By Matt Capps
Imagine if you had lived in the time of Jesus and had heard of all the things He had said and done. You might be tempted to ignore the reports as if those spreading the news were liars or lunatics. You might think, These stories are neat and all, but what does this distant Jesus have to do with me?
Now, imagine that Jesus came near to your town. Out of curiosity, you travel to meet Him. After hearing what He says and watching what He does, your curiosity moves from a place of abstract interest to personal investment. One of the things that the Gospel of Mark shows us is that when one is confronted with the person of Jesus Christ, there is no room for indifference.
The entire first half of Mark’s Gospel drives toward the question we find in Mark 8:29, “‘But you,’ he asked them, ‘who do you say that I am?’” This is a profoundly personal question. After all, Jesus is looking His followers in the eye, and the question cannot be ignored any longer. Jesus no longer exists as a topic of conversation, a story spread throughout your community; He exists in the flesh, in your very presence. But if you had followed Jesus for some time, you would have seen Him heal the sick, free those possessed by demons, and even raise the dead. After witnessing all this, you might conclude that He is certainly powerful.
What does one do when Jesus performs miracles in situations that are not as dire, such as feeding a multitude? It’s likely that the people could have traveled to a nearby town to purchase food. But when Jesus feeds the crowds it demonstrates that He is not just a distant source of raw power. The feeding shows that His power comes with personal compassion. He is near, and He is meeting people’s most basic needs.
People can easily ignore Jesus when, in their indifference, they relegate Him to a distant but powerful deity. If, however, you pay close attention to Jesus in the flesh, it becomes clear that He is not distant or detached, but near and neighborly. He is not only powerful, but also personally invested. He is not only capable of providing for our needs beyond our satisfaction; He is driven to do so by compassion in the face of our needs.
When one honestly examines the things Jesus did and said, one must decide. The reports of Jesus do not come from liars and lunatics. Who do you say He is? He is certainly powerful. He is also personal, and sympathetic to the needs of those around Him. With all this in mind, it is clear: He is the Lord. He is the Savior that we have always longed for. His physical miracles in the Gospel accounts authenticate His message. And His message is the good news that He came to live a perfect life you and I could not, to die in our place for our sin, and resurrect to defeat death so that you and I could live eternally. When Jesus fed the crowds, their hunger was satisfied temporarily. However, there is a spiritual hunger in all of us that can only be satisfied in Him, the bread of life. Do you believe?