Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9
How Quickly We Forget
The greatest task to which God calls us as his disciples is faithfulness. It is faithfulness that conquers the temptations and trials that the flesh, the world, and the devil throw at us. Hebrews 11 provides us with the great “Roll Call of Faith,” people of the Old Testament who endured and conquered because they “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth,” people who were seeking a heavenly homeland. Because of this desire which they pursued by faith, “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:13-16). Our problem (one of many, that is) is that we are so forgetful. God grants a great deliverance in our lives, or answers a prayer that we so desperately wanted answered, and then … we forget. We forget what God did for us, or, more accurately, we don’t believe that He can or will deliver again. This is why so many of the psalms recount God’s great deeds on behalf of the Children of Israel, to remind them of their God’s great power and willingness to save. He wants us to recount His great deeds in our own lives as well.
So when we read this passage of our Lord’s feeding of the four thousand, knowing that not so long ago he miraculously fed five-thousand, and hear the disciples respond this time the very same way they responded before – “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd,” – why should we be surprised? The disciples are behaving just as we behave. The Bible describes us as dull of hearing, stiff-necked, hard-hearted, and stubborn. It seems that we have to learn the same lessons over and over again. If we listen closely, we may hear Jesus’ words to his disciples on another occasion: “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?” (Matthew 17:17). We see our own reflection in our Lord’s disciples at every turn – their sins, their follies, their failures – we understand.
And this is why we must recount the deeds of our Lord every day, to remind ourselves of His great faithfulness. We may recount His great deeds in Scripture, or the ones He has performed in our lives. By recounting them, we do not make the same mistake as the disciples who forgot that their Master had just fed five thousand some months back. And as we saw in Hebrews 11, setting our sights on the eternal city whose builder and maker is God, we increase our faith as we pant for that city, embracing our alien status on earth. Our greatest task will be faithfulness all of our lives while in exile. So recount His great deeds and pant for heaven to remain faithful.