DON’T YOU REMEMBER?
Key Verse: 8:18
“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”
In the previous passage Jesus healed a deaf and mute man. Jesus opened his ears to hear and his mouth to speak. He proved that he was the Messiah prophesied in the OT. Today, Jesus is asking us, “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” May God bless us to accept Jesus as our Messiah and compassionate shepherd! I pray that God may give us compassion for 40,000 UMCP students and feed them with the word of God.
PART 1 JESUS FEEDS THE FOUR THOUSANDS (1-13)
According to verse 31, this event happened in the region of the Decapolis where the population was comprised of Jews and the Gentiles. During those days another large crowd of people gathered around Jesus. Jesus had a three day intensive Bible conference in the remote place. Some people brought their provisions and now they had nothing to eat. Some people did not have food to eat but they stayed with Jesus to hear the word of God. They chose to be nourished by Jesus’ word rather than bread. Look at verses 2-3. “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” In 6:34 the basis of Jesus’ compassion is that the people are like sheep without shepherd. So he taught them many words. Here the basis of his compassion is that the people have been here so long without food. So Jesus meets their need by feeding them. We find a close relationship between compassion and feeding. Jesus did not abandon the need of the hungry crowds. Jesus met their need because he was a compassionate shepherd. We lack nothing when we have Jesus. Jesus did not send them home hungry. Jesus did not want them to collapse on the way home. Jesus knew their needs very well. Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink? Or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Worrying is a terrible disease that destroys our faith in God. At this time the multitude did not worry about what to eat or drink or wear during their Bible conference. They trusted in Jesus. They did not run after food. They put their priority in seeking God and hearing Jesus. Jesus knew their need and provided food for them. Jesus does not ignore our physical need. Jesus knows our sickness and gives us healing. Jesus knows our children’s problem and extends his helping hands. He will not leave us like orphans but will meet all our needs. But we must come to him and listen to his word as our first priority. M. Joshua put God first in his life and God provided all his needs. It does not matter the number whether it is five thousands or four thousands. Jesus is willing to take care of the multitude. He can take care of 40,000 students at UMCP and he can take care of the whole population in the Washington metropolitan area. Why? Jesus is the Almighty God who came down from the heaven to feed his own people. Jesus is our manna from heaven. Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Wow! We are blessed to have Jesus as the provider of our spiritual bread so that we may not go hungry and never be thirsty.
Jesus had a plan to feed the multitude. But he did not carry it out by himself. He involved his disciples in feeding the crowds. How did the disciples respond? Look at verse 4. “His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” Their response is fascinating and it was not negative at all. They said, “Can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” Their answer implies that no one can feed them but Jesus alone can act on behalf of the people. They were saying, “What do you intend to do?” This shows that the disciples had made a little progress since the time Jesus fed the 5000. When Jesus fed the 5000, Jesus’ disciples were so impatient that they interrupted Jesus to dismiss the crowd. However, this time they waited for three full days without saying anything. Before, the disciples had no compassion for the hungry crowd. They rationalized that they had no money and made many excuses to send them away. This time they were concerned together with Jesus and wanted to work together to carry out his plan.
Sometimes when we look at others, there seems to be no spiritual progress and we get discouraged or disappointed. We need faith and spiritual eyes to see others as Jesus saw his disciples. We must have faith and hope in God and continue to plant his living word in others and pray for them. Jesus’ disciples often looked like they were never growing or never changing. However, they were slowly growing in the compassion of Jesus. Therefore, we should not despair about ourselves, our children or our Bible students but keep on teaching the word of God as the fundamental solution to all life problems.
Jesus knew what he was going to and asked his disciples for their opinion about how to feed them. Look at verse 5. “’How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied.” It seems to be useless to ask his disciples who had no resources. But it was the beginning point of co-working. When we ask others’ opinion, it can be the beginning of working together and building a relationship. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for Jesus to feed 4000 people with 7 loaves and a few small fish. What did Jesus do in this impossible situation? Look at verses 6-7. “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.” Jesus prayed to God and depended on God believing that he would feed them. Giving thanks to God means that we depend on him for our provision.1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Nothing goes wrong when we give thanks to God. We express our faith to God by giving thanks in all situations. Sometimes we meet trials of many kinds and then it is easy to complain. But we must trust God and give thanks and then God will hear us and answer our prayers.
