John 6:1-3 and onward Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias, and a great crowd of people followed Him because the saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples……. And He taught
Watching the Olympics this last week and watching the faces of the families as they watch their loved one compete and even reflecting back on personal exciting memories waiting for a special event to take place or a special / famous person to arrive for a concert helps me to picture what it must have been like at the Sea of Galilee. People were excited about the future with Jesus as king. They had seen him perform miracles; they had heard rumors that this was the Messiah; they had set by his feet while he taught; others had probably heard rumors about him becoming the new king and running Rome out of town. There is one thing for sure – as long as he was around, they were not leaving. Hopefully you have caught the excitement of this event and now I would like for you to follow along with me as John tells us of the event through his eyes. Please read John 6:1-14. I did not post it here as it is long; but please read it in its entirety before continuing reading this.
Jesus knew the need of his followers. They needed spiritual food as well as physical food. Mark tells us in his account that Jesus had compassion on them and taught them late into the day-and he also saw their need for food. But how in the world were they going to feed seven to ten thousand people – the account of the five thousand only gives us the number of the men present, not including the women and children. (Luke 9:10)
There are millions of hurting and people thirsting after righteousness today. America has changed. Some people could not tell you what has changed but they know that the moral values are different. They are longing for a righteous savior someone that will not just meet their physical needs but also their spiritual needs. We are in a hurry for everything, but we don’t know what we need. We think maybe it will be in a new leader, a new government or a new job. Yes, but the reality is, happiness and contentment is only found in Christ. He is the only one that can satisfy our innermost needs.
There is something in the daily grind of life that does not give us satisfaction. It leaves us hungry and thirsting for something more. There is a nameless emptiness that keeps drawing man back to something greater then themselves. Men in their chase for wealth reputation, power or wealth, and vast other idols, find that the power they acquire will never be enough, the wealth is never enough, their reputation is never good enough. Nothing will fill the deep hunger that only Christ can fill.
The great crowd that followed Jesus so far from home into the barren wilderness suggests these thoughts. They were, a little world in themselves, men, women, children, drawn from home searching for something that would fill the emptiness. These people had followed Jesus; they forgot their food, forgot shelter, and forgot everything to go with Him.
What was it that drew them? Some are always ready to answer, Curiosity. But it is a very deep, strong curiosity that will drive people so far and through so much. Some were sick and wanted healed. Some had friends they wanted healed. If you asked the people there that day I imagine the answers would be as varied and there were people. Each one would have their own reason.
John uses this word picture; a picture of the vast, hungry, discontented multitudes that fills the world, and the outstanding fact about them is that they are seeking, always seeking. Yet they no not what they seek.
The people today are seeking. The world, the leaders, and the media have promised so much, but at the end of the day it just leaves them hungry and void. Deep beneath the selfish, sordid struggle, the grasping, the greed, there is restlessness, a world-weariness that will never be stilled until the soul finds rest in God.
A mighty urgent question screams out of these passages, that of feeding the multitude. Whole families, including children, find themselves far from home and without food. The situation was distressing and would become even more so, if something were not promptly done. Jesus take his followers to the side; there ensues an interesting conversation and we take bits and pieces from the different accounts. He asks Philip, who knows the neighborhood. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” If there was a Wal-Mart open 24 hours nearby, he would have known about it. He grew up just down the road in Bethsaida. Philip did a quick assessment of what it would cost for each one to have a bite!
Philip’s response was the same response you and I would have made; Even if Wal-Mart were nearby, it would cost too much money. I love the way the Living Bible puts it, “It would cost a fortune to begin to do it.” To Phillip the task was impossible; and guess what, to you and I it would be impossible, too. Although it is not mentioned in John’s account, Mark tells us in his gospel that Jesus asked them how much bread they had. They responded, “I don’t know?” He told them to go find out and that is exactly what they did. (Mark 6:38).
The Bible leads us to believe that they all went out searching and but only one found anything, the other person from Bethsaida, Andrew. He found a boy with a small lunch consisting of five small barley loaves and two small fish. Instead of Andrew taking the food himself to Jesus, he took the child with him. There is a great lesson with this; we need to take people to Jesus not just their concerns. Can you imagine the excitement of the little boy as he was going to meet Jesus. I love the accounts in the Bible about Andrew. It seems that every time he is mentioned, he is bringing someone to Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if every time your name was mentioned it would be about you bringing someone to Jesus?
