Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 14 April 2015

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”   Mark 6, verse 37.

One more thing about this story, the feeding of the five thousand; just a small question, if you will.

Sometime in the last few years, making over $100,000 in America became a commonplace thing.   If you gross $100K in your annual pay, you’re now counted as distinctively middle class; average and nothing special.  If you gross $100K in salary, after all taxes, you’re generally netting between $50,000 and $60,000.   Let’s say you net $60,000.   According to today’s verse, if you were one of the disciples, you would be saying to Jesus, “you want me to spend $30,000 to feed a bunch of strangers?”

Noodle that thought for a moment.   Then it’s time for a gut-check.

You see, would you really give half your income to feed a group of tired, loud, restless, smelly strangers?   $30 buys A LOT of mac and cheese, you know.  There is some thinking that it was Judas Iscariot who said this verse since Judas was the keeper of the Disciples’ money (and Jesus eventual betrayer), or at least that’s how it was once explained to me.  No matter, the words were spoken long before Holy Week.   And folks in first century Judea didn’t make $100K; they didn’t make even $30K.   They might not have made even the equivalent of $300.  The amount really isn’t the point:   it’s the staggering figure.   A half a year’s wages just to give a crowd a one-time meal?   And the point behind that?   The point is the reason for the gut-check.

What do you really believe?

Do you really believe that a crap-ton of strangers are worth your hard-earned dollars?   Sure, we can say “if someone was hungry I’d give them something to eat” (and I believe you and I would mean it).  Well, here’s an instance of someone being hungry (the five thousand men) and Jesus’ closest friends are balking at the idea of feeding them.   What do you think they really believed?   They, who walked hand-in-hand with King Jesus while He was ministering, living, breathing and, yes, EATING here on the Third Rock, balked when He asked them to feed the hungry.   Do you think the Disciples really believed they could feed such a crowd?   Or that they should?

Thank God Jesus was handy with a miracle, you know?

And when we are done reading and re-reading the story of how He fed five thousand men on fish and barley bread, that nagging question still nags:   what do you REALLY believe?

Do you really believe the Son of God actually did these things?   And if you say yes, do you believe Him when He says that you and I can do the same if only we fully trust in Him?   That’s the toughest question you’ll face today, maybe even in your lifetime.  No pressure, my friend:   it’s only eternity hanging on your answer, specifically your eternity.   Because if you truly believe in your heart that what Jesus said was all true, then nothing is impossible for you.   If you truly believe in what Jesus said, then you quickly must conclude that nothing is about you even as nothing is impossible for you.   It doesn’t matter whether you make $100K or $100 million:  the scratch is irrelevant.   What do you really believe?

Lord, forgive my weak and puny faith, and create in me a home for Your heart.

Read Mark 6, verses 45-56.

Daily Proverbial, from 1 John, 25 March 2013.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.  1 John 3, verse 14.

The wages of sin are death; the Apostle Paul said it.   He said it having known the faith that the Apostle John knew (and maybe even having personally met John in the flesh).  If you do some word substitution with Paul’s verse, it takes on a whole new meaning.   The wages of sin are death…the wages of following Jesus are life.  If we live for sin, we reject Jesus.   If we reject Jesus, we reject Him and His love, which is the essence of life.   If we live for sin, we reject life.

So if we live for following Jesus, we are paid in life; abundant life of contentment, peace, knowledge, joy, happiness, and fun.  Even as the terrible times still happen when we follow Him, we are freed of emotional, even physical, slavery to those terrors and we become able to deal with them realistically, through the lens of Him to teaches that tough times never last but tough believers do.

How do we follow Jesus?   It starts with just love.   Just love people, learning to love the way Jesus loved.  Love is selfless.   Love says “you first.”  Love is empathy and caring, patience and wisdom.   Love acts like Jesus does.  When we love, we follow Him and we’re open for Him to teach us even more. 

When we love, the world will hate us for it because love is crazy and illogical.  Love goes against the grain of a world that is accustomed to living through logical sin.   In the world, unreasonable ignorance is equated with knowing love.  In the world, the life that is a fruit of love is replaced with the death that comes because of hatred. 

And it happens because I put me first, because I abandon selfless love to get my selfish desires.  It happens even though we know there’s a better way.

I was an adulterer, and sometimes that weighs on me.   They were good women who cared, even loved, despite denying our mutual selfishness and impossible expectations.  I’ve cursed, I’ve stolen, I’ve hated; I’ve done worse than these.   The logical outcome for all of my sins is permanent separation from God:  death.  2000 years ago, God proved He saw things differently.  He put Himself up to die as the price He was willing to pay to save me from myself.   When He did that, though I wasn’t even born yet, God brought me over from death to life.  He did it for you as well.  And for Joe Stalin, Joe Biden, Joltin Joe DiMaggio, and Joe the Plumber as well.   God did it for all of us average Joe’s so that we might follow Jesus and live.

Lord, thank you for bringing me from death to life, from hatred to love, and from hopeless ignorance to knowing hope.