- The Fruit of the Spirit
- Awesome Is The Lord Most High
- God My Rock
- He Will Hold Me Fast
- IntroductionGood morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church. We are blessed and thankful that you would join us this morning from wherever you are. We will be back together soon but unfortunately that day is not today and so we appreciate you joining us. Please take your Bibles and open them with me to Mark 6, Mark 6.We’ve been moving our way through the passages surrounding the feeding of the five thousand and now today we will come to the miracle event itself. To catch every one up and to refresh our memories, in two weeks ago we looked at the return of the disciples and were reminded of the importance of maintaining our focus in the right place, of seeking Godly, Christ-exalting rest and the reminder that the ministry never ceases - even when we might need it to for just a few moments. Last week we looked at the person of Christ and a few of His attributes. We saw that He is present with us, that He sees what we are going through because He is not a distant God but One who is walking through our lives with us. We witnessed His compassion for His people as He healed their hurts and it is good and proper for Him to do so as He is the Good Shepherd overseeing His flock. And then we witnessed His patience as He patiently teaches and reaches out to the people of Israel and they constantly miss the point and end up rejecting Him.Let’s focus our hearts and our minds now on the Word and read this passage together. Look with me at Mark 6:30 - I want to start back a few verses just to remind us of the context and we’ll read through to verse 45.The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.” “You give them something to eat,” he responded. They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men. Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.The question we are faced with this morning is what do you see? When faced with a situation in your life what do you see? As we examine this passage we’re going to see the reactions of the disciples who only saw the problems, the reaction of Jesus who saw an opportunity and the reaction of the people who saw a paradox.The Disciples saw....a ProblemIt has been a very long day for the disciples. The day started out with such promise as Jesus calls them aside to go and take a break. But here they are on the shore of the sea of Galilee surrounded by a mass of people. The cacophonous noise would have been deafening. So many people milling about. Loud celebrations as someone was healed and walked for the first time or heard the sounds of gulls as they flew overhead. There was no social distancing here. And in some ways it may have been a difficulty for the disciples now being back in the shadow of their Master. They had just been out on a ministry tour and they were very successful. If they would, later in their time spent with Jesus, be willing to argue amongst themselves who was the greatest, a small measure of their pride could have smarted at now being relegated to the sidelines as the crowds throng around Jesus. And now the day is coming to a close. It’s getting late - probably around the same time that many of us might start thinking about dinner preparations. And the people are still there seemingly with no intention of leaving - something must be done.So they step up. Mark doesn’t tell us who the leader is but all of the disciples unite and step up to Jesus.When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.”There are two possible motives behind this request. The first is the idea that they are demonstrating more compassion for the crowds than their Master. Imagine the temerity of this suggestion. The boldness of this request. Hey Jesus - you’re showing great compassion teaching these people and even taking the time to heal their illnesses but if you were really compassionate, like we are, you would notice that the time is getting late. They must be getting hungry and we should send them away so they can get something to eat. It would be insensitive to keep them here any longer. You need to send them away so they can get food.The second is more of a selfish motive. They had sacrificed an entire day to ministering to the crowds and they’d been patient. Now it was time to send them away so they could get the downtime they were promised. Sort of “Look Jesus - do you remember us? We’re the ones who are following you everywhere. We’re also the ones you sent out and we’ve been waiting for our break. Is that going to start anytime soon?”Jesus, to His credit, is just as non-affected by the impertinence of the disciples as He is by the constant onslaught of the people. He turns to them and turns their attitudes right back on to them.“You give them something to eat,” he responded. They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”Um. Jesus - do you see all of these people. I mean there are a lot of them. Feed them? Really? Their response may have been tinged with just a bit of sarcasm - “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” A denarii was a monetary unit that equated to roughly one day’s wages. This would have been over eight months worth of wages. And then there would be the issue of travel time to and from the villages for the disciples. A supply and demand issue because would there be that much bread readily available? How were they to transport all of this bread back to the deserted location where the crowd was? And if the crowd were truly hungry there would be a crowd control issue as they crowded around the cart or however the disciples carry the bread back demanding their share. It would be like those scenes from third world nations when the UNICEF truck shows up with food and the people are all crowded around. Or it could be like Walmart on Black Friday. All of those issues are wrapped up in the disciples answer to Jesus.You can almost hear the sigh from Jesus in the response that Mark records. *Sigh* “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” John’s rendition of this story illuminates us more.He asked this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.How much had the disciples seen and yet they still came up short in truly grasping Who stood before them. They had forgotten that in a word He had silenced the storm. They had forgotten that in a word He had cast out 5000 demons. They had forgotten that in a word He had healed the man with the shriveled hand. And any number of other miracles they had witnessed. They thought that He was asking them to accomplish this in their own strength and by their own designs and ingenuity. So they look around and they find a mere 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. Mark is very kind to the disciples in this story - he writes that they say “Five and two fish.” John again shows us a clearer picture of their reaction.One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish—but what are they for so many?”