Attending to the Important

Ironically, we tend to concern ourselves with what we shouldn’t, and overlook what we should concern ourselves with. After feeding the four thousand, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat to travel to Bethsaida. After embarking the disciples realized that they had only brought one loaf of bread. As they sailed, Jesus instructed them to be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod. Because they had forgotten additional bread, the disciples assumed that Jesus was referring to their lack of bread. Knowing what they were discussing among themselves, Jesus addressed their misunderstanding by reminding them that on both the occasion of feeding the five thousand and later the four thousand, they ended up with more bread left over than they had to begin with. Jesus then asked if they had understood. In Matthew’s gospel, we read that they had grasped that Jesus warned them about the teaching of the Pharisees and of Herod.

The disciples reflect our tendency to be more concerned about our immediate physical needs, or needs we think we have, rather than the more important issues of what impacts our hearts, thoughts and values. The Pharisees and Herod were more concerned about externals: the opinions of men, maintaining power and giving a good impression. They were not concerned about promoting truth and helping others. When we become so fixated upon what we think we need, we can miss the more important issues of our life. Jesus directed his disciples and ultimately us as well to pay attention to the bigger issues of life, because our physical needs will be taken care of as we focus on what is most important.

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