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Sunday, August 5, 2018

posted Aug 5, 2018, 8:12 PM by Site Administrator

JESUS FEEDS THE FIVE THOUSAND

 

John 6:1-13

Key Verse 6:

 

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

 

First, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" (1-9). Look at verses 1-2. Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the sea of Galilee (that is the sea of Tiberias), 2and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.According to Lukes gospel, the disciples had just returned fromshort-term mission trip. They were probably worn out and ready to rest. It’s like us after a long game of soccer and ultimate frisbee. All we want to do is go back to church and relax and enjoy pizza. Jesus, sensing how worn out his disciples were, had planned on a retreat to give them time to recover. Maybe he had some pizza already prepared for them at the picnic spot. But things did not go as planned.

 

The crowds had seen Jesus perform miraculous signs and were excited with him. So, when they saw where the boat was heading they went after Jesus. They had seen what he had done and wanted to see more, running around the lake to get to him.Maybe when the disciples saw the crowds coming they sighed.It’d be like getting to church, smelling the pizza, then remembering you have 7 back to back bible studies that start in just a few minutes on campus. You’re dream for a restful rest of the day just evaporates before your eyes.

 

When Jesus saw this crowd coming, he could have been angry with them. They were ruining his plans to have a private retreat with his disciples. But instead of getting angry at the crowds Jesus took this as an opportunity to teach his disciples.So, what did Jesus do? First, he went up a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. This way they’d be separated from the crowd, ready to serve them. Jesus called his disciples out from the crowd and had them come to him. Originally, his disciples were just like the crowd. But when they had accepted Jesus’ calling their spiritual position was changed from members of the crowd to leaders and shepherds for Gods flock.

 

Many people want to have a great position as a leader, so what do they do? Many go to seminary and get a PhD in theology. They think that by having that piece of paper they are qualified to lead Gods flock. But real positions of spiritual authority don’t come from a piece of paper, or even one’s own efforts. Real authority comes from accepting Gods calling upon them. We remember John the Baptist's rebuke to his disciples saying "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." John the Baptist's position wasn’t earned; but given.Likewise, the disciples hadn’t earned this title but had been given it by Jesus. Then once they had the title, Jesus worked hard to shape them up into men worthy of it. He’d worked hard to teach them and help them to grow up into great men of God.Now with this crowd Jesus was going to help them to pick up a leaders and a shepherds mindset.

 

Look at verses 5-6. Let’s read these verses together:

 

"5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

 

The crowd didn’t come for food, but Jesus saw their condition. They’d just went all the around the sea of Galilee, probably walking many miles to get to him. The people were probably collapsing from exhaustion. Jesus saw their condition and had compassion on them. He wanted to feed them and restore them. So, to do this he singled out Philip and asked "where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"

 

What was Philips response? Philip looked at the crowd, maybe he pulled out his pocket calculator "ok, there’s 50 people over there, at 4 bucks a meal that’s $200. Then there’s another 200 over there that’s another $800. I’ve got $2.75 in my pocket, between us disciples we’ve probably got $14.75, man this is going to be tough." Then he looked at the droves and droves of people. An endless sea of people to be fed. As he tried to calculate it the numbers just became more and more ridiculous.The number wouldn’t even fit on his calculator! Finally, he threw up his hands and exclaimed "eight months wages wouldn’t be enough for each one to have a bite!" Philip looked, calculated the situation and saw that it was impossible. The passage says that Jesus had asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip was a smart man, but despite his brilliance he failed Jesus’ test.

Why did Philip fail? Philip accurately analyzed the situation and concluded that it was impossible to feed all these people. But that’s not what Jesus wanted. When looking for a solution, Philip only looked at what he and the other disciples were capable of doing. When he saw things that way the situation was impossible. But Jesus didn’t want Philip to look at his own strength but to turn to Jesus for the answer.

