“On Your Mark”
Grace Without Measure (Chapter 8 Verses 1-13)
The incident recorded here is an entirely different one to that in John’s gospel (John 6.1-15). It certainly teaches no less, but it is a different one. After three days of being with Jesus and his disciples (vv1-3), the Lord expresses his compassion for the people. We are taught surely at the very least to care for those who are physically hungry. But it raised a question (v4), how? Of course there is not the same anxiety with the disciples as there was with the other, a similar miracle. They have learned something since then. The thing they are to note and learn here is the Lord’s compassion, and because of the repetition of the miracle that Jesus is always able to provide, and to sustain life (vv5-6). Again the primary concern of Jesus in teaching these men, and preparing them for the future is seen.
As Jesus breaks the bread and it is distributed there is always more to give (vv7-8). The resources of the Lord Jesus are never exhausted, he has and gives life abundantly (John 6.33, 35; 10.10). And Jesus is always bidding us to come to him (John 6.35), to feed upon him and find true satisfaction, it can be found nowhere else. When once life is given it goes on and on, it has no end. But the life Jesus gives, spiritual, eternal life, knows no hunger, no thirst as long as we keep coming back to him, the Bread of life, and feed upon him. It can only be spoiled, or adversely affected by unbelief. Of course that does not exclude further desire for spiritual things, for a deeper relation with God. Paul prays for such for the Ephesian believers (Ephesians 1.15-17). The saying of Paul is true with regards to the Jews (vv11-13; 1Corinthians 1.22). This is the same temptation Jesus faced in the desert with Satan (Luke 4.1-10), and faced over and over, to perform some kind of miracle in order to prove his Divine Son-ship. He refuses to yield to the temptation each time. These people delude themselves, they think that further miracles would bring them to the submission of faith, but it would not. The greatest and highest reach of faith is to stand upon and take God at his word, there is no greater faith. The provision of miracles is an accommodation to weakness. If God has said it, it is enough. The request of these men springs from unbelief, which always finds some excuse to cast off the truth. Jesus will have no truck with it (v12). He always turns his back on unbelief (v13). Trust him, believe!
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)