“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he should do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were sat down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea. And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at land wither they went. The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save the one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus ministers to 5,000
“We are going to pick up in our Bible study in John chapter 6. I find it interesting that we are in this chapter, interesting because of just some of the experiences I had this week. I believe in my heart the Lord has some things he wants to pass on to us. Maybe there’s one, two or three of us here this morning that God wants to minister to, to our hearts. So I was even tempted, to be honest with you, because of the way the week has transpired, not to teach this morning, but to see if I could have someone fill in for me, but I continue to sense for certain reasons the Lord would have us look at John chapter 6 this morning together. So I was in the Hilton last night, as we have been in the Hilton in Manhattan, 12:30 at night thinking ‘I still got more studying to do, I’ve got meals to eat, I’ve got to travel to be here by 10 o’clock. And you know, you have those times, and you think ‘All right, well I’m going to call somebody else, and I’m going to sleep in, it’s been a long week.’ I tell you, if you’re bored, man, there’s plenty of ministry out there, that’s for sure, there’s a harvest field that you can jump in and have a good time, so if you’re bored, come talk to me after this service, because there’s an adventure to be lived, that’s for sure. But let’s begin with a word of prayer and we’re going to look at John chapter 6. ‘Lord I thank you that we can study your Word together. I thank you that you want to speak to our hearts. And of course, you have truths, maybe just a simple truth, from this message that you want to pass on to us individually. And I’d ask you Lord that you’d open our eyes and our hearts and our ears even now to receive your Word and to hear your voice speak to us. It’s amazing that you do that, Lord, that you speak to us all individually, you speak to us also corporately. But we ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, I ask that you’d direct and lead me as I share from your Word. And we do believe you are the giver of life, we do believe that you heal, and you deliver, and you give victory. But you give life, especially spiritual life, spiritual healing that can be found in you Jesus. So we thank you. So we pray these things in Jesus name. And I ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, upon even myself now, in Jesus name, amen.’
Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee, a multitude follow him
Let’s begin in John chapter 6, verse 1, “After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed him because they saw his signs which he performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. Now the passover, a feast of the Jews was near. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and seeing a great multitude coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?’ But this he said to test him for he himself knew what he would do.” Interesting passage, one that we’re certainly, many of us, familiar with. But Jesus has healed this lame man, you remember, just a tremendous miracle, this man had been lame for many years, and then there was this criticism because he did that on the sabbath, that he received from the Jewish leaders. And Jesus began to share certain truths, as we studied last week in John chapter 5. But now John says after these things, he goes up, he was in Jerusalem, he goes up from Jerusalem to the sea of Galilee, he crosses over the sea of Galilee, probably over to the north shore. We’re told in verse 2 that a great multitude has followed him, because they’ve seen the things that he’s done. He’s healed this lame man, he’s healed many others, we’re told different signs, John focuses on seven miracles, but he’s touched many lives and healed people. And because of that you can obviously understand there are people now that are captivated by Jesus, they’re intrigued by him. So they’re following him. I mean, if you brought your relative, maybe he was deaf, and you brought him to Jesus, this relative has been deaf all your life, you’ve interacted with him in that particular way. But then Jesus has healed him, and he’s come home, and now he can hear. You can only imagine the impact that would have upon you and upon your family. [The whole town would know very soon what happened, in reality.] The blind have come, the lame have come, folks with diseases of different sorts, and they’ve come and Jesus has touched them and he’s healed them. So there’s a lot of interest and intrigue in this man Jesus. But as we go on in this chapter, we’ll see it especially in our next study, yet there’s this captive audience, there’s this interest in Jesus, but that certainly isn’t enough because there’s a heart problem still with many of these people, and we’ll talk about that as we go on. But they’re captivated, they’re interested because of the healing that he’s done. Of course Jesus heals people even today. In some cases he heals them physically, many times, and most importantly he heals them spiritually. He heals families, he