The Meal on the Mountainside
By: John Ankerberg Show
March 8, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
Good morning! The title of the message today is “The Meal on the Mountainside.” The Meal on the Mountainside.
Up to this point, Jesus, in the Gospel of John, has performed already three miracles. He brought His disciples to the wedding at Cana and performed the miracle of turning the water into wine. Then we see a man traveling 15-20 miles to meet with Jesus because he believed that He could heal his son who was standing on death’s doorstep. Jesus, from a distance, heals his son.
Then the third miracle we learned about last week if you were here with us and that is, Jesus goes to one of the porticos and He sees a man who has been lying next to the pool of Bethesda and heals him after being crippled for 38 years.
And now we get into the fourth miracle in the Gospel of John. It is the only miracle in all of the gospels that is recorded by every one of the Gospel writers. So it is in all four of the Gospels. And that should be important to you because that never happens. In fact, it rarely happens. It is the only time we see this miracle.
One person commenting on the miracle that is happening that we are going to study today, the feeding of the 5,000, he said, “There are actually two miracles that happen in the text. The first miracle is that Jesus multiplied the bread and the fish. The second miracle is that the crowd was satisfied.”
I want you to see something interesting, that Jesus, although the crowd benefits from the miracle, the miracle is really not for the crowd, the miracle is for the twelve disciples who Jesus is adamant about raising up and equipping for the work of ministry. And what He is showing them is that this had nothing to do with physical food, but it has everything to do with spiritual sustenance. Jesus wants to show them the same thing I want to show you today and that is, I want you to see who Jesus really is and not who you want Jesus to be or the Jesus of your own imagination. I want you to see through this miracle who the real Jesus is so that you will put your faith and trust in Him.
If you have your Bibles and I hope you do, turn with me to John Chapter 6. John Chapter 6 and when you get to Verse 1 say “Word.” The Word of the Lord.
“After this, Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following Him, because they saw the signs that He was doing on the sick. Jesus went up to the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up His eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward Him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’ He said this to test him, for He Himself knew exactly what He would do.”
Jesus comes to the mountainside as He is departing for ministry and we notice in the text, the first thing I want you to write down and that is The Crowd’s Predicament. The Crowd’s Predicament.
As I said earlier, John ties his narrative to the Festivals of Israel. And this account is no exception. Look at what the text says. “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.” Jesus looks out in the distance and He sees a great crowd. This is another indication that Jesus’ ministry is in full swing. The crowds were excited about Him. If you were one of His disciples, you would have been overjoyed that these people are following your Rabbi. You have been strutting around. Everybody is following our Rabbi here. His popularity was growing and increasing in the small villages and towns.
But as you will see in just a moment, Jesus’ agenda is not the disciples’ agenda. He has a very different agenda than them. And so He notices that the crowds are coming hear to Him. Jesus is trying to depart, to get away from the crowds, not because He doesn’t want to be with the crowds, but He actually needs a time of rest. The disciples had been out ministering and they were tired and so Jesus wants a little R & R.
And so He departs, the text says, to a desolate place. He is going to the eastern side of the Sea of Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee, which would have been a barren, remote place. He is trying to get away from everyone. And what happens is, Mark Chapter 6 gives us a little back story of what is happening. Now we have the privilege today by drawing from all four of the Gospels to try to piece together what is happening.
So turn with me to Mark Chapter 6 and I want to show you what Mark says is happening behind the scenes. When you get to Verse 30, say “Word.” So Mark gives us the back story here.
Verse 30. “The apostles returned to Jesus and told Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When He went ashore, He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.”
Apparently what happened is, Jesus and His disciples got into a boat and they were trying to get away from the crowd. Now, if you were standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Sea is a big circle, so you can see the land from all sides. And so what happened is, they saw Jesus get in the boat and they noticed what direction He was going in and so they beat Him to pass. Okay? So they cut Him off, if you will. And so Jesus rests and lands there and He is thinking, there is no time to rest. And so Matthew Chapter 14 Verse 14 tells us that He got out and began to heal the people. And so He has a healing service, if you will, and they had various diseases, so they stood in line for hours.
And then the book of Luke tells us, Luke Chapter 9 Verse 11, he tells us that Jesus began to teach them the things of God.
