“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.’ Then His disciples said to Him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven, and a few little fish.’ So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala.”
When we focus on the last part of today’s Scripture passage, we can see just how abundant grace God has bestowed on mankind. The great multitude that was following Jesus Christ had not eaten for three days, and so they were starving. It’s written here that seeing them, Jesus had so much compassion for them that He said, “I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” He then blessed seven loaves of bread and two fish and gave them to the multitude; they were then all filled and there still were seven baskets full of leftovers. Over 4,000 men were fed, besides women and children.
That there were seven baskets of leftovers means that God’s grace is boundless. How amazing is that there was enough food left to fill seven baskets even after feeding over 4,000 men, not counting women and children? God had blessed a lunch that consisted of only seven barley loaves and a few little fish and shared it with the multitude, but seven baskets full of leftovers were gathered even after 4,000 men were fed, besides women and children. This tells us that God’s grace is boundless and everlasting. It underscores just how important it is for us to have faith in God. The grace of God is that great. If God’s grace were not truly great, then it would be impossible for us not to be discouraged in our lives of faith.
God Is Perfect
In the Scriptures, the number seven is a perfect number symbolizing the attribute of God. God bestows His grace on His hungry and starving people. As it is made clear in today’s Scripture passage, there is no doubt whatsoever that God indeed bestows His grace infinitely. The Lord wants us to know and believe in the perfectness of God and His abundant grace.
Then, by what kind of faith should we live? Rather than live according to our circumstances and stage, we should ask for more of God’s grace everyday, believe in Him more, yearn for His love more, and live in His love. And firming up our faith in God even more, we must live by believing in Him more. You must realize and believe from the depth of your heart that the love of God is infinite. Although we’ve often heard people say, “God is great. God is love,” God wants us to truly realize that He has indeed bestowed His grace abundantly. When we properly grasp this limitless grace of God and believe in it, we can then move beyond our low stage of faith that follows our own circumstances and situations.
Do you not believe in God at your own level and do you not also follow Him on your own stage? Have you not been tamed by doctrines instilled by legalized Christianity? If you have assessed your life of faith based on your own standard so far, and found yourself satisfied or tormented depending on this result, then now is the time for you to move beyond such a stage of faith and come into God’s profound, boundless, and perfect realm of faith.
If we believe in God, then we can live in His infinite love, for His love knows no bound. I ask you all to believe in this God. You have to recognize that it’s only because you don’t have enough faith in God that you are struggling with hardships. When we have no faith in the boundless grace of God, our hearts are often filled with discouragement and suffering. There are also times when we think that God does not know our suffering, and as a result, we bind ourselves with such sufferings. That’s why we struggle to carry on with our lives of faith as if we were the only ones suffering. However, even when we feel as if God has abandoned us to our own struggle in our times of suffering, hardship, and pain, God still knows us all and pours His boundless love on us. Therefore, whenever we are suffering or facing hardships, we have even more reason to turn to God, who bestows this unbound grace on us. Even to this day, God is still asking you, “Entrust yourself to Me, rely on Me, and believe in Me.”
Our God is not the kind of God that bestows His grace on us only to stop in the middle. On the contrary, He is the God who left seven baskets of food even after feeding over 4,000 in men alone. He is not the God that would abandon you when you are exhausted desperately needing His help, but He is the God that bestows more than enough grace to feed everyone and still fill seven baskets. Likewise, the grace of God is not something that is bestowed on us only to cease in the middle. It is the grace that is bestowed on us continuously and infinitely.
Was there a moment in your life when you felt that your life was over? Or was there a time in your life of faith when you felt, “my life of faith is about to end here?” As we carry on with our lives of faith, there are such moments when it seems as if our faith is about to be lost. In times like this, when you feel as if you have run out of faith and you think, “my life of faith is over,” remember that God’s boundless love and grace has never ended, even though your own righteousness, strength, and faith may have reached a certain limit. It’s because our own faith is exhausted before God that we feel as if everything is over, but this does not mean that God’s grace for us is somehow exhausted.
