In these scriptures we see the story of Jesus walking on the water and the disciples initial reaction. The disciples had been rowing for hours…fighting the rising winds and rough water. They were exhausted. With heads down, they were battling to just keep moving forward. So when Jesus approached the boat, fatigue and stress blinded them to be able to even recognize Jesus…irrationally, they imagined that it was a ghost rising from the waves. The same thing will happen to us when we fight the storms of life alone. Heads down, we power through, battling to keep moving ahead, but becoming more and more drained. It’s then that the combination of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion often leads to unfounded fears that overtake us. It’s also at that time, we suddenly come to the end of ourselves and finally cry out, “Lord, I can’t do this!”
Next to the Resurrection, the feeding of the 5,000, is the only story found in all four Gospels. Even though they all come from a little different perspective, the miracle was the same, and important enough to be recorded numerous times. On the disciples part, they’ve been traveling with Jesus and witnessing countless miracles, but when Jesus challenged them to feed the throng of people milling around, they froze. With a total lack of faith and vision they told Him, “We have only five loaves and two fish. We can’t start to feed this many people!” But Jesus then takes matters into His own hands, gives thanks for what they already have, and multiplies it. So what important lesson did the disciples learn that was significant enough to be recorded in all four Gospels? Jesus took what they already had and increased it a 1000 times over. He didn’t focus on their lack, but rather on how it could be multiplied and used for His glory. When God calls you to something, He’ll use what you already have…and as you move forward in faith and trust in Him, it will be multiplied.
In the Parable of the Sower, the seed (the Word of God) is sown among the thorns…obstructing its growth. When as a Believer, we don’t see fruit in our lives, we need to be asking ourselves – “What’s distracting me from God’s plan and purpose in my life?” The world’s frenzy is enough to distract us from what really matters, so we need to prioritize everything by these categories: God first, family next, world last. Distracted faith is as bad a luke-warm faith…it’s a unfruitful faith that God can’t use.
In these verses from the Parable of the Sower we see the Word of God being sown over rocky ground. The plants spring up, but because they have no adequate root system, they die off quickly. In the Amplified Version of the Bible it gives us insight into this shallow faith. It states in Mark 4:17, ” And they have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while; then when trouble or persecution arises on account of the Word, they immediately are offended (become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and fall away.” So how can we pray for this person? They have to go deeper. In I Timothy 3:9 it talks about keeping ahold of the deep truths of the faith…the divine secrets, revealed truths, and revelations from God. To move from shallow faith to a vibrant and intimate relationship with the Lord, a person has to go deeper with God…allowing Him to speak to them through the Scriptures, revealing important truths to them. And with these new revelations, they are then able to send roots of trust down deep.
This is from the Parable of the Sower, where the farmer sows the Word…the Logos…the Word of God, onto a hard-packed path. The seed just sits on top of the surface, unable to germinate and grow because of the hardpan – the unbroken subsoil beneath. To have a hardened heart towards the Gospel is to have an indifference towards the things of God…or to have an unfeeling conscience. So how can we pray for that person? We can ask the Lord to plow up that hard soil of rebellion in their life… that the Word of God may germinate and flourish there.
When we compare the actions of Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 we can see quite a contrast. Where Zacchaeus spontaneously offered to donate his great wealth to the needy…the rich young ruler, when challenged by Jesus to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor, left unwilling. True repentance changes us from the inside out. It transforms our heart, causing us to alter our actions and way of thinking to that of Christ’s.
The persistent crowds followed Jesus wherever He went…pressing close and clamoring for attention. But in this Scripture we see a completely different picture of the Lord. He’s holding little ones on His lap…taking the time to hug and cuddle babies and toddlers…seemly unaware of the crowds around Him. Jesus was practicing the gift of unhurried joy. Of taking the time to show someone just how important they are with no regard to time, schedules, or deadlines. Our greatest gift to someone we love, is unhurried time with them…calm, peaceful, focused time – not glancing at our watches or phones, but rather at them. Who in your life today needs to receive the gift of your unhurried time?