 

Often when faced with challenges we look to ourselves for the answer. Then when its something we can’t overcome we throw up our hands and say "Its impossible! Maybe if I had a bit more money or time or bible knowledge I could do it. But as things are, it’s impossible.As shepherds we’re already up to our necks in school and work and our own sin problems. It seems like we’re barely keeping ourselves afloat. Then with our few precious hours we have to spare each week Jesus asks "where shall we buy bread for the campus to eat?" Maybe we want to cry out "8 months wages wouldn’t be enough for each one to have a bite! Jesus I’m buried in my school work, I don’t even have a minute to spare!" or our sheep are so unresponsive that we feel we can’t help them. No matter how much we pray and struggle for them it seems nothing changes. We seem incapable of feeding them. When we just look at our strength, shepherding life seems impossible and we’re only filled withbitterness and despair as we look at the impossible task we’re supposed to do. Truly, in serving Jesus we must not look at just what we can do alone.

 

As Philip was running his calculations Andrew, Simon Peters brother, was also looking at the situation. He too saw that it was impossible, but he found something and he brought it to Jesus. Look at verses 8-9 let’s read these verses together. Let’sgo "Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, "here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" Andrew looked at the situation and like Philip, concluded that it was impossible. But unlike Philip he tried to find something, some possibility, and to bring it to Jesus. When he saw a small boy pulling out his lunch sack his mind went "aha" and he told the boy "come with me" and brought him to Jesus. Maybe he triumphantly presented him saying "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish. Here Jesus, here’s something for you to work with." Andrew brought this boy to Jesus, why? B/c he could see a glimpse of the idea that Jesus would be able to feed this entire crowd with this lunch sack.How? He didn’t know. But he was willing to try and to bring something to Jesus. But then, rather than keeping his focus on Jesus and hanging onto what he’d glimpsed, he looked again at the crowd. Then reality hit him and he said "but how far will they go among so many?"

 

Andrew did the same thing as Philip. He looked at the situation and realized that on his own strength it was impossible.It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to feed this entire crowd. Even if they had the money, where could they go to buy food? They were in the middle of nowhere. But he didn’t stop there but he struggled to find something to bring to Jesus.Andrew included the Jesus factor in his calculations. As a result, he was able to see the possibility of overcoming the situation.The possibility of feeding this entire crowd somehow through Jesus. Why did Andrew succeed when Philip failed? Its b/c he had faith in Jesus. What was his faith? It was that Jesus could do something, what? He didn’t know what. But something, when Andrew was willing to believe that Jesus could do something he searched for something to bring to him.

 

We’re often like this, in a limited situation. Our sheep’s condition seems impossible. We teach them but it seems like we’re just giving them empty words. No matter how much we teach them they don’t ever seem to change, to be fed. So, we wonder "how am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to feed my sheep when what I have does nothing for them?We look at the scale of our campuses. Santa Monica college has 35,000 students. CSULB has 37,000, El Camino has 22,000, USC has 45,000. How am I to feed them when it's just me and a few other shepherds for so many? When we look at the scale of what Jesus asks us to do we feel overwhelmed. We want to say "8 months wages wouldn’t be enough for each one to have a bite!But when we go Andrews way and say "ok, on my own this is impossible, but with Jesus it can be done." Our view changes. Then we start to think about how we can bring something to Jesus so he can work in the situation. We think "ok I’m limited, but Jesus isn’t. If Jesus can create the entire universe out of nothing surely he can do something here.And we think of what we can bring to him to work with. With Jesus we can see the possibility of feeding the entire campus so we look and think "what are my 5 loaves and two fish that I can bring to Jesus?"

 

We are all limited in one way or another. Most of us are limited in many ways, we’re short on time, short on cash, we don’t have great prestigious titles like pastor or seminary professor to get the students to listen to us or hear what we say.Maybe we’ve only studied a few weeks more passages than we’ve taught. Then we’re terrified our students will ask us to study twice a week because that means we’ll run out of new notes for them in a few weeks. We’re all limited, but when we bring what we have to Jesus a miracle can start from there.

 

Second, "Have the people sit down" (10-13). When Andrew brought the boy with his lunch sack to Jesus, Jesus started working. When we’re willing to bring something to Jesuswith faith that he’ll do something with it, even if it’s as small as a child’s lunch sack, he starts to work with that. Jesus told his disciples to have the people sit down. A proper environment had to be prepared. If the people were all just milling about they wouldn’t be ready to hear the message and they wouldn’t know where the food had come from. So, Jesus had his disciples get involved. He told the disciples to have the crowds sit down. This would be dangerous, maybe the disciples would tell the crowds "everyone have a seat, food will be here shortly." All the while the disciples knew that there was no food available. If the disciples didn’t deliver the crowd would be angry, thinking the disciples had been playing a trick on them. Having a crowd of 5,000 angry at you could turn very bad, very quickly. The disciples knew this but still they trusted that Jesus would do something, what? They didn’t know, but something, somehow,to provide food for this crowd.

 

Jesus could have just fed the crowd himself. Jesus is God.He is not limited by this situation or any other. But rather than doing this all on his own he drew his disciples into it. He made them really have to entrust themselves to him and believe that this situation would turn out good, even if they couldn’t see how.This is what Jesus asks of us. He says "will you trust me? Will you work and follow my direction even if it seems impossible?Jesus challenges us to trust him rather than the situation, rather than our own understanding of how things will go. Even when there’s so much on the line, Jesus asks us to trust him. When we do… we’ll let’s see what happened.

 

Jesus took the loaves that Andrew had gotten, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. It was a miracle! With just one boys small lunch sack, Jesus was able to produce enough food to feed thousands of people! When the disciples were willing to just believe in Jesus, to trust him rather than their own calculations, a great work of God occurred. This is what happens when we trust God rather than the situation.

 

What Andrew brought to Jesus seemed ridiculous. Feeding all this crowd with one lunch sack is like feeding an entire campus with one French fry. But when Andrew brought this to Jesus didn’t reject him or say "What! That’s all you’ve got?! Get out of here! You’re pathetic." But instead he took what Andrew brought, gave thanks and multiplied it. Jesus took what Andrew brought. It was small pathetic, not some great offering worthy of the God of all creation. But when Andrew brought it Jesus happily accepted it. What we have may be so small. Maybe only an hour or two a week. But we see here that when we bring what we have to Jesus, even if its one French fry’s worth, he’s happy to take it and work with it.

 

 Then Jesus gave thanks. What was he thankful for? Was it for the lunch sack? No, the material to work with was never an issue. Jesus could just as easily have produced food for these people out of thin air as he did out of this boy’s lunch. But there was one thing that Andrew brought to Jesus that was very special. One thing that made Jesus very thankful. His faith.When Andrew approached Jesus, he approached him with trust that Jesus could do something with what Andrew was bringing to him. And he approached him with trust that Jesus wouldn’t reject this tiny pitiful seeming offering. Andrew had faith in Jesus’ power and faith in Jesus’ goodness. For that Jesus was very thankful. What can we do to please Jesus? Not much.We’re sinful beings, unreliable in the best of times. Plus, when we think about it, anything we bring to Jesus is just something he gave us in the first place. "Here Jesus, here’s my time""Thanks, I’m the one who gave that time in the first place""Here Jesus, my efforts" "Thanks I’m the one who gave you the body your using for me" "Here’s my tithe" "I gave you your job." Anything we bring to Jesus is really just bringing back to him what is already his. Those don’t really move Jesus. But there’s one thing we can bring to him that he really treasures, our faith. We can bring a decision to trust in his goodness and his power. We can choose to bring to him our faith that when we offer him something, it won’t be wasted but he’ll take it and use it. When Andrew was willing to make that act of faith, that act of trust in Jesus, Jesus gave thanks. Jesus was thankful to God for his disciple’s hearts trust in him.

 

Then Jesus took what Andrew brought and distributed to the people as much as they wanted. At first glance this situation had seemed impossible. But as the disciples saw food spreading through the crowd they must have been awestruck. Then when they were all done and got back to Jesus they could see a sea of people all putting food in their mouths. It must have been an overwhelming sight. At first, they thought that this situation was impossible and indeed without Jesus it was. But when they were willing to trust Jesus he quickly worked and soon the situation was conquered and everyone was fed. There must have been many "wows" and high fives among the disciples as they saw this. When we face challenging situations, like the challenge of feeding our entire campus with just a few hours a week, it can seem overwhelming and we can be tempted to quit without even trying. But when we bring the situation to Jesus like this then our view changes and we pick up great hope and vision of transforming things. Then this impossible situation becomes a chance to reveal Gods glory, then despair turns to excitement.Praise Jesus for impossible situations! These are the times where we can really learn how to put our trust in him and to develop faith in what he’s able and willing to do.