heals relationships, and with that there are people even now that are captivated and intrigued in Jesus [Hebrew: Yeshua, which means God saves] because of the work that they see him doing. But just to be captivated and intrigued and be a part of the crowd isn’t enough, that’s for sure. In fact, Jesus is looking for followers, he’s looking for disciples, and it’s not necessarily easy to be a follower and disciple of Jesus. Jesus said “Pick up your cross and follow me”, and that’s what it’s all about, picking up your cross and following Jesus. [Comment: Following Jesus might seem like a nebulous term to most folks on the street. That statement, doesn’t mean much, until you put it in context with what he wants to do with you as you follow him. And when it’s all said and done, you’ve lived a life of following Jesus, what then? Was that training for something else? What do the disciples of Jesus become? Well the 12 apostles are going to become 12 kings, one over each of the 12 tribes of Israel. What’s the overall future plan of God all about, anyway? What’s in it for us? For a glimpse, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm and read through Jesus’ plan for us and our immediate future under him and with him after he returns to earth. Following Jesus is training for something far bigger than we ever imagined.] Not just watching and being part of the crowd, but being a follower, being a disciple of Jesus Christ isn’t easy. You know, I think of that, and Jesus will go on into what that means as we continue in the text later next time. But as we were in New York City we had devotions each morning, pretty amazing to be part of. In fact, the first morning, you know there’s been a lot of planning, I’ve been going down to New York City now, I don’t know how many times I’ve been down there since September 11th. But it’s a long drive, on Friday mornings I’d get up, drive down, be part of a two-hour meeting, and make decisions with the folks that were planning this Festival of Life, and then drive back. And then usually on Fridays, if you’ve done that drive from New York City, you get caught in the traffic coming back, so it takes forever to get back. I’ll be honest with you, there are a number of times I really didn’t want to go, I had other things I’d rather do. But then being there the first morning, and seeing the people, and being in the devotional, and seeing 800 people in a room worshipping the Lord. And I even said to some, I said “This would be a great outreach, right here in this room, 800 people.” But this was our evangelistic team. And we had 1500 people. Some of you that were part of those morning devotionals just knew the thrill of being there, and realizing ‘This is our street team, this is our team, right here, hundreds and hundreds of people now that are going to disperse into New York City. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/1.htm.] Seeing that, that was exciting. And I knew certainly at that point and throughout the week, it was all worth whatever time and investment we made as a church, no doubt about it, because the Lord has a plan and the Lord is working. But at times it isn’t easy to follow Jesus, and it’s a sacrifice. Well at one of these devotionals, the president for Firefighters for Christ, John White, just a powerful man, powerful man in the spirit, shared some truths and experiences that he had in his life. But one particular experience was his experience on September 11th. This particular man was earlier that morning at the hospital. His grandson had been in a car accident. And in being in this car accident, his grandson was really injured badly. In fact, as he was at the hospital that morning, his grandson had part of his skull removed, as they were trying to save this young boy’s life. And he left the hospital, and you can only imagine the manner in which he left the hospital as a grandfather, I can only imagine as a father, grieving, ‘Lord, what is going on? Why is all this taking place?’, goes home and turns on the television, and lo and behold there’s the World Trade Center on fire, all that disaster. Many firefighters died, and he was the president of Firefighters for Christ. And he said and he shared with us, he says, very difficult morning, why was it all happening, but he saw these Towers come down. He says, “Now I know Lord why you’d have me have this experience.” I mean, God is sovereign, he works so many different things in different ways. But he says “I know he had me at this position this morning so I can now go and love these people in New York City, and really grieve with them, and reach out to them, and extend love to them.” But he said “It’s not easy to follow Jesus.” At times there are things he allows in our lives [yeah, I know], struggles and trials and tests. And as Jesus goes on, he’s got a multitude right now, but as we finally get to the end of the chapter he’s going to thin out this crowd as he begins to share some words about being a disciple, and being a follower of Jesus Christ. And I hope every one of us in this room this morning is a follower and a disciple of Jesus Christ, somebody whose serious about this. Man the time is short, this isn’t something to be flippant about. This isn’t something to be casual about. This is serious business following Jesus, and I hope it’s serious to you and me. Well, this president for