When I was a little kid I was VERY shy. I know it’s hard to believe. But when my parents would introduce me to adults, relatives, other kids, I would almost always start to cry because I was SO scared of people. I remember my mom trying to help me get rid of this fear by having me do certain disciplines. On multiple occasions my mom would have me order my own “Happy Meal” in order to help me grow in talking to new people. She would spark up intentional conversations with the ladies behind the counters at the grocery stores, and when they would speak to me she would make sure I spoke back. These were the habits that chipped away at my deep seeded fear of man heart struggles.
But even with all those efforts they did not transform me. It took a series of radical events of me being broken and desperate before the LORD for Him to transform me into the man I am today. I still struggle with “fear of man,” but I don’t physically back down and cry anymore when I met someone new. God has provided the confidence and security I always needed in Him. And it is this type of real life transformational provision I want to talk about today.
Theme: Jesus’ sensational provision has the power to truly transform our lives.
1. The Provisional Problem—John 6.1-9.
In order to understand the problem in this situation it can be really helpful to understand the context. At this point in John’s Gospel Jesus has been traveling around drawing large crowds. According John 6.1-3 Jesus and His disciples were absolutely worn out from doing SO much ministry. But Jesus was so popular that crowds still tracked him down.
What was the potential motivation[s] for this particular crowd? One scholar clues us into what could have potentially been the motivation here:
The Galileans were a distinct type, peasants living close to the soil and laboring hard for a subsistence wage. The primary issues for them are the down-to-earth matters of food and means of livelihood. This was in contrast to the more sophisticated audiences Jesus had encountered in the south, whose concerns were more theoretical.—Milne, p.103
Simply put these people were following Jesus, seeking Jesus out, because they thought Jesus could help take care of some of their physical problems. They were coming to Jesus because they thought He had the power and ability to take care of them. Their thoughts were not unfounded. By this time they have heard about the “water to wine” miracle, the multiple physical healings, ending the religious injustice at the Temple, and etc.
The disciples also recognize the problem—READ John 6.4-9. The problem was there was a large crowd and they had no way to provide what they needed, namely, food. The disciples default was to try figure a solution to the problem, which is not a bad thing. But as they analyzed all the possibilities their conclusion was, “I’m sorry Jesus, there is no way this is possible.” They said this with the Son of God, the Creator of the universe in their midst. If we are honest with ourselves many times we have the same type of response. I like how Matt Carter expresses this:
“We can be really hard on the disciples. They had already seen Jesus turn water into wine. Of course he can feed five thousand with five loaves! But I don’t think that’s fair. How many times do we have to see God work before we stop doubting? I don’t know. I certainly haven’t reached that point. When I face a situation that seems impossible, I look for human solutions (as Philip did), and if I don’t see any, then I despair (as Andrew did), thinking, What good will it do? What difference will it make?”—Carter, p. 146
We all have been there many times when something in front of us is so insurmountable, and our immediate heart response is, “Well, I guess God wants me to go figure this out.” When more often than not God wants us to seek out His wisdom, and to seek Him for the answers to our questions. We tend to think we are getting frustrated because God is not answering us. But the first problem is we are not even asking the right questions, and then the second is we are not getting the answer we want. Of course it seems like God is not providing for us because we are not even asking the questions, so we are not getting the “right” answers.
2. The Sensational Solution—John 6.10-14.
As we have accessed the problem we now need to examine the solution—READ John 6.10-14. Wow! This story is full glorious, sensational aspects to the solution Jesus provides. Therefore, let me attempt to point a few I noticed this week.
First, in the midst of this challenge Jesus remained calm. Jesus practiced the ABC’s of the Gospel—ALWAYS—BE—COOL. Philip is calculating the finances of the situation, Andrew is gathering data on the available resources, and Jesus says in verse 10, “Have the people sit down.” I picture Jesus saying, “Have them sit down I got this.” We all need people who remain steadfast, cool, in the midst of stressful situations. In a chaotic world we long for stability.
Second, Jesus had a Spirit of thankful faith. After He has the people sit down He gives thanks for even the little that had been provided. But it did not end there. No, Jesus had the disciples pass out the fish and bread. So while Jesus was thankful He also had faith and encouraged His disciples to have faith. They passed the fish and bread, and everyone who took fish and bread got some.
Think with me about this for a moment. Doctrinally we believe in something about Creation called ex nihilo (which means “out of nothing”). We believe Jesus Christ created the oceans, rivers, mountains, plants, animals, and etc. out of nothing. So, if Jesus can make all of that out of nothing, then imagine what He can do with a little. Jesus can do a lot with little, and all that He asks of us is for us to trust Him. I couple of weeks ago I was talking with a dear brother in our church about His finances. He and his dear wife told me it was ok to share this story. Last year they made less than $15,000 do to various reasons. They were extremely distressed at times. They had VERY little financially, emotionally, and whatever else you can probably think of. But as they sat down to do their taxes they were amazed how God provided so much for from so little. Faith is not easy, but it is powerful. Much like this little boy we need to set out in faith and say, “Jesus, this is all I have, but I know you can do GREAT things with it. I have seen you do more with less. I give it all to you.” As our church has struggled financially this has been my prayer for myself, and all of us. I have been praying, “LORD take what little we have and do powerful things with it. Transform our church through sensational faith.”
Finally, I noticed something I had never seen before. Jesus Christ is a faithful steward—READ John 6.12-13. These last few verses are FULL of OT illusions. According to text like Leviticus 19 and Deuteronomy 24 the leftovers from the harvest were to be preserved for the poor. We literally see this practiced in Ruth 2 and in our text today. God does not want anything to go to waste. What does this tell us for us today? One author I read this week put it really well:
Whatever the immediate stimulus, Jesus’ directive underwrites our revulsion at the destruction of excess food in a hungry world, as at the wastage of human skills and energy in unemployment, and also more general concerns to reduce waste through recycling. It is a [somber] comment on our world that it has taken the threat of environmental pollution, and our planet’s diminishing ability to sustain life, rather than a moral repugnance at waste in general, to awaken a concern for conservation.—Milne, 104
I love that we have and serve a God who does not waste ANYTHING! This not only affects the way we think about recycling but also more broadly affects the way we think all aspects of the life and the resources we have been given. It affects the use of my words, my energy, my gifts, my thoughts, and anything else. We must never forget everything we have we have been given. James 1 tells us every good gift comes from above. Acts 17 tells us in Him we live, move, and have our being. We see right here at the end of this sensational miracle we see a sensational truth—God does NOT waste anything. God takes what the world would throw away and repurposes it. God wants to do this for each and everyone of us through His Son. God does not want you to go to waste, but repurpose you for an eternal divine purpose. The world can’t promise that because all of their purposes are temporal, but God’s are everlasting—eternal.
What is the response of the people to all of these truths?—READ John 6.14. Once again this is another OT illusion. We know from Deuteronomy 18 that Israel has been looking for a greater Prophet than Moses since Moses died. They knew God promised through Moses He would send on greater than Moses. Their response was this must be “the Prophet.” Not just a prophet like all the others, but “THE PROPHET.” They recognize Jesus Christ’s sensational provisional has the power to truly transform their lives.