HE IS OUR SUFFICIENCY!
As we continue on in Mark chapter 6 we are at the end of Jesus second year of ministry. And as we are going to see as we get into verse 10, the 12 apostles are returning from an outreach project Jesus sent them on. Not only would they be ministering to the people, sharing with them the good news of Jesus Christ, healing the sick, and-so-on. But they will also see their faith grow, or at least it should have. We will see how they did, what they learned and how they put that into practice this evening.
1. As the 12 returned, Jesus listened to their testimonies of the things that took place as they shared their faith. And Im sure they were excited, but they also were exhausted. They had so many followers that at times they couldnt even eat. And Jesus recognizes this and calls for them to follow Him to a deserted place where they can be refreshed, renewed. It was something that they all needed.
2. Ministry can be tough like that. Physically, emotionally, and even spiritually draining. The only cure, the only remedy for that is getting alone with Jesus, spending time with Him so you can be refreshed, refilled, and revived. If you dont take that time with the Lord you will burn yourself out. There is a little saying at the Bible College that I think is very true and applicable to our lives. It goes like this. "Mary had a little lamb, twas given her to keep. But then it joined a local church and died for lack of sleep!"
If we become so busy in the work that joy we once had can turn into a burden. There is a balance we must achieve or we will burn out. The Lord recognized this need in their lives for some rest, and we too must be aware of when we need to take a step back and rest. The other extreme of course is not doing anything for the Lord and what happens then is you become spiritually overweight because you are not exercising the gifts, the talents that God has given you. Find that beautiful balance in your life!
1. Luke tells us that the place they went to for this rest was the area of Bethsaida, located on the northeast side of the Sea of Galilee. (Luke 9:10).
1. I find it amazing the perseverance of the people. These crowds saw Jesus get into this boat which began sailing to Bethsaida, some 4 miles away by boat across the Sea of Galilee. So they ran around the Sea of Galilee, some 8 miles, to Bethsaida, and beat Jesus there! They ran the 8 miles faster than the boat carrying Jesus made it the four miles!
2. Now why were the crowds after Jesus? In John chapter 6 we are told that the reason they sought Jesus was because of the miracles He performed. They were interested in the supernatural to heal their physical bodies when Jesus wanted to heal their hearts. So they were coming to Jesus for all the wrong reasons. What did Jesus do about that? Did He ignore them? Walk away from them? Rebuke them? Mock them? No, Jesus did not do any of those things. Mark tells us that He had "compassion" upon the people!
That word "compassion" literally means "I feel it in the pit of my stomach" or "to climb into the skin of another." In other words Jesus felt the pain, the loneliness, the fear, the disappointments, and-so-on, that these people felt in their lives and it moved Him. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. And sheep are dumb animals, without a shepherd to guide them they will easily die. So Jesus saw this need in the people, and in response to that need Jesus loved them and taught them. And understand that this crowd was not just 5,000 people, for the 5,000 only spoke of the men that were there. Thus, this crowd could have been between 10-20 thousand people when you include the women and the children!
1. In John chapter 6 we are told that the Passover was near and that would make this April or May, in the springtime. Mark is also going to tell us that the grass was green, which would also point to this being in the springtime. That means it would get dark around 6:00 PM. The time at this point may be 3:00 PM or later, it would be getting dark soon and the people had a long way to go to get home. They obviously didnt have mass transit to get them around in those days. And the disciples, being tired after their outreach ministry and now dealing with all these people, recognized the situation and their solution to this problem was to send the people home, send them away. The disciples liked this "send away" theology. They tried to send these people away, they tired to send the children away from Jesus another time, and-so-on. And Im sure they thought this was a great idea and maybe Jesus would even give them a pat on the back for this idea. They were planning ahead, wasnt that good? Of course it is good to plan ahead but dont take God out of the picture, running ahead of what He wants to do. Besides it being late, they had no food to feed these people. Can you imagine calling Dominos Pizza and asking for enough pizza to feed 20,000 people! It would be absurd, but dont forget about God!
1. An interesting response by Jesus. What is the focus here? "YOU!" Now this was a very difficult problem for the disciples to solve. How in the world would they be able to feed some 20,000 people? Im sure their minds were smoking as they tried to come up with something. Why would Jesus do this? Why would He present them with this impossible problem? To grow! That is where growth takes place, during trials, during tribulations where we learn not to trust in our own strength, but in the Lords.