As we carry on with our lives, there are many times when our lives seem to be over. All of us probably have had a few near-death experiences. Yet even so, we have managed to survive and we are still alive. This was all possible because the grace of God has continued to take a fast hold on us, even though our strength was exhausted and we came close to death. The reason why we have been able to continue to carry on with our lives of faith without perishing in body and spirit is precisely because we have had the absolute and perfect strength that has held us whenever we seemed to run out of faith. It’s by this strength that we have been able to overcome crises of faith and remain alive. This strength comes from God. God has bestowed His boundless grace on us, He has led us to the way of righteousness through His boundless love and grace, He has taught us and guided us justly, and knowing our hunger He has fed us to fullness. If this is indeed the case, then there is no need for us to be discouraged and remain neither in despair out of our present hardships and suffering, nor in our future trials to come. Whenever our faith seems to be exhausted and overwhelmed by our weaknesses, all that we have to do is just remember the boundless love of the Lord who has brought His grace to us according to His time, and believe that He is the God whose grace knows no bounds, for He plans to continue to bestow this grace on us in abundance. It’s when we believe in God like this that He is rejoiced.
Contemplate on what it is that God is speaking to us about through today’s Scripture passage. All those people who were with Jesus Christ at that time had gone hungry for three straight days. Many people were starving at that time. As we carry on with our lives of faith, there are times when we go hungry, and there also are many times when we are exhausted. Yet every time, God has clothed us in His grace. This grace will continue on in the days to come, but today I would like to address this issue in more detail.
Who Do Not Believe in God Truly?
God says in Matthew 15:8-9, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Jesus said this with the Pharisees in mind. Religionists only care about outside appearances. The Pharisees, too, were typical religionists of their time, and so they invoked the name of God only to seek their own interest, saying “All that matters is that you should keep yourself clean and act virtuously in your outside appearance.” They pretended to serve God only outside, claiming, for example, “Since God told us to serve our parents, we should serve them. But it’s not an absolute requirement, if we just say that what we should have given to our parents was offered to God” (Mark 7:11). These Pharisees—that is, religionists—emphasized superficial cleanness so much. They insisted that everyone had to wash his hands without fail whenever he returned home from outside, but on the other hand, they came up with all kinds of excuses for their own behavior, twisting the Word of God all the time to suit themselves, saying “that’s what God’s Word commands us, but there is always an exception.”
The Lord says to us, “Whatever enters through a man’s mouth cannot defile him; it is what comes out from his inside that defiles him.” (Mark 7:18-20). We have to be freed from this superficial cleanness. This means that any doctrine claiming that we only need to be clean outside, as if what enters through our mouths would defile us, is not right. In other words, all these things that enter through the mouth cannot defile anyone, but it is what comes out from his inside that defiles him. Many religious people think on their own, “it’s what enters a man through the mouth that defiles him.” My fellow believers, I ask you all to grasp that what enters through the mouth cannot defile anyone. Regardless of how diligently and virtuously one might have lived his life in outside appearance, if his inside is strewn with filthy sins then he is not a clean man.
Our Lord says that what enters through the mouth is not the problem. People think that if they wash what goes through the mouth before they eat it, then their inside would somehow be cleansed. That’s what the Pharisees thought. And it wasn’t just the Pharisees who thought so, but many others also thought like this. They thought that if they just cleaned what entered through the mouth before eating it, then they would be preserved in cleanness, but that was never the case. Jesus says, “What proceeds out of the mouth comes from the heart, and it’s what comes out of a man that defiles him.”
Let’s Think about the Sins That Come out of The Heart of Mankind
We then need to consider the following questions here: “Exactly how filthy is mankind? And how useless is mankind’s outside cleanness?” Jesus said that everything that comes of mankind’s mouth comes out of the heart, and this means that whatever comes out of the heart is the fundamental nature of mankind. The Lord is saying that whatever comes out of a man’s mouth is none other than himself and this is what defiles others. What comes out of the mouth is what comes out of the heart and it’s imperative for us to know what it is that comes out of the mouth—that is, what it is that comes out of our hearts.
