exercises in missing the point | John 6.22-24
On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. John 6.22-24 | ESV
On the next day, the crowd (or what was left of them) that had been on the other side of the lake with Jesus came looking for him. He was gone, the boat the disciples had stepped into by themselves without Jesus was long gone, and there hadn’t been so much as a rowboat left behind for Jesus to use in crossing the lake. But just then a small flotilla of boats landed on that side of the lake, not too far from the very spot where they had their fill of bread after the Lord spoke the blessing. So they added all this up: Jesus isn’t here, nor are his disciples but the last we saw of them they were heading that way, so…so they boarded a recently arrived flotilla of boats and followed in their wake, reaching Capernaum in short order, on the hunt for Jesus. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
These verses provide something of a bridge between two signs – one by the lake (the feeding of the five thousand) and one on the lake (Jesus walking on water) – and one “sermon” that ended up taking place in the synagogue at Capernaum – the “sermon” we know as Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life; a sermon that could perhaps be summarized, “Verily I say unto thee, thou art totally missing the point of everything I just did.”
Exercises in missing the point.
We’re all good at such exercises. Little practice or instruction needed. We perform them all the time quite naturally.
And so did they.
They experienced one of the most significant signs Jesus performed during his entire ministry, and they walked away with the sign (trying to cash it in at the bank, er, bakery), rather than the meaning. They heard the joke and laughed at the wrong punch line. And now they are on the hunt for Jesus, trying to retrace his steps – hardly imagining that those steps would have led them right out onto the waters of the lake.
Their hunger and persistence is remarkable – I mean, they go so far as to commandeer a small flotilla of boats in their search.
Modern church parlance would probably call them “seekers.” And as Paul tells the Galatian believers years later, “It’s fine to be zealous provided the purpose is good.” And as it will become clear their purpose was merely to fill in a new day’s set of blanks – the chief blank being their once again empty stomachs – which is about as deep as most of us typically go. We seek the God who will dutifully, dependably fill in all our blanks. Yes we are happy that he took care of yesterday’s blanks, but now it’s another day and we have a whole new set to fill.
And often that’s just what he does.
And sometimes he stops.
And he says to us,
“Dude, you’re missing the whole point.”
What has been your latest most profound exercise in missing the point in your walk with God?
What did you learn?
Lord, sometimes my life is such an onslaught of crying, bleeding needs. Thank you for letting me find you in such times, for hearing me, for helping me. Again. I just want to go deeper than that with you. Lead me beyond blanks to fill into a full life from which to pour out for others. Through Christ.