Come Follow Me - Matthew 14–15; Mark 6–7; John 5–6
I've discussed some of the events previously on my blog, here: http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2011/03/new-testament-gospel-doctrine-lesson-12.html
and here: http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2011/03/new-testament-gospel-doctrine-lesson-13.html
For this lesson, I wish to focus on a couple other events.
Feeding the 5000
People were flocking to Jesus, causing him to have to teach in the wilderness, where there was space and less pressure from the Pharisees and Sadducees in the cities. Thousands flocked to him to be healed. Later, he fed them from a few fish and loaves of bread. Jesus showed that he was able to provide for the needs of the people. He could feed them, even as God fed the people of Moses with manna. He could heal them, even as some of the greatest prophets, like Elijah, had done. This is the beginning of Christ showing forth his grace, by showing he is able to provide the necessary things to his people.
Jesus Walks on Water and Grace
Jesus sent his disciples off by boat to other other shore of the Sea of Galilee. Only later, would he go to join them. When Jesus walked on water during a tempest, he displayed several important aspects of his power. First, he has power over the elements. The boats were stalled due to the storm, but were quickly able to make it to shore once he climbed aboard.
John adds an event that the synoptic gospels do not contain. In this story, Peter asks Jesus to let him climb out and walk with him on the water. Jesus permits it, and Peter is able to miraculously walk on the water towards Jesus. However, as Peter loses his focus, and sees the tempest brewing around him, his faith waivers and he begins to sink. "Master, save me!" is his plea. Jesus mildly chides him for losing his faith, but reaches down and lifts him up, taking him back to the boat.
In this event, we find one of the best descriptions of the Grace of Jesus Christ, how it applies in our lives, and our role in receiving the grace. Jesus calls out to us to "Come unto me." In doing so, he provides the power for us to do so. We have only a couple things to do: have sufficient faith and step out from the safety of the boat.
Jesus can heal and provide bread and water. He can cause us to walk on water and provide true safety. But we first must have the faith to come to him and move in his direction. No works of our own can save us. Even though it feels safe, the boat can sink in the storms. In this case, the disciples were unable to make it to shore because of head winds causing a strong current against the boat. Without Christ, all their efforts to make it to shore were in vain. So it is with us. Our efforts, without Christ's grace, are in vain.
As with Peter, only when we focus our minds and hearts fully on Christ, can his grace be activated in our lives. We must be moving toward Jesus. Just standing still and seeing the fearful waves of life crashing around us will not bring forth his power in our lives. In our daily lives, we must increase our faith, repent, and walk towards Jesus steadily. In doing so,, his grace is sufficient. 2 Nephi 25:23, Nephi tells us, "it is by grace we are saved after all we can do." The question then is, what is "all we can do?" In this case, the story of Jesus walking on water illustrates the answer: we can have faith, we can repent, and we can come unto Christ.
We cannot walk on water, get our own boat to the safety of the shore, or even move forward against the storm. The power to overcome the tempests of life, to save and rescue, to give power to walk above the storms, and to bring us safely to shore, all come through the Grace of Christ.
Those whom Jesus had fed, crossed the sea and flocked to see him. Did they seek to adore him? No. They only wanted free food. When Jesus told them about the Bread of Life, they asked for fish and bread. When he told them to believe him as Messiah, they asked for signs. Yet, they had seen healings and the miracle of the bread and fishes just the day before. When he told them that God provided manna through Moses as a temporal blessing, but he offered eternal life, they weren't interested. They did not understand his parable of partaking of his flesh and blood, thinking he was asking them to be cannibals. They left him, because he would no longer satisfy their fleshly desires.
So it is today. Many people stay with Jesus while the blessings are coming. However, when Jesus calls us to come unto Him on His terms, we often begrudge him and turn away. In doing so, we may be able to temporarily satisfy our own flesh, but the spirit dies from hunger. Only in coming to Christ and continuing in Christ, can we receive his Grace.