Now Jesus’ referred place to teach is always the mountainside, right? It says it in this text, “He went up to the mountainside.” He is always on a mountain. In fact, I would submit to you that Israel’s history (are you ready for this) is oriented around a mountain. Everything in Israel’s history of significance normally happens around a mountain. Think about it.
Abraham goes up to the mountain to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Mt. Moriah. God would tell the people that He wants them to construct a temple on the very same mountain of Mt. Moriah, the same place that Abraham was going to sacrifice his son. If you think about Elijah. Elijah goes up to Mt. Carmel and calls down fire from heaven against the false prophets on a mountain. You think of Moses. God brings them out of the bondage of Egypt and He says, I want you to go up a mountain to meet with Me, Mt. Sinai. Jesus teaches from the mountain on the Sermon on the Mount, even though we believe it is a hillside, but follow on with me, the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. Jesus actually gives His end times discourse, if you will, from a mountain.
What are you saying, Robby? Jesus is going up and taking position, as He always does, to teach the people. And after teaching, Jesus looks at the scenario and realizes they have a predicament, they are in a problem, they have a problem. And the problem is, it is getting late and the people are far from home. We can assume that most people (watch this) traveled over ten miles by foot to get to where He was. And so the thought of sending them home was not an option.
And so we see secondly in the text, not only the Crowd’s Predicament, we see Jesus’ Provision. Write it down – Jesus’ Provision. Look at John Chapter 6. “Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?’ He said this to test him, for He knew what He would do. Philips answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get just a little.’”
Now that is interesting. He says, if we had 200 denarii, we could only give them a couple morsels, a couple of crumbs. “One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, (that is a key word there, when they were satisfied,) He told His disciples, ’Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’”
It is interesting because what Jesus does is, He tests Philip here. He look at Philip and He says, “Philip, how are we going to feed all these people?” Now Jesus is asking him this to test him. What He is saying is, Philip, there are no golden arches in sight. The Christian nuggets place is closed on Sunday…you know it as Chick-fil-A. We can’t make a run to the border because Mexico is way too far away. So they have a predicament here, they have no food. And so Jesus tests Philip.
Now why does He pick Philip? There are a number of speculations that can arise at this point. First of all, Philip may be from the region and so he knows the terrain well. Maybe Philip was just the closest person next to Him, but I think it is bigger than that. I think the reason Jesus hand selects Philip to perform this miracle before him and the disciples is because He believed Philip needed his faith to be strengthened. And Jesus was about to use him to test him, to strengthen his faith.
Philip is an accountant. He does a quick calculation. He says, Jesus, we have a problem. There are 5,000 men here. Now don’t miss this. For years we have called this the feeding of the 5,000. It is way bigger than that. The text says it is 5,000 men. Well, you know there were women and children there as well. So you can imagine…I want you to wrap your mind around this, there are 20,000-25,000 people potentially that could be here at that day on the mountainside. It is getting dark. They have nothing to eat.
Philip says, Jesus, quick calculation, it would take 200 denarii to feed all of these people. Now what is a denarii? In the First Century, a denarii was the equivalent of a day’s wage for a Roman worker. So if a Roman worker worked a day, they got paid one denarii. It was a pretty good living. And what Philip said is, it is going to take about eight months worth of wages to feed all of these people. He was just speculating. It could have taken more. He said, there is no way we have that kind of money.
And so, in essence, what he is saying is, Jesus, what are we going to do? Well, luckily for Jesus, one of His disciples is resourceful. It is Andrew. Andrew decides to start remaining through the crowd and he looks around and finally he finds someone that is going to help. And so Andrew finds a little boy who has a lunch that day. And so he brings this little boy to Jesus. He probably goes through the crowd, hey, does anybody have any food? Did anybody bring a lunch today? We have one little kid right here. And so he looks at this little boy and he opens his lunch bag up. He opens his bag and he has got five pieces of bread and two fish. Now don’t miss this. These aren’t loaves of bread like we make po boys back in New Orleans on. This isn’t a loaf of bread. These are like little crackers if you will. And the fish are not big pieces of tilapia or salmon or swordfish, these are like little sardines. These are little bitty fish and little bitty crackers. And what Jesus is going to do here is take something insignificant in the eyes of these disciples and do something very significant.