Let us all turn to Matthew 15:19 here: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Jesus said here that what proceeds from the heart are evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies, and that it is these things that defile mankind. If we just look at ourselves as human beings, leaving out the fact that the Lord has blotted out all our sins, then how would we see ourselves? Take a good look at yourself and also look at others. Once we see ourselves reflected on the Word of God in our lives, and set aside Jesus Christ when we look at ourselves, then we would realize just how exceedingly sinful we all are. We are constantly practicing nothing but evil. We are overflowing with evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. If we set aside our faith in Jesus Christ, then we ourselves as human beings are nothing more than piles of sin. The nature of mankind, what comes out of human beings, and what comes out of the human heart are all evil. It is no exaggeration to say that the fundamental nature of mankind is stained with such iniquities as evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, and thefts. It’s as clear as broad daylight that mankind is simply a brood of sin that cannot help but spew out only wickedness and filthiness.
Although many people, brainwashed by religious teachings, think that there is some goodness to them, it’s precisely because human beings are fundamentally evil that they seek goodness. That’s why people seek to practice virtue with their acts, trying to hide their evil fundamental nature with their merits, and think that mankind is also capable of attaining some virtues. However, when we look at ourselves as human beings, we know that mankind itself is filthy. If you knew yourself, then you couldn’t help but admit just how filthy human beings are, how evil their thoughts are, how blasphemous they are, and how often they bear false witness. You can realize all this just by looking at yourself. But if you don’t recognize yourself, then you would likely be deluded into thinking that you are a good person. Furthermore, on the other side of this thinking that considers oneself virtuous, it’s absolutely certain that this mindset would be associated with religion and interwoven with religious hypocrisy. On our own, there is nothing at all that justifies us to look at ourselves as virtuous. Just as Jesus said in the Bible here, there is no question whatsoever that all the people living on planet earth, including myself, are a brood of evil whose thoughts are wicked, filthy, and depraved, and who indeed practice only evil.
We humans are completely worthless. When we look at the center of the human heart, we see how fundamentally filthy it is. Just as the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), there is nothing that’s filthier and more depraved than the human heart. All other things in this world, such as flowers, are clean as they are. In contrast, human beings try to hide their filthiness with their hypocrisy. Of the entire creation, only mankind practices hypocrisy, incapable of recognizing itself. It’s precisely because human beings are hypocritical that they delude themselves into thinking that they are virtuous. Yet unlike flowers, which are beautiful just as they are, when human beings are exposed in their true colors, they are so dirty, evil, and ugly that they are even filthier than sewage in the sewer and trash in the garbage dump. What about excrements filled with maggots? Aren’t they also included in “all things?” Of course they are. If so, then the human heart is even filthier than such excrements and the maggots living in there. That is the real nature of mankind.
Do You Know Yourself Well?
The problem, however, is that we don’t know ourselves that well. Sometimes even those who have received the remission of sin do not know themselves. So as a result they become prideful when they achieve something, but when their insufficiencies are exposed, they end up with far greater disappointment than the pride they had once felt.
There were many hungry people following Jesus Christ. Jesus had so much compassion for these people exhausted from hunger that He performed a miracle to feed them, but what kind of people are those who truly hunger in spirit? They are those who know who they really are. Once human beings know themselves, they spiritually starve so much that they get completely exhausted. So they come to ask the gods of the world for help desperately but in vain. Only God can give them His divine grace, and that’s indeed true.
On the other hand, there are many people who live without knowing themselves, but it makes no sense for them to come before God and ask for help when they don’t even know themselves. Nor does it make any sense to beg God, “Please help me just a little; please forgive me just once this time.” This is the wrong prayer to give, which is nothing more than saying, “I’m just slightly unclean and I only need a little help. I’ll take care of the rest by myself.” When you realize your total depravity, come to know the full extent of your wickedness, and admit, “I am completely filthy. My thoughts are filthy just as my acts are also filthy; I am nothing more than human trash”—it is then that you can become poor in heart and your heart can really come to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
If you and I still think that we have something virtuous on our own even after being born again, then we need to think again. If, by any chance, you think that you can somehow practice righteousness, that there is something good about you, and that you have certain virtues, then this can only mean that you are still not hungry in spirit. All human beings, including you and me, are completely depraved just as our Lord said. From the very moment we were born, we were already destined to be corrupt by fate. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, all human beings were born as a brood of complete filthiness and depravity. If you and I come to realize our true selves like this, then far from boasting about ourselves, we would find ourselves sighing in mourning. Even though we would be grieved when we know and admit ourselves, what will happen next? We will come to realize that it’s precisely such people on whom our God bestows His grace. It’s then that we are able to believe in God by trusting and accepting this grace, and those who believe in this are able to find His grace by faith.
