You know, Jesus was tired. Can you imagine God being tired? I get tired and I’m not God, but even He, even Jesus got tired, and so He wanted to rest. Big crowds were following Him, and so He, here in Mark, chapter 6, if you want to follow along in your Bible. Mark, chapter 6, and verse 31, He said to the 12 disciples, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place,” He knew this special little place, “and get some rest." And so, in verse 32, “they went away by themselves to a solitary place.” They went by boat. They knew this special place. It was deserted. It was solitary. It was woodsy, and when they got there, poor Jesus, He was tired, bone tired, but He couldn’t hide, and like hounding reporters, the kind that hound, they work for Enquirer magazine, or someplace, I don’t know. They hound celebrities. They suspected that Jesus would go to a certain place and when He got there, everybody was there. Huge crowd of people waiting for Jesus, and so what happened?
Well, look at verse 34. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd,” He said to His disciples, “Get back in the boat. We’re out of here. We’re tired.” Is that what Jesus said? What does it say that He did? “He had compassion on them.” He loved people. He had compassion on them “because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things,” and He went on and on and on. He was a teacher. He was a tired teacher, and it was the same crowd that He just left. You would think they would have had enough, but they wanted more. Instead of being angry, Jesus was moved with love.
Now notice that Jesus lovingly set aside His basic rights so that He could meet the needs of the people. I think, today, American Christians are focused on maintaining our personal rights. That’s why we put fences around our property. That’s why we lock our cars. We do a lot of things to maintain our personal rights. Jesus had very few personal rights. He was always willing to give of Himself to His people. We are consumed with building our kingdom when we ought to be consumed with building His kingdom. And notice that Jesus lovingly ministers to these people. He did it out of love in His heart that He might provide for their needs. And that’s why He came to this world is to provide for our needs. I’m so glad He did.
Now the crowd was big. We know how big they were because it tells how many people were hungry. There were 5 thousand men plus their families, and the average family, I suppose, has a man and his wife and 2 children, so that would be 4 times 5 thousand. That’s 20 thousand people that were there. That is a big crowd, and you think about that, especially that is momentous when you consider the territory. Capernaum was a town of 2 thousand people. Bethsaida was a town of 2 thousand people. Where did they get 20 thousand people from? I don’t know. The crowds only got thicker after the martyrdom of John the Baptist, and it has been said often that the blood of the martyrs is the seed and the fertilizer of the church, and I believe that.
And this crowd was hungry. They were at the first meeting with Jesus. Then they got there before He landed, and they were again at Jesus’ feet, and they were a hungry crowd. Now you may be surprised at this, but did you know that other than the resurrection this is the only miracle of all the miracles of Jesus Christ that is mentioned in all 4 gospels? This is an important miracle. If you have missed some of these other sermons today, this miracle is vital. No miracle was done before so many witnesses as this miracle, and this miracle, Jesus absolutely created something out of nothing, you might as well say. He created new matter. In restoring sight to the blind, He would just touch them and basically repair or restore. If they were crippled, He would repair, but here was absolute new creation. The only other miracle that resembles this one is the one were He made the wine out of the water, and of these 2 miracles, one represents His blood and one represents His body.
There are 4 possible answers to feeding 20 thousand people. Could you do it? Could you invite 20 thousand over for lunch? The disciples said, and here’s the first answer, “Send them away. We can’t--there’s no way. We don’t have this kind of food. Tell them to go home before it gets too dark.”
You know, if you’re in school and have a problem, the obvious answer is, “Just quit. Get out of here. Be a dropout. Quit.” If you’ve got a marriage and there’s a problem, the first thing that comes to your mind, “Divorce!” “Get out of here. Send them away. Let them get food somewhere else.” That’s the disciple’s reaction. But you know, there weren’t any Taco Bells there. There were no Burger Kings with veggie sandwiches. Those things weren’t there.
So, idea number 2. Philip. Philip said, “The situation is impossible. We can’t afford to feed them. We don’t even have the money in the first place, let alone the food,” like the other disciples said. “We can’t afford it,” and then he says, well look over here in John 6. This is where the bulk of this miracle is. Come to John 6. This is where we’ll spend most of our time. The size of the crowd, mathematician Philip starts figuring things out. A denarius is 1 day's wage, maybe here, and it would take 2 hundred day’s wages to purchase enough wheat to cook and bake some bread, and each person--Philip said, “This is impossible.” Pessimist Philip focused on the physical factors. Notice John 6, verse 7. ”Philip answered Him, ‘Eight month’s wages wouldn’t be enough bread for each person to have 1 bite.’" Not even enough for 1 bite.
And we act like Philip sometimes. You know, a big bill comes in the mail, and we get the checkbook out, and there isn’t enough money there and we’re fretting and fuming, “There’s not enough money.” Maybe a cog slips in the household machinery at your house. An unanticipated demand, and we go bonkers. “We just can’t do this, Lord. It’s impossible. I can’t pay my bills this month,” and do we, like Philip, look at our personal resources? Maybe it’s time to spread your difficulty before Jesus. Maybe instead of looking at our personal resources, we ought to look at God’s resources. Maybe we ought to have a habit of turning to Him. Let’s ask Jesus for help and then wait on His help. I mean, what is our emptiness compared with the ocean of His fullness? He has it all.
The third possible answer comes from Andrew. Now this is in verse 9. Andrew scoured the crowd and finally he found a little boy, and ”He said, ‘There is a lad here, which hath 5 barley loaves, and 2 small fishes, but what are they among so many?’” Andrew says, “I’ve found this little lad. He’s got a little lunch.” Praise God for optimistic Andrew. I mean, I don’t think he did it out of sarcasm. I think he really believed, “Maybe here’s the seed for something great.” I wish we had a whole church full of Andrews. I kind of like Andrew. Instead of looking at the crowd, he looks at Jesus, and with Jesus you’re never going to be out of food. Andrew’s hope was not in his money, but in his Master. I wish we had Andrew here today to tell us about this story. I’m sure it would be so fascinating to hear a first-hand account. How thankful we should be that God's blessings are dispensed not according to the riches of His grace, but according to our needs. Andrew brought to Jesus the material for the miracle. That’s what he did, and a miracle happened. Andrew was always bringing people to Jesus.
And the final solution comes from Jesus Himself. Jesus said, “Give Me the loaves and the fish.” Now before we talk about the miracle, let’s talk about the little lad. There are at least 6 things that we know about this little boy.
First of all, number 1, he was small. He was just a boy, and maybe he had gone to his mother and said, “Mommy, I want to go see Jesus today. Could you fix me a lunch?”, and maybe she fixed him up a nice little lunch, you know, of 5 little loaves of bread and 2 pickled fish, or salted fish. I don’t know how you fix--they couldn’t be fresh because they would spoil in Palestine that way, or maybe she said, “Well good, I’ll go with you, and daddy’ll go with you. We’ll go as a family.”
Number 2, the boy was extremely poor. Now how do we know he was poor? Well, if you look at this, you wouldn’t get that from the lunch. The lunch seemed to be adequate, but the reason we know he was poor is because the loaves were made out of barley, and barley was the feed of animals. Barley was poor people’s food, and so we know this lad was poor.
Number 3, his lunch wasn’t really that large for a growing boy. I remember when I was a boy, I used to say, “You know, mom, mommy, if I don’t eat I’ll die. We’ve got to eat.” I remember my dad had a garden and would bring the corn in, and sometimes I remember eating 8 ears of corn as a boy. Growing boys like to eat, and to have 5 little, I mean, these little loaves were not big. You don’t have a whole loaf of bread here, you know, you understand that.
And number 4, his lunch was not eaten yet. We know that, don’t we? All the people ate their food. Did this boy eat his food? His lunch was not eaten yet. Why? Why was his lunch uneaten? Everybody else had eaten. Here he’s still got his food. I can just picture him hanging on every word of Jesus. Can’t you do that? He’s so intent on Jesus that he forgot to eat his lunch. In fact, he’s been there for several hours, and he’s been feeding on the words of life. I like kids like that. That’s what he’s like.
And number 5, we know something else about the boy. He was generous. Now most children are born selfish. If you take 2 little babies, 5, 6 months old, and put them in the playpen together, and you just have 1 toy, they’ll begin to tussle over that 1 pacifier, that 1 bottle. You can see it happen. We’re born that way, and here we have a child, a kid, a young boy, who is unselfish. He’s willing to give his entire lunch to Jesus, and he doesn’t have any other food. He’s going to die if he doesn’t get anything else. He surrendered 100% of all the food that he had to Jesus, and only then did the miracle come.
Number 6. He became an instrument in God’s hands. God used him. Used his lunch. He came forward. Andrew, “Come on, little lad. Let’s come up. Bring your lunch to Jesus. Let’s see what’ll happen here,” and God needs building materials for His miracles, and this boy provided those materials. No one else had a lunch. Out of the 20 thousand people, he’s the only one with food left, and Jesus needs what we have. Jesus needs what you have. Maybe if the boy had not shared, the miracle wouldn’t have happened. I don’t really know. Maybe the world is denied many a miracle that the world needs, because we don’t give what we have in our hands. That could be. I'm so glad that this boy was liberal. What an example that child had. He openhandedly gave his whole lunch to Jesus, and I think Jesus looks for our total commitment.
Look at John, chapter 6 now, and verse 10. Jesus says something amazing. At least I think this is amazing. He says, “Sit down.” Don’t you think that’s amazing that 20 thousand people were still standing? 20 thousand people were not seated. I couldn’t say to you, “Please sit down.” You’re already seated. He had to say to them, “Sit down,” because they were all standing. They had been standing for hours. That is amazing. Sit down. You know, you’ve got to stop and sit down to be truly fed. I think so often we eat on the run, in America. Now when you get to heaven, you won’t do that. We need to savor our food. We used to have a member of our church here by the name of Ed Allen. I went to Ed’s house one day and “Ed, what’d you have for lunch?” He said, “The same thing I had for breakfast. The same thing I’ll have for supper.” I said, “Really. Tell me about it.” He said, “Well, I have 20 tin cans that I open up, and I take one spoon out of each tin can, and then I put them back in the refrigerator, close them down, and then the next meal, open them back up. One more spoon out of each one. I’m always eating balanced. A big variety here.” He was single, you know, and his wife had died, and that’s the way he handled life. He said, “I just stand there at the counter, and I could eat my whole meal in about 11 minutes.” Let’s savor our food. Jesus said, “We’re going to eat. Sit down.” Sit down. Let’s at least enjoy it. In this crazy age we rush to and fro. I think Christians become infected with the spirit of haste. We want fast food, fast computers, fast cars. You think there’ll be fast food when we get to heaven? Yes! All the food’ll be fast. You just pick it off the tree and eat it. A lot like Ed Allen’s refrigerator, I think. I think the ice cream cones will grow on trees. You just pick them. If God can grow a pine cone, He can grow an ice cream cone. Get the pizza off the pizza tree. It’s all fast food. All healthful for you. All the ice cream you want to eat. No calories high, you know. Let’s get back to the miracle.
Jesus says, “Sit down.” So often we have to be made to sit down. Psalm 23. “He maketh me to lie down in,” what kind of pastures? “Green pastures.” Notice that in the down time we are placed in lush pastures. Green pastures. The next time you’re down and out, feel around you. The lush pasture’ll be there. It’s all around you. It’s there. There’s a lot of good things you can do. Look for the blessing when God slows you down.
Mark 6 says that Jesus directed them to sit in companies of 1 hundred and fifties. That’s interesting. Jesus is an organized person. He’s so orderly. The Bible says, "Let all things be done decently and in,” what? “In order."
John 6, verse 11. Now there’s a lot here in verse 11. It says, “Jesus took the loaves.” He took these little loaves. He didn’t complain because they were small, because there was only 5 of them. He took the loaves and He blessed them, and this ought to tell us that God is pleased with whatever we have. It may be small. I don’t think it was a big lunch, but God is pleased with our small offerings even, if that’s all you have. Give it to God and He will be happy with what you have. That’s the type of God He is. Even your small offerings. The lad gave all he had, like the widow’s mite, and your best gift may seem insignificant to you, but in God’s sight it’s the material for miracle.
The 5 loaves and the 2 fish were ordinary while they were in the lunch box, but they were not ordinary, they were extra-ordinary when they were placed in the hands of Jesus. You place anything in the hands of Jesus and it is no longer ordinary. It’s material for miracles. Your best offering. It may look meager to you, but place it in His hands. Jesus could have called on the sky, “Please rain some manna,” and it would have done so, but He wanted to use what they had. He wanted to use the resources that were there. He wants to use your resources to solve your problems.
John 6, verse 11 continues. “Jesus prayed.” Before anybody took the first bite, what did Jesus do? He prayed. Do you do that? Do you have grace at your table? 5 thousand people were there, and He prayed. Now you may say, “Well, we always pray at home, but when we go out to the restaurant, sometimes we don’t do that. We just kind of pray silently.” Well let me tell you, these 5 thousand men were eating out. They were, and Jesus had prayer. Jesus was the spiritual leader of that household, and you men, you are the spiritual priest of your house. You lead out in prayer.
Verse 11 continues. Then what did Jesus do? Jesus distributed the food. I don’t believe that, do you? That can’t be true. Did Jesus go around and distribute the food? Who did it? The disciples did it, didn’t they, and so, this is curious to me here. The disciples did it. Does that mean that--here the Bible says Jesus did it. Does that mean that when you are a deacon, let’s say, and you do your duty, that it’s the same as if Jesus is doing it? I think that might be kind of what that means. If you’re an elder, if you’re a Sabbath school teacher, you’re teaching all those kids in that class over there, actually it’s Jesus doing it. Jesus distributed the bread when actually the disciples did it, but Jesus did it through them. Jesus is teaching where you are. Jesus is ministering where you’re ministering. Where did this miracle happen, by the way? Jesus gave each disciple a basket of food and they just kept passing the basket out and went down this row and down that row and down that row and it was still full. Is that how the miracle happened, probably?
Actually, the clue is in the Greek. If you look at Mark 6, verse 41, you may want to come over, don’t lose John, but Mark, chapter 6 and verse 41 actually gives the answer. You can’t read this in the English in the Greek, but let me share it with you. It says, ”He gave thanks and broke the loaves, then He gave them to His disciples.” Now ‘broke’ is the aorist tense which means an instantaneous act, but listen to this, ‘gave’ is in the imperfect tense, which means a continuous action. In other words, the miracle happened in His hands, and Desire of Ages makes this very clear. Page 369. "The food multiplied in His hands." That’s where the miracle was. The miracle is always in Jesus’ hands, isn’t it? Sure it is. That’s where miracles happen, is in the hands of Jesus Christ, and if you want a miracle, you need to place yourself in the hands of Jesus, and then you’re going to get a miracle.
Mark 6, verse 41. “Jesus gave them to the disciples,” and the disciples distributed. I think that is so cool.
Verse 11 now, back in John 6. John 6, verse 11. The next thing it says, and I want you to read this in your Bible, John 6, verse 11, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, distributed to those who were seated as much as they needed.” You see anything wrong with what I just read? Is that what it says? It does not say that. It says, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, distributed them to those who were seated, as much as they wanted.” Now that is cross-wise to the way that I have always thought about Jesus. He provides our needs, is what I thought. He will meet your bare essentials, but that’s not what this says. Each one had as much as they wanted. That tells me that God is extravagant, that God is lavish, that God piles up His gifts upon us. As much as we want. You can have as much of Jesus as you want. Do you believe that?
Why is it that we draw so little on the vast spiritual wealth that Jesus wants to provide us? I want to urge you to come to Jesus with your greatest spiritual needs and with your empty vessels and draw from the fullness that He has for you.
John 6, verse 12 says, “And when they had had enough…” Another version says, “And when they were filled…” These people were full. And it was probably good bread. You know, when Jesus made the wine, was Jesus’ wine better than what they had at the first? And when Jesus made this bread, don’t you think it tasted like Little Debbies or-- It was great. It was almost like eating dessert. It was great bread. He gave it to them and they ate until they were full. They were full. As much as they wanted. David said, “My cup runneth over.” That’s what God is like. Notice that the supply stopped only when the demand stopped. The supply of bread flowed from the treasuries of Jesus’ hands in rich abundance until everybody was full, and then it [snap] stopped.
You know, that’s what grace is like. God will give you as much as you want. His vastness for your meagerness. We come to Jesus as poor bankrupt believers, and He makes available to us all the vast resources of heaven, and who paid for that bread? Who purchased, who had to give money for that bread? It was free. It was totally free. That’s what salvation is like. Salvation is totally free. All you have to do is take and eat, and you will receive the blessing. They were filled. 20 thousand people were filled.
You know how much bread that would amount to? How much bread would it take to fill 20 thousand hungry people with bread? I think at least 5 tons. That’s a lot of bread. That’s a lot of bread.
And notice what Jesus said next here in verse 12. He said, “Gather up the leftovers.” Jesus doesn’t like waste. What a rebuke to modern extravagance of our age. Does it bother you when you go out to eat, or when you’re at some function, and people can load up their thing with food, and they take a whole plate full of food, they’re masters at stacking that, and then they just eat about half of it, and then the rest of it is thrown out. Does that bother you? That is just waste. If you’re going to take it, then you ought to eat it. Don’t waste it. We live in a day of abundance. Now Jesus wants us to be economical. Take as much as you want. Fill yourself up, but don’t waste. The next time you’re tempted to purchase that gizmo, that new doo-dad, you think, “Do I really need this? I’ve got zillions of doo-dads at home. Do I need another doo-dad?” Think about that.
Verse 13. How many baskets did they have left over? A whole bunch of people at first church came out and they said, “Pastor, where did they get the 12 baskets from?” I said, “Well, all kinds of people brought lunch baskets.” These were baskets. I don’t know how big they were. I have no idea, but they were there, and they were empty, and when it was all over, they had 12 baskets left over, and who got the bread? Who got it? It doesn’t say. It doesn’t say. You know who I think got it? The little lad. I think he got it. Why not? Why not give it to him? The Bible says in our scripture reading that was read by Elizabeth this morning, “It is the liberal soul that is made fat.” That little boy was liberal and I think he got the bread. We never need to be anxious whether there’s going to be enough left over for our own needs. When you make out that tithe envelope and you put your money in there, you think, “I wonder if there’s going to be enough left for me.” No, you just be liberal to God in your tithe, you be liberal to God in your offerings, and you will be made, your soul will be made fat. That’s what the Bible says.
The little lad’s load of leftover loaves was taken to his house, I think. Several people, maybe his folks, I don’t know who carried it. He was blessed. He was blessed.
And you look at your life. You may have limited assets, but when you place your limited means into the hands of Jesus you’re going to receive an unlimited blessing. And this still works. Jesus has not gone out of the miracle business. He knows how to do it.
Well, our time is up. I want to encourage you to place yourself in the hands of Jesus Christ, and only in His hands will there be a miracle.
I want us to sing about the mighty power of God. I want you to experience the mighty power of God in your life as He applies His mighty power to your needs, that you will receive a miraculous miracle in your life. In your marriage. In your home. Whatever it is that God needs to touch, that He will touch you and change you and bless you. Place yourselves in the hands of Jesus, and you will see the mighty power of God.
Let’s sing number 88 for our closing hymn.
Hymn of Praise: #230 All Glory, Laud and Honor Scripture: Proverbs 11:25 Hymn of Response: #88 I Sing the Mighty Power of God
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 8/23/08