So I imagine in my mind, Andrew is probably thinking, what are we going to do with this? But Jesus asked for something, so we are going to bring it. Maybe Jesus can snack on it while He is doing something, right? And so they bring this little boy to Jesus. He is probably thinking in his mind, Jesus is never going to accept this. And Jesus says, yes, that will do. Have the people sit down. Their minds are blown at this time. You mean, You are going to do something? Yes, that is exactly what I am going to do something with.
And so Jesus has them sit the people down. Now, we don’t know why He causes them to sit down, but it gives us an illusion to the Old Testament of when Moses caused the people to sit down and divided them up into different groups. Jesus takes the crackers and the fish and watch what He does! He blessed the Lord! The text says He gives thanks to the Lord. That is the Greek word “eucoriso” where we get the English word “Eucharist.” He gives thanks to the Lord, right? And so when He thanks the Lord, then He performs the miracle.
What He doesn’t do, watch this, He doesn’t bless the food, He blesses the Lord! That is a big difference, right? Why in the world would He bless the food? He is blessing the One who gave the food. And probably what He said was ***Speaks in Hebrew*** What He would have said is, Blessed are You, Lord God of the Universe, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. He would have blessed God, why? Because God is the One who provides the meal.
Now notice this. People have speculated, how did it happen? Did Jesus do some mind of illusion before the people where He just miraculously in His hands produced the fish and the bread? Did He make the miracle happen in the baskets? Did He do it behind the scenes? Did He hide? Did the disciples shield Him? We don’t know. And the text doesn’t care because none of the accounts spend a lot of time on the miracle. In fact, I want to show you, there are no lightning bolts in the sky when the miracle is performed. There is no thunder. There is no hype or hoopla. There is no fireworks or light show. Jesus simply performs the miracle.
Look at the text. And it shows us that He performs the miracle right before their eyes. This is heavenly bread, folks. You have to understand. This is bread. These are grain kernels, kernels of grain that have never touched the sinful conditions of this earth. It is heavenly bread. It would have been gluten free. It would have been okay to eat, no matter what kind of allergy you have. It is heavenly bread. Just like the Old Testament when God rained down the bread from heaven.
The fish have never swam in a contaminated pool of water. It is the best kind of fish you have ever tasted. Friends, this would have been the best cat fish po boys you ever put in your mouth, right? The people were begging for more. And what is interesting is, after Jesus performs the miracle and distributes the food, here is an interesting point. It says that the people were satisfied. What a great contras to what Philip said just a few moments earlier, Lord, even if we had eight months to a years worth of wages, they would just have a little bit. And you know, that is how Jesus always does. He is showing His disciples that when you come to Me, I will supply your every need. I will always satisfy you, right?
You see, when they went back and picked up the fragments, notice, He didn’t say go pick up the crumbs, go pick up the morsels. That is not what He said. The text says they picked up pieces of bread, fragments of bread and they filled up twelve different baskets and the disciples had to realize that every single one of them had a basket in hand. We will get to that in a couple of weeks, but they all had baskets.
It shows us once again, don’t miss this, that our God is a generous God. Aren’t you glad? He always is extravagant. He lavishly pours out upon His people. And Jesus is just showing His disciples, listen, I will supply your every need, in an overabundance, just like I am doing here.
So we see Jesus has this predicament. He notices in the crowd. Secondly, we see in the text Jesus’ provision. Finally, we see the Crowd’s Perception…I might add, misperception. Verse 14, “When the people saw the sign that He had done, they said, ’This is indeed the Prophet.’” Now the key word there is the word “the,” the definite article, “the.” “The Prophet who is to come into the world!’ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.”
After Jesus performs the miracle, there is a rumbling in the crowd. You can almost hear it. They start to say, Is this The Prophet? They have been waiting for hundreds and thousands of years for God to send The Prophet to rescue them and redeem them.
Now what Prophet are they talking about? Hold your place here and let’s go back to Deuteronomy 18. I want to show you the Prophet that they are talking about. Deuteronomy Chapter 18 Verse 15. When you are there, say “Word.”
Moses is speaking. “the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”
Here is the question: Was Jesus that Prophet? Well, Peter thinks so. Go to Acts Chapter 3. Go to the New Testament. Peter is speaking before the religious leaders and Acts Chapter 3 gives this eloquent discourse. Acts Chapter 3. Lets start in Verse 21…or lets start in 20. “That times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, that He may send the Christ, the appointed One to you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time of restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago. Moses said, (quoting the same verse), ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like Me from your brothers. You shall listen to Him in whatever He tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And I your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ god, having raised up His servant, send Him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Friends, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to read the Old Testament an then get into the Gospels and miss the significance of the similarities between Jesus and Moses. They are everywhere. In fact, I literally could spend a whole sermon listing them for you.