1. John tells us that Philip answered this question, but I think this was the conclusion that they had all come up with and agreed upon. Now their response is "Where are we going to get enough money to feed these people just a little bread?" A denarius was the daily wage of a farmer in those days. Thus, 200 denarii was about 8 or 9 months salary. But did Jesus ask them how much it was going to cost them to feed these people? NO! What did Jesus say to them? "You give them something to eat." But through human effort and their lack of faith, they were left high and dry. Who did they leave out of this picture? The Lord who was standing right beside them. They just came back from this outreach and saw the great things God can do, and now they had already forgot about Him when the problem they faced seemed overwhelming to them. Understand this, if you use more of your mind to figure out than trusting in the Lord, you will only find yourself frustrated. That is where these men were at. The only solution to this problem was to send the people home before it got dark outside!
1. In John chapter 6 we are told that Andrew, Simon Peters brother, found this young boy and brought him to Jesus. Andrew seems to always be bringing people to Jesus. What a great thing to be able to do. And this young lad had five barley loaves and two small fish. Now that wasnt even enough to fill two people, it was snack food! These loaves were barley wafers and barely was the food of the poor. We might think of them as five Saltine crackers. Also, these were not large fish, they were more like sardines, and they were pickled and used to give some moisture to the barley crackers. That is all the resources they had. And Andrew shows us his faith, and I once again believe it also reflects the faith of the other 11 men. He said "...but what are they among so many?" John 6:9.
2. Did it matter how much this boy had, his resources? Not at all. All that really mattered is that he gave to Jesus what he had and God multiplied it! You see, it doesnt matter how much ability you have, only your availability to be used by God and your willingness to give what you have so the Lord can take it and do great things with it. Isnt it interesting that out of all those people, some 20,000, out of the 12 disciples, only this young boy was willing to trust God with what he had. May we have that child-like faith that believes God can do anything - He is God! And as we are going to see, by his giving, others would be blessed!
1. Again this tells us it was in the springtime because of the green grass. Also, notice that when the Lord is working things are done decently and in order! Things are not chaotic, it is not like some free-for-all! It is actually very beautiful to see the hand of God work.
2. Also, God wants to feed us, but we must take the time to sit down so He can!
1. Notice that Jesus thanks God for what He is going to do, feed these people. I think that is a great lesson of faith we must learn. That we thank God for what He has promised to do, believing He will do it. That is faith in action!
2. Now the disciples, who were right next to Jesus, saw this miracle. It should have increased their faith. And after they witnessed this Jesus sends them out to do the work of handing out the food. Two points I would like to make here. First of all you cant give to others until you first receive it from the Lord or you are just working in the flesh. Secondly, God is the one doing the miracles, He sends them out to do the work, to be His hands, to minister to the people.
3. Now the people didnt just get a little to eat. It says that they were "filled", all of them! That word "filled" speaks of being bloated, stuffed, like you were on Thanksgiving day. That is how God works. If you are willing to sit down in His green pastures, He will fill you to overflowing with His Spirit. As Paul said in Ephesians 5:18, "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit."
1. Not only were the people filled, but there were 12 baskets of left-overs! You see, God has resources beyond our resources, far beyond. And if you give what you have to the Lord you will get back more than you started with. That is just the way God works, He is a debtor to no man. We must remember that God only asks us to do our best and then rest in His provisions. We should never use the excuse "I cant!" Because with God "We can!" The only time you will find yourself in trouble is if you go out on your own, for you will never have enough food to feed the people with! GOD IS OUR SUFFICIENCY! As Paul said in Ephesians 3:20, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us."
3. Now the disciples still didnt get it, for in verse 52 it says that they didnt understand what just took place. The people didnt get it, they were only there for the miracles to be feed. But Jesus will continue to reach out to the people in love because He has compassion on them. And the disciples will get it one day, and so too will some of the people. God does not give up on us, thank God for that!
2. What lessons did we learn from this study?
A. IMPOSSIBLE THINGS ARE GODS SPECIALTY!
Yes with man these things may seem impossible, but with God ALL things are possible. And I think the Lord wants us to understand this for the feeding of the 5,000 is seen in all four Gospels! As Paul spoke of Abraham in Romans 4:20-21, he is speaking to us. He said "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."
B. WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE TALENT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU?
God is not interested in how much talent you have, but what are you doing with that talent! If we give it to the Lord He will give back to us exceedingly abundantly above all we can imagine to be used for His glory.
C. TAKE THAT STEP OF FAITH!
We need to take those steps of faith as God leads us, no matter how foolish it may seem, how unequipped we are to do the task He has sent us on. Imagine the faith of this boy in giving all that he had, which amounted to nothing when you consider all the people that were there. And yet God used that to feed some 20,000 people all because this boy was willing to give all that he had, and he took that step of faith. May we all do the same as God leads us!