As we continue to catalog the abundance of blessings, flowing through Nicaragua last week – all evidence of His power working through thousands like you – let’s continue our discussion about “perspective.” And, add another “p” word into the mix… PROVISION!
Remember that elephant and those “big picture” perspective thoughts? Just as this parable began thousands of years ago, sometimes we forget the apostle viewpoints. Yes, we know “The Big Four” – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But do we really know them? What their diverse experiences and backgrounds brought to the table… so to speak!
Take Matthew (since his IS the first book of the New Testament), some recall he was a “publican”… a biblical equivalent of an IRS supervisor… not prone to building many friendships. He moved in political circles, well-educated in language and mathematical skills. Matthew was a bottom-line kind of guy and he brought this “matter-of-factness” to the Apostles.
Mark, on the other hand, was a mere teenager during Jesus’ walk on earth. In fact, his mother actually held meetings for early disciples in her Jerusalem home… and came into the fold because of this exposure to the Savior’s teachings! He only truly came into his own, after traveling with both the Apostles Paul and Peter.
Just as Mark did not literally “follow” Jesus on-foot through His trials, miracles, tribulations and encounters while among us, Luke did not even know Him personally during His life! His post-crucifixion encounters with Paul moved him to leave his medical practice and seek anyone who had ever been present during the Savior’s sermons, life events or miracles. The Spirit led him to meticulously chronicle His brief life.
The last to publish, among the four Gospels, John – known as John the Beloved – seemed to fill-in any details missing from the previous three epistles. The first to join Jesus on His journey (possibly because he is thought to be a cousin), John declared he would stay until the “Second Coming” and provided true insight into both the heart of Jesus and their mission!
We’ve now got a little better picture of these four biblical icons and are going to bring this back around to where we started, trust me! You see them, right? A kid, an upscale political figure, a physician and the devoted family member. Okay! Let’s look at HOW these diverse backgrounds changed the perspective (see, told you so!) of possibly the most well-known account in the New Testament. Yep, let’s dine on some loaves and fishes!
Matthew, the accountant in the group, approaches his telling from a sensible, numbers standpoint: “And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, ‘I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Where would we get so many loaves in THIS desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?'” (Matthew 15:32-33) This shows through in yet another account by Matthew: “…and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.” (Matthew 14: 20-21)
Now, Mark easily represents the one who brought the most “innocent” perspective to this situation. Honestly, if you walked up to the average teenager and told them to feed 5000 people NOW (and you couldn’t call Domino’s and there were no apps!), most would panic. And Mark’s account reflects this “logical” sequence of events, based on a normal, teen mindset.
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, ‘This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But He answered them, ‘You give them SOMETHING to eat!’ And they said to Him, ‘Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them SOMETHING to eat?'” (Mark 6:34-37)
You can imagine the telling from Luke’s compassionate, life-affirming viewpoint. “Now the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, ‘Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” But He said to them, ‘You give them SOMETHING to eat!’ And they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.'” (Luke 9:12-13) The stark comparison in just the TELLING, between the not-yet-seasoned young man and the more gentle language of the lifelong caregiver, really tells a story in-and-of itself!
As the self-appointed Apostle to provide additional details, you see a much more “familial” telling from John. It’s almost as if he’s recounting a fondly-remembered family story… complete with all the jokes!
“Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?’ This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.’ One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?'” (John 6:3-8)
See, each brings a slightly different attitude and perspective to this simple story of “provision.” Each saw it from their unique vantage point – at that particular moment in time – which could (and did) change and evolve with each new experience, responsibility or calling. And, believe it or not, most people TODAY can easily base their decisions, language, attitudes or memories on these SAME apostolic characters!
If this has piqued your interest, check back next week as we explore how your perspectives – especially as they relate to the idea of provision – may more closely resemble “The Big Four” Apostles than you EVER imagined! In the meantime, you can join us in reviewing all the 1Nation1Day modern-day miracles our Dani Johnson and King’s Ransom Foundation team experienced in Nicaragua!