THEY GOT IT WRONG!
"Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, He said to His disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." John 6:10-13 (NIV).
What a phenomenal miracle! It was one thing to heal individuals of their various ailments and quite another to feed a crowd of people from a lunch basket only big enough for one person.
The implications were huge and the people were quick to see the possibilities. This crowd was probably more than twice the number of men, ten thousand plus people if one counted the women and children. Imagine having a king who could supernaturally take care of all their needs including their need for food when it was scarce! No one would ever be in want again.
He was the sort of king they needed, one powerful enough to sort out the Romans once and for all; and take care of all their physical and material needs if they could persuade Him to co-operate. Life could be really cushy for them -- no more worries and minimal work to keep things ticking over.
"After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, 'Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.'
"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself." John 6:14-15 (NIV).
Did these people think back to the prophecy of Moses, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to Him." Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV)?
Didn't Jesus perfectly fit the bill? He was a Jew and He was doing miracles just like Moses did. Didn't Moses deliver them from their oppressors? Didn't he provide them with manna in the wilderness for forty years? Jesus must surely be the Prophet.
Perhaps Jesus heard the murmuring in the crowd. Perhaps He noticed the furtive glances and discerned their intention. Perhaps He had a warning in His spirit from the Holy Spirit. Before they could grab Him, He slipped away after instructing His disciples to disperse the crowd while He withdrew to pray alone on the mountain.
Why did Jesus not welcome the people's acceptance of Him as their king, which is, after all, why He came. He kept teaching them about the kingdom of God that was among them but it was not the sort of kingdom they envisaged. They were focusing on the political and the material, anticipating a life of ease and plenty while He was pointing to a way of life that mirrored the nature of God and issued from within, from hearts that were transformed by the power of God from greed and selfishness to loving and generous self-sacrifice.
There has been a subtle shift in recent times towards the same motivation that drove these people to want to make Jesus king. God has become the celestial Source of everything that contributes to cushy and comfortable living. Both the faith and prosperity teaching that has flooded the church have steered people away from God's intention to recreate us into the image of His Son.
Check out these words: "His divine power had given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires." 2 Peter 1:3, 4 (NIV).
He did not give us His promises so that we can prop up our lives with luxury and wealth. He gave us His promises so that we can become like His Son, lovingly submissive and obedient sons and daughters of God, living our lives to please the Father and to make other people's lives better at our expense,
God has promised to take care of our needs as we take care of the needs of others.
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