We don’t live in a world which values simplicity. We find tips and tricks to supposedly enhance simplicity, but it usually just adds steps and complications with a false sense of easy.
Jesus teaches an unlikely message of simplicity to his followers in the midst of solitude. While he goes to the wilderness to find calm, he instead teaches about simplicity of belief and faith to thousands.
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![b]”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed. Matthew 14:13-36
If I think of a miracle involving the supernatural multiplication of food, I am really hoping Jesus does something awesome with BBQ ribs. Instead, we get the 1st century equivalent of vienna sausages and crackers. Jesus does amazing things with a simple meal.
Immediately after this miracle he sends his disciples away so he can finish his original mission of prayer and reflection. In the middle of the night Jesus makes His way out to the boat and calls Peter to walk to him on the water (normal..right?). In this interchange Jesus makes a declaration of self which rings across scripture.
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! (v27).
Echoing God’s identity of “I am who I am” in Exodus 3, Jesus asks the disciples to make a decision based off of what he has revealed to them. The disciples can think of their experiences with Christ and realize how powerful he really is.
The simple things matter because they build our idea of who God is.
When we can’t trust the simple we can never expect the big.
See you in worship this Sunday.
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