Jesus, in this text, I believe in the feeding of the 5,000, John is showing us that Jesus is doing what Moses could never do because of his sinfulness. Let me give you a couple of similarities to show you my point.
Moses in the Old Testament was what? What did he do for a living? He was a shepherd. Jesus in the New Testament is called what? The Great Shepherd. Moses in the Old Testament hid in Egypt in order to live. Jesus in the New Testament as a baby was brought to where in order to live? Egypt. Moses is concerned to be a deliverer. Jesus is the Great Deliverer, right, of our sin? Moses was hand selected by God to lead the children of Israel out of the bondage of the Egyptians into the Promised Land. Jesus was chosen by God to come and redeem us and deliver us from the bondage of sin into eternal life. You see the significance here.
Let me give you two that you might not be familiar with. Moses selected twelve individuals, twelve men who would go out into the land, spy out the land and then come back and report to him their findings. Jesus hand selects twelve men to be His disciples to go out into the land, Luke Chapter 9, cast out demons, heal the sick and then come back and tell Him what happened.
Here is the final one. Moses’ first miracle before Pharaoh, the first plague was he turned the water into blood. Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding of Cana was He turned the water into wine.
You see, the similarities are staggering. And the one that you would have known if you were sitting on the hillside that day when Jesus started mass producing manna, if you will, bread, your mind would have immediately jogged back to Exodus 16. Do you remember that account? The children of Israel are out of bondage. We know they are Baptists because they start complaining right out of the gate. I can say that because I am Baptist. But they are complaining, they are grumbling. They don’t have any food. You can’t blame them. They want dinner on the ground and there is no dinner to be found. And so, they say, Moses, we want to eat. Have you brought us out here to die?
And you will notice, between that account and the account in John of the feeding of the 5,000, there are a lot of similarities. Very similar. There is both a predicament over food. In Exodus 16, they are hungry. In John chapter 6, they are hungry.
The second thing is, we see in Moses’ account, there is a large multitude of people, an overwhelming amount of people who were hungry. In Jesus’ account in John Chapter 6, they look out and there are thousands, twenty, thirty thousand people out there who are hungry. In Moses’ account, you see that God is the One through prayer when Moses prays, who sends down the manna or the bread from heaven. Here is the difference. In the New Testament account of John, who is the One who provides the manna for the people or the bread for the people to eat? It is Jesus.
And I think what John is saying here is this: Jesus is doing today what Moses could never do. Do you know what Jesus is saying without saying a word? There is only One person who can create something out of nothing. There is only One person who can feed people with heavenly bread and it is God. And without saying a word, do you know what Jesus is saying to the crowd? I AM God!
Moses, because of his sinful condition, could never lead the people into the Promised Land. He died moments before entering. But I, through My death, burial and resurrection, will finish the task that God called Me to do and I will provide redemption for the souls of everyone who would come after Me and believe in Me. Aren’t you glad of that?
Now John knew that we may miss that in our western minds, 2000 years later, so he gave us a clue in John Chapter 5, right before we get into John Chapter 6. Now you have to remember, Church, the Bible was not written with chapters and verses. The Bible was one long account. It was like one long story without divisions.
In John Chapter 5, Jesus is in a discourse with the naysayer’s about His identity. And I don’t think it is an accident that when John marries the two passages together, the last words of John 5 give us a running start into John Chapter 6. Notice what he says. John Chapter 5 Verse 45. “Do you think that I will accuse you to the Father? There is one who accuses you: it is Moses.” What he is saying is, the Law accuses you. “On whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would have believed Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
What Jesus is in essence saying is this, I am going to do what Moses couldn’t do. You see, for the people, Moses was the great deliverer. Jesus is the ultimate deliverer.
So Robby, how do we apply this text? Let me give you two walking points to help you internalize and unpack this through the week in your life. Here are the two walking points.
Here is the first one. Put your faith in the real Jesus. Put your faith in the real Jesus. You see, the disciples had a major problem in this text and it was not just that they had no food. The problem the disciples had is that they underestimated their own wealth. You see, when the problem arose, the disciples forgot who was standing next to them. They thought they only had two pieces of fish and five loaves of bread. But they had Jesus next to them. You see, they misunderstood who Jesus was and what Jesus could do.