In contrast, those who still do not know what kind of people they are, consider themselves as someone capable of producing something righteous, and so they busy themselves to serve God through their own virtues. Such people waver back and forth, serving God and themselves half and half. On the other hand, those who know that they are insufficient recognize that they are completely depraved and rest all their expectations only on the grace of God entirely, even though they may also waver back and forth a little. In other words, by relying on God and trusting only in His grace, they come to have faith in His Word and His grace.
God Bestows the Same Salvation on the Gentiles Also
One day, while Jesus was traveling through the region of Sidon, a Canaanite woman from that region came to Him and cried out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” What does it mean when it says a Gentile woman living in the region of Canaan sought out Jesus and said, “Have mercy on me?” Essentially, it means that this woman knew the full extent of her depraved and filthy self and admitted herself. Moreover, the woman not only saw her true self, but she also saw how her daughter was possessed by a wicked demon and once she saw such filthiness, she had no choice but to completely rely on Jesus and hang on to Him.
That is why she ran toward Jesus shouting out, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” This woman, who knew herself well, begged Jesus to help her daughter, saying, “My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession. Please have mercy on me!” Yet despite this, Jesus did not even turn around, and instead said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Jesus was treating this woman like a dog. He was saying straight to her face, “You are no better than a dog!” Take a look at how the woman responded in spite of this insult, saying: “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” In other words, the woman frankly admitted herself to Jesus, saying, “Yes, you are right. I am a woman that’s no better than a dog. I am a dog.” Jesus had mentioned dogs in indirect reference to the woman, for He knew all about the human heart, and in return, this woman also admitted herself exactly as she was, for she, too, knew that she was like a dog. In other words, she had set aside her daughter for now and first accepted that she was such a woman. That is how this woman was able to find grace from God.
My fellow believers, even though we have been born again, what kind of people are we fundamentally? We ourselves are no better than a dog. Jesus said that what proceeds from the human heart defiles mankind. What comes out of the heart of mankind are all kinds of sins, from evil thoughts to murders, adulteries, thefts, envy, conflict, pride, and so forth. In other words, Jesus told us that none other than we ourselves were born with such sins like a dog. A dog is said to return to where it had vomited once (Proverbs 26:11).
A dog scoops up and eats its own vomit. Mankind is the same. People pull out filth from their inside only to swallow it again; they commit sinful acts, repent, and then commit even more sinful acts all over again, repeating this time after time. But what do you think? Do you think that we humans are any better than a dog? No, we are no better. Instead, our hearts are filthier and more depraved than a dog. When you really take a close look at yourself, you will realize just how lowly and wretched you are that you will have no choice but be thoroughly disappointed at yourself.
What would happen if people were to see their true selves accurately? They will all be disappointed at their filthy and depraved image. They will end up discouraged, thinking, “How wretched I am!” Isn’t this the case? When you look at yourself, are you not disappointed? All those who really take a close look at themselves are bound to be disappointed. However, sometimes even disappointment can be a good dose of medicine, for it is in times like this that people finally come to hunger and thirst for righteousness. It’s precisely because you know you are insufficient that your heart is aroused with the desire to hold on to Jesus Christ and to believe in whatever He says exactly as it is. It is then that you come to deny yourself totally and rely on the Word of God. As you come to realize your completely worthless self, you realize that this worthless body of yours cannot live without the Lord, and in gratefulness, you come to yearn for the grace of Jesus Christ, His blessings, His infinite love, and His boundless salvation.
However, most people still do not know themselves that well. Socrates once said long ago, “Know yourself,” but so many people still continue to be oblivious to who they really are. There are so many people who don’t realize that they are no better than a dog and that they are nothing more than human trash; even now, still drunk by the teachings of religions they continue to delude themselves into believing that their own self-portrait, embellished with pretense and hypocrisy, is their true portrait. We humans, by ourselves, are completely worthless trash. Therefore there is no doubt whatsoever that if faith is taken away from the born-again and religion from those who have not been born again, everyone alike would be invariably useless and worthless before God.
