Today’s Reading: Mark 8
Today’s reading opens with a familiar story. But if we examine it closely, we will notice something really puzzling and even humorous.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Experience is the best teacher,” but it is simply not true. Experience is not the best teacher; it never has been and never will be. Maturity doesn’t always come with time. Sometimes age brings nothing more than wrinkles and gray hair. And though experience is not the best teacher, evaluated experience is the best teacher.
Someone once said, “Experience teaches only the teachable.” And when that happens, maturity happens. But maturity is not a gift. As author Aldous Huxley reminds us, “Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.” This is important for us to remember as we dig into today’s reading:
In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” (Mark 8:1-4)
This story probably sounds familiar to you. Either you’ve heard it before or you’ve recently read something similar before—such as two chapters ago:
The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” (Mark 6:33-38)
Think about this. Two chapters ago this same scenario took place. Jesus fed five thousand men (not counting women and children) in Mark 6 with five loaves and two fish. And in chapter 8, we have the same situation with four thousand people (verse 9) and seven loaves (verse 6). So in Mark 8, we have less people, more food, and the same Jesus—and they still didn’t get it.
After the miracle of watching five thousand men being fed on a little boy’s lunch, His disciples still asked Jesus this humorous but very sad question: “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” (verse 4).
Let’s switch gears for a moment. A popular cleaner on the market—one you may already use—is call Formula 409®. What you probably aren’t familiar with, though, is that the name is actually a tribute to the tenacity of two young Detroit scientists whose goal was to formulate the greatest grease-cutting, dirt-destroying, bacteria-cutting cleaner on the planet. The thing is, creating the ultimate cleaner doesn’t just happen on the first try. And it didn’t happen on the 101st or the 301st either. It wasn’t until batch number 409 that they were finally satisfied. And the name stuck: Formula 409.
I don’t want it to take 409 times to get a lesson from Jesus. I want Him to call me 1 or 2. I’ll even take 3 or 4—but not 409. The disciples couldn’t put it together that the same Jesus was present for both miracles. Jesus who turns little to a lot was present for them—and is present for us.
When you find yourself stuck with no way out, go backward into your mind and think. When you do that, you will end up with a moment that God got you out, God came through, God multiplied the little into a lot.
Don’t get stuck and forget.
Don’t get spiritual amnesia.
Don’t start over like this is the first time.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t be 409.
If He did it before, He can do it again!