Sermon delivered December 8, 2001 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

God's Giving Love

John 6:1-15

I want to talk with you this morning about Wonder Bread. Do you like bread? Well, I want to tell you an experience that's based on John 6.

Jesus was very tired and He said to the twelve disciples in Mark 6:31,32 "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Poor Jesus was bone tired. Have you ever been that tired? Just exhausted. And He needed some rest. But poor Jesus couldn't find any rest. There was no rest. They got into a boat and set out and went across the lake to a quiet place and the crowd second-guessed Jesus. And guess who was there when Jesus got there? The crowd. Mark 6:34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. He kept them there the rest of the day. It was the same crowd that He had tried to avoid found him. They beat Him to this spot. And here they were. So, what do you do?

I want you to notice something about Jesus. We're not just going to learn about the loaves and the fishes here, the story we're going to be telling about. We want to learn something about Jesus. So, notice something about your Savior right here. Notice that Jesus sets aside His basic rights. Is rest a basic right? It is! It's one of the eight laws of health. Rest. He sets that right aside to meet the people's needs. Wow! What an awesome Savior we serve! Today we American Christians are focused on maintaining our personal rights. "I have a right to this. I'm going to get an attorney to see that my rights are met." We detest anything that short circuits our pursuit of the American dream. We are consumed with building our kingdom when we ought to be building His kingdom.

Oh that we would be more like Jesus, Who unreservedly set aside His rights as Mighty God and came down to this world to die on the cross that He might provide for our needs. What an awesome God we serve! Praise the Lord for that!

When Jesus got there and the boat landed, the crowd was extremely large. How many people did they feed? Five thousand men (Mark 6:44). Do you think the women didn't eat? They ate, too. In those days they just counted the men. If you have five thousand men, you probably have five thousand women or more. And you have all the children. So you have twenty thousand people here. That's a huge crowd. The size of the crowd itself is an amazing miracle itself when you consider that the two towns of Bethesda and Capernaum only had a population of only two thousand each. So, where did these people come from? The crowds were thicker after the martyrdom of John the Baptist. They followed Jesus in huge numbers.

And this crowd was hungry. I hope that when you come to the McDonald Road church every Sabbath that you come hungry because we want to feed you. We want to feed you from the Word of God. We want you to consume the Word and go away from here stuffed, go away full on Jesus.

You may be surprised at this, but did you know that other than the Resurrection this miracle is the only miracle mentioned by all four gospels? Therefore this is the most important miracle that Jesus ever ever had. So, we need to listen up. And here is just a little old story of five loaves and two fish. That's all it is. And it's mentioned by all four Gospels.

No miracle was ever done before so many witnesses as this miracle. In this miracle, if you stop and think about it, Jesus actually created brand new matter. All the other miracles in the whole Bible He took something that already existed and modified it. If they were blind, the eyeball was already there and he healed it. This miracle creates brand new matter. The only other miracle that is comparable is when He turned the water into wine. That miracle testifies to His blood: this miracle testifies to us of His body. These two miracle stand alone among all others that Jesus did.

Now, there are four possible answers when you have a crowd of twenty thousand people that are hungry:

  1. The very first answer is the answer that the disciples had. "What are we going to do? Send them home." That's what they wanted to do (Mark 6:36). "Get these people out of here. We don't have any money. We don't have any food to feed them. Send them home! They can go out and buy some food. So often we handle our problems like that. If we have problems in school, we quit. We just go to some other school. When we have problems in marriage, we just get divorced and quit. Is that what Jesus wants us to do? We send them away instead of solving the problem. Well, there is one answer! Let them buy food for themselves. Where could twenty thousand people buy food? There were no Taco Bells, no Wendys, no Burger Kings in those days. They can't go out and buy food. And so you come to possible solution number two.
  2. Philip, pessimistic Philip. Jesus said, "We need some food for these people." Here in John 6, Philip answered Jesus.

    The situation is impossible. We can't afford to feed them all. Jesus had asked Philip about buying bread because Philip's home town was just two miles away. Math major Philip made rapid calculations. The size of the crowd. The cost of bread. 1 dinarius was a whole day's wages. It would take two hundred days wages to purchase two thousand quarts of wheat. What would that amount to with twenty thousand people? Philip was pessimistic. The situation is impossible! Philip looked at the physical factors.

    John 6:7- Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"

    We act like Philip sometimes. A big bill comes unexpectedly and we fret and argue about it. The morning mail brings bad news and we focus on it all day. Maybe a cog slips in the household machinery; an unanticipated demand comes on us. We go bonkers. Do we, like Philip look only at our resources? We act like Philip.

    I think that maybe it's time to spread our difficulties before the Lord. Maybe it's time to do a little trusting and say, "We have Jesus. We've got an unlimited supply here because we Have Christ." Maybe we should develop a habit if turning to Him. Maybe we ought to ask Jesus for help instead of fretting over the problem. What is our emptiness, anyway, in comparison to the ocean of His fullness!

  3. Praise the Lord for optimistic Andrew. Andrew went out among the crowd and got to sifting and sorting through people and all of a sudden he spotted a boy down there. The boy had his lunch, and Andrew got that boy and probably brought him to Jesus. Andrew was always bringing people to Jesus. And he said, "Look, here's a little boy with a little lunch." The problem is solved. I've found some food!" Optimistic Andrew! I don't know what he was expecting when he went out among the crowd to try to find some food. Maybe a convoy of McKee Baking Company trucks. I don't know. But he found a little boy with a little lunch. Praise the Lord for Andrew. Instead of looking at the dirt, the food, Andrew looked at the wealth of Jesus. That's what we need to do. His hope was not in money, his hope was in his Master. And that ought to be your hope.

    How thankful we ought to be that God's blessings are dispensed according to the riches of His grace, and not according to the poverty of our understanding. Andrew brought to Jesus the material for the miracle. You never know what will happen when you bring someone to Jesus. Andrew, as usual, was bringing people to Jesus.

The final solution comes from Jesus Himself: Jesus said, "Give Me the loaves and fish and I will take care of the problem." Before we talk about the miracle, let's talk about the little boy and his lunch.

  1. First of all we know that he was little because he was a small lad. Just a boy. What was a boy doing there anyway? Probably that morning he begged his mother, "Mommy, can I please go?" "Naw. You can't go." "Can't I please go?" "Well, yes." "Could you please make me a lunch?" "I'll make you a lunch." So off he went to hear Jesus. Praise the Lord for that boy. You're going to meet that boy in heaven.
  2. We know something else about the boy. He was very poor. How do we know that? Because the bible says the bread was barley bread. Just the cows eat barley. That is animal food. And yet, that's all they had. These were poor people.
  3. We know that his lunch was meager. When you think of five loaves of bread for lunch, you're probably thinking of these big loves we use today. That's not what it was. Some of you bake bread, don't you. A loaf of bread is a big thing today. Five loaves of bread and two swordfishes. My! That little boy wasn't going to stay little very long. No, these were little loaves like pita bread. Little thin things, not very big at all. Just barely enough for him. And two little old dried fish. These were dried fish. Fresh fish don't keep all day in Palestine.
  4. There is something else we know about that boy. His lunch was not eaten yet. Why not? You know how hungry boys are. They have hollow legs. He didn't eat his lunch. It was still there. And what time was it? It's supper time. Why hadn't he eaten his lunch? I'm going to take a guess: He was so enamored with Jesus that he was listening to Jesus, he was feeding on Jesus. He hadn't bothered to interrupt and eat his lunch. We're going to meet that boy in heaven.
  5. That boy was generous. Because when Andrew came and said, "You know, the Master needs some food." "Well, let me break off a little piece and you can have that." Is that what he did? He gave Him the whole lunch, the whole kit and caboodle, gave it all, unreservedly to Jesus. MY, there's a lesson in that! Think about that awhile. He surrendered one hundred percent of what he had to Jesus. Only then did a miracle come.
  6. We know something else about that little boy just from reading this story. He became, himself, an instrument in God's hands. You see, God needs building materials for His miracles. God needs our help. He needs what we have. Maybe if the boy had not shared, the miracle would not have happened. Maybe the world is denied many a miracle it needs because we don't give what we have in our hands. Do you have anything in your hands that God needs? Give it to Him.

I'm so glad this boy was liberal with Jesus. He openhandedly gave his whole lunch to Jesus that day. I think Jesus looks for willingness.

In John 6:10, Jesus makes a very interesting statement. Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." I would not expect this. Would you? If you're telling someone to please sit down, what were they doing? They're standing up. He's been preaching to them all day long and what are they still doing? They're standing up. They've been standing all afternoon. Wow, what a preacher Jesus must have been! To have people on their feet! I like that. They had been standing all day long. So He tells them to sit down. Why would He tell them to sit down? Have you never eaten while you're standing? I believe, if we are going to see a miracle we're going to have to stop, we're going to have to sit down, take some time if we are really going to see a miracle. You've got to become quiet. You've got to sit still.

We live in a crazy age. In this day and age that we live, we want everything fast. We want fast food. We want fast cars, We want fast computers. If you have a one gigabyte computer and they come out with a two gigabyte computer, we sell our old computer fast because we want everything fast. And all too often we have to be made to sit down.

Do you remember Psalm 23:2? He makes me lie down in green pastures. We have to be made to sit down. Notice that in the down time we are placed on lush green grass. Where were they sitting? In Capernaum there is a place, my wife and I have been there when we went over to Israel, that is a beautiful grassy place there in Capernaum. Lush grass! That's where they were to be seated.

Mark 6:39-40 says that Jesus directed them to sit in groups of hundred's and fifty's. Jesus is so organized. I like that. Let all things be done decently and in order. - I Corinthians 14:40.

John 6:11. Jesus took the loves. He did not complain because they were small and cheap, mad out of this old barley. This ought to tell us that God is pleased to use our small and weak offerings. God is ready to use you! Your best gift may seem insignificant but God can make it into a Mighty Miracle!

These five loaves and two fishes were ordinary only while they stayed in the lunch box. It was only as these small items were placed into the hands of Christ that they were made great. Your offering, the best you have, might look meager to you but when it is placed into Christ's phenomenal hands it's potential increases. Get your lunch out of the lunch box. Put the stuff you have in Jesus' hands and something extraordinary will happen. Only when placed in the hands of Jesus was the miracle taking place. Jesus could have called on the sky to rain manna. But He wants to use the means that we place in His hands.

JOHN 6:11 also says that Jesus prayed. That's a good idea. He was the head of the house. He prayed. And something interesting here. Do you have grace at your table? Yes, we always have grace in our home. Do you pray when you eat out? Here you had twenty thousand people. Were they eating out? Yes, they were eating out. Twenty thousand people bowed their heads and prayed. When you go out to eat, pray. That's what you should do. What a perfect example Jesus was! He was the head of the spiritual household that day. Jesus led out in prayer.

JOHN 6:11. Then Jesus distributed the food. There was a lot of food to distribute to twenty thousand people. So, He did this through His disciples. I am very curious here. Just where did this miracle happen? There was a multiplication of food here. Was Jesus just piled over with food and trying to get rid of it because it was accumulating all over the place? How did this work? The Greek tells us. If you read this in the Greek, Mark 6:41, He gave thanks, He broke the loaves, and then He gave them to the disciples. Broke is in the Aorist tense. It means an instantaneous act, but gave is in the imperfect tense. It means a continuous action. So, in the miracle, the food multiplied in His hands. That's where the miracle took place. Only until you put something in Jesus' hands will you have a miracle.

Mark 6:41- Jesus gave it to the disciples. It was their work just as much as it was His work. The miracle was a team effort. We are Laborers together with God. - I Corinthians 3:9. Christ fed the starving crowd THROUGH His disciples. It was their work as truly as it was His. His was the increase, and theirs was the distribution. It was successful only as they distributed and continued to return to their Master for a fresh supply! If your spiritual reserves are running low, come to Jesus for a fresh supply!

And look at another point here. John 6:11 says they each ate as much as they wanted. I like that. I love that. And notice that the supply stopped only when the demand stopped. That supply of bread kept going until they all got full. That is Grace! Isn't that grace? There's as much grace as you want, able to meet more than your need. We come to Jesus as poor bankrupt believers and He makes available to us all of the vast resources of heaven.

I don't know why it is that we draw so little on the vast spiritual wealth that we have in Jesus Christ. I want to urge you to come to Jesus with your great spiritual needs, with your empty vessels and draw from the ocean fullness of His saving grace.

They were filled. Have you ever been to a restaurant. I hate to go to Ryan's. Have you ever been to Ryan's? Don't ever go to that place. You always eat too much. It's terrible. I pay my tithe, so I should make sure I get my money's worth, you know. So I go to this food bar and the baked potato bar and the salad bar and the entre bar. There's about five more bars. By the time I'm through I'm just dragging out of that place. I hate that place. They were filled. God is not chintzy. When Jesus feeds His People, hunger is vanquished. Twenty thousand people each ate all they wanted. Do you know how much food that would be? The weight of that food, I would guess, would be that would be four to five tons of food from one lunch box. Figure it out. Twenty thousand people ate all they wanted. That's a lot of food. If you were going to cook for that many people, how much food would you prepare? A half a pound for each person- that would be ten thousand pounds, or five tons! Could Jesus handle four or five tons of food? Could the disciples deliver five tons of food? I think the disciples said, "Would you help? and would you help?" They were distributing and others were distributing and everything. And they had all that organized. I would loved to have been there. And let me tell you, you are going to be there at Jesus' table some day soon. And Jesus is going to distribute to you, as much as you can eat, as much as you want, until you are full.

When they all finished eating, They gathered up the leftovers (John 6:12b). I Like that about Jesus. Jesus is economical. Jesus doesn't waste little things. They gathered up all the leftovers and they had twelve bushel baskets, or whatever they were, left over. God does not want us to waste. Abundance never justifies waste. Jesus wants each of His followers to be economical. The next time you go to the store and you're looking at all those zillion and zillions of doodads, don't buy them all. You don't have to own all that stuff. Just think, "Do I really need this?"

JOHN 6:13 says that they had twelve baskets left over. They multiplied by subtraction. Are we ever impoverished by giving to God? Are you? Let me repeat that. Are you ever impoverished by sharing with somebody else? No! That's what happened there. Notice that the small lad gave all he had to Jesus. Imagine that boy coming home that night with his lunch sack. Do you suppose it was empty? I'll bet they stuffed his lunch sack as full as they could get it, and they sent it home with him. He came home with his eyes shining. He came home and poured out that stuff on the table. And his mom and dad look at that. "Where did you get all that?" And they tasted it. "Boy, that's good! That's different than the bread I fixed for you this morning. Wow, that's good. It's wonder bread." "Let me tell you about Jesus." And that boy shared Jesus with his folks. That's the way I would picture it. That boy came home that night with far more than he had that morning.

And when you give to God, God more than gives back to you. When you sit down with your checkbook in one hand and your tithe envelop in the other and you think, "Well, let's see, how much can I afford to give?" That's the wrong question. You need to say, "How much has God blessed me? How much can I give? I want to give." And that's what he wanted. What a boy that was!

You know, I want to be like that young man. And that meager quantity of dry food in the small hands of that child was next to zero compared to all those people. Nevertheless, when it was willingly placed into the hands of Jesus, when he surrendered a hundred percent of it to his Savior it was transformed into tons of food. That's the miracle that can happen. The amazing thing is that this mechanism still works today. When you give your best to Jesus, He will outgive and return more to you. It'll happen every time.

If Jesus can feed five thousand men with their families here, just Imagine when we get to heaven and sit at Jesus table there. He will feed us from a much richer menu. I want to be there, don't you? I want to be in heaven. I can hardly wait for heaven. I don't believe that day is very far off.

Before we quit on this topic, you will be at that table, you will be eating heaven's wonder bread up there if today you have surrendered your self totally into Jesus' hands here. Have you done that? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? Would you like to do that this morning? Place your hands in the hands of Jesus and you will experience a miracle.


Hymn of Praise: #115, O Come, O come Immanuel
Scripture: John 3:16,17
Hymn of Response: #132, O Come All Ye Faithful


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