Do You Still Not Understand?

Today’s post is inspired by a recent sermon at our church, The Chapel, given by Elder Levi Schmidt 1

I have been doing systematic bible readings for many years, but I can fall into being rote in my approach —- just reading the verses for that day and checking off that I did it.

Levi’s sermon was a helpful corrective, reminding me that instead of just plowing through the verses, I should ask a simple daily question: “God, what are you telling me as I read scripture today?”

The day after Levi’s sermon, I read a familiar passage. It’s when Jesus’ disciples, for the second time, are bent out of shape because of a lack of bread to feed a large crowd. Jesus had to rebuke the disciples for not remembering the miracle with the loaves and fishes that he did the first time there was a large, hungry crowd.

“And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:18b-21)

The effortless way of reading these verses is to say, “I can’t believe how slow those disciples were to catch on to who Jesus was and what he was doing. They should have known better!” But as part of my response to the sermon, the Spirit turned Jesus’ question to the disciples around and dramatically confronted me with the question “What do you not understand?”

Recently I had a very fitful night of sleep. Had a list of things to do swarming in my head. Anxious about them all. What to do and in what order.

Here’s what I overlooked: God has repeatedly taken care of me in similar times of anxiety…I have already often seen how God provides, either by resolving the situation or by giving me peace of mind even in the midst of a stressful situation.

So Jesus would say to me “Do you still not understand?”

And the beauty of it, I think, is that Jesus does not say that with scorn, whether to the disciples or to myself. He ached for them to better understand who he was, and what he provided, and he wasn’t going to tell them to get lost. When I do get anxious, Jesus is not going to kick me out, but instead he urges me to seek his face, remember what he has provided, and dwell increasingly in the peace he gives.


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