We studied the fish and loaves again tonight at Shepherd's Staff. That place gets me excited. They just opened a thrift store, calling it Shepherd's Stuff. We opened this garage up and had dinner and Bible study in a much bigger space, the place where they will have the Stuff.
But back to the story. I'm recalling the lesson I did on Sunday, the same lesson, and Debbie pointing out something convicting. The situation: Jesus's cousin, John the Baptist, had just been killed. He and his disciples have been having a rough day. Jesus calls them to come with him and rest. But the people came to them and he taught them until the evening. Then the disciples were tired and wanted to go home and send all the people home. But they were miles from the nearest McDonald's. It would take forever for them to get home and prepare their meals, which took longer then. They might even faint from hunger on the way.
Jesus sees what the disciples don't see, something he wants them to see. He has compassion on those people, like sheep without a shepherd. The disciples are so wrapped up in their ministry and duties that they forget to stop and care about the people. Jesus calls them to feed the people. Take time to take care of their needs, both physical and spiritual.
Then, I was reading this book for my online youth ministry class. It was a chapter written by a more liberal guy. However, despite his questioning of defining theology, the had a wonderful insight on the story of Jesus healing the demon-possessed boy after coming down from the mount of Transfiguration. He had just had the time of his life with Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor. Jesus got to see Moses and Elijah, transform into what he looks like in his heavenly state as God the Son, and Peter even threatened to build tabernacles. Now, they come home to the rest of the guys who can't get this demon out of the boy. They are trying so hard to do their miraculous works and argue about who is the best disciples, but this boy and his father still suffer. Despite coming back from an amazing trip, Jesus takes the time to talk to the father. The father tells him more about the boy and says, "I believe. Help my unbelief." The disciples cared about having a good, holy face toward the world, but this father and son suffered from their neglect of compassion to the point that they struggled believing. Have you ever been so busy with holy activities that you could not take a break and spend time with someone to their detriment? We must be so careful in all our godly work that it is for God's glory and not to get merit. To care more about other people than your own quota for the day.
Finally, RC Sproul's sermon this morning on RYM was about Jesus forgiving Peter in John 21. The announcer wasn't even done speaking when the Holy Spirit started moving. He said, "What if someone asked you if you love him more than your fellow disciples? What if he asked this in front of them? What if this man was Jesus?" Then Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Jesus more than the fish, more than his job, more than even his brothers in the boat with him. Three confessions of love to match the three denials. This broke Peter's heart. It breaks mine, too. Do I really love Jesus more than I love my ambitions, goals, my friends? Even my church job? I can't always say yes to that.
It gets worse. Then Jesus tells Peter that if he loves him then he will feed his Sheep. That means he will take care of his fellow believers and encourage them in the Lord while preaching the Word to them. You cannot love Jesus if you aren't willing to give up your life for your fellow sheep. I can't say I follow either love really well, vertical or horizontal. Lord help me to love people in such a way that I'm not getting something out of it, but that I truly seek your glory.