April: Matthew 14; Mark 6; John 5-6
Often, I have felt like I was feeding the five thousand with twelve children and thirty grandchildren. When we all come together, I find it a little overwhelming to deal with hoards of hungry people. People do get “hangry” when they do not have food.
This time reading the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and John about the Savior feeding the five thousand, my thoughts centered around the hungry boy who had faith enough to give up his loaves and fishes so that all the others could eat. His sacrifice was also a miracle that we do not focus on. He had the faith that he would still be fed, even though there were so many others who needed his food.
I pondered on my own willingness to sacrifice all I have to feed and serve others. When I give my humble offerings to the Lord, do I give my all? This boy did give all he had. I am sure he was hungry, too. Most boys are always hungry. Yet, his humble offering was enough to feed them all, with many baskets to spare. Sister Michelle D. Craig: “You and I can give what we have to Christ, and He will multiply our efforts. What you have to offer is more than enough—even with your human frailties and weaknesses—if you rely on the grace of God.”i
There will always be a difference between what I can do alone and what the Lord wants me to accomplish with His help. Elder Neal A. Maxwell called this “divine discontent.” Divine discontent occurs when we compare “what we are [to] what we have the power to become.”ii This divide becomes the size of the Grand Canyon when we are not willing to take the leap of faith which the Lord requires of us. We look at the gulf between our worldly view of ourselves and we cannot see ourselves in the way the Lord sees us. Often, we need to be willing to see our lives in a completely different way and context.
After being physically fed the day before, the multitudes followed Jesus the next day hoping for another free meal. The Savior told the multitudes that He knew their hearts. He decided to feed them spiritually that day, rather than physically and preached to them the beautiful Bread of Life Sermon. The Lord talked about the manna which came down from heaven for their fathers to eat and proclaimed Himself as the Bread from Heaven. Jesus also introduced the concept of the sacrament asking his disciples to eat of His blood, and eat of His flesh. Many of his disciples could not comprehend what the Lord was saying and they left Him there, shaking their heads with misunderstandings.
Elder D. Todd Christopherson taught, “To eat His flesh and drink His blood is a striking way of expressing how completely we must bring the Savior into our life – into our very being – that we may be one….But figuratively eating His flesh and drinking His blood has a further meaning, and that is to internalize the qualities and character of Christ, putting off the natural man and becoming Saints ‘through the atonement of Christ the Lord. As we partake of the sacramental bread and water each week, we would do well to consider how fully and completely we must incorporate His character and the pattern of His sinless life into our life and being.”iii The disciples who would not take upon themselves the Lord’s name and could not fathom how they would become like him, never walked with Him again.
But His apostles understood. The Savior, in discouragement, turned to these twelve men and asked, “Will ye also go away?”iv Peter answered for the Quorum of the Twelve, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”v
When Christ asks us to do hard things or understand something we don’t quite get, will we leave His side or continue forward, knowing that He is the Son of God and that His words will lead us to eternal life? We will all read a Bread of Life sermon crossroads where we will also need to make a decision – do we move forward, even though we have doubts and fears about the future, or do we move forward because of the testimony we do have?
i Michelle Craig, “Divine Discontent,” Liahona, Nov. 2018, 54.
ii Neal A. Maxwell, “Becoming a Disciple,” June 1996.
iii D. Todd Christofferson, “The Bread which Came Down from Heaven,” GC Oct. 2017.
iv John 6:67
v John 6:68-69