Right after Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, right after they cleaned up the leftovers and packaged them into twelve baskets, Jesus “made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side while He dismissed the crowds.”
First of all, let’s talk about that for a minute. I have worked on lots of committees and been at lots of school and church functions and potlucks, and I don’t ever remember my leader sending me away ‘immediately’ so that he or she could dismiss the crowds. I may have snuck away early of my own volition a few times (sorry, boss), but never have I seen a leader send away all his workers right after an event of this magnitude.
We might be tempted to think Jesus thought they’d had enough for the day — He’d proven He was God in a BIG way. Who else but God could feed 5,000 men plus the women and children attached to them with five loaves of bread and two fish and have twelve baskets of food to pick up??? If we stop at Matthew 14:22 and see that He sent them away, we may think, “Oh, that was nice of Jesus to give them a break.” But if you read a little further, like I did this afternoon, you’ll see that Jesus was not finished with them. He had saved the bonus lesson for the twelve.
As a teacher I prepare lessons for a class — usually 90 minutes of activities that, together, are designed to teach a certain objective or set of objectives. These lessons have to take into consideration the spectrum of abilities and learning styles present in my classroom. These whole class lessons stem from course objectives, which stem from departmental objectives, which are in line with the mission of the school. They are very structured and intentional — as I imagine was the Feeding of the 5,000.
But often I get the pleasure of teaching a bonus lesson. These lessons are often impromptu. A student drops in before or after school and wants advice on a college essay, or a college choice, or a prom dress. A grad emails me to talk about something that happened in class, or on a date, or in her family. And sometimes right in the middle of class an opportunity presents itself — a comment is made that I wasn’t expecting, a student asks a particularly relevant question, or a particularly irrelevant question, or an event happens in the world that demands us to leave the prepared lesson and seize the opportunity. I have been known to close my computer and say, “Ok, guys, this is a bonus lesson — don’t worry, I’m not going to charge you extra.”
I imagine that is what happened after the Feeding of the 5,000. Jesus wasn’t tired. He didn’t want to go home, sit in his recliner, and watch Monday Night Football. He had been watching His disciples all day and He knew they were ready for –The Bonus Lesson.
I mean, earlier in the day they had freaked out just a little bit. “Hey, Jesus, what are we going to do with all these people!!! They are getting hungry! Let’s get them out of here!”
Jesus had other plans. “No, don’t send them away. Feed them.”
“Uh, there’s like 5,000 of them. We only have five loaves and two fish.”
They didn’t see how in the world He, Jesus, who was also God, Creator of the world, Provider of every breath and every bite, could feed the people He had created. Yeah, I’ve been there.
So He proved that He was God and that He could and would provide.
They saw it and were amazed, but not too amazed, because a short while later, they were out in the boat that He had put them in, in the water that He had created, when a storm blew in. (In case you aren’t following — God controls storms.) And of course they responded by recognizing that He is God and that He would protect them, right?
They were sitting in the boat terrified and He walked on the water to them. And they didn’t recognize Him. Who else could be walking on the water? “It’s a ghost!” Seriously?
Jesus had to roll His eyes. I have been known to roll mine. I have just completed a lesson on in-text documentation — the why, the how, the where — and a student says something like, “But do I have to cite my sources?” Eye roll.
It was dark and stormy, so if He rolled His eyes, we will never know. We do know that He said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And still, Peter says, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Really? You need proof? Today? He just fed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.
(Eye roll?) “Come.” (I am think it was more like, “Come on, then.” But let me not add to Scripture.)
Peter started walking and “came to Jesus.” And then still, he became afraid and began to sink. “Lord, save me!”
(Eye roll.) “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Seriously, didn’t you see the fishes thing? Didn’t you see me walk on the water? Didn’t you see yourself walk on the water?)
Finally, they got in the boat and the wind ceased. (He can do that whenever He wants, you know.) And then, “those in the boat worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.'”
Why do we wait until we are fed? Why do we wait until the wind has ceased? Why do we doubt until God proves Himself? Over and over and over.
Because He is God and we are not. We need Him. We need our Teacher. We need The Bonus Lesson.
I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.