What is it about people who witness the hand of God at work right in front of them who still ask for a sign?
For three days the multitude followed Jesus. They were so fascinated with Him they forgot about eating. So many of them, or their friends, were so desperate for His touch they paid no attention to the passing of time or their distance from home. Their portable supplies were long gone but they seem to have had no desire to break off their pursuit of Jesus. They had heard about the 5000 men and their miraculous meal at the hands of Jesus. Why go home? It could happen again.
4000 This Time
When Jesus expressed compassion for the people, His disciples seemed to have forgotten about the feeding of the 5000+.
“How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?”
Jesus must have sighed at this question. So he started the who process over again.
“How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” was the bleak answer. Jesus commanded the preparations, again. He took the bread and fish in His hands, again. He blessed it, again. He gave it to the men and they in turn set it before the people. Again, the blest food supply would not deplete. It multiplied, again. They people got their wish and ate their fill. Jesus sent them away, healed, delivered, informed, inspired and with their bellies full for the journey home.
Back in the Boat
He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples,
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
When they arrived the Rules People were waiting for them. They argued with Him and asked Him for a sign. Two miraculous meals to two vast multitudes, countless physical healings and emotional releases, and a host of previously possessed people now clothed in their right minds were not enough for the Rules People; they wanted a sign. What, beyond these amazing signs, could possibly serve these hard-hearted, hard-headed people?
When the mind is made up, signs don’t matter.
It is the same today. Signs of the validity of the Christian Life are everywhere:
- Lives transformed when people repent of sins and confess Christ as Savior,
- Sicknesses healed when the prayer of faith is prayed and anointing is made,
- Powers of Hell broken in the Name of Jesus,
- Wickedness in men’s hearts replaced by righteousness, and,
- Communities transformed by Spirit-led revival.
And still people need a sign.
There is a sign—two pieces of wood in the shape of a cross—a sign that changes worlds and hearts. See this sign and know that God is loving. See this sign and know that God is just. See this sign and believe that there is hope for you.
In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha. Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”
Lord Jesus, the only sign I need from You is the cross. It tells me everything I need to know. It shows me everything I need to see. It points me in the way, the only way, I should go. This symbol of guilt and execution is now more than a symbol; it is a means of forgiveness and pardon. I see my guilt in the cross and I see Your innocent blood flowing down to cover my guilt and wash it away. I see my victory in the power of the cross for there is no other power to save and deliver me. Thank You, Lord, for the one sign I need—The Cross! Amen.
The Old Rugged Cross
Words and Music: George Bennard
1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
the emblem of suffering and shame;
and I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.
2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
has a wondrous attraction for me;
for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above
to bear it to dark Calvary.
3. In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
a wondrous beauty I see,
for ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
to pardon and sanctify me.
4. To that old rugged cross I will ever be true,
its shame and reproach gladly bear;
then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,
where his glory forever I’ll share.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.