“What are they for so many?” How is this going to work. Jesus there really isn’t enough. This is hopeless. The day is continuing to march on and you need to send these people away because, even after doing what You asked, we’re still coming up short. This is hopeless. Much like a child who determines that the work is too hard for him to accomplish alone and so settles into despair without ever recognizing the ever present help of a parent or teacher, the disciples could not see that the answer to their dilemma was standing there with a gentle look on His face, ready and willing to be the source of all the power they would need. All they could see was the problem and refused the see the solution.How often are we in the same position as the disciples? When circumstances in our lives start to go in a direction we weren’t expecting or are contrary to the plans that we have laid out how often do we approach God with an attitude of “hey listen, I know You say You have my best in mind but um…this really isn’t working out for me so could we maybe try it my way for a bit.” The disciples had just finished an extended period of ministry and it went so well that they were pursued by the masses - surely they deserved a break and they wanted that.Or we come from the practical point of view that says we can’t minister to all of these needs so we should probably send them away to get their needs met somewhere else. The compassionate thing to do is to send them away and let someone who is better suited meet their needs. Now it is true - and I’ll be one of the first to say this - that we cannot do everything. In fact I once wrote this in the front of my BibleI can’t do everythingGod didn’t call me to do everythingBut I can do somethingRight now I’m doing nothingAnd Satan loves when Christians do nothingSo I must do somethingChrist has already done everythingSo I can, and must, do somethingAnd by the grace of God that I will do.Well there was One on the seashore that day Who was ready and prepared to do something.Jesus saw....an OpportunityJesus would have been tired by this time as well. The crowd had been there all day and it was He Who was moving among them healing their sick, as Matthew tells us, and teaching them. He demonstrates His compassion for them. He takes the necessary steps to prove Himself to be their Shepherd. And here come the disciples to Him with an apparent problem. But where the disciples saw only problems, Jesus saw an opportunity.Commenting on this event, Charles Spurgeon said this
Before anybody else had cared for the multitude he began enquiring about the state of the stores from which the famishing must be fed. He it was who thought of the way of feeding them, it was a design invented and originated by himself. His followers had looked at their little store of bread and fish and given up the task as hopeless; but Jesus, altogether unembarrassed, and in no perplexity, had already considered how he would banquet the thousands and make the fainting sing for joy. The Lord of Hosts needed no entreaty to become the host of hosts of hungry men.He has fed them spiritually all day long and now He already has in mind how He will provide for them physically. In so doing, He would continue to demonstrate for them His role and rightful claim to being the Shepherd over Israel. He’s been teaching them all day and now He’ll provide for them. That’s really the role and responsibility of a Shepherd summed up in a succinct statement. The Shepherd is to care for the sheep - to keep them out of trouble, to keep them from getting lost, to clean their wool - and then to provide the physical sustenance for the sheep to grow.There’s not much evidence to assume here that the reference to the green grass should be viewed as an allusion to the idea of green pastures put forth in the 23rd Psalm. But there are some important parallels that we should garner from this passage that would have been readily apparent to Mark’s original readers. The first is the command that Jesus gives to have the people recline is indicative of how people would sit at a banquet. You should recall the passage in Mark 2 just after Jesus calling of Levi there was a banquet thrown in Jesus honorWhile he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who were following him.This is also the picture we are given of the Messianic banquet at the end of the age - where Jesus will feed not only 5000 Jews but many more peoples from all ethnicities and nationalities.Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith. I tell you that many will come from east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.And then in Luke 13:29There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in that place, when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown out. They will come from east and west, from north and south, to share the banquet in the kingdom of God. Note this: Some who are last will be first, and some who are first will be last.”The people were told to recline or sit down in groups of hundreds and fifties. This allowed for an orderly distribution and also allowed for the remarkable specificity of the numbers reported later in the passage - that there were 5000 men present. Matthew expands on this number a bit telling us that there were five thousand men along with women and children. We may be tempted to see the divisions of Israel that Moses established or the idea that this was to arrange the people into a pseudo military formation but I think that is drawing a bit more from the text than there is.Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish provided by the boy - essentially the equivalent of a first century lunchable. And not even a good lunchable like the ones that are available today with the 6” sub bun, meat, cheese a Capri Sun and a dessert. This was one of those basic ones that comes just with crackers and meat. The barley loaves were really little more than wafers and the two fish would have been two small, salted sardines. Just enough for to fill the appetite of a small boy. And yet Jesus takes them, blesses them, broke them and passes them. Stop there for a second.It is important to recognize the time in which this event takes place and the order in which this all happens. It would have been early spring in Galilee - that is the only time that green grass can be found in the countryside. The rest of the year it is a brown scorched land. This would have taken place right before Passover and, if the disciples mission took place at the end of Christ’s second year of ministry, would have been a year away from His crucifixion. And here He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and passes it out. Without reading too much into it - we should at least recognize the similarities between this meal that He gives out to these people and the institution of Communion at the next Passover feast. We should see even more of a connection in His explanation to these same Jews the next day when they seek Him out again. John 6 is again helpful in understanding this more.The crowd has tracked Jesus down and is looking for another free meal. Jesus response to them is found throughout the entire chapter of John 6 but we’ll very quickly look at two verses.“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.Jesus is telling them the fallacy of seeking Him for purely physical sustenance when what He has really come to provide is the more significant spiritual sustenance that we all require. The allusion to the Last Supper is subtle but He is even more clear in John 6:53So Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves.So we have at least a hint of the Last Supper in this miracle. The other amazing observation from this is the rather pedestrian manner in which the miracle takes place. Jesus looks up to Heaven, blesses the bread and the fish and starts breaking them into pieces. There are even some commentators who surmise that some in the crowd and maybe even the disciples didn’t even realize a miracle was taking place. This has been jumped on by those who seek to disprove the miracle by saying things like Jesus had a hidden cache of food - like some kind of 1st century doomsday preparer - that He just pulled food from and kept handing it to the disciples or that there really were more people there who had food and that the miracle was the spontaneous outflowing of love and concern for their fellow man as people shared their lunches with those who had none.And all of that sounds plausible - except that the inerrant and infallible Word of God tells us what really happened. But it is still rather vanilla. It is rather pedestrian. It’s not spectacular like, say, calming a raging storm with waves crashing over the bow of the boat. I mean He’s Jesus - He’s God made flesh - if He wanted to make a statement He could have turned air into food like He turned water into wine. Or He could have created it the same way He did the world - ex nihilo - out of nothing. This is the same Christ who creates His own fish breakfast in John 21. Imagine the looks on people’s faces when one second they’re sitting their and the next they have a plate of food in their lap. And yet He chooses this method - why?Look at the text - it says “He kept giving them to His disciples” stop there because we have our answer. Christ’s primary method of working is now through His disciples and the willing hearts of those who surrender everything to Him. He doesn’t have to but He has chosen to work through His people. He had done so most recently as He sent them out to preach and here He uses them to distribute the food to the masses. Maybe there was also a little lesson in humility in this for the disciples. Either way - everyone there was not only fed but completely satisfied. This is the Greek word “chortazo” and it comes from the agricultural world describing live stock eating until they were completely full. These people were so full they couldn’t want anymore. And it was the best lunchable they’d ever eaten. It was completely satisfying.And there were leftovers. The disciples went and picked up twelve baskets - which would have provided each of them with a nice store of food for the coming days. Just a side note - how often do we find that despite our own attitude going into a ministry opportunity we come out more blessed at the end than possibly even those we’ve ministered to. The crowd was fed and satisfied for one meal. The leftovers in the baskets should have provided meals for the disciples for days.How often do we fail to recognize when Christ is trying to work through us as His medium to effect a miracle. Not that we can heal the sick or make food appear from no where but we are His partners in the regeneration of human hearts as the spiritually dead are brought back to life. What a privilege it is to partner with Christ in this. To be a part of His work rather than a part of the crowd - because they so often just don’t get it.The Crowds saw....a ParadoxThis crowd also misses it. Mark doesn’t give us a good picture so flip back over to the Gospel of John. I’m sure many of you have kept a finger there throughout this message. John tells us that the crowd sought Jesus out the next day and when they found Him Christ gets right to the point.Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.”It was the eminent theologian Frodo Baggins who, speaking of Aragorn, said “I think a servant of the enemy would look fairer and feel fouler.” That’s exactly how these people felt about Jesus. You see - Jesus presented a paradox to these poor people. He felt like He should be their long awaited Messiah. Earlier in the sixth chapter of John he even quotes their reaction to the food given the day beforeWhen the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This truly is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Therefore, when Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.They thought He was the Prophet promised by Moses who would restore and lead Israel to prominence. And yet He wasn’t doing that. He was keeping to the backwaters of Galilee and seemed more interested in taking on the Pharisees, who were supposed to be on His side, than the Romans, the clear enemy. In the end many of them could not accept that He was a spiritual Messiah here for a different purpose and not the Messiah they were expecting or had conjured in their own minds.Conclusion
- O Great God
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