Cart Before the Horse

Mark 8:16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And(T)Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? (U)Do you not yet perceive (V)or understand? (W)Are your hearts hardened? 18 (X)Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke (Y)the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”20 “And (Z)the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Have you ever wonder why the disciples seem to always have these moments of not understanding Jesus after he performs a miracle?   Ever wonder why Jesus didn’t just show them the blessing or give them the blessing first before going on with the life lesson for the day?  Every time, Jesus would have them go through the work first and then show them the mystery.  After going through this several times you would think that they would get it.  This is the beauty of God because right now thinking  about the twelve we begin to judge them.  Right now we think to ourselves how we would have gotten it but God knows us. We are all not that different of a sinner.  We are not that special and we don’t have such a special gifting that we get everything God is doing.  Just like with them Jesus does things as the Holy Spirit moves before our eyes and we do not see nor understand yet.  Even when we do get it, we mistakenly call it a revelation and not illumination.  As all that needs to be revealed to man has been and now the Holy Spirit works to shine light on what is there to give us understanding.

But before we look at what Jesus is revealing to the disciples what about why he has chosen to teach them in such a way?  What if before every math test the teacher gave the answers?  What if before our reviews at work we got the bonuses?  Then after we received the reward for whatever job, task, or behavior we are told by being this or acting like this or doing it this way we will receive.  What would those duties mean to us?  What would the process matter?  What would we learn and would it benefit us?  What would it show about the teacher or manager or parent?  If their goal is to show others and even us that they are good at what they do, how would we see them?  How would we see them if we now know how to do what they asked while not really caring?  How would we see them if we are now just here for the reward?  We can lie and say that we would not take advantage of the situation but how could we not when we were not willing to learn from the beginning.  Someone who hates math will not willingly subject themselves to math without a reward.  If that person could cheat the system for the reward of passing why be honest when they hate math?

What Jesus was trying to teach the disciples about the leftovers was that when you take care of others before yourself, he will take care of you.  Some would see that as sowing a seed to reap a harvest.  They would then proceed to do good things for selfish reasons.  But Jesus continued beyond that to teach them how to deny their selves and take up their cross (Luke 9:23).  It is the very thing that defined them as being his disciples.  To be humble, to be a servant, to be last, to be counted as sheep for the slaughter all of which is not the most desirable thing we want to do.  But it is something that when done must come from a sincere place or the Lord will say to us that he does not know us.

Jesus was not trying to teach the disciples behavior modification techniques.  He was not trying to teach them if you do this God will do that.  He was not teaching them how to manipulate the Heavenly Father.  Jesus did not put the cart before the horse nor did he dangle a carrot before the mule to lead him.  Everyone that dared to follow, he warned to count the cost.  When his following got huge, it seemed like a natural reaction to teach the deeper things that would scare a majority away.  Because the true people of God follow Jesus because he is the Christ and not a miracle worker.  They follow not expecting leftovers, they follow because their hearts are broken and void of pride and self-righteousness.   Yes Jesus wanted the disciples know that there was leftovers from the miracle and that they need not worry.  But Jesus didn’t want them to come away thinking that when a servant does his duty to expect reward, as we are only doing what is required (Luke 17:7-10).  True worship, love, faith and serving does not come from a heart or prideful desire but one of submission to Christ.  We are God’s servants and we have a righteous Master whom we trust.  Be careful in how we “expect” things in return from God when we do something.  We are not paying for services.

Psalms 51 :15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 (AD)For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are (AE)a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Even after our christian lives are establish we will run across those who try to change the Gospel for gain or for personal trophies to showcase their godliness.  Their means of discipleship come in the form of the law; don’t eat, don’t touch, don’t wear that, and don’t speak this as well as pray like this.  They say if you do this you will be blessed.  Calling earthly and worldly things a blessing do not make them holy or of God.  This is especially so when things define self and we refuse to deny self.  We are sinful to use traditions and behavior to manipulate God or to save someone.  There are not enough sacrifices and burnt offerings to appease God.  We can’t put the cart before the horse, we can’t seek the shortcut to “blessings” or the favor of God.  There are no short routes to the foot of the cross and the gate will be forever narrow, all by God’s design.

Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are (N)under a curse; for it is written, (O)“Cursed be everyone who does not (P)abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that (Q)no one is justified before God by the law, for (R)“The righteous shall live by faith.”[d] 12 But the law is not of faith, rather (S)“The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ (T)redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, (U)“Cursed is everyone who is hanged(V)on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might (W)come to the Gentiles, so that (X)we might receive (Y)the promised Spirit[e] through faith.

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9 Responses to “Cart Before the Horse”
  1. Ula says:

    Great post! Jesus never promised it will be easy to be His follower, but He did promise it will be worth it! And that’s what we should focus on. The ones who followed Him to get something out if it for themselves were scared away by His teaching on flesh and bread and eating and blood and drinking. But those who stayed knew, as you said, Jesus was the best place to be. They saw no other options. To them Jesus was the one and only option.

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