What was the result? Look at verses 8-9a. “The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand men were present.” What a gracious provision of God it was! When Jesus prayed and the disciples worked together with Jesus, God blessed them and they could feed the 4000 hungry people. What a great blessing it is to work together with Jesus. Everybody knows the importance of co-working, but it is not easy at all for selfish people to work together. Due to our human ego or pride, we would like to work alone. Some people are good in personal faith but weak in working together. S. Brian just joined Apostle’s fellowship. But S. David respected him greatly and asked him to lead the group Bible study. They had good Bible study. David learned the spirit of co-working from Jesus. Jesus is God himself. He did not have to work with others. Even though his disciples looked too young to work with Jesus, Jesus respected them as his co-workers. He let his disciples participate in feeding the 4000. God’s work can be done when we work together. Still, Jesus’ heart is to feed the whole world through us. Jesus needed many field workers. Jesus said, “I have compassion on the multitude. Today, America is going through hardship. Jesus is calling us to have compassion on the multitude. There are many hungry and thirsty souls on our campuses. We hear their cry for help. We hear their groaning heart. But how often we want to ignore their cries and escape our responsibility. We pretend not to hear anything. But Jesus called us to become their shepherds with compassion. These days God is using Friday night YDJ revival meeting at the Armory. 10 new students are joining them. YDJ leaders are taking the ownership for UMCP ministry because they are responding Jesus’ word, “I have compassion on the multitude.” I pray that God may use their compassion to feed the multitude. May God help us to work together by faith and with assurance of God’s abundant, overflowing blessing!
PART II DON’T YOU REMEMBER? (14-21)
Look at verse 14. “The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.” Due to their abrupt departure to avoid annoying Pharisees, they had forgotten to take bread with them. The disciples had just eaten with the 4000 but now, when they were hungry again, they began to worry about their next meal. What did Jesus say to them? Look at verse 15. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” Jesus used their fresh memory (8:11) to warn them about the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod. As we know, yeast is so small it is nearly invisible, but once put into dough, it influences the whole batch. In both Jewish and Hellenistic cultures yeast was a common metaphor for corruption. The Pharisees was corrupt because they asked Jesus for a sign though they saw so many already. They had hidden motives. Herod asked for a sign to entertain his evil desire in Luke 23:8 The Pharisees and Herod looked very different since Pharisees were religious leaders and Herod was a political leader. But one thing in common was their opposition to Jesus’ teachings. Their unbelief and sign-seeking mentality could plant doubt and fear in the hearts of young believers. So Jesus warned his disciples to watch out for their bad influence. What is the yeast of the Pharisees today? It can be an easy-going mentality or a carefree life style. People do not like suffering or hardship. They love an easy-going life. Everything is available at our finger-tips. Due to GPS system, people do not know how to read the map or they do not know the street names. When they meet hardship, they easily give up. Romans 12:2a Says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world.” Here the pattern of the world may refer to the popular way of life. We must follow the word of God rather than the pattern of the world. Noah in Genesis refused to follow the pattern of the world but walked with God by building the ark. When the Flood came, he and his family were saved from the judgment. We must be careful not to follow the popular way of easy-going and evil way of life the world offers. We know it will lead to the destruction.
How did Jesus’ disciples understand Jesus’ warning about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod? They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Due to their severe bread problem, they related everything to the bread. We can understand their situation very well because they were unemployed and depended on Jesus for their provision. They were sensitive to their physical need. But they were insensitive about their spiritual need. They ignored the bad influence of the Pharisees and Herod. They were saying, “Are you talking to me?’