Now, the thing that baffles us is they had seen Jesus repeatedly do things before them. This isn’t His first miracle. In fact, Jesus has healed the sick. He has turned the water into wine. He has healed a crippled man. He saw a man who couldn’t walk come back. He saw a little girl come back from the dead. They have seen all of this. And yet, they still missed it.
Now before you are quick to pick up stones and launch them at the disciples, let me remind you of your own inadequacy at times. How many times do we miss the fact that Jesus Christ has indwelt us with His Holy Spirit and we have all the power of God, we have got access to the bank of heaven and yet, we, too, minimize the power and presence of God in our life. And I think one of the reasons for that is this, many of you, I think have an Iphone sized picture of God in your mind. You see, the God that you worship is a God that is small, right, because God is small, He is easy to worship, He is easy to control, He is easy to compartmentalize. And so we have this God of our own imagination in our mind. So our picture of God is this big. And friends, let me remind you, God is infinitely greater than that. It is almost impossible for our finite minds to understand what an infinite, eternal God is like. He is beyond our thinking.
The Bible says that God is bigger than our minds can phantom. He has not rival. God has no peer, if you can imagine that. The world declares His handiwork. All you have to do is look outside and you see His fingerprints everywhere.
You know, the French Revolution, they tried to get rid of God. One soldier went through the land and he said, Hey, we are going to get rid of your God, talking to a Christian peasant. He said, we are going to remove the Bible, we are going to destroy the Scriptures, we are going to remove religion in any term from everyone’s vocabulary. No one will know who God is. The peasant began to chuckle and the soldier said, why are you chuckling? He pointed to the sky and simply said this. I was just wondering how you are going to manage to take all of those little bright lights out of the sky.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Friends, we just have to look out and we can see God’s fingerprint everywhere. And in order for you to truly understand who God is, you know God thorugh the Word of God. You want to know more of God, no more of the word, because when you get into the Word, the Word will begin to get into you. And that is what Jesus was called, remember? Jesus was called the Word that was made flesh.
But you and I live in a day and age today where people are battling against the Bible. We live in a day and age today where the battle is against the inerrancy of the Word of God, the infallibility of the Word of God. Is the Word of God really true? And people are attacking that today. And I really believe the battle that we are fighting in the next generation is the battle we fought in the last generation and that is over the truthfulness of the Word of God.
This week when I was studying, I decided to take a quick break from the Word. I was in this text and just thinking about the Word of God, the truthfulness of the Word of God and I decided to go on Twitter, which is a social network, a media site and post a comment to some of the followers I have. I posted this comment which seemed like an insignificant comment. It seemed like an innocent comment to me. I will read to you the comment that I posted. I simply said this, don’t use the story when describing events in the Bible. Use the words “account” or “encounter” because story gives the idea of the Bible being a fable or a fairytale. Simple post. Within ten minutes, Church, I had over 100 people comment back to me. 99% of the comments were hateful, sinister and depraved over that innocent comment which seemed like just a simple post about the Bible.
One man with atheist in his twitter name said, “Robby, how about calling the Bible a myth? Is myth okay for the Bible?” Another said, “I prefer to call the Bible a ridiculous fairytale.” Another commented, “Story is absolutely correct. The Bible is filled with just stories.” A few seconds later, a man with a picture of a three dollar bill in his avatar, I don’t have to tell you what that means, but he said, “Don’t use the word “story” when talking about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny as it implies that they aren’t real either.” A man with his profile description socialist, democrat and activist said, “The Bible is a fable, exactly like that of Zeus, Thor, Mithras and Horace.” A girl whose profile read, Liberal girl from New York City who is now loving life in San Francisco, said “The Bible is nothing but a fable or a fairytale. Don’t lie to people, Robby, and make them think any of this is real or that it actually happened.” Finally, Chris from Kansas said, “Once upon a time, there was a mythical figure named Jesus. Sounds like the beginning of a great story to me.”
Friends, the comments went on through the night and it was the most retwitted and commented post that I made all month combined, if you can imagine. And it just confirmed my thoughts as to the state of the country and the world in which we live in today. Friends, the battle that our children will fight is over the truthfulness and veracity and the inerrancy and the infallibility over the Bible.
