This week’s study of Gratitude is very thought provoking! Of all of the examples of thanksgiving given this week, the example from John of Jesus giving thanks before feeding the five thousand and the return of him and his disciples to that spot was the most impactful. (John 6:23) John using that behavior as the description of the place is powerful. Also, the fact that Jesus modeled the behavior right before us, yet I have never seen it in that context before is also impactful to me.
This is not the only time Jesus showed by example to give thanks. He gave thanks that his prayer to raise Lazarus was answered. (John 11:41) He also gave thanks at the other feeding of the four thousand miracle. (Mark 8:6-7) At the last supper, he gave thanks prior to the meal with his disciples, knowing what was to come in the next few hours. (I Corinthians 11:24) After the cross, on the road to Emmaus, he gave thanks for their food. (Luke 24:30) Along with the feeding of the five thousand, there a least five clear examples of Jesus giving thanks.
In each of these examples, a miracle followed the giving of thanks. From the raising of the dead, to the miracle of the cross, to his ascension to Heaven, a miracle is associated with each example. The obvious question is whether the giving of thanks leads to the miraculous. Could it be so simple?
I am most impacted by this example for the simplicity of its powerful message and for another reason. I have been at the place where it is believed Jesus fed the five thousand. It is thought to be at Tabgha on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. To be transparent, this is not a non-disputed site in Israel. Non-disputed sites are those that are generally agreed by most authorities as the place of a biblical event. There are several opinions on the location of this event, as there are with many biblical sites. But our visit to this location makes this example hit home for me. We approached and departed it from the Sea of Galilee by boat. Along with the Mount of the Beatitudes, which is a non-disputed site, this was one of the most memorable places in Israel for me. The Sea of Galilee area in general was very impactful to me. Being there and seeing the fisherman and locations make the biblical accounts of the life of Christ really come to life for me.
But what really hits home is the point made by Earley that to the writer of John, the act of Jesus giving thanks was the most impactful event of that day, used to later describe the location. Could it be that John, seeing the event with his own eyes, is indirectly saying that the act of Jesus giving thanks was the most memorable event, along with the subsequent miracle? Wow.
Apply this discipline is the most simple lesson of the week. Every day giving thanks is a simple and easy act for me. I am thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus that gives me life, the life I have, my wife, children and family, along with my church, my job, my home, my security as an American, by dog (!)….it goes on and on. And if we really take it literally, we should “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” every day! (Psalms 100:4)
I also find very interesting the disciplines of praying the Bible, fellowship and slowing! I find interest and contentment in all of these for the same reason. Their simplicity is overwhelming. I have so much to learn, and the best biblical lessons are often the simplest.