JOHN:The Book of Heartfelt Belief
Letís Feed 5000
Jerry A. Collins
Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who described his relationship with God as a contract-relationship. In other words if God will do this for him, then he will do that for God. Fundamentally, my friendís inability to trust God to look out for his best interests motivated this kind of relationship with the Lord. We too might wonder if God can adequately meet our needs. The feeding of the 5000 demonstrates Jesus commitment and ability to serve our greatest good and meet our every need. In other words, there is never a need for us to have a contract relationship with the Lord. He has promised to meet our every need and he has the ability to deliver on His promise. This miracle tells us so.
(1) This miracle is only one recorded in all the gospels besides Jesus resurrection. Shows how significant the lesson of the miracle is.
(2) Jesus was at the peak of his popularity. Even though Jesus changed locations in the meantime, the crowds found him and gathered vs 1-2. For instance, in Matthewís account 14:15-21 the crowds followed him on foot from their cities into this desolate area. In Mark 6:32-44 Jesus and disciples went to a lonely place and the crowds learning of this ran together on foot even before Jesus arrived. In Luke 9:12-17 says the multitudes followed them.
(3) There seems to be an intended link between Moses and events surrounding the Exodus and Jesus feeding of 5000 and walking on water. The mention of Jesus and disciples on a mountain in vs 3 and the Passover in vs 4 begin the linkage. The subsequent miracles complete it. For instance, Moses led Israelites thru the red sea on dry ground and God provided manna from heaven for them to eat. However, Jesus is greater than Moses since He provides bread from heaven when feeding the 10,000 and He personally walks on water.
A. JESUS COMMANDS US TO DO MORE THAN WE ARE HUMANLY ABLE 5-9
The question to Philip was designed as part of Jesus program of educating the disciples. The answer to the question was that it was impossible for 1000ís of people to get bread this late and in this desolate place even though Jesus had commanded the disciples to feed these people (Matt, Mark, Luke). This was a test vs 6 since Jesus already knew what he was going to do. The point is to expose their inability to meet this need! Thats way Jesus asks this question. Philip concurs with his response in vs 7 that even eight months worth of wages would only provide a small portion for everyone. Andrew seems compelled to heighten the impossibility by pointing out a lad with five barley loaves (recall Elishas feeding of 100 men with 20 loaves 2 Kgs 4:42-44). and commenting but what are these for so many people? (v 8-9).
Like the disciples, we too want to shirk our responsibility to do what Christ commands when we believe it is impossible. Whether it is loving my wife as Christ loved the church or forgiving others, or praying without ceasing. The magnitude of the task must not be used as an excuse to not attempt it. Our inability sets the stage for Christís to manifest His ability as we obey Him.
B. GOD MULTIPLIES OUR IMPACT AS WE PARTICIPATE WITH HIM IN THE IMPOSSIBILITY 10-14
According to Mark 6:40 the people were seated in groups of 50 and 100 when they sat down. 5000 men plus women and children could have swelled the crowd to 10,000 (vss 10-11). The disciples are participating with Jesus as this miracle unfolds. They know exactly what amount of food is available.
The point for them and us is that we are inclined to limit our ministry to only what we already know, seen and done. The disciples can only think of feeding these with what is familiar to them--buying food at a store. Jesus had a better way. A different and unexpected way. A brand new way that was unfamiliar to them. We learn new things about God, His power, grace, wisdom, when we see His handling of impossibilities in our lives that He has called us to pursue. We should not limit ways we expect God to minister through us.
3. WHILE PARTICIPATING IN IMPOSSIBILITIES GOD ABUNDANTLY MEETS OUR OWN NEEDS 12-13
The people ate as much as they wanted until everyone was full vs 11-12. The miracle seems to take place in Christís hands as He breaks off pieces of the bread and hands out fish. Food simply keeps on coming. Like the widows oil and flour in 1 Kgs 17. Jesus never announced what He was doing not wanting to attract others but simply serving the need of a hungry crowd. The disciples gather the leftovers. a full basket for each disciple. God supplies all our needs and so much more while we are participating with Him in what seems an impossibility.
What impossibility are you facing right now that God wants you to accomplish? Your temptation may be to write a contract that says if God will do this, then you will do that. However, Jesus shows us that He will abundantly supply your needs as you do.
4. WE ARE WITH JESUS WHEN ATTEMPTING THE IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM 15-21
I could have said that Jesus is with us when experiencing difficulties associated with following Him into what seems impossible for us. The disciples were rowing to shore because Jesus told them to do it. They were in this difficulty because they obeyed Jesus. Jesus was with them while they attempted this. He is with us while we attempt to do what he commands us to as well. The crowds forced this issue since they wanted to make Jesus a ruler over them vss 14-15. However, that crown will only come from His Father.
The point is that Jesus intervenes in our difficulty and trouble and brings us to safety when the need arises. Later on after teaching the disciples this lesson here and at other times, Jesus final words to them were Lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age. Those words are for us too. We are with Him and He with us as we attempt the impossible He has commanded us to accomplish. What is your impossibility today? God wants to test you faith with it and prove Himself faithful to you. Count on Him!