Focus or Force

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John 6:13 There were only five barley loaves to start with, but twelve baskets were filled with the pieces of bread the people did not eat!  John 6:14 When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

John 6:15 Jesus saw that they were ready to take him by force and make him king, so he went higher into the hills alone.

Jesus, once again, had performed a miracle. He recognized and met a deep need. No one had to ask or tell him about it. The truth was he was always looking for opportunities to meet needs because he was selfless. When the people saw what he was capable of they attempted to force him into “selfless” service. There are a few problems with people’s mindset and approach. Let’s address the issues with their mindset first. Selflessness is born from within rather than imposed by outside forces. They misunderstand the very nature of what they propose.

John 6:14 When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

The people learn through miraculous demonstration that Jesus is capable and gifted in ways they did not realize previous to their experience. However, Jesus is not just discovering his abilities or gifts. His knowledge of his gifts compelled him to identify and meet their need. They assume that Jesus has not recognized his purpose and needs their direction to maximize his potential. That could not be further from the truth. His momentary act of service was not intended to be translated into a lifetime of activity. His purpose was greater than the action they observed. In fact, they had only witnessed a minor display of his power. As a result, Jesus pulls away from them and goes where he can breathe and reaffirm his purpose.

John 6:15 Jesus saw that they were ready to take him by force and make him king, so he went higher into the hills alone

The second issue is with the people’s approach. They decide they are going to force Jesus to be what they want him to be. They are not interested in his thoughts about his purpose. Their actions are fundamentally driven by a desire to exploit Jesus’ gifts under the guise of promoting selflessness. Jesus already demonstrated he was selfless. He met a need without being asked or requesting acknowledgment. His selflessness was not debatable. He is without a doubt the epitomy of selflessness. Manipulators always test to see if they can diminish a target’s self-confidence and thereby gain control over them. The people assume he is unaware of his purpose and claim the right to direct his path. They unanimously take the position of authorities in his life and as such are not open to discussion. People with the right intentions are readily open to dialogue. The crowd Jesus faced intended to make Jesus do what they desired. There was no room for inquiry into Jesus’ perceptions.

You may have experienced this subtle manipulation. People go even further and launch assaults on your character because you will not be puppeteered. Jesus did not allow himself to be manipulated and neither should you. Hold on to the clarity granted by your knowledge of your purpose. God designed you to fulfill his plan no one else’s. Follow Jesus’ example. Move to higher ground where people respect you and allow you to breathe. Sometimes, like Jesus, that might mean being alone for a time. Avoid manipulators. Attempts to derail you or tear you down are based on your good character and immeasurable worth. Don’t let anyone keep you from your purpose or tarnish your self-perception.

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