If Jesus, who has blotted out all the sins of the world, were taken away from you, what kind of a person would you be? Imagine what would happen if you were left without the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit. What kind of people would you and I be then? We would be revealed as completely worthless. We would turn into useless people no different from an animal. We would end up no better than leeches, eating and drinking everyday, and yet wanting more and more (Proverbs 30:15). Is this not true? Of course it is. That is why we have no choice but to believe in Jesus, who has blotted out all our sins. It’s because we were useless sinners that we needed Jesus. After starving so much, we were only too glad, grateful, and rejoiced to meet Jesus.
That is why we believe in Jesus. We believe that Jesus accepted all our sins and was condemned in our place. We also believe that when we believe in Him we attain eternal life. We believe that He has blotted out all our sins out of His love for us. We also believe that we have been saved by faith. We truly need Jesus Christ.
Even after being born again, we still need Jesus Christ. As human beings, we are still filthy in and of ourselves even after being born again, but Jesus Christ speaks to us and enables us to believe in Him, and therefore our faith in the Lord cleanses our heart, makes our acts upright, and leads us correctly. Do you believe in this? On our own, we are incapable of practicing any righteousness at all. It’s all because of the Lord that we practice righteousness. It’s because of the Lord that we practice virtue. It’s because of the Lord that we know God’s love, and it’s because of Him that we love others. And it is because of the Lord that we are now walking on the right path, for it is all too clear that we ourselves as humans are incapable of doing so.
If a born-again person has practiced goodness, preached the gospel, and served the Lord in various ways, then it’s all because God has given him a good heart, faith, and the ability, strength, and circumstances to practice righteousness. We have to grasp here that it’s only because the Lord has led us that we are now able to love Him, serve Him, and preach the gospel to people; if we were to love the Lord all on our own, then we would never be able to love people, nor serve the Lord.
Sometimes We Lead Our Lives of Faith in Delusion
While we the born-again are carrying on with our lives of faith, it’s possible for us to sometimes fall into delusion. “Lord, I’ve served You all this time, but what have You done for me? Have You done anything for me at all? All that You’ve done has just brought hardship on me. What is it that You’ve done for me? I don’t want to serve You anymore. I’d rather give up my life of faith now.” Some of us have such mistaken thoughts.
But that is not right. If you have indeed served the Lord wholeheartedly, then you should be grateful to Him for giving you a heart of righteousness, allowing His Word to come into you, and enabling you to serve Him. And you should thank Him for using you as His righteous instrument. It’s not we who have served the Lord, but is the Lord who has served us, so that we may be able to serve Him. We have to realize that it is not we who have practiced righteousness on our own, but it is the Lord who has given us the strength to practice righteousness.
Even among our born-again saints, some people are disappointed in their hearts wondering, “I’ve followed the Lord, but what have I received from Him?” That’s because they still do not realize just how filthy and depraved they really are, how their existence is like a dog. Because they themselves do not truly know just how depraved and worthless they are, they front their own righteousness and are stiff-necked before the Lord, thinking that they still are worthy of esteem. You, however, must realize that you are nothing as a human being. Indeed, we are nothing if the Lord leaves us. Without the Lord we are incapable of practicing righteousness; we will only commit sin. Nor will we be able to love, but far from it we will only be cursing in our lives. Is this how you want to live the rest of your life, bubbling with filthy sewage and reeking of foul smell?
It is all too evident that if the Lord were taken away from us, we would all be drowning in filthy water, dwelling in this cesspool and vomiting filthy things, only to fall deeper into the swamp of sin and be destroyed forever. Yet even though we could not help but live like this, God has still saved us and so in light of this, I admonish you all to really grasp that you can only thank God. Because God had compassion for us, even though we were wicked, depraved, and filthy, He came to us, blotted out all our sins, led us all, and made it possible for us to practice righteousness. He has taught us what is right and what is the truth, He has made us love Him, and He has enabled us to live a righteous life. None other than this is what God has done for us. That is the reason why we should all give glory to God. It is not we who have loved God, nor is it we who have served Him. It is the Lord who has loved us, it is He who has enabled us not to waste away our lives, and it is God Himself who is leading us to the right path, so that we would be rewarded by Him.
My fellow believers, who is the master of our lives? Is your life really yours? No, that’s not the case. Then who is the driving force behind our lives, and who has enabled us to practice righteousness and virtue, to love, and to lead an upright life? It’s none other than Jesus Christ, not we.