And see, the reason people don’t want the Bible and the reason people discount the Bible is because when you discount the Bible, you get rid of the authority figure in your life. And when you get rid of the Bible, you can do whatever your heart desires and you can indulge in sin to your heart’s content.
You see, when you get rid of the Bible, you start to do what is right in your own eyes. You see, you can make gender whatever you want it to be. It is whatever you choose gender to be, right? If you want to be a man or a woman or an it, you choose. You can begin to minimize the importance of marriage and the importance of marriage. You can start to indulge in adultery and divorce any time you want. Why? Because you are the one who sets the rules. You set the course of your life. And you can live like you want.
You see, these people are adamant about getting rid of the Word of God n their life. Why? Because they will do anything to decimate anyone or anything that stands in the way of them sinning. You have to remember, human beings are sinners who love to sin. And we will do anything to destroy anyone who gets in our way.
But do you know what we realize about Jesus? Jesus will not acquiesce to our own understandings, our own illusions and our own ideas of who we think He is. Just like we see in the crowd, Jesus is not about to be manipulated by the crowd. Jesus is not going to let depraved men tell Him what they think depraved men ought to do. No, Jesus stands in contrast to that. He calls depraved sinners out of their sins, to ask for forgiveness of their atrocities and to ask God to forgive them so they can have a right relationship with Him. That is what Jesus does. And it is the same message He preached when He first started His ministry: repent and believe in the gospel of God. And it is the same message He is preaching today.
“If any one will come after Me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow Me. Repent of your sin and put your faith in Christ.” And see, what happens is, when you get rid of the Bible, you create a Jesus of your own understanding.
You see, I think our problem in the world, even for Christians is that we have worshiped a wallet size picture of God. And I think what God wants to do today through His word is expand your understanding of who He is. He is infinitely greater than that. He is infinitely more enamored than that. He is infinitely more majestic than that.
So the first thing I want to challenge you to do is put your faith in the real Jesus. Put your faith in the real Jesus.
Secondly, I want you to trust Jesus as your source and sufficiency. Trust Jesus as your source and sufficiency. Now, although the test was to Philip by Jesus, the real test was against Jesus. Did you catch that? See, what the devil has done here is, he has tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew Chapter 4 and he has been unsuccessful. And so what he has done is, he has retreated, regrouped and repackaged his temptation in another form. He comes in the form of the crowd. You see, in the wilderness, the devil came to Jesus and said, Jesus, turn these stones into bread. He was hungry, naturally. Jesus resisted. No man…it is not good for man to live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus responded with the Word.
Then the devil brought Him to the pinnacle of the Temple. He said, look out at the world. You can have all of this. It can all be yours. Do you want it? You can start a worldly revolution. You can have it. I can give it to you.
What is interesting about the devil is, he didn’t realize that the authority that was given to him was given by God who owned it all anyway. But Jesus resisted that. And so now, what the devil has done is, he regrouped and repackaged and repurposed this temptation in the form of a crowd. Jesus performs the miracle. And then the crowd begins to talk. Is this The Prophet? Is this the Messiah? And so they began chanting His name. And what does Jesus do? Look at the text. It says in Verse 15 Jesus departed and went to a desolate place to be alone with God.
Friends, I can’t stress to you the humility of Christ here. I mean, you have to understand, everyone has been waiting for this day. This is the Messiah. They were ready to march into Jerusalem on the Passover, hundreds and thousands of people there. They were ready to put Jesus on a platform. They were going to crown Him King, as the Messiah. They were going to take back their country and prosperity and peace for the nation of Israel. They were ready to do that. And don’t miss this, Jesus was the Man they spoke of. He was The Prophet. He was The Messiah. He could have rightly stepped on the stage and taken the credibility and He would have been right.
But what does Jesus do? In the midst of the hoopla and in the midst of the excitement, Jesus slips out of the crowd and goes by Himself to be with the Father. You know why? Because Jesus knew the motivation of their hearts. You see, He knew the crowd was fickled. He knew the crowd was going to follow Him as long as He was dishing out catfish po boys, as long as you are taking care of our needs, as long as you are checking off the boxes on our agenda, we are fine. But Jesus is not about to be manipulated into a God of their own understanding. Jesus showed them that the miracles were way bigger than food. It has to do with their soul. You see, although the crowd benefited from the miracle, the miracle is really for twelve and particularly for Philip, but really for the twelve.
