I AM Enough

Imagine preaching for three days straight, feeding tens of thousands of people, and defying the law of physics, only to find yourself stuck at sea with a bunch of clueless comrades.

Quite the improbable predicament, eh?

Yet, in Mark 8, this is exactly where we find Jesus...having to navigate a queer quandary amidst his most intense stretch of on-earth ministry.

Let's set the stage:

Shortly after John the Baptist is beheaded, Jesus channels his inner 'Southwest' and gets away.

And who can blame him? The man had every right to mourn the loss of his cousin and pursue privacy to recalibrate.

Yet, what do we see? The masses find him and start following him.

Now, I don't know about you, but being followed by a throng of stalkerish fanatics after a long day’s work would irritate the living crap out of me. Dare I say…my reaction probably would be something like this:
 

However, Jesus couldn’t be more contrarian, as he chooses to not only show compassion on them…but heal their sick as well (Mark 8:2, Matthew 14:14).


Pretty remarkable, even for a burnt out Jesus1.


Around this time, the disciples take note of the situation and advise Jesus to send the people away to buy food. Honestly, I probably do the same thing if I was a disciple.


Yet, it’s at this point when Jesus starts to get a little snarky.

“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16).

Now, you're probably thinking: Why the shrek is Jesus being so cranky? Wouldn’t it make better sense to recharge the batteries at this point?

Well...yes, from a physical perspective; however, Jesus never let his natural state compromise his spiritual conviction.


In this case, not only did Jesus continue operating within a nurturing vein, but he also sought to use an insurmountable challenge to model Holy Spirit reliance to his disciples2.


Yes, filling 5,000 Jewish bellies was an important issue requiring immediate attention; however, Jesus also knew the hours at hand would be paramount in the spiritual development of his disciple-makers3.

However, the story doesn’t end with twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread (Matthew 14:20).


A few verses later, the Bible says, Jesus immediately made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side.


Why the rush, you might ask?


‘Cause Jesus knew the time was ripe to equip/inspire his disciples to a higher level of faith.


He knew if he sharpened their perspective at that critical point, they would begin to see what lay ahead in an entirely different light.


You see…Jesus often instructed in layers, whether through word pictures or repetition; he wasn’t just “one and done” when sharing his wisdom.


So when Jesus flees the scene in v. 22 to pray, perhaps he's setting time aside to discern God’s will on how to reinforce a relational principle4.


Flash-forward a few verses and we find the iconic moment of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:25)…the breadth of his lordship on full display.

But again, as great as the miracle was, Jesus wasn’t trying to prove his power as much as he was looking to empower his disciples to embrace his true identity5.


Thus, as Jesus approaches the boat and tells his disciples to take courage, he’s basically putting words to what he was emphasizing back at Bethsaida: Take heart. I’m not only here, but I’m enough6. I’m enough today as much as yesterday and tomorrow. So don’t put your fear in the situation, but keep it in me at all times7.


After some fourth watch worship, the Bible says Jesus and his disciples arrive at Gennesaret (on route to Decapolis), where Jesus goes on two separate healing sprees, while engaging yet another showdown with the Pharisees8.


With commotion building, Jesus notes the gathering crowd, is struck with compassion, and instructs his disciples to feed them….again


Now, one would think the disciples would have learned to respond readily without any trace of doubt by this point.


But instead, the disciples answered, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” (Mark 8:4)9


*Sigh*


Okay…seriously, disciples?

With all you’ve seen and heard…you’re still trippin?

I mean…Jesus has got to be in annoyed Picard mode at this point, wondering what he has to do to elevate the faith in his disciples.


But instead…Jesus, in perfect grace, replies with a simple math question10, multiplies the bread, and gives thanks…just as he had done a few days before.

Moments later, the Pharisees make their predictable cameo and demand a heavenly sign11, prompting Jesus to deliver a tasteful metaphor in v. 15:


“Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”

In reply, the disciples, helplessly mired in some sort of mental oblivion, take the comment literally, and begin talking about the bread they left behind.
Again…talk about a complete whiff.

Granted, the disciples are likely exhausted beyond all belief at this point…but at the same time, one has to assume Jesus is talking about something far more than a measly loaf of bread.

Surely, if Jesus wanted to upgrade into double-facepalm Picard mode, his incentive would be justified.

Yet, rather than chastise, Jesus gently leads his disciples through an eight-question recap of the days’ events (Mark 8:17-21) to, once again, remind them how he is everything they’ll ever need

and how he’s more than enough, even in dark, uncertain times.


---------------------------------------------------------
Now...I don’t know about you, but I find this all incredibly invigorating, in large part, because of the cross in the story.

Yes, Jesus performed spectacular miracles, owned his haters...and even had time for a stirring convo with a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28); but perhaps most impressively, he never forsook the opportunity to pursue the faith development of his disciples...always keeping the cross in the forefront of his intention, even when life got chaotic.

Sure, he may have sounded harsh at times when dealing with his disciples, but this was because Jesus desperately wanted them to understand how a) salvation is Jesus being enough and b) faith is the overflow of believing this truth.

So it’s interesting to see how the “other-centered” nature of Jesus in Matthew 14-15 & Mark 8 ultimately foreshadows the way of the cross, while also confirming his identity as not only the Son of Man, but the Son of God.

In closing, I encourage you not only to consider what it means to take up your cross…but also to tackle any place of unbelief interfering with the fact you have what it takes to take up your cross and follow Jesus.

Why? Because He is enough.


#Enoughsaid.

Footnotes

       1)    No doubt, emotionally fatigued from multiple angles (death of John + three straight days of intensive ministry + the fact it's either dark or getting close to dark as implied in Matthew 14:15)

2)      With his divinity fully intact, Jesus knew the future better than anyone, so by using the moment to teach his disciples, he was ultimately setting them up to feed Gospel truth to

3)      Clearly, Jesus understood the magnitude of the moment when he entrusted the disciples to walk on the water of the situation. Haha, see what I did there? ;)


4)      The urgency of the situation reminds me of John 8:6, when Jesus starts to write in the ground with his finger in the adulteress account


5)      and the power that comes when presence and purpose collide; also, this makes sense, considering Jesus had already achieved many miracles by this point.


6)      A definition of Jehovah-Jireh meets the New Testament version of the “I Am” account in Exodus 3; also, dependence on God is always a part of anything Jesus teaches/models to his disciples


7)      Clearly, the push for ‘1 on 1’ time with God back in vs. 22 made perfect sense, as it allowed Jesus to keep a reliant rhythm on God.


8)      A noteworthy theme consistent throughout Jesus’ ministry


9)      Déjà vu, anyone?


10)  Foreshadowing Watch


11)  As if the miraculous feedings weren’t enough


Photos from genedaustin.com & hungerintohealth.com



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Comments