The story of Jesus feeding five thousand (although including women and children it was probably in the area of fifteen thousand, if there were five thousand men) is a common one, I heard it plenty of times growing up in Sunday school, but I never cease to be amazed at God’s ability to reveal something new to me every time I read scripture, regardless of how familiar I am with the text.
I think that scripture is commonly thought of as, at best, well-written text with truthful life teachings. In the realm of Christianity it is also believed to be inspired by God. This is all well and good, and much can be taken from the Bible this way. But this also limits scripture to the words that are there, which begins to cause confusion when there are numerous versions and translations and some of them sound quite different than others, and it tends to make things a little blurry sometimes. And I’ve found that this common conception of scripture is, while not false, extremely basic…and there seems to be a lot more to it. How else could this be explained when I find something new every time I read it?
But the author of Hebrews says that “the word of God is living and active (Heb 4:12).” And this seems to be the only explanation for the things that it does. And when we look at scripture as well-written text, we are only looking at the skin—the outer surface—of this living, active breath of God (2Ti 3:16). There is an infinite complexity beneath the mere text of scripture, just as there are countless veins and arteries and nerves and organs that all work in different ways, doing different things, to keep the body alive. Scripture is alive, and too often I find myself satisfied with what I see on the surface. My God is so much bigger than just words.
- How far am I willing to go to be with Jesus? (v.13)
- What excuses do I make to keep people from being with Jesus? (v.15)
- When do I ask God to do something for me when he’s expecting me to take action? (v.16)
- Do I let circumstances cause doubt, or do I have faith that Jesus will provide even when I have no idea how it can be done? (v.17)
- Am I thankful for the things I have, even when I don’t think it’s adequate? (v.19)
- Do I offer the gifts of God to others like the disciples gave away the food, or do I keep them for myself because I’m afraid they’ll run out? (v.20)
- Do I ever doubt that regardless of who they are, God will provide more than they need? (v.21)