Firefighters for Christ would go to New York City and was able to minister to people very powerfully, and of course God has worked in his grandson and brought healing and things too. But no, it isn’t easy, it isn’t easy to follow Jesus. Of course he gives us the grace, gives us the strength. Well there’s this multitude. They’re there because of the signs [miracles], he’s healed many and touched their lives. I was ministering, we as a church were assigned the responsibility of follow-up for this crusade, this evangelistic crusade. [apologies to our Messianic brothers and sisters in Yeshua for that term “crusade”. Most Gentile Christians do not understand the painful significance and meaning that word has for Jewish people.] There were all sorts of events during the day in different parks. We were involved with one yesterday in Inwood Park in northern Manhattan. But also at Centennial Hall, Mike would preach the gospel, we had anointed there this tremendous group, gospel group, The Cry was there, Michelle Tombs, different artists, there were professional skate-boarders and professional BMX folks, all sorts of people there to minister and encourage people and give testimony. But Mike would preach the gospel. And we were given the responsibility of doing the altar call, the follow-up, and just organizing that, making sure things went well so that the folks that made a decision for Christ could be connected especially to churches if possible, and could be encouraged and ministered to. Well, anyway I was sitting down with one individual that came forward. It turns out he was homeless, him and his girl-friend. I asked for the address, we had a little card and we’d get an address from them, and he didn’t have an address, he was homeless. And he told me that in his past years and months he had sought God at times, and he’d get plugged into a church and life would go a little bit better, but then he’d kind of get distracted and do his own thing, and now he’s at the point of being homeless, no job, fruit of a lot of bad decisions. And he was briefly attending a church in New York City, but the pastor sat down with him and said ‘OK, we’re going to help you, but we’re going to find you a place to live down in New Jersey, we’ve got a place, we’ve got a place for your girl-friend in Manhattan’, and that bothered him. He said ‘I wasn’t willing to do that, I wasn’t willing to separate from my girl-friend.’ And this church was just trying to help, and get him a place to live and get him eventually a job. Well, anyway here he was in a tough place, and I said “Hey, listen, if you’re gonna follow Jesus, I mean, you’ve got to count the cost. And you’re making a mess of your life, and you’re not doing a very good job. God is going to take care of you. Seek first his kingdom, and all these things will be added unto you. But seek first his kingdom. Whatever he’s gonna require of you, just go and do. But walk in the blessing of that. I mean, you’re making a mess of your life. Things aren’t going well. Yeah, you can do your own deal, make your own decisions, or you can follow Jesus. And maybe there will be things you won’t like, and maybe there will be things that will be difficult, but believe me it will be lot better in the end, because God does what’s best for you, that is for sure.” And it’s true of every one of us here this morning. God certainly knows best. Well Jesus, we’re told, as he’s crossed the sea of Galilee with his disciples, he goes up on the mountain and there he sits with his disciples. The first time I went to Israel with 50 pastors, we went to this area on the north shore. In fact our last time to Israel we went over there also. All the places supposedly that Jesus visited, well of course he visited, but there’s these supposed sites today where people have put up a monument, and said “Jesus fed the 5,000 here”, you can actually go to a place and see a monument that one religious group or another has raised up, a monument saying “Jesus actually did it here, he fed the 5,000 here.” But not too far from there is a place where we go, it’s interesting because we know at this time Jesus also addresses the multitude as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount, so there is an area on that side of the sea of Galilee where the land is kind of shaped in a certain way, and we had a Bible study there once, and it makes a great theater, just a natural theater [amphitheater] as you sit there and look over the water. And it’s very possible that Jesus was in that area at this time, had the many seated there in this area, as he preached with the mountains around him, just the natural geography as it is, he could preach potentially to thousands because of that natural amphitheater that exists there on the northern shore of the sea of Galilee. We’re told in verse 4 “That the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near”. Now Jesus sees the multitude coming, and they’re following him for the wrong reason, they’re following him because he’s touching lives, and they’re captivated by that, and as we go on, it isn’t because they want to be followers of Jesus Christ. Most of them are following just because of, well, he’s a miracle-worker in their eyes, and they’re intrigued. But even though that’s really the issue at heart with them, Jesus sees this multitude coming and he still has compassion upon them.
“Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?”
And we’re told there in verse 5 that he turns to Philip and he says “Where shall we buy bread that these people may eat?” There’s thousands, yet Jesus wants to feed them, Jesus wants to minister to them. Of course, in that place, and maybe it’s been a long journey for many of them, maybe they’ve been there for a period of time, they’re going to be there for a period of time, Jesus knows they’re going to need to be fed, there’s a practical need. So Jesus cares for them, he has concern for them, wants to provide for their needs. So he turns to Philip and he poses this question. But just the compassion of Jesus, even knowing that, you know, ‘They’re not really seeking me for the right reason’, but yet he wants to minister to them. Something always to remind myself of, the compassion, the grace of Jesus. I saw my pastor last night, doing an alter call at the 2nd, well there were three services yesterday at Centennial Hall. The 3rd one, you know everyone’s tired. But as the week went on, the 2nd service, the late service, man, people were jumping ship and we had a smaller and smaller crew to do it with, people wanted to go home. But my pastor would be there and be teaching, and there at the end of the service, 11 o’clock or whatever it was, this one particular guy, a hippy-looking guy came forward, and my pastor was sharing the gospel, and they prayed to receive Christ. But then my pastor got down on his knees and actually grabbed a hold of the hands of this hippy and began to pray with him. I don’t know what he prayed with him, but just began to minister to him, just had love for this particular man. I know my pastor at one time was a hippy himself, and a drug addict, and this man clearly, as he went off to be counseled, I mean he had some kind of drug or alcohol background, that was clear. But my pastor just began to love him, and join hands and just pray with him for a little while as we all just stood there, thousands watching. You know, 2,000 or so in this building, watching my pastor pray with him. [his pastor is the head of this denomination] But just his compassion, even for just the hurting and the needy. I know, the night before, doing the alter call, there were some interesting characters that came forward, that’s for sure. In fact, it was a strange night. It was a really strange night. I was wondering what in the world was going on in the first service. [Comment: Have you ever noticed, they’re in a huge metropolitan city, the City of New York, the financial capital of the world (so far, that is). It is filled with the rich and famous, the super-rich and super-famous. But just who is the Father drawing to Jesus? Let’s read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 to see why this is happening, and usually is the harvest field the Lord most often works in. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.” The Father doesn’t always draw from this harvest field, but most of the time he does.] MJ and I even prayed for a lady, and I knew something was wrong when this lady called me over, and I had the pastor badge on, and we told counselors, “If you need help, there’s pastors around, we can come help you.” I guess she needed help, it was clear she needed help when I got involved. But she came over and said ‘Hey, can you come over here. So sat down and she said “You know, can you pray for this particular lady” and I said, “Yeah, I can pray for her.” I said, “Alright, we’ll just pray for you, Mam.” And I knew something was up when she said “Do you mean I have to roll around on the ground?” And I said “What do you mean, got to roll around on the ground?” Well I understood as we went on, what she meant. Poor lady, poor lady, you can pray for her. We prayed for her for awhile, but there was so much going on that we only had so much time. But this lady wanted deliverance, man, she wanted help. But every time she seeks God, I believe in demonic possession, and maybe this lady was demon possessed, but something was going on. I know the mind is powerful too, but she got all fearful, “Pray for me, I want to be near God, I want to do the right thing, but whenever I do it I start to shake, I start to convulse, I start to roll around on the ground.” And I said “OK.” I shared with her some Scriptures and stuff, and my pastor and I began to pray for her, and sure enough, this lady started to convulse. And it wasn’t that, I mean, she wasn’t doing it, that’s for sure. This lady was convulsing, it was very bizarre. And then she began to kind of, it was strange what was coming out of her mouth too. But we began to minister to her, I knew we needed other people, so grabbed another pastor, and began to pray for her. And then, you know, needing to go on to the next service, we finished the time with her, and I know she was encouraged, but you can continue to pray for her. I wish I had more time with her, to be honest with you. But anyway, there were different characters, and some of them were bizarre, some of them were just distractions, they had groups ministering to them, just strange. I left that night and I went to the hotel, and I was wondering ‘What in the world was going on tonight?’ You know, it was strange, bizarre. But the Lord ministered to my heart and he said, “Hey, some of these individuals were that way tonight, but who knows what they’ll be like a year from now. You prayed for them, you ministered to them. I’m a God that can touch lives, I can change lives. Maybe they’re struggling today in one way or another, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be that way a year from now.” And the Lord just reminded me, “Just love people, just love people [“and I’ll do the rest”]. Maybe they’re peculiar, maybe they have struggles and whatever, but love ‘em and just love ‘em and pray for them, and encourage them.”