Look at verse 17. “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?” Jesus rebuked his disciples for worrying too much about bread, for not seeing or understanding, and for their hardened hearts. Jesus had already performed so many miracles. What were they? Jesus drove the demon out of a man in the synagogue. Jesus healed many with various diseases and drove out many demons. Jesus healed a man with leprosy and a paralytic. Jesus calmed a stormy Sea. Jesus healed a Gerasene demoniac and a bleeding woman. Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus fed the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus walked on water. Jesus healed the Greek woman’s daughter and a deaf-mute man. Jesus fed the 4000 with 7 loaves. Through these miracles, Jesus showed that he is the Messiah King with endless compassion for those in need. Did the disciples need any more proof to trust in him? The disciples should have believed that as long as Jesus was with them everything would be fine. In short, they should have had faith in Almighty God. But whenever they confronted problems they completely forgot who Jesus was and what Jesus had done. Instead they were filled with worries and anxieties. To Jesus, their real problem was they did not remember what Jesus had already done. The disciples should have found the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ miracles and had it permanently imprinted on their minds and hearts. But they completely forgot and only saw what was before them at the present.
Look at verse 18. “Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?” According to Jesus, their main problem is their insensitivity and dullness towards Jesus’ teaching and mighty works. They were slow in their spiritual growth like a Maryland terrapin. What blinded their eyes to see Jesus as their Messiah and giver of all things? What caused them to prevent them from hearing the word of Jesus? Their human desire blocked them to see Jesus clearly. They followed Jesus with their human ambition. They wanted to secure a high position in Jesus’ future Jerusalem cabinet. Another factor was their forgetful habit. Forgettable are human beings. One man forgot his wife’s birthday and came home finding his wife under the blanket crying. He asked his children, “What is wrong with your mom?” They said, “You forgot her birthday.” Do not forget the birthdays of your wife or husband or children. Remember them and put them in your calendar. The best excuse people use for their absence is “sorry, I forgot.” So Jesus asked them, “Don’t you remember?” He began to have a group Bible study with them to remind them the work of God. He patiently taught his disciples again and again. Jesus had Q and A with his disciples.
Look at verses 19-20. “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” Jesus reminded them specifically of the two events of feeding the 5,000 and feeding the 4,000. Jesus helped his disciples to remember what he had done. Understanding these two miracles recorded in all four gospels is very critical for them to understand who Jesus really is. Through these two events, Jesus wanted them to learn God’s love, compassion and provision in any situation. Jesus wants us to approach human problems by remembering what God has done in our lives. We call this a sense of God’s history. History repeats itself. For example, Deuteronomy means “second law” or “repeated lesson.” Moses wanted to remind the new generation Israelites of their history, all that God had done for them, and the laws they had to continue to obey as God’s chosen people. When they remember God’s grace and obey his words, they will prosper in the land. Otherwise, they will lose God’s blessings and will go into exile. They forgot God’s grace and lost their nations and went into captivity. It is important to remember God to prevent the same mistakes. America fought many wars in the 20th century. Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the WWII began with Japan. The slogan of the soldiers in the battle field was “Remember Pearl Harbor.” It was their rallying point which led them to victory. After 9-11 terrorist attack, churches were filled with people. But soon they soon forgot what happened, churches were empty again. More than anything else, God’s people must remember God’ grace. Don’t you remember your days as a baby? Don’t you remember where we worshiped before? We were in humble studio apartment and moved to a house and then God blessed to have this spacious center. Don’t you remember your days as a young Christian? Do not forget what God has done in your life. Do not forget God’s grace in your life. Revelation 2:5a says, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Do not forget your first love. When I came to America, I was a poor missionary living in a studio. But I was filled with joy serving Jesus’ flocks. Though God blessed me to live in a house, I lost my first love. I repent and want to do the things I did at first. Historically, we do not see any nation or individuals to be successful when they forget God and only stick with God’s blessings. Forgetting God invites disaster and terrible consequences. Therefore, we must remember God and serve his will so that God’s blessing overflows to thousand generations.
In conclusion, Jesus is our provider of physical bread and spiritual bread. Though we are slow in understanding his word and dull in our spiritual growth, he teaches us again and again until our spiritual eyes are opened to see him as our Messiah and our ears opened to hear his voice. I pray that God may help us to remember his mighty work done for us so that we may have Jesus’ compassion and feed the multitude by faith in God. May God bless us to trust in Jesus! Let’s read the key verse 18.