When looking at large chunks of scripture, like the one before us today, it is helpful to unify our observations by answering: what do these verses teach about God? It is helpful to do this, mainly, because the Bible is a book about God, and therefore focusing on God before anything else is the way the Bible is supposed to be read! It is when we first see God clearly that we can then clearly see ourselves. The main focus of these verses is to contrast Jesus being the Messiah with the slowness and lack of belief by the disciples and Pharisees, respectively.
The multiplication of the bread and fish in verses 1-10 give us the greatest proof of the power and authority that Jesus had. By doing this, his creating and sustaining power over all things was put on full display. Who else can feed more than 4,000 people and end with more than they began with? The only reasonable explanation for this is that its source is the power of God.
Slowness of Belief
We see the example of the disciples slowness in believing in Jesus in two main ways in this passage. First, in the discussion following the miracle that was centering on avoiding the “spiritual” leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. Instead of understanding the significance of the self centered and self reliance that spread from them, the disciples thought he was literally talking about bread. Second, the example of the man healed of blindness in verses 22-26 serve a similar purpose. It was not because of Jesus’ lack of power that he did not fully heal the man’s eye sight; it was to serve as an illustration of the disciples slow understanding of the truth of Jesus’ final purpose at the cross. But even in this slow understanding, the contrast of the Pharisee’s unbelief is differentiated.
If the disciples can be critiqued because of their slowness of belief, and the Pharisees must be critiqued because of their total lack of belief. Their hearts were hard to the truth of who Jesus was, mainly because they were ones that were supposed to know the Law inside and out, and yet were still seeking a visible sign that Jesus was the Messiah. Of course, Jesus had already done enough to prove that, but because their expectation of what the Messiah would be, they denied that Jesus could be what they were hoping for.
In order to have proper faith, we must properly see Jesus. In order to be quick to believe and understand Jesus, we must have a persistent focus on the Gospel and its effects, not only in our salvation but also our growth in Christ.
What did God teach you about Himself through His Word? Respond in the comments!
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice