This is the sermon for Wednesday, January 30th 2008.
JOHN PART 20
Feeding the Five Thousand
We have just seen Jesus heal the lame man on the Sabbath who was setting at the pool of Bethesda. He was challenged by the Jews, and Jesus answered their challenge by appealing to John the Baptist, the works He does, the Father, and the Old Testament Scriptures.
Now we are going to look at the one miracle, aside from His resurrection of course, that is recorded in all the Gospel accounts.
About 13 years ago or so when I pastored in another church in West Texas, I received a phone call from a minister who was going into Russia sharing the Gospel. Russia had just opened up, and he was looking at having other Pastors go with him to preach the Gospel. He told me a story that I will never forget. He told about the last time he was in Misk, Russia. They had a great week there. Many people came forward to declare Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. At the end of the week they decided to have communion. They anticipated a crowd of about 500. What they saw was a crowd of over a thousand! They did not have enough. He was told, “These people are poor, and if they don’t receive the communion elements, they will get highly offended.” They had no where else to get the elements. All they had to do was trust in God. So He prayed over the elements, which was regular bread and wine, and they started passing them out. An amazing thing happened. When they were finished, they had exactly 1 piece of bread left and one glass one wine left. God had performed a miracle. He multiplied the communion elements.
Have you ever been in a situation, maybe it’s financial, maybe it is personal, that you needed a miracle of God to make it out of. You had no where else to turn but Him?
Well, this is the type of situation that happens in this story. Jesus must intervene, or else people will go away hungry. Let’s look into the text and see what the Lord would say to us.
1. Jesus leaves for the other side of Galilee.
John 6:1 NET – After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias).
A. After Jesus confrontation with the Jewish leaders over the lame man he healed at the pool of Bethesda – Jesus leaves to go to the other side of the Galilee.
B. Mark 6:30-31 gives us a little insight into why Jesus did this.
Mark 6:30-31 NET – 6:30 Then the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 6:31 He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat).
The crowds were following Jesus, so He, with His disciples wanted to get away privately in a isolated place and rest a while. We can diffidently learn something here. It is important to have that private resting place with just you and the Lord, away from ministry, away from the crowds.
2. The setting for the supper.
John 6:2-4 NET – A large crowd was following him because they were observing the miraculous signs he was performing on the sick. (3) So Jesus went on up the mountainside and sat down there with his disciples. (4) (Now the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.)
A. The reason that the crowd was following Jesus was because of the signs He is doing.
They are not following Him because of who He is, but for what He is doing. Sadly, many people today follow Jesus for the same reason. They don’t follow Him for who He is (Lord, Redeemer, Savior), nor do they follow Him because they love Him; they follow Him for what He can do and what they can get out of Him. That is not true discipleship. True discipleship follows Jesus for who He is, not for what He can do for us.
B. Jesus and His disciples were up on a mountainside. The Passover was near.
Actually, with the Passover being near, this is a great time to do this sign and to point to Himself as the true Bread.
3. And impossible need.
John 6:5-6 NET – Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?” (6) (Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do.)
A. Here, Jesus is going to test Philip and the other disciples.
He knows that this test is an impossible test. There is no way they can feed this crowd of people. This test is to teach them to completely trust and rely on Him and Him alone.
B. In fact, we are going to see Jesus lead by example later, because before He breaks the bread and fish and hands them out, He gives thanks to the Father.
While we don’t know His words, I’m sure they were a blessing over the fact that God would hear Him and work through Him. Again, I believe we see Jesus humbly being dependant to the Father in front of this crowd and the disciples.
C. Sometimes life throws things our way that on the surface seems absolutely impossible.
And in reality, they are under our own power. What life tries to throw our way can bring fear, frustration, and doubt. But God allows them so that we are not dependant on ourselves, but on Him and Him alone.
4. An admission of helplessness.
John 6:7 NET – Philip replied, “Two hundred silver coins worth of bread would not be enough for them, for each one to get a little.”
A. I’m not sure what Philip’s background is, but evidently he took a quick head count and determined to that 200 silver coins (denarii) could not purchase enough bread for the people present that day.
Apparently 200 silver coins could by a great deal of bread in their day, but it still wouldn’t be enough. A Denarius, (one silver coin) was the wage for an average Jew working for wages. 200 Denarii is about 8 months worth of work. Philip recognizes the impossible situation that they have been placed in. They just do not have the resources to feed all these people, or to pay for them to be feed.
B. God will sometimes bring us to the same realization as Philip. Why? Because until you come to the place where you recognize your own powerlessness, you cannot be a channel of the power of the Lord.
5. And available resource.
John 6:8-9 NET – One of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, (9) “Here is a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many people?”
A. Remember, Andrew was the one who brought his brother, Peter, to first meet Jesus.
And here we see him do this again. He brings this little boy, with the five barely loaves and two fish, to Jesus.
B. Let’s look at the five barely loaves.
These barely loaves perhaps looked very similar to bagels, with holes in the middle. They were made of inferior bread. This was basically a poor boy’s meal here that was given to Jesus.
C. Let’s look at the two fish.
This is rather interesting, I looked this word for fish up in my Greek word studies. The Greek describes these as possible dried out, salted fish, the size of sardines.
D. The point is the boy did not have an expensive meal, but a poor-boy’s meal, but it was all he had and he offered it all.
E. God isn’t really interested in the expensiveness of the gifts we may give Him, or if our lives are full of meaning when we come to Him. He just wants our all, no matter how insignificant or unimportant it may seem.
6. The Miracle of prosperity.
John 6:10-13 NET – Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” (Now there was a lot of grass in that place.) So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. (11) Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed the bread to those who were seated. He then did the same with the fish, as much as they wanted. (12) When they were all satisfied, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces that are left over, so that nothing is wasted.” (13) So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with broken pieces from the five barley loaves left over by the people who had eaten.
A. Now I’ve purposely title this point for obvious reasons.
B. We see an over-abundance, or prosperous amount of food that is left over.
Each person had their fill, but Jesus oversupplied the need.
C. This point is not about riches, or how to get rich, or that God wants everyone rich, like some believers teach.
Don’t get me wrong, God does bless some with the ability to make money, others He blesses other ways.
D. The point I’m trying to drive home here is this:
God took this ordinary poor boy sandwich of a meal and made a gourmet feast out of it. He supplied the need so much that they had 12 baskets of left over. I believe that they took these leftovers up not to throw away and waste, but so that they could feed others that needed food.
E. God still does the same thing today.
He takes the ordinary, run of the meal of our lives, and when we totally give it too Him, He is able to make it into the extraordinary touching lives that we wouldn’t have been able too apart from Him. You see, that is what prosperity is all about. Touching lives.
7. Jesus retreats from the crowds again.
John 6:14-15 NET – Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” (15) Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone.
A. Because of this sign, these people wanted to make Jesus king by force.
B. But Jesus ministry was not about becoming a king to overthrow the Roman Government. His ministry was about becoming the Messiah that would take away the sins of the people through His death.
So Jesus withdraws up the mountainside alone.
C. A great lesson can be learned here. Don’t let the adulation from the crowd cause you to think to highly of yourself.
We must also find our retreat place: withdraw from the crowds, and ministry and spend time alone with the Father.
• Give all your life, hopes, dreams, and talents to the Lord God, no matter how ordinary and worthless they may seem to you.
• Rejoice when you see God take what you have given Him and expand it for His glory and honor.
• Continue to find those intimate quite times with the Father. That is where our hidden strength truly lies.
Next time we will see Jesus walking on water.