You see, what Jesus wanted the disciples to do is get to the place where they realize that they could do nothing without Him. He asked Philip the question so Philip could admit to Jesus that he could do nothing. Jesus, we have calculated our resources, we have surveyed the situation, we have got nothing. Apparently they didn’t have 200 denarii because we knew who was in charge of the traveling treasury. It was Judas. They never had anything. Judas, how much money do we have in the bank? Well, I don’t think we have anything actually. We know what was happening there.
But Jesus wanted them to know that. He wanted them to get to the place where they realized they could do nothing and Jesus says, oh, I can do something.
You know, for the Christian, sometimes it is harder for us to come to Jesus with our weaknesses than it is our strengths, right? You know, it is easy to go to God and say, Hey, God, bless this preaching ministry I have. God, bless this successful business I have. Bless this hobby that I am involved in that I am really good at. It is easy for God to bless the things that we are good at. I find that for me in my own life, it is harder to give Him my inadequacies. It is harder to come to Him with my deficiencies and to give that to Him, right?
But I know from the Bible, Jesus never says come to me, all who are strong and powerful and I will give you rest. He doesn’t say that. He says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and then I will give you rest for your souls.”
Do you know what Jesus wants the disciples to see in the text? The same thing He wants us to see, that we need to come to Him just as we are, with all the baggage we have and all the guilt and all the shame. Just as we are, we come to Him. Why? Because we cannot fix ourselves.
You know, I invited people to church a lot and I say, Hey, why don’t you come to our church. I think you would enjoy our church. We have a great group of people there. The music is great, the preaching is okay. I think you would enjoy it. And they always tell me this. They say, well, Robby, I would love to come to church, but let me fix some things in my life and then I will come to church, right? Let me clean some things up and get myself together and then I will come to church. And my response to them should be the same response that you give to them when people respond to you this way and that is, when do you go to the doctor? When you are well or when you are sick? You never go to the doctor well. You go when you are sick. You go just as you are. And you take your inadequacy, you take your deficiency, you take your weakness and you give that to the Great Physician. And guess what? He begins to do a work in your life!
And I don’t know where you are today, but would you run to Jesus right where you are and let Him heal your heart. Let Him clean you up.
Elizabeth Elliott. You may know her because of her husband, Jim Elliott. Jim Elliott was the man who died with four other men trying to take the gospel to the Nacka Indians in Ecuador. It was a group of violent tribesmen called the Yadoni tribe. They landed their plane. They came up and said, hey, we come in peace and they tried to share the gospel. They were all speared to death.
The cool thing about the story is, years later, Jim Elliott’s children and some of the other men’s children got to go back and lead these men to the Lord and today, most of the tribe has put faith in Jesus Christ. Just an amazing God story.
Elizabeth Elliott, as you can imagine was dealing with the loss of her husband, just going through life thinking about how God worked things out. And she wrote in her journal, “If the only thing you have to offer God is a broken heart, you offer Him your broken heart, realizing that nothing I have, nothing I am will ever be refused on the part of Christ. I simply give to Him the little I have, just like the boy gave to Jesus his five loaves and two fish. With the same feeling of the disciples when they said, what is the good of that for such a crowd? Naturally, in almost anything I offer to Christ, my reaction would be, what is the good of that? But the point is, what He makes of it is none of my business. It is His business. It is His blessing. So this grief that I have, this loss that I have, this suffering, this pain, whatever it is, which at the moment is God’s means of testing my faith and bringing me into the recognition of who He really is. That is the thing that I offer to Him!”
Someone said, God plus nothing equals everything! God plus nothing equals everything. You know, little in your life is much when it is given to the Lord. Did you know that? Little is much in your life when it is given to the Lord. And I wonder what could happen in your life if you got serious today with God and said, God, I am going to give you my talents. They are all yours. God, I am going to give you my ability. It is all Yours. I am going to give You my skill set. It is Yours for the using. God, I am going to turn over my career to You, my job to You. It is all Yours. What do you think God could do with that? God, I am going to give you my marriage. I am turning it over to You. I am going to give You my children. I am giving them all to You. You do whatever you want with them. They are Yours. What do you think God could do with that? Your nothing plus God is always everything. Aren’t you glad of that?