 

After everyone had had enough to eat. Jesus told his disciples to gather the pieces that were left over. To let nothing be wasted. So, the disciples gathered 12 baskets with the pieces left over. Now not only was the crowd fed, but each disciple had their own personal gigantic basket full of food to enjoy. When they were willing to bring what they had to Jesus, the result was an overflowing abundance and everyone, both shepherd and sheep were satisfied. When we bring what we have to Jesus, the result will be the same.

Through this passage I was really touched and inspired.Before Jesus’ calling I was a nobody going nowhere in life. All throughout school I was a troublemaker and a weirdo. I was in the principal’s office on an almost daily basis in elementary school. I was someone who just barely put forth enough effort to pass my classes and survive. In short, I was just like the disciples, living for small things and not having any vision for myself. My dream was to get rich, somehow, get a boat and spend my life traveling the world. But Jesus, through giving me my one word that I would no longer be Jacob, someone who struggles with man, and instead would be Israel, someone who wrestles with and pursues Gods blessing, gave me a new hope and vision for my life. I recently was able to eat at a high-end steakhouse. As I sat there, eating my meal, I watched an elderly lady in an electric wheelchair eating her meal and talking about a trip to Ireland. I watched and internally said "that’s where your fantasy would have ended up Rob. Old, with your life worn away and behind you, feeling like you were living the high life but completely ignorant of Gods will for you." As I saw where my "fantasy life" would have really ended I just prayed thanking God for the new life he had given me and that I was denied my worldly dream.

 

Jesus called me up the mountain so to speak through bible studies on CSULB. I would walk up the hill to the library on top of campus to be taught Gods words. As I continually went up that mountain, God called me from my old life of living for myself to instead living as a shepherd over his flock. I started living as a shepherd in 2008 and have been doing so ever since.God has been building me up from someone who’s joy in life was YouTube to someone who envisions filling the world with thousands of divisions of shepherds, feeding the entire planet with God's word.

 

Through this passage I’m inspired to see that 8 months wages isn’t what I need. I don’t need to be in better shape or have more time or money to effectively serve Gods work.Instead what I truly have to have is belief in Jesus. As I have that sort of belief, one where I truly see it as certain that he’ll work through me, not possible but certain, I can come to him in prayer and bring him all I have, my entire person.

 

I grew up as a Philip, I learned that if you can’t do it on your own it can’t be done and to always have a backup plan.Even in serving God all I leaned on was my own ability to teach and make the passage clear. But through this passage I can see that its not by my own efforts Gods work can be done. Instead when I bring what I have to Jesus in prayer, he can empower my five loaves and two fish to become a real meal that students can be fed with.

 

I’m married, work full time and have a one-year old daughter. My hands are already full with that and I only have a few spare hours, two days a week, to go onto campus and to fish and to teach. But when that time is first offered to Jesus in prayer saying "here Jesus you take this and put substance behind it" then those few hours a week can be more than enough to feed the students on Santa Monica college. Through those, Gods words can begin to grow and sprout in students’ hearts and soon they too can be working as shepherds for Gods flock. Gods work can start and grow mightily when I just bring him my five hours on two nights on SMC.

 

Before my way of serving Jesus was 8 months wages. I would debate creation versus evolution with my friends, attempting to convert them with intellectual arguments and debate. It never worked and only produced endless arguments that never went anywhere. But now, rather than struggling with students by my own strength I struggle to come to Jesus in prayer, to bring what I have before him to use. I pray, "Jesus, please cause your words to sprout and gain weight in my students’ hearts. Let them be able to see it as true and unable to deny what your will for them is." As I’ve done so, it's been completely transformative for me. Now rather than always arguing, I just teach and let God do what really only he can do.Several of my students are becoming more responsive to bible studies. Their testimonies are getting better and longer. I can see God is starting to do a great work on SMC and I’m excited to see what will come of it. When we just bring what we have to Jesus, he’ll gladly take it and work with it to feed more than we could ever imagine.

 

One word: Bring Your Five Loaves And Two Fish To Jesus

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