Tuesday, May 31, 2011

THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND



Jesus looks up and takes a deep breath. He particularly enjoys a breezy day sitting on the mountainside, fresh air fills his soul. Overlooking the vast lake from his view, he orders his disciples to sit down and rest a while. “Look, Master!” Peter points to some distance away. Jesus turns around and sees a crowd heading towards them. The disciples groan at the lack of privacy, especially when they want the Messiah to themselves. As their Master’s fame being reported far and wide, to every nook and corner, they know this will be inevitable. How they wished that today they would just rest and reflect of all that have happened. It has indeed been fast and furious. The disciples have seen how Jesus never shows signs of fatigue or apathy, like this is his cup of tea. Like he is born to serve, heal and deliver.



Looking at the people’s faces, Jesus senses physical exhaustion but definitely not the enthusiasm. They may have walked few hours to reach where he is and way past lunch time. “Teacher, perhaps, we should send them away to get food,” Peter suggests. The rest of the disciples nod in agreement. It is perhaps a good excuse to dismiss the crowd on a tired day.


“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Jesus turns to Philip. Philip looks at his Master stunned, as if he did not hear that. The control in Jesus’ tone of voice makes it even scarier. “He doesn’t seem like joking. Or maybe he doesn’t know that we are not that rich,” Philip thinks to himself.


“Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Philip reminds his Teacher of the herculean task ahead. Even if they had enough money, the logistic would be incredibly hard.


“You have to give them something to eat,” Jesus speaks compassionately to his disciples. He knows that sending them away at this hour would be disastrous in this remote region. Furthermore, with such a huge crowd, about 5,000 men alone, it can even cause a riot.


All of a sudden, Andrew jumps up, “I have an idea. Let us ask some people to share their food that they brought for the trip.” He gathers the rest to look for willing donors. Hungry people can become selfish people they soon found out. Only Andrew’s enthusiasm got him a small lunch pack. And that is from a young boy whose heart of sacrifice is larger than so many grown men and women. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” he turns to Jesus dejectedly, his plan failed miserably. Jesus pats him on the back for trying.


Finally Jesus stands up and tells his disciples to arrange people to sit on the grass in orderly fashion. He takes the loaves from the small boy, looks up to the clouds and prays “Father, thank you for your provision.” Right in front of thousands of prying eyes, the loaves which he breaks miraculously whip back to their original shape. Then he proceeds to break the fishes and they appear again whole. The crowd roars in rapturous awe. Their hunger temporarily forgotten!


Jesus signals to his disciples to feed the crowd and let them eat as much as they want. With awe and disbelief, the disciples quickly dispense all the foods to the people. They cannot imagine that they can ever witness such 'hand of God' at work. Everyone, from young to old, eats to their hearts’ content. The boy who gave the initial lunch is surrounded by people thanking him for his generosity. When the disciples collect the leftovers, it fills twelve baskets full. God always leaves no one unsatisfied when He blesses.


One man from within the crowd shouts, “Jesus, you are the Prophet who is to come into the world.” He whips up a commotion, people shouting on top of their lungs for the Miracle Worker to be their King. When they start to stand up, Jesus quickly withdraws into the other side of the mountain. He has a plan far greater than what men conceive in their mind.


The disciples crave for the day that Israel will become a proud nation again. Their Master must be the One to lead them after what he has done today. Nothing is impossible for him. The well-fed crowd want not only food today, but someone from God to help them all the time. Jesus must be the One, compassionate yet invincible. The young boy walks home with a great story to tell. Suddenly he is reminded of the story of King David. “With a small stone and a sling, he killed Goliath. I gave away a small pack of lunch and it fed thousands. It must be God! And…..Jesus is …..”


The above story is taken from John 6:1-15. (See also Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44 and Luke 9:10-17)


Next: Walking on Water
http://psbible.blogspot.com/2011/06/jesus-walking-on-water.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HEALING AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA

Jesus shakes his head with deep compassion. “What a broken world!” he laments. The disciples veer through hordes of disabled souls, the blind, the lame and the paralysed. “Sorry, I got no money,” Peter shakes off the wrinkled hands of a blind man that hold on to his foot. “No, no, keep watch on the water for me, please!” the old man, with white spots in the pupil of his eyes, pleads. Peter has heard of the purported healings of lame people in the pools near these covered colonnades.


Occasionally, when the water ripples, it would create a commotion of a rushing throng into the pool. The belief is that whoever gets into the water first will get healed. Invariably, most if not all will climb out of the pool disappointed. Perhaps, once in a while, there would be a shout of joy of one lucky soul at the feeling of getting better. The pain relieved and a seeming pride of being the first to get into the water.


Jesus stops for one guy whose eyes are fixed on the water in great expectation. He has that, ‘the-next-time-the-water-is-stirred, I-will-be-the-first-one-to-go-in’ attitude. Eagerness is one thing but being able to do so is completely another. Paralysed from his waist down, he has been in that condition for the past thirty-eight years. He prays that the next time when the angel comes to stir the water, it will also help him to be the first among the rest to taste the water. That is his only hope and prayer. But waiting for so long has sapped his confidence and now he finds excuse for his predicament. He even blames his sins for this hopeless situation.


Jesus bends down and taps his shoulder. “Do you want to get well?” he asks gently. Sensing hope at someone who is willing to help him into the water, he pleads that Jesus will watch the pool for him. “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me,” he shrugs. “Can you help me, sir?”


“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk,” Jesus commands. Instead of seeing a stirring of the pool’s water, he feels the stirring of the inside of his body. He hasn’t felt this kind of sensation for God knows when. Both of his feet grow strong at an instant, those bones and muscles making a strange sound from within his body. At first, he kneels with his new found strength, and then rises to a brand new world.


Mat in hand, his only possession, he dances like a madman. “Hey, I am healed!” he shouts incessantly. Before he can leap on to proceed to the temple further south, the place he has always wanted to go, a man violently takes his mat and slams it to the ground. “It is Sabbath: the law forbids you to carry your mat,” he lashes out. Taken by surprise, the healed-man utters, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” He is shocked that there are people who are not shocked over such marvellous wonder of healing. And moreover, that healing is wrought just by some spoken words!


“Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” another man angrily asks. “Oh! It was so exhilarating that I have forgotten to even thank him,” the once paralysed-man suddenly realises. He tries to look for this ‘Healer-Man’ but the crowd is just too big. “Excuse me!” he quickly dashes out of the compound to proceed to the temple to praise and worship God!


At the temple ground, he quickly kneels down and utters a thanksgiving prayer. “God, thank you. I know I do not have the offering right now but I will do that as soon as I have it!” When he finishes praying, he looks up and sees Jesus staring at him. “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you,” the Son of God speaks authoritatively, words that are as effective as the healing earlier. “Yes, Sir! Thank you! Thank you! Jesus, you must be the Messiah we are all waiting for. I will shout of your Name from now on!” the scrawny man replies with tears in his eyes.


The disciples now know that Jesus deliberately stopped by the pool for this man, hopeless if not for a divine intervention. Sometimes they wonder why Jesus chose this particular invalid for healing to be performed. Perhaps the man wanted the healing more than the rest! Or maybe he is ready to follow Jesus all the way after the healing. That’s why they reason that their Master searched him out in the temple ground in the midst of a huge crowd. They put their faith in him even more, not only as the Son of God who heals but also One who knows everything!


The story above is taken from John 5:1-15