MESSAGE DELIVERED: FEBRUARY 26, 2017
We have been looking at this particular miracle that Jesus performed after learning that His cousin, John the Baptist had been murdered, and more especially, at the truth that so many otherwise sincere people, who claim, by Faith, to believe in Jesus, will still demand a rational explanation for God’s most spectacular, and awesome, miracles.
That really saddens me, because I know that such people, even if they are Saved, (and remember, we are not Saved by believing in miracles, but by believing in the One who worked the miracles) …so, even if they are Saved, they are missing so much wonder, so much excitement, by simply not accepting what God went to all the trouble of preparing and recording for us.
And remember, this particular miracle was considered important enough that all four of the Gospel’s writers included it!
Have you ever taken a small child into a very large toy store? I want you to remember this if YOU ever feel your sense of wonder slipping away. We have a little nephew…or at least he used to be very little…children have a habit of growing to become big people. But anyway, when Josh was very small, Dawn and I used to take care of him while his parents worked.
One day I took him into a “Toys R Us” store, looking for something in particular. I don’t remember what it was, but I do recall scanning the aisles, hunting for this thing. See, when it comes to shopping, which is a thing I truly dislike, I do it much differently than Sweetie would.
If SHE went shopping for a specific item, let’s say a bathrobe, she would start looking, in the SHOE section, and then make her way to maybe HOUSEWARES, and then LUGGAGE…and so on, before ULTIMATELY making her way to the SLEEP-WEAR section.
I, on the other hand, if I went looking for a bathrobe, I would START my search by finding a salesperson who looked like they knew what they were doing, and ask them WHERE the bathrobes were, and head straight to them, grab one, pay for it, and quickly make my way to the exit. And I think I’m fairly average when it comes to those things. Men are HUNTERS: find your prey and grab it…while women are GATHERERS. They go to the store to buy some specific thing, and then finally make their way home with a cart-full of stuff!
Anyway, I’m in this toy store with little Joshua in his stroller, and I’m scanning the aisles for this one particular thing, without finding it and getting frustrated, when I happened to catch a glimpse of Josh’s face.
To me, this was just another store and another chore to get out of the way. But to him, this was WONDERLAND! He was completely mesmerized by all the colors, and shapes, by the very ESSENSE of the toy store.
I’m standing there saying “Nut’s, I can’t find what I’m looking for”, he’s in his stroller saying “OH WOW! Look at all the STUFF!”
So I crouched down to his level, and looked UP like he was, and then I actually saw things a little differently. I had been looking at this store like a normal, hurried adult, and little Josh helped me look at it through the eyes of a CHILD once more.
And beloved, I hope YOU and I will always be able to approach God’s Word that same way…with the simple, trusting eyes of a child!…and be able to think; “God said it, so it must be so !”
Maybe a part of the reason people have a hard time accepting these great works of miracles, is because they quit reading too soon. Remember, immediately after the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, we see the miracle of Jesus walking on the surface of the sea, which we also just looked at…and boy, do people try to discredit THAT one!
They will say things like “He wasn’t walking ON the sea, just BY the sea”…or “He was just WADING in shallow water”. Well, to them, I will just say “HORSE FEATHERS”! The One who MADE the sea in the first place can certainly walk on top of it, if He so desires!
But, it’s what happens after that that denies all attempts at a ‘rational’ explanation for the multiplying of the Loaves and Fishes. You might recall I told YOU that Dr. Albert Schweitzer said that everyone took just a tiny CRUMB, and was satisfied with that…or Dr. Lamsa said that a caravan loaded with food arrived at just that moment…and others said that the little boy’s generosity inspired others to share what they had brought.
But, in light of what happened next, all those attempts at explanations fall apart. See, the day AFTER everyone had been fed, they came BACK to that desert place, looking for Jesus. They had seen the disciples get into a boat and leave, while Jesus stayed behind, and the next morning the boat the disciples had left in was back where it started from, but Jesus was gone, as well as the disciples.
And listen, it sometimes escapes notice, but you can drive yourself crazy trying to explain THAT one simple fact. The twelve had gotten in that boat and sailed for the other side. Now they’re gone, but the BOAT is now back where it belonged. HOW did it GET there?
I’ll tell you that the simplest explanation has gotta be the best…and the most wonderful…when they no longer needed that boat they had borrowed, GOD put it back where it was supposed to be!
But, when that crowd came looking for Jesus, they didn’t find Him. But they had told everyone who would listen to them, what they had experienced the day before…so let’s try some of those ‘rational’ explanations and see how they fare.
A guy hurries to his home in Tiberius and finds his friend, and says “Hey, wait’ll I tell you what happened. I saw a guy with a little boy’s lunch, and I was so inspired I shared my lunch, too”! Would YOU buy that?
How about “I went to see this guy, and a caravan came along and gave us all free food. Let’s go back and see if another caravan comes along”. Would you buy that one?
