Matthew 14; Mark 6; John 5-6: “Be Not Afraid” (March 27-April 2)

Go and Feed Them,” by Jorge Cocco

Jesus challenges us to believe in miracles. Sometimes, all we can see are the obstacles, the reasons our goals are unachievable. Jesus invites us to visualize a different outcome and to act as if it were possible. “Take up thy bed, and walk,” He said to a man who had been unable to move without help for thirty-eight years. (See John 5:8.) “Give ye them to eat,” He said to His disciples, when they could see that the number of hungry people far exceeded the available food. (See Matthew 14:16.) And when Peter impulsively asked if he could join Jesus walking on the water, Jesus said simply, “Come” (Matthew 14:29).

Our prophet likewise encourages us to believe. “The Lord will bless you with miracles if you believe in Him, ‘doubting nothing,'” he said. “Do the spiritual work to seek miracles. Prayerfully ask God to help you exercise that kind of faith” (President Russell M. Nelson, “The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” General Conference, April 2022).

Let’s talk a little more about three miracles and the lessons we can learn from them:

Miracle 1: “Wilt thou be made whole?”

As the helpless man lay beside the pool of Bethesda, hoping beyond hope that the water could heal him, the Savior approached him with an unusual question.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

John 5:6

The answer seems obvious. Of course he wanted to be healed! But perhaps the Savior needed him to really think about what was about to happen. “I can heal you,” He seems to be saying, “but are you really willing to receive the gift?”

Sometimes we may need to ask ourselves the same question: “Do I really want to be made whole? Am I willing to receive the miracle Jesus is offering me?”

See the following blog post for more thoughts on that topic: “I Shall Be Healed”

Miracle 2: “How many loaves have ye?”

Jesus went to a “desert place” to be alone, to mourn the death of His cousin and friend, John the Baptist. But when people learned where He was, thousands came looking for Him. Jesus “was moved with compassion toward them” (Matthew 14:14, Mark 6:34) and took the time to teach them and to heal them, just as He would later do during His visit to the American continent. (See 3 Nephi 17:6-8.)

I love the role of questions as Jesus prepared His disciples for the miracle that would follow. “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” He asked Philip (John 6:5). Hard question to answer. Even if food were available for sale nearby, how much would it cost to feed that many people. Jesus then asked, “How many loaves have ye?” (Mark 6:38). The available supply—five loaves of bread and two small fish—could hardly feed the assembled crowd of more than 5,000 people. But Jesus wanted His disciples to think about what they had to offer, which He could then miraculously magnify.

The miracle fulfilled a genuine need, but like so many events from the life of the Savior, it also typified a deeper truth. When some of those people later found Him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, He taught them a hard doctrine: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 5:35).

Jesus would later introduce the ordinance of the sacrament, at the Last Supper, but here He had already begun to introduce the symbolism of that ordinance. Here is a blog post about that symbolism: What Are the Bread and the Waters of Life?

Miracle 3: “It is I. Be not afraid.”

When Jesus’ disciples saw Him walking over the waves on a stormy night, they were terrified. What did this mean? He comforted them with these simple words: “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27, Mark 6:50; see also John 6:20).

Peter subsequently stepped out of the boat and walked briefly on the water toward Jesus. When he began to sink, the Savior rescued him but also admonished him: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

The Greek word translated “doubt” in this passage is distazo (διστάζω), which means literally “double-standing,” wavering between two alternatives. We build on a solid foundation when we focus on Him instead of the wind and the waves which swirl around us. Here is a blog post on that topic: What Should I Do When I Have Doubts?

Blog Posts: March 28 – April 2

A Desert Place

Jesus found time to pray alone. So did Nephi, who went often to the mountain to pray, away from other people. We may need to intentionally make time in our schedules to be alone so that we can truly commune with God in prayer.

Disciples Act

When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he didn’t see it as a sign to be acknowledged. He saw it as an invitation to act. Discipleship is not just about learning. It’s about emulating and becoming. “What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I am.”

Them Which Sat with Him at Meat

King Herod and King Noah both made tragic mistakes because they feared the people around them. We can also fall into the trap of valuing other people’s approval over God’s approval. One key is to not let people pressure you to make decisions too quickly.

“Bring Them to Me”

Miracles often begin with a recognition of inadequacy. The apostles had only five loaves and two fishes, but Jesus said, “Bring them to me.” Michelle Craig said, “What you have to offer is more than enough…if you rely on the grace of God.”

“The Will of My Father”

A defining characteristic of the Savior’s life was His commitment to fulfill His Father’s will. Both during and after His ministry, He affirmed this commitment. We can follow His example by prioritizing God’s will even when it’s difficult.

Palm Sunday: Welcoming Jesus

As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, the people welcomed Him, spreading clothing and palm branches in front of Him and shouting a passage from Psalm 118. Palm Sunday is a good day to welcome Jesus into our homes and hearts.

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