May 26, 2021, 12:03 PM
Let me ask you a question. What first comes to mind after reading the title of this article? Does it look like a riddle? What do you perceive would increase in its absorbency after you start using it? Time to let the cat out of the bag! Years back, I bought a bath towel and found a sticker on it which read, ‘absorbency increases with use.’
That message was so profound, I can still vividly picture the scene. It literally spoke to me. Basically, what it had conveyed was that the more you use the towel, the more efficient it would become at absorbing the water on your body. In everyday language it means, whatever you are soaked in, whatever you give your time and energy to, the more adept you would be at it. Isn’t it true?
These days we spend a lot of time on things that do not build us up – all in the name of entertainment. And then we are surprised at the outcomes. This generation is insensitive to the kind of activities that take up its time, the attractions that it is glued to - which for the most part are hardly beneficial to their personal wellbeing. The time spent in front of the computer, the television screen or with the mobile phone is entertainment, its other name is pastime. It is a means of letting the time go by. It adds very little to our personal growth or development.
When Jesus called His disciples, it did not seemed like He paid any special attention to their level of education – most of them were fishermen. No one expected them to excel in their new profession of being what Jesus said that they would become; - ‘fishers of men’. It took a personal night vigil for Jesus to conclude which among those who were in His entourage would qualify. But He chose just Twelve. According to the degree of involvement, they were reduced to an inner cabal of three (Peter, James and John) and then only one – John, the Beloved.
The tally of close followers in effect totalled seventy-two - not counting the womenfolk and the secret admirers like Nicodemus. You would think then that the closeness would have determined how well they were soaked in the ministry. Jesus was with them for three and a half years but it looked like they were not keeping up with His pace. They faltered big time. For quite a number of things they hadn’t the faintest clue. Only one of them knew Jesus’ identity, and his answer was prompted by the Holy Spirit to say: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
He rebuked Peter for losing his faith, after walking on water. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) They could not pray like the disciples of John the Baptist, so they asked Him; “Master teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1) They were astonished at much of what Jesus shared with them during His teachings. The interpretation of the parables He spoke to them, He had to simplify before they could understand.
In one instance, Jesus had told them to get in the boat to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During the trip, a mighty storm raged to the point that they thought they would drown. Whilst they were struggling for life, Jesus was asleep in the boat. They woke Him up: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38) Again He rebuked them: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) Then Jesus got up and calmed the storm with: “Quiet! Be still!” (verse 39) They were amazed and remarked: “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him.” (verse 41)
They were naturally worried about a lot of things like what to eat, drink or wear. They failed to realise that they were in the company of He who made the earth and all that is in it.
Once a large crowd had followed Jesus and it was beginning to get dark and they had proposed that He should send them away because of the unlikelihood of finding something to eat in that location. But Jesus asked them to look for food for them instead. Of course, they had nothing to feed them with. They even argued that it would take eight months wages to be able to feed such a crowd. But Jesus asked them to look around if there was any food. They could find only a lad’s lunch comprising five loaves and two fish. He ordered them to let the people sit out on the grass in small groups. He blessed the bread and the fish and they were multiplied. The people had enough to eat and when they collected the leftovers, they had twelve basketsful.
Three of His disciples had gone with Jesus up on a high mountain where His countenance changed (He had transfigured). When the group came down the mountain, they found the others with a large crowd around them trying to heal a child who was possessed by devils. When the boy’s father saw Jesus, he complained that His disciples could not bring relief to the lad. Again He rebuked them. “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? Bring the boy here to me.” (Matthew 17:17) Jesus healed the boy. When they were alone with Jesus, His disciples asked Him; “Why couldn’t we drive the demons?”
(Continuation next week)