See, just because a supposedly intelligent person comes UP with a ‘theory’, doesn’t mean you have to believe it. I mean, in school they are teaching our kids that life on this planet just “happened”. That, way back in history, one day ‘life’ crawled out of a swamp of slimy stuff, and started changing into the great diversity of plants and animals we have now.
It seems to me that it takes a whole lot more faith to believe that life just ‘happened’, than it does to believe the Genesis account of Creation, which assumes an intelligent Creator and covers all the bases.
But anyway, the people who came back to where Jesus had been, didn’t find Him, and all those other people who had come UP from Tiberius had come in their boats, so everybody piled aboard, and headed off in the direction they had seen disciples going, and they found Jesus at Capernaum.
Okay, there’s a HUGE lesson right there! IF you make a serious effort to FIND Jesus, you WILL find Him!…just like all these people did!
But when they found Him, Jesus told them “You ONLY came looking for Me, because you ate of the bread and were filled”. Now, what does THAT do to Dr. Schweitzer’s theory that everyone only took a CRUMB? Jesus said they were FILLED. Now, who do you want to believe? Dr. Schweitzer, as great a man as he was? Or, Jesus, the Virgin-born Son of God?
No, Jesus said they came looking for him because they ate that bread and were satisfied with it…filled with it. And I would be willing to BET, if I were a gambling man, that the bread they ate the day before was the very BEST bread they had EVER eaten! After all, God Himself was the BAKER!
I would imagine, as they were eating and being filled, they kept on saying to one another “Oh MAN, this is GOOD bread”! And that’s why, the next morning, they all said “Let’s go back and get some more of that wonderful bread”!
So Jesus tells them “don’t labor for food that perishes” or, don’t waste your time trying to GET that which you cannot KEEP!
Remember back during the wilderness wandering, when the MANNA appeared every day…and the people would go out and gather what they could use, but if they wasted their time gathering MORE than they could use, the extra would just rot, and turn to slime. God wants us to depend on Him, day by day. That’s why we are taught to say “give us this day, our daily bread.”
Don’t waste your time trying to gain, that which you cannot keep. Instead find the food that lasts unto eternal life…and then He told them “The Son of Man will give you this food, because God has put His Seal of approval upon Him”.
But, in this huge crowd of people, most of them had no idea who this “Son of Man” was. They had only come here in the first place, because they had heard that Jesus could heal them…and then they had come BACK, because of that wonderful, and magical, bread He had fed them with.
So, because He told them not to work for ordinary bread, that will spoil, they assumed, humanly, that they must then have to work for this Food that endures forever. And they asked Him “Ok, what do we have to DO, in order to earn this food”?
See, that’s why people work…that has always been the reason people work…in order to earn those things they WANT, or NEED! And since Jesus had just told them NOT to work for ordinary bread, then they would assume that He means they have to work for this NEW bread too.
So they asked Him “What do we have to do”? And He told them, in verse 29, “THIS is the ONLY thing you CAN do: believe on the One whom God sent”. And by now these people must have some idea that He is talking about Himself. So they say “What SIGN are you going to show us, to convince us”?
Remember why they followed Him, all the way back to the desert, and then here to Capernaum, was because of the MIRACLE of the Loaves and Fishes. ALL these people had either HEARD about that miracle, or experienced it, first hand. But still they say “What NEW sign are you gonna show us”?
They said “Way back when, our ancestors were given bread from Heaven. How about YOU doing THAT? We’d like to have this great-tasting bread every day!”
That is what they are asking, but you can file that under “selective memory”. Their ancestors DID eat that bread from Heaven every day, but do you remember what they said about it? “Oh, how we HATE this LOATHSOME Manna!” And I can guarantee that if Jesus HAD given them this wonderful bread every day, they would soon have said the same thing.
“What? This same old bread again? Why can’t we have a BAGEL once in a while? Or maybe a PIZZA?” Physical food will never satisfy anyone for very long.
Tomorrow, go to McDonalds and have a Big Mac for your supper. Then the next day go to the Outback Steakhouse and have a 12 ounce sirloin. Which one was better? Sure, the sirloin was better than the hamburger, but the next day, what are you gonna do to find something better than the steak? Go to red lobster for their Shrimp Fest? That might be better than the steak, but where will you go for something still better?
That’s the problem with ordinary food…it never satisfies for very long. And we are constantly looking for something better. I’ve got a feeling…I can’t prove it…but I suspect that MANNA that fell every day, was pretty tasty stuff. After all, God Himself provided it. But after a while, no matter how good it was, the people started complaining. “We HATE this stuff! We want cucumbers…onions…all that good stuff we had back in Egypt. Sure, we were in SLAVERY, but we had FISH to eat!” Physical food, no matter how good it is, will never satisfy for long.
