To say that Jesus lived out the days of His earthly life always in the midst of controversy and conflict would be a huge understatement.
People never seemed to quite know how to take Him and were constantly trying to “figure Him out.” They seemed to think that if they could just get inside His head or could neatly categorize Him as maybe just a teacher, a prophet, a lunatic, or even a demon-possessed man, they then could move on and conveniently go on living their lives as they wanted.
But Jesus could not be, and can not be, easily understood or tritely explained away. His authority over the physical universe wasn’t, for instance, someone’s repertoire of sleight-of-hand tricks akin to Las Vegas magic shows. He didn’t feed thousands of people miraculously with a few loaves and fish merely by using mirrors. His liberating men and women from their bondage to evil spirits or diseases and crippling disabilities was not staged with actors and laser lights, but with folks who had been widely known as suffering very real and overpowering afflictions.
Nor were His motives open to psychoanalysis as if His message of grace, His call to holiness, and His lifestyle of self-denial were the results of unresolved fixations left over from His childhood. Thus, as much a mystery as “how” He did what He did was “why.”
One thing that we can be certain of is that He did not come to earth to coddle the self-righteousness of those who had failed in their charge of connecting people to God. Nor was He interested in spending His priceless time in endless attempts to convince the unconvincible.
“The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Him they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’ So He left them and departed” (Matthew 16:1-4 ESV).
Did Jesus seem concerned that there were leaders who remained rooted in doubt? No, He simply proceeded with His mission of hope to those whose hearts were tender, to those who weren’t paralyzed by their longing to hold on to the power, prestige and possessions that their status as leaders gave them.
Those who have dined on the fat of their own accomplishments yearn ever for the empty calories that future ambitions provide them. But to those who hunger for something more, for something that isn’t just a “sugary” mixture of short-term pleasures, He Himself will provide bread but will nourish us and produce lasting fruit.
Do you feel like something is lacking in your life? A sense of peace with God and freedom from the tyranny of sin? A hope for something beyond the grave and an assurance that your eternity is secure? Your goal may perhaps be to dine at the “table of self-indulgence,” but you’ll still feel famished, starving for real meaning and purpose. Maybe you’ve drunk the intoxicating “wine of pride,” but find that you are still parched for the cool and clear waters of peace that only Jesus can give. Maybe you’ve breathed the fumes and fogs of confusion and doubt long enough but now crave the fresh airs of God’s presence, sweetly and gently perfumed by His love and grace.
In the event that you want to believe in this message of hope but have trouble fathoming the fact that He offers you an invitation to know Him personally and receive the gift of eternal life, consider the depth and breadth of His compassion for those who are hungry.
Matthew 15 records Jesus’ response of compassion to the needs of the people around Him. He even goes so far as to say that He is “unwilling” for them to leave with their hunger still afflicting them “lest they faint on the way.” And He does something amazing to remedy the situation.
In that day and age, Jesus had great compassion for those who were hungry physically but even more so for those who hunger spiritually. He still has today great compassion for those are hungry. Not only that, He has the power and the provision in this wide, wide universe to meet our hungers with bread that sustains.
Are you hungry for God’s love? Jesus has offered you an open door to receive His forgiveness and grace. Are you thirsty for hope and peace? Jesus Himself is a spring that cannot run dry and will quench your thirst for new life.
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. … All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’” (John 6:35, 37-40 ESV).
Come to Jesus and let your famished spirit be filled with the bread of His forgiveness. Come to Jesus and let Him quench your thirsty soul with His love.
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.