Without the Lord, human beings are completely worthless, always making one mistake after another. From time to time when I look at myself, I realize even more profoundly, “If I weren’t doing the Lord’s work, I would be a man completely useless to do anything but commit sin throughout my entire lifetime.” Not only would I commit sin, but I would be an expert at it. I’m sure that I’d be able to live in this world very shrewdly, enjoy all its pleasures, and commit every evil deed imaginable, all the while escaping from the law cunningly to avoid jail. Perhaps you are too virtuous for this to be true in your case. Some of you may think that there is still some virtue left in you even if you don’t follow the Lord, but as far I am concerned I know that I am nothing but a pile of sin unless I follow the Lord. So I know very well that whatever I do I cannot help but only do what is evil. Of course, it was only after receiving the remission of my sins that I saw myself as such a man.
As a matter of fact, before I was born again I never thought of myself to be so evil. I considered myself quite virtuous, even if everyone else might be wicked. Whenever I came across a lost child on my way home, I always made sure to walk the child safely to his home; whenever I saw the owner of the coal store in my neighborhood struggling to pull the cart, I made sure to give him a hand and push the cart from behind; and whenever I saw an elderly man carrying a heavy load on his shoulder, I always shouldered it in his place. So I thought to myself that I was a very good man. However, with passing time, once I took a close look at myself, I realized, “Ah, unless I follow the Lord, I would become a worthless swindler and a completely useless man.”
How about you then? Is this not who you are also? Can any of you really live an upright life without Jesus? Can you live like the great sages of human history even if Jesus is taken away from you? It’s as clear as the broad daylight that without Jesus you would all infallibly turn into wickedness itself.
Without the Lord, We Are Completely Worthless
You and I alike, as well as everyone else, should all recognize and admit that we are worthless, and entrust ourselves to the Lord. Without Jesus Christ and without the Word of God, we are completely useless junk for both mankind and this world. Without the Lord, our lives are absolutely worthless. There is a hymn entitled “I Cannot Live without My Lord,” and there is indeed nothing remaining in us if we are left without Jesus. If Jesus Christ and the Word of Truth are taken away from us, then we will all be incapable of speaking the Truth. Without the Lord, we would be like a boat sailing the sea without any sails. Our direction in life would then take a wrong turn, and therefore it would be impossible for us to lead an upright life. A life without the Lord is wasted thoughtlessly in whatever way, just as a boat without a sail drifts with the tide in the vast sea. Without the Word of the Lord, we cannot even set the right direction in life, and without the Lord dwelling in us, we cannot help but continue to commit only sin—this is who we are.
Open your ears to what this woman from Canaan said. Even though Jesus Christ had told her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs,” this woman responded by saying, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” In other words, the woman said to Him, “Even though I am like a dog, I still yearn to attain and feed on even the smallest of Your grace in my life. Lord, please bestow Your grace on me, even though I am a dog.”
Hearing this woman’s words, the Lord said, “O woman, great is your faith!” Who are those whose faith is truly great? They are those who know that they themselves are like a dog and admit that they are worthless trash. These are the people who acknowledge the fact that without Jesus, they are completely helpless to avoid hell because there is absolutely no virtue to be found in them. They are incapable of practicing anything else but wickedness. They then ask Jesus Christ for the grace of salvation and the gift of God and they believe in them. It is none other than these people whose faith is truly great. The Lord Himself told the woman that her faith was great.
Traveling with His disciples for three days, our Lord had taught a great multitude. But there were many in the crowd who had gone hungry without any food for their flesh while following Jesus for three days. On the third day, Jesus said, “I’ve been with this crowd for three days, and I have so much compassion for them that I can’t just send them hungry.” When Jesus said this, someone brought a lunch to Him consisting of a few fish and seven loaves. Since these fish and bread were the usual lunch carried by ordinary people, they must have been quite small. Someone had brought a small lunch to Jesus Christ. Yet when Jesus put His hands on it, blessed it, and distributed it to the crowd, no less than 4,000 people ate it, just counting men alone. In the Bible, women and children are usually not counted. This doesn’t mean that the Bible ignores them, but when the Israelites counted people, they always counted only the number of men. It’s only after the arrival of Jesus Christ that women finally came to be treated equally and the women in the Bible imply none other than us, the brides of Jesus Christ.