So Jesus told them “Moses didn’t provide the manna, God did”. The Jews tended to overlook the REAL cause of their blessings. They frequently claimed to be followers of MOSES, instead of followers of God. But Moses didn’t give them the Manna every day…Moses didn’t provide the quails every evening…or cause the waters of the Red Sea to part…or cause all those plagues to fall on Egypt. GOD did all that!
But still they would claim to be followers of Moses…but they weren’t really that, either…because Moses constantly pointed them back to God, and THEY constantly turned AWAY again.
And Jesus told this crowd “The Manna was Just physical food, it was necessary for preserving physical life. But My FATHER will give you the TRUE Bread from Heaven, which will give you ETERNAL life”!
That one statement, that “My Father”, should have told them WHO Jesus was, IF they had actually been listening to Him. But instead they were just interested in GETTING something FROM Him. Bread! Miracles! They didn’t seem too fussy, as long as they got SOMETHING!
But they weren’t listening, because FIRST He claimed that HE was the Son of God, and then He told them that the Bread from “Heaven (or Bread of God…both mean the same thing)…that Bread of Heaven wasn’t a WHAT, it was a HE!…a PERSON…or at least, a BEING!
And this PERSON, this LIVING BEING, was the One who would impart eternal life. And that GIVER of ETERNAL LIFE, was standing right in front of them. But they were too dense, or too filled with their own desires, to understand.
That was the problem. That has always BEEN the problem. They were simply not looking in the right way! They had their own preconceived ideas, concerning WHO it was that provided the manna…and WHAT they would see when Messiah finally arrived. But all their ideas were WRONG! They needed to look at things from a new perspective.
Back at the start of this message I told you about going into a toy store with my little nephew…and how I had been so focused on the ONE thing that I was looking for, and because of that, I MISSED the WONDER of the place…until I saw it again, through the eyes of a child.
That’s why Jesus told us “Unless YOU become like little children, you will not see the Kingdom of God”. Unless you’re willing to put away all your stale notions…and your insistence on rational explanations for EVERYthing that God has given us, to amaze us, and to show us WHO He IS…unless we can look at Jehovah God Almighty…and this incredible WORLD that He has given us…CREATED for us!…with the innocent eyes of little CHILDREN, you will MISS so MUCH!
The Bible tells us that Jesus came to us that we might have LIFE, and have it more ABUNDANTLY! But if you insist on trying to find RATIONAL explanations for the WONDERS of God…if you insist on laboring ONLY to feed your physical bodies, while your SPIRITS STARVE…then not only will you MISS that ABUNDANT life HERE…but you will be in danger of missing the ETERNAL life, THERE!…in HEAVEN!…where
Jesus Christ is RIGHT NOW preparing a PLACE, for us!
All those people gathered around Jesus said “Lord”…that’s not “LORD” in the sense of “GOD”. It’s just the POLITE way of addressing someone…like “Sir…give us this bread always”.
How aggravated God must get, when people refuse to understand…to even TRY to understand…when someone as gifted as Dr. Albert Schweitzer…musician…medical doctor…missionary…REFUSED to accept the MIRACLE of the Feeding of the 5000…the miracle to MULTIPLYING the insufficient loaves and fishes, and making them MORE than enough.
Then OTHER people, people who RESPECTED Dr. Schweitzer, would say “Well, he is a lot smarter than I am, so he MUST be right”!…and thereby MISS the JOY that God wants them to have!
Do not listen to ANY man, or woman, not to Dr. Schweitzer, not to ME…listen to God! God LOVES you!…loves you enough to send His Own Son, to DIE, in YOUR PLACE! It was YOU who should have been nailed to that Cross! It was ME who should have been nailed there…who should have been beaten nearly to death with the whip and then hung from that cross to die!
God wants you to believe in HIM…and by believing, to enjoy that abundant life NOW, in a world that has witnessed the MIRACLES of GOD!
Look at those miracles through the eyes of a little child, and be THRILLED, by simple Faith and Trust, at what God has done!
And now it’s necessary to offer a time of invitation…and let me begin by saying you are not here by accident today. You are here because Almighty God wanted you here. He wants to SPEAK to you, if you’re willing to listen! So can you hear Him telling you what to do? Are you really TRYING to hear Him, or trying hard NOT to hear?
Let’s ask the first and most basic question…are you SAVED? Are you SURE? Or do you know that you MUST be, and the opportunity FOR that is right here and right now?
And if you ARE Saved, have you SURRENDERED your life TO Him? Listen, if you were on a cross-country flight in a 747, who would you rather have at the controls? Yourself?…or an experienced pilot who knows how to fly that plane and bring it in for a safe landing?
Jesus Christ IS that experienced pilot. He knows how to guide your life, from your cradle to your grave, and then receive you into that special Heaven He has created FOR you.
He wants to lead YOU. So your invitation has to be…are you WILLING to LET Him?