Recently, a tiny blue wildflower drew my attention, so I took a close-up picture of it and found it to be breathtakingly beautiful. However, by the evening, it went back to its little pod. I thought it would bloom the next day again, but it never showed its face ever again.
After some research, I discovered it’s called Asiatic Dayflower. It’s called Dayflower because it blooms only for one day. I am both fascinated by its beauty and frustrated by its short life. Furthermore, the flower is only about the size of a penny, so few people pay attention to it.
What’s surprising is that God pays attention to them. Jesus said that God dresses the wildflowers more beautifully than King Solomon’s royal robes. Jesus says,
“See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” (Mat 6:28b-29).
In the context of this verse, Jesus asks us to observe nature—birds, flowers, and grass—to see the miracles and hear the message. Life without miracles is miserable. Yet, miracles are happing around us all the time, even in the most mundane places and even among weeds and wildflowers.
When Prophet Elijah heard God’s voice, it was not in the storm nor the fire but a small whisper. Looking at the Dayflower, I felt as if God is whispering to me, “I am here,” “Emmanual, God with us.” It prompts me to pay attention to God’s presence around me. Today, let’s learn to develop a deeper sense of hearing the whispers of God based on today’s scripture lesson.
[Hi, in case we haven’t met yet, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper. You are the light of the world, and I am the keeper! (No pun intended). It’s my calling to help you shine your brightest so that God is glorified in you, and you are satisfied in God.]
The scripture lesson for today is from the Gospel According to John 6:1-21. [Listen to the Word of the Lord!]
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. (Jn 6:1–21).
[This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!]
This passage presents two well-known miracles of Jesus. They were so significant that all four gospel authors included them in their gospels. One of the problems with reading the miracles is that we tend to focus on the miracles themselves and fail to hear the message. That was the case with the crowd that followed Jesus. It says,
A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. (v. 3).
The crowd followed him not because of his message but because of his miracles. Jesus and his disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee to a deserted place for a retreat after a long day of teaching and healing an endless crowd of people. But, they couldn’t take the break because the crowd kept following them even to the desert.
Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” (v. 4-5).
Mark’s version of this story says, when Jesus saw the great crowd following him, he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. In here, Jesus felt their hunger and wanted to feed them. It shows that when people seek spiritual fulfillment, God takes care of their physical needs as well.
The fact that the Passover is near, the story of Exodus, and God feeding the Israelites with manna—bread from heaven—in the desert was in everyone’s mind. Now, since they were in the desert, it was a perfect moment to reveal Jesus’ divinity and his plan for another Exodus—the Spiritual Exodus from the slavery of the devil that keeps us trapped in the suffering of this world.
Before he began, he tested Philip by asking him, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat.” The answer is obviously, “Nowhere,” since they were in the desert. However, Philip thought even a step further. Even if there were a place to buy bread, there wasn’t enough money to afford the feeding of five thousand people.
Remember, when you read the Bible, don’t forget Jesus’ sense of humor. He liked to tease his disciples every now and then to stimulate their memory.
He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” (v. 6-7).
Philip failed the test. After seeing Jesus turning water into wine, and his many other miracles, Philip still didn’t get the message. Six months’ wages is significant. Calculating from the average American income, it is at least around $15,000 worth of food. He couldn’t imagine the solution.
Now, Andrew seemed to have a bit of imagination. From the very beginning of his appearance, Andrew liked to introduce helpful people to Jesus. He first brought Peter to Jesus, who became the rock on which Jesus built his church. Now this time, he brought a boy with five loaves and two fish and let Jesus solve the problem.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” (vs. 8-9).
Even though Andrew knew what he found was equal to nothing, the fact that he brought the boy to Jesus shows that he trusted Jesus could do something with it. You know the rest of the story. Everyone had their fill, and there were even twelve basketfuls of leftovers. But, they missed the message.
When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” (v. 14).
The question is what they meant by calling Jesus a prophet. They saw him as a prophet for prosperity rather than spiritual fulfillment. Jesus would be a perfect prophet to be their king to take them out of poverty and into prosperity. They don’t see beyond Jesus fulfilling their physical needs.
“When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (v. 15).
Jesus did not want to be a worldly king, even though he was eventually crucified accused of claiming to be the king of the Jews. He wanted to give them eternal life, not temporal prosperity. During the first Exodus, the Israelites thought Moses was taking them to prosperity in the land of milk and honey, but when they starved on the way, they complained and missed the better life back in Egypt.
They want to get what they want instead of what God wants to give them. The crowd kept looking for Jesus to make him king. When they eventually found him on the other side of the sea, Jesus gave them a clear warning.
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (Jn 6:26–27a).
Jesus wants us to avoid shortsightedness and see beyond this life. After all, a hundred years on this earth is nothing but a blink of an eye. I always think I am still a young man, but sometimes when I move and feel the aches and pains kick in, I realize my machines are getting worn out. Life sucks!
Jesus did not expect the public to get the message of his miracles, but his primary purpose is to make sure his disciples did. After Jesus went hiding from the crowd, the disciples waited for him to cross the sea back home. They left without him because it was getting dark. Jesus stayed behind to teach them another lesson with another miracle.
The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing (v. 18).
The Sea of Galilee is the lowest freshwater lake on earth, located in a basin seven hundred feet below sea level surrounded by steep hills. When the cold air descends from the top of Mount Hermon at 9,200 feet above sea level and crashes down against the warm air at the lake level, violent storms suddenly occur.
Darkness and strong winds depict life perfectly. A small boat in rough seas is tossed about, distressing and threatening the lives of its crew. I am sure we all agree that COVID-19 has violently rocked the boat of our life and got our attention.
However, advertisers would have us believe that we live in a giant amusement park, where all is safe, and everything can be tried and tasted without danger. Or we may be tempted to think of life as a great shopping mall, a place where we are in control, and everything caters to our whims.
That could explain why so many people like to spend time at amusement parks and shopping malls: they create a false sense of peace and control that we crave. But the world is in fact like the Sea of Galilee, which, though sometimes smooth, may suddenly rage with violent storms.
The good news is Jesus does not leave his people alone struggling in the sea of suffering. He is there with us in the rough sea.
When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” (v. 19-20).
The disples were terrified to see Jesus walking on water. According to Matthew, they thought he was a ghost. When life is rough, we lose faith and think, “There is no God. Otherwise, we would not be suffering.” So, when we see God’s presence, we are terrified.
That was how I felt when I looked at the Dayflower. I was terrified by its intricate beauty and felt the presence of God. At the same time, I heard as if Jesus is saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.” As Jesus said, if God cares so much about a tiny wildflower that lives only for a day, would He not care about us even more? The Lord promised to us the same way he did to Israel,
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isa. 43:2–3).
Life is a journey through the rough sea. It’s such a comfort to know God cares. God cares about our daily bread. God cares when time is dark, and the storm is sinister.
By the way, the Asiatic Dayflower is also edible. With a pea-like flavor, the young leaves can be eaten raw as salad. The older leaves can be stir-fried. The flowers have a sweet taste and can make your dish both tasty and pretty. Since the flowers are there only for a day, it reminds us of the manna in the desert that must be harvested and eaten daily.
Flowers cannot talk, but we hear their voices if we know how to listen. In the same way, miracles are not just for our eyes but also our ears, like Moses, who heard the voice of God through the burning bush. Our eyes may see only the surface, but our ears can hear the message underneath. Jesus said,
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Mat 11:15).
Let us see beyond the surface and hear the message!
Until we meet again, keep your light shining brighter and broader, and harvest profound happiness. Amen!