Don’t you think you would go, “Ohhh, fishes and loaves, that rings a bell,” or “Oh yeah, I remember Jesus can take care of any shortages. He can take care of pretty much anything, actually.”
I think that’s our first thought when we see the amnesia of the disciples. But, really, are they any more mature than we are? And do you think you would have done any better?
Probably not, because we don’t today. We forget everyday what Jesus has already done for us, what He’s rescued us from, what He’s supplied for us, what He’s taken care of for us. When we encounter the same problem again, we act in the same anxious, doubting way. Instead of going, “Oh, this is great! I experienced this same crisis before, so I know Jesus will come through for me!” we say, “What?! How can this happen to me?!” or “I thought this had been taken care of! How can it happen again?!”
Let me recommend a concrete way to move us to a new level of faith and remembrance. Either create a Faith box, where you collect items that remind you of things God has done for you, or write down answered prayers and deeds of God in a little journal. As Habakkuk 3:2 says, “Lord, we have heard of your fame; we stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time, make them known.”