So much of the New Testament is full of hope and happiness and peace. A few passages, though, break my heart. I read one of them recently and thought how applicable the lesson in it is to us today. There are so many ways for us to fall into the traps the people back then did. With so much knowledge at our fingertips constantly, we forget why it’s okay to not know everything.
What 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes Have to Do with Moms
In John chapter 6, multitudes follow Jesus because they saw His miracles. He feeds over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. (I say, “over 5,000” because in the Greek, the word “men” literally means men–not “people” like it’s sometimes used.)
Now let’s pause just a little already to recognize the work of a mother. I had a dear friend who taught this chapter in a Sunday School class once and said,
“Mothers’ work is like 5 loaves and 2 fishes. I like to think of this mother who simply packed her little boy’s lunch.”
-Sally Jo Winebrenner
So never forget that. Your work may be used for a miracle.
After this miracle, the people wanted to make Jesus their king (“by force,” it says), so He took off to be alone in the mountains. Next, He matter-of-factly walked from the coast of the Sea of Galilee to the ship where His disciples were. You know, ON the water. The next day, the multitude of people tracked down Jesus. They asked where He’d been, and He answered like He often does–not just the question, but the heart. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.”
They liked the free meal.
Jesus continues with advice good for all of us: “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”
Don’t be distracted by the food. Pay attention to what Jesus can really offer you.
Bread and Flesh
Jesus then gives a beautiful discourse about how He is the bread of life. I gained some lovely insight into Jesus’ words several years ago when I was a missionary. An Elder in my zone once pointed out that our flesh (our bodies) are a covenant. Our bodies are a sign that we chose to progress in Heavenly Father’s plan for us–we chose to come to earth. Similarly, Christ’s body is a covenant that He would be our Savior so that we could return to Heavenly Father as part of His plan. When we break our mortal flesh (skin a knee, for example), blood is what fills in the gaps we’ve just made in our flesh. Blood heals the broken flesh. Christ’s blood is what fills in the gap in our broken covenants. His atonement heals our broken covenants, or our mistakes, or our gaps.
Isn’t that a poignant description of the atonement of Jesus Christ?
At the end of the “I am the bread of life” lesson Jesus has been teaching in John 6, He drops a bit of a truth bomb. In verse 51 He says that He is living bread from heaven, and His gift is His flesh. In verse 55, He says, “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” It caused some buzz among the people he was talking to because they thought it was weird and freaky that He would say that they needed to eat His flesh and drink His blood. In verse 60, the people say, “This is an hard saying.” They didn’t like what they were hearing and it freaked them out because they didn’t get it. And we can appreciate that, right? We get how weird it sounds.
But then here’s the part that breaks my heart. Verse 66 says simply: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
How sad to have the Lord Himself right in front of you and decide not to follow Him anymore just because you didn’t understand something He said.
And here’s the lesson we can never forget or underestimate. HE wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t actually saying you should literally eat his flesh and drink his blood–they just THOUGHT He was. They were wrong. And then they walked away.
I see it all the time. Too much. People get hung up on issues, distracted by current trends and worldly voices. As human beings, we have to make judgments based on our current knowledge. The problems come when we forget that our knowledge is limited, that sometimes we have partial information or incorrect understanding. People, too, make judgments based on pride. People make judgments based on assumptions. Many people are very quick to judge. Some people can’t even pray to know the truth of something because they already assume they know it.
After some of His disciples “walked no more with him,” Jesus asked the Twelve, “Will ye also go away?” Peter answered what I would have said: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” And then this important phrase: “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter said he believed and was sure. That sounds to me like a process, like one step and another step. It sounds like something that continues.
It’s Okay to Not Know Everything
Don’t give up on your spiritual journey or your relationship with God just because you don’t understand something. Your journey is going to last your entire life, so that’s how long your learning can last if you let it. You’ve got lots of time.
I love the words of the ancient American prophet Nephi, who wrote around 580 BC about his life’s struggles: “When I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth… nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support…” He wrote that about 15 years after writing, “I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things” (Source).
See the process? He didn’t know everything, but he knew that God loves His children. That was enough. He stayed with God, even though he (Nephi) didn’t know everything, and then he learned a lot along the way. After some time being true to his knowledge that God loves His children, Nephi could say that he knows in whom he has trusted.
I love this because it rings true to me personally. Some of the things that have touched my heart the most on my spiritual journey are things God has told me through the sweet inspiration of the Holy Ghost. I don’t know everything, but I’ve found answers to questions over time, and I know there are more answers in the future. It’s worth staying with God. He gives me both assurances and real knowledge as time goes on, and my life is happy and whole, despite hard times and heartbreaks, because I know in whom I have trusted.
I don’t have to know everything; I just have to know that God does.
The Articulate LDS Women blog series is a way for LDS women to practice articulating their faith in a public way. I hope you feel uplifted by these posts. Click here to see all the posts in this series. Click here if you’d like to participate in the series yourself.
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Jennifer blogs at www.lifetalesbooks.com about preserving photos and memories, and she is the #familyhistoryfriday contributor at www.livegrowgive.org.