Matthew 14:22-24 (NIV) Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
After the great success of feeding the 5,000, to the disciples’ disappointment, Jesus decided that He needed some time alone to pray, and to seek God’s face. So He sent them back to the boat, and told them to return to Capernaum; He would join them there later.
After they left, Jesus dismissed the crowd, and then went up on the mountain, where He prayed. He still needed to process the death of John the Baptist. And, to add to that, His closest followers really didn’t seem to be getting it at all. John’s execution had given Him a renewed sense of how quickly the clock was ticking, and how short His remaining time really was. But He knew that just a couple of hours spent with His Father would put everything in its proper perspective. All He had to do was to get to a place that He could focus, could hear God’s voice clearly, and could receive His next instructions. After that, all would be well.
The disciples, on the other hand, were being buffeted, not just by the wind and the waves, but by their own minds. The contrary wind was a perfect illustration for their own doubts. Why did their faith seem to be so inadequate? Why, when faced with a challenge, did they despair and want to throw in the towel immediately? They had heard Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom and how to live in it. They thought that they understood it. But they couldn’t quite seem to make the leap from theology to reality.
They knew that Jesus had no such problem. His poise, His assurance, His seeming knowledge of exactly what the Father could do, would do, was amazing to them. He never seemed to be at a loss for what to do. He pulled off amazing things, even healing diseases and casting out demons, and encouraged them to use the authority that He had given them to do the same.
“You give them something to eat.” Those words continued to ring in the ears of each of them as they silently pulled on the oars, fighting the storm that raged around them and inside of them. “YOU give them something to eat.” But they froze, daunted by the enormity of the task, the impossibility of it all. And it was absolutely impossible! But then Jesus simply and effortlessly fed them all, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. It wasn’t, of course. It wasn’t a natural thing in the world at all. But it was completely natural in the kingdom of God.
Father, a big part of our problem is that we think and perceive from the perspective of someone who lives and works in the natural world, while You call us to work in the world while living in Your kingdom, and urge us to see all things from that perspective. It seems impossible to us, but Jesus did it, and showed us the way. And we have Your promise that the Holy Spirit will empower us to actually be able to do it ourselves. Help me, Lord, to think like Jesus, to perceive like Jesus, so that I will be able to accomplish all that You call me to do, like Jesus. Amen.