From Feeding to Fearing to Following to Failing

July 11, 2019 at 10:19 am | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

John 6:13

The miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude with fish and bread was just that: a miracle. It was not the result of some ethical guilt-trip whereby Jesus shamed the crowd with the little boy’s example into graciously sharing their own lunches so that everybody got a little bit to eat, nor was it some type of David Copperfield-style illusion where the Disciples formed a hidden bucket brigade from a nearby cave to Jesus, hands behind His back, while He made the illusion of multiplying loaves and fish. No, this was a true SUPERNATURAL miracle, and was understood as such by all who were present.

Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

John 6:14

The reference to “that prophet” was from the Torah – the one who would replace Moses. They believed the teaching of some rabbis who said that this prophet would be known by his ability to duplicate the miracle of the manna (bread) from Heaven.

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

John 6:15

The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Tiberias, was in a concave place, surrounded by higher ground and “mountains.” The Disciples, leaving Jesus, entered a ship and started across the sea, which, because of the geography, was notorious for sudden and violent storms. Few things were more terrifying to a First Century Jewish person than a raging sea, which to them represented chaos and turmoil and loss of control and judgment. And, sure enough, their fears began to be realized:

And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:18-19

This was a distance a little less than three and a half miles, and they weren’t making good progress because they were rowing against storm. Often overlooked in Bible studies about Jesus and His Disciples is the terror that came upon even the people who knew Jesus best when He let His Deity show. It is tough to convey the real sense of fear you or I would feel upon seeing a human being actually step out onto a lake and walk on top of the water. Jesus encouraged them not to be scared, and they probably changed from fear to welcoming him aboard.

It’s hard to miss the symbolism here:

Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

John 6:21

When we recognize our sin against God, we might be afraid – certainly afraid to face Him – but then He makes it so that we “willingly” receive Him, and “immediately” we are home (in the sense of our status of becoming part of His family, though not actually in Heaven yet). This is the “already/not yet” nature of salvation – the Ebenezer/Jehovah Jireh – “The Lord has brought us this far, so He will always provide.”

The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

John 6:22-24

The people were exerting a great deal of effort to seek Jesus, but they were seeking Him at the lower level of “rabbi,” rather than the true level of “Lord.”

And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

John 6:25-26

Those who are truly seeking a destination are not satisfied with a sign that points to the destination.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

John 6:27-28

Just as Jesus had told the Samaritan woman at the well about living water/eternal life, now He mentioned meat which would provide everlasting life. God had “sealed” Jesus – had placed upon Him an indelible and ineradicable anointing and ordination as the only One who could dispense eternal life. The people listening to Jesus wanted to know, “What shall we DO?” There has always been resistance to the idea that salvation is all of God and is found in what Christ has DONE, not what human beings can or should “do.”

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

John 6:29-32

They had faith in Moses, but they missed the “sign”ificance of Moses, and settled for life-sustaining bread, rather than eternal-life-giving Bread.

Do You Have Plans for Lunch?

November 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, John | 10 Comments
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If you were to take a drive out into the country, past forests and fields, pastures and ponds, and were to happen to see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, you would not automatically be able to discern all the exact details about what you were seeing, but one thing you would know for certain: somebody put that turtle there.

http://truthpressure.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/turtle_post_sitter.jpg

Turtles don’t get on the tops of fence posts by themselves.

I’m thankful to be involved in Christian ministry. I’m thankful to know a few things about the Christian life. I’m thankful to be a Christian. One of the many reasons I’m thankful is that I didn’t get here by myself. Right before I became a Christian, somebody told me how to be saved. And, before that, there was a time when somebody told that person how to be saved. My little fence post is a very small, comparatively insignificant fence post, and I’m certainly not a very important turtle. But I know one thing for sure: I didn’t get up on this fence post all by myself.

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

John 1:43-44

Philip was from Bethsaida – he knew the area.

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

John 6:5-6 (emphasis added)

Jesus wanted to test Philip’s faith. It just so happened that Andrew knew a lad.

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

John 6:8-9

The Disciple Andrew was a very interesting fellow. He didn’t write a book of the Bible, and, as far as we know, he never preached a well-known sermon. But what he excelled at was bringing people to Jesus. He brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus, and now he brings this lad to Jesus. If we are willing, we can all be “Andrews.” We can all bring people to Jesus. But we will have to do what Jesus did, too. We will have to “lift up our eyes” and see the need. Jesus looked on the multitudes and saw the need. The unsaved people you know don’t really need entertainment. They don’t really need more “fun.” They don’t need something to occupy their time. The common pious Christian response at this point is, “Yeah, I know, I know, what they need is to be loved.” And that is true. But, like with most things in our life, the Bible tells us specifically how we are supposed to love them. We love them the way Jesus loved the crowd that was hungry: by giving them food, yes, but even more so by feeding them the Gospel. The people you know need to hear the Truth about Jesus way more than they need to know about the latest metrosexual mormon vampire movie.

Jesus is and was God. He could have fed this crowd of hungry people simply by creating fish and bread out of thin air. But His plan was to use people. And that’s still His plan today. I won’t pretend to understand it. It seems like too important a job to trust to people like you and me. But I’m not God – He knows what’s best – and He’s chosen us to spread the Word – the plan of salvation – to the hungry masses.

What about the little boy that Andrew brought to Jesus? I don’t want to read too much into the account, but, being a typical little boy, it seems probable that his mother, or someone at home who loved him, packed his lunch for him that day. (Little boys rushing out of the house early in the morning, excited about a big day, aren’t exactly known for stopping to think about planning ahead!) If you are a Christian, God has used people in your past – your parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers, coaches, pastors, or church elders – to invest into your life. If you are “prepared” to be used by God – the way this boy was – then you owe a debt of gratitude to those people. Remember, like I said at the beginning of the post, we didn’t get up on our fence posts by ourselves. This lad had two things going for him:
1. He was prepared.
2. He was available.

If people have invested into your life, are you now intentionally making yourself available in places where you can bless others with that investment? Somebody has been used by God to “pack your lunch” for you. Now Jesus wants to use your lunch to feed others. Is your lunch wrapped up somewhere spoiling? Are you going to eat it all yourself? Or are you going to give it to Jesus?

Jesus took the lad’s lunch and He blessed it and broke it. If you give your “lunch” – your self – to Jesus, He may very well decide to break you. We don’t like to think of it that way, but Jesus knows me, and He knows my lunch can’t be used unless it’s broken. Can you convince yourself to rejoice over being broken?

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:9-10 (emphasis added)

Don’t hold back your lunch from God. And don’t try to give Him the “leftovers” from your lunch. God is the only One you can truly trust with your “investment.” He will not waste it.

Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

C.T. Studd


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