I love his faith too; he only finds a child’s lunch, but he willing to bring it to Jesus. I like to give Andrew a lot of credit but just as he gets to the masters feet he says, “But how far will that go among so many?” (John 6:8) It is amazing what happens when we rely on what we can do instead of what Christ can do. He made the same mistake Peter made when he was walking on the water. He took his eyes of Jesus and put them on himself.
The Bible says, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” The hope of the world lies in the wonderful power of God to multiply the little things that we have and use them for his purpose. There are the things that you have in your basket that you need to give to Jesus. They may represent a small Child’s lunch in your hands, but they could feed the multitudes in Christ hands. The question before you is this. Are you willing to give them to Jesus? What are these small gifts that I have among so many? We, with our small gifts our time, our talents and our treasures what are they among so many lost people in the world today? What difference would it make if I gave them to Jesus? There has to be people better of than I that can offer more than a child’s lunch. Jesus is the answer to the lost and searching people around us and He has called you to be his messenger.
He has also called you to use what you have. Your time, talent and treasure. What could happen if you would dedicate your time to Jesus? The people were willing to sit all day without eating just to spend a little time with Jesus. What are you giving up so that you can spend time with Jesus? Are you even spending time him? If not what needs to change in your life so you can?
On the night that Jesus was to be betrayed, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to be alone with God. As he prayed and agonized about what was about to come, he walked back over to where Peter, James and John were and found them sleeping. The Bible tells us in Matthew, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?”
Could we not give God one hour of our day so we, as Christ told Peter in the next verse, “so that you will not fall into temptation?” We need to spend the first hour of our day alone with the Lord. During your quiet time with the Lord you need to spend time in His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says this, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We need to spend time alone with God in His word so that we may be thoroughly equipped.
Not only do you have time in your basket, you also have talent in there also. You have a special giftedness that God has given you to be used in the body for the edification of all the Saints. Dr. Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, calls this your SHAPE. Warren stated in his book, “Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.” (p. 235,236) You will not be content in life until you start using your SHAPE to serve God. Here is Warren’s use of the word.
S in SHAPE stands for your spiritual gift. You were given a spiritual gift that is to be used for God. You may have multiple gifts, but you will not have all the gifts. And you do not choose your gifts… God does. A gift is given to us to help the entire community. You can find how that works in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 where Paul lists different kinds of gifts. In verse 11 he states, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives to them (the gifts) to each one, just as he (God) determines.”
H stands for the Heart. Warren states that “Your heart reveals the real you – what you truly are, not what others think you are or what circumstances force you to be.” He also says, “figure out what you love to do – what God gave you a heart to do-and then do it for his glory.” (p233, 239)
A stands for your Abilities. God would not give you the ministry of fixing cars if you were not mechanically inclined. He would not give you the ministry of Sunday School director if you were not organized. You get the point. God gives you certain abilities and he wants you to use those for his purpose.
P stands for Personality. You’re a unique individual created by God for his purpose. There is no one else just like you. God wants to use you in ways that fits your personality. If you’re introverted and shy you probably will feel uncomfortable being a greeter or going door to door. If you are extroverted and outgoing, God will probably not expect you to be an accountant. You get the point: God designed you with a purpose in mind and that purpose will fit your personality.
E stands for Experiences. One of my favorite statements in the book is this, “God never wastes a hurt.” (p. 246) Some of the greatest lessons we have learned in our short time on this earth have been taught through pain. I am sure we all have had experiences that have been deep, disastrous, sad, jubilant, etc. God uses the experiences in our life to help others who are going through the same type of experiences.
God gave you a SHAPE: Now it is up to us to take each one of these that are in our basket and use it for his Kingdom. How do you put all that together in your basket? Spend Time with him and examine how he made you and what experiences you have gone through. Are you spending your Time with the Lord? Are you letting God use your Talents?
Are you willing to place your trust in what you know about Jesus Christ? Are you willing to trust him with your basket with just a fish and some bread in it so that your life can help feed the multitudes and teach them to fish? Are you willing to turn the basket over to our Lord so He will keep it filled?
May God bless each of you as you read and meditate on this message. Amen