We Must Ask the Lord for His Grace, Who Is the Fountain of All Blessings
It is written in today’s Scripture passage: “Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.’ Then His disciples said to Him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven, and a few little fish.’ So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.”
My fellow believers, all of us are starving people. We are insufficient, we are poor, and we are devoid of any righteousness. We humans do not live just by eating the bread of the flesh, but we must eat the spiritual bread also. That is how every human life is sustained. When we were too starved to carry on with our lives in this world anymore, the hands of Jesus reached and touched us. Indeed, had Jesus Christ not come to this earth, then we would not have been able to eat any spiritual food, nor any bread for our souls, nor any bread of the heart. Without Jesus, the whole planet earth and everything on it are nothing more than trash. Even though many people have left wise sayings, from Buddha to Confucius, Plato, Socrates, and Gandhi, without Jesus everything that has come out of mankind is in fact all garbage.
But what happened? It’s said in today’s Scripture passage that Jesus Christ fed all those multitudes. And it also says that even after they were all fed to their hearts’ content, there was still enough leftover to fill seven baskets. Now as before, the grace of God is always boundless. It’s when we believe in the infinite grace of God that we can live enjoying this boundless grace. If human beings, who are all finite, were determined to follow the Lord, would they be able to follow the Lord and practice righteousness through their own effort and their own merit? No, the righteousness of mankind is exhausted in no amount of time.
The Lord has given us His prayer, teaching us how and for what we should pray. Among these prayer requests, He told us to pray, “Give us our daily bread.” Since the Lord Himself told us to ask God for our daily bread, wouldn’t God then take care of our need for bread? The grace of God is eternal and boundless. God’s bread, which is His infinite grace, is our daily bread of love, Truth, and grace. Our God has bestowed us with this bread for eternity and everyday we are eating this daily bread by faith. The abundant grace that God has bestowed on us is not something that was given only in the past, but it is something that lasts forever into our future.
As we carry on with our lives of faith, we get discouraged from time to time. However, once we renew our faith that the grace of God is limitless, our discouragement soon turns into hope. I admonish you all to believe in this fact, that this grace of God is boundless and that God still has enough grace left to fill seven baskets. If you believe in this, then God’s grace will continue to be bestowed on you now and forever. If we believe that God’s grace is still bestowed on us, then we can be freed from not only our own poverty, but also from our difficult circumstances.
In contrast, if we believe in ourselves and rely only on our own strength rather than believing in the boundless grace of God, then it will be inevitable for us to become hungry again, become weary, and go astray in the wilderness. You and I are such fragile beings. How about you? Even though you run toward the Lord with all your strength, don’t you sometimes still go hungry, naked, and fall into weaknesses? It’s times like this that you need the unbounded grace of our God. It’s when we believe in this endless grace of God that’s bestowed on us everyday, when we ask God for this grace, and when we trust in this God, that we are filled day after day. In this way, you and I are able to live before the Lord amid God’s blessings.
Why are you still discouraged when the Lord is with us and when He is bestowing us with His overflowing grace? The reason why we feel discouraged and fall into despair is all because we don’t believe in the boundless love of God and His Truth and grace. Even though we are all insufficient and limited beings, God is boundless. Even though our strength is limited, the power of Jesus Christ is limitless. The love of God and His blessings for us are infinite. Although our own righteousness is like the passing fog that disappears in little time, God Himself is eternal, He is bestowing His everlasting grace on the entire human race, He has stored more than enough grace to last forever, and even at this very moment, He is giving us this grace.
My beloved saints, the Lord dwells in our hearts. The Apostle Paul once said to the Corinthian believers, “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). Let us all engrave this passage in our hearts. It’s only when our hearts thirst and yearn for the grace of God before His presence that we can receive His infinite love, everlasting Truth, and unbound blessings. If we are unable to ask for God’s help, it’s only because our own hearts are restricted. As such, I admonish you all to believe that God Himself is boundless and that His heart is always open for you. When we face hardship, it’s only because we have restricted ourselves in our hearts. The boundless love, everlasting Truth, unbound salvation, and infinite blessings that God has bestowed on us are never restricted. Do you believe in this, my fellow believers?
Let us all then ask incessantly for this grace of God by faith for the rest of our lives. I believe that God’s blessings will then be bestowed abundantly on all of us.