Shifting focus can change the course of our lives. It’s easy for me to slip into a saving mentality just like a little ant going to great efforts to bring provisions back to her little home on the hill. Sometimes I will avoid grocery shopping for days just to prove that I can make a meal from very little resources.
These habits run deep and are remnants from my Grandmother who raised her family during the Great Depression. At 89 years old this wealthy woman preferred using old bread bags to store her left overs. When visiting her in her in her later years I feared she might offer me a meal of something unrecognizable stored in one of those bags.
Resourcefulness is a good attribute but living in scarcity is something else. In the 8thChapter of Mark there is a story of scarcity and abundance. Jesus and his disciples finished a few days of intense ministry and had some heated encounters with the Pharisees. They hopped into a boat to get away from the crowds and Jesus begins to warn them of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod.
Rather than listening to his teaching about leaven, the agent that makes bread expand, they are only focused on one thing- they only had one loaf of bread. They can’t stop talking about it and Jesus is bewildered with their conversation about bread. It is so funny that he is using the metaphor of leaven and they are hyper-focused on bread.
These are the guys that Jesus will transfer responsibility to transform the world and they are just not getting the point. In his frustration he asks them rhetorical questions, “Having eyes do you not see and having ears do you not hear?”
This is the deal, Jesus reminds them of a few key reasons why they should not be focusing on their lack of bread. They had just witnessed two profound miracles about having enough bread to feed nine thousand. If 12 loaves can satisfy this many people, why are these 12 guys so worried about having enough?
Next, he questions, “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said 12. “and the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him seven. Then he asks, “Do you not understand?”
Why did he ask what was left over? The hidden part of the story is profound. Numbers have meaning. The first group of five thousand that Jesus fed were from Bethsaida, close to the Sea of Galilee, a Jewish region.
In Scripture the number twelve means God’s Authority and Power. There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12 unleavened cakes of bread in the temple. To any Jewish follower of the Torah the number 12 has significance.
With the story fully written we can see twelve is written 187 times in scripture and 22 times in the book of Revelation alone.
The second miracle took place in the region of Gerasenes inhabited by Gentiles. Jesus fed four thousand from 7 loaves of bread. The number 7 is the number of completeness and perfection. It is directly tied to God’s creation and used 7 times in the account of creation. There are 7 days of the week, 7 holy feasts from Passover to the Feast of Tabernacles to name a few.
Seven is used 737 times in scripture and 54 times in the book of Revelation. When Jesus is asking his guys see beyond their own hunger and lack, he is asking much more. He wants them to focus on his abundance. He wants them to know his authority and power. He wants them to know that he is complete and perfect and not to worry. Jesus in changing their focus from scarcity to knowing that they are in the presence of 12 and 7.
Next time, I focus on what is lacking I will remember that 12 and 7. There will always be more than enough and I need to spend my life and not hold back. Living with God is living with abundance lacking nothing. He is more than we can imagine.