A lesson for the disciples
Well, Jesus lifted up his eyes, he sees these people coming, and in this case, he knows they have the wrong motives and whatever, but yet he wants to meet their need, and he turns to Philip and he says to Philip “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?” Now as we go on and see Philip’s response, verse 6, Jesus, of course, could have just fed them. He could have just done what he was going to do. He performs a miracle, he could have just gone on and done it. But instead he poses the question to Philip. And we’re told in verse 6, he does this to test his heart. It says in verse 6, “But this he said to him, for he knew in himself what he would do, but he said this to test him.” ‘Philip, where shall be buy bread, that these may eat?’ Now Philip’s answer later, clearly, he’s wondering how this can possibly be done? I mean, there’s a multitude. In verse 7 we’ll read it, “Philip answered and said, 200 dinari worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone of them may have a little.” 200 dinari is 200 days’ wage. So take your average wage in our community this year for an individual and divide it into 2/3rds and that was what he was calculating it would take to feed this multitude, and take care of them for this particular meal on this particular afternoon. Now Jesus could have just done the work, but Jesus tested him and asked him ‘Where shall we get this bread?’ ‘How can we do this, Philip? What do you think?’ Now, I know I read that, and I know God does the same in our lives, that’s for sure as Christians [or Messianic believers in Yeshua], man, there’s no doubt. Jesus’ concern is the multitudes, but also especially he spends time with these 12 disciples, he’s ministering especially to them. His concern is their hearts, their growth, their maturity, their understanding, their belief, their faith, their comprehension of who he is, their willingness to follow him and to yield to him, and to trust him. That was especially his concern, and so he uses the opportunity to just teach Philip and the disciples some powerful things, some important things. ‘But how can we do this?’ Philip at this point doesn’t even, well, he’s not sure. In the human realm of things and financial budget of things, how can this take place? Well he doesn’t understand and he doesn’t know. But Jesus is testing his heart. You know I, seeing this Festival of Life, and where it began with just one or two people with their desire to minister to New York City, then seeing the budget that really we had in the congregations that got together and met, not a very big budget to do a crusade [again, apologies to our Messianic brothers for that word] in New York City, that’s for sure. And then to see how there was a vision to reach out to many different communities throughout the city, throughout the days, with very little means financially to do it. But yet there was a belief that God wanted to work. And then as we were even there this week, so many things God just provided, from food, to videos, to CD’s, to flyers printed at very cheap cost, I just couldn’t tell you all the things that were provided to reach out to tens of thousands of people. And yet, there was a very small budget to begin with, a very small team that met there in Manhattan each Friday night, there was just, each Friday afternoon there was just twenty of us meeting trying to determine how this could take place. But yet in the end when God brought fifteen hundred from around the country, and he had this donated. In fact, we went to a place in East Harlem yesterday, and there were 18-wheelers filled with food that was brought from the Conway of Hope Ministry to donate to this particular neighborhood in East Harlem. But God took a little, and when it was done there was so much, there was just this tremendous work that God did. I’m thankful there was Joe P, and Al C, and Victor N, some people willing to step out in faith to see what God would do. And I know the Lord comes to us even here in our community, and says “Well, what will you trust me for?” And we can come up with maybe the excuse that we don’t have the time, or maybe we don’t have the financial budget in our church. But you know again, those things just don’t make any difference. It’s God and what he wants to do, it’s his power, it’s his work. And what are we willing to trust him for? What are we willing to step out and do as maybe he puts desires and things upon our hearts. God can do great things, that’s for sure. And he does that here. He poses the question just to test their hearts. You know, Philip might have been reaching into his pockets, saying, ‘Well I got this, and that certainly isn’t enough. I don’t have this, I don’t have that, this just isn’t going to work, so I don’t know.’ And we can do that too. I’ll be honest with you, God has done a work in me, and there are times I met even with different pastors at different times to do outreaches, and it always bothers me when people bring up ‘Well we don’t have enough money.’ And that’s what happens here, he says ‘We don’t have enough money.’ And money’s never the issue, that’s for sure. God has ten thousand cattle on a thousand hills. Well Philip gives the answer, says ‘This wouldn’t even be enough.’ But then we have Andrew in verse 8, one of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother said to him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” Now Andrew at least has taken assessment and said ‘Well we’ve got this. We’ve got a boy, we’ve got just a few fish, two small fish, we’ve got five barley loaves.’ He’s taken an assessment, he’s probably an administrative organizer kind of person. But then he says “But what is that amongst so many?” ‘Not very much resource, what is that going to do?’ Well then maybe you remember, as we read on, what Jesus does with it. “Jesus says ‘Make the people sit down. Now there was much grass in the place, so the men sat down in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks he distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down. And likewise the fish as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, he said to his disciples ‘Gather up the fragments that remain so that nothing is lost.’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments of the five barely loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said ‘This is truly the prophet who is come in to the world.’” (verses 10-14) Well, this little boy is brought, Jesus takes what he has, has the people sit down, very orderly, and then in an amazing way he starts to just take the bread and take the fish and divide it up. First of course, he gives thanks, raises it before God and gives thanks, of course showing that God is the one that provides. And then he begins to distribute it to the disciples. And they just keep taking pieces from him, and they just continue to do it, and they go from one individual to another, to another individual to another individual to another individual, after 100, and then 500, then a thousand, and then we’re told there was 5,000 men. So there’s a multitude that is there. And then in the end, to show the miracle further, Jesus then has them gather the fragments. And in an interesting way, we’re told that there are 12 baskets, I mean, one for each disciple. He takes that little bit that boy had, he multiplies it, and then even the scraps that are left, there’s blessing for the disciples. Maybe they went home with these scraps, I mean, 12 baskets. It’s interesting that there’s 12. But just a multitude of blessing. A multitude of multiplication, the power of God working through these disciples as they then allow Jesus to minister through them. Just amazing what the Lord did. Even they get blessed in the end, no doubt about it. They’re pretty excited, verse 14, those men, that is the disciples, they knew, they saw that this was then this prophet, this was the Messiah, Deuteronomy, you know, Moses referring to this one that would follow him, a Prophet, the Messiah would come. So they understood that all the more this was the Messiah. You know, being in New York City, and seeing God work in the way he did, I tell you, I come back, little tired this morning, but I come back and I’m just blessed to see what the Lord did, encouraged, focused more on ‘What are we going to do in our own community?’ Seeing the fifty from our church yesterday on the bus as we drove up to northern Manhattan, and saying ‘This is cool, Lord, I thank you just to be part of this. And man, what are you going to do in our own congregation? What are you going to do in our own lives?’, just thinking those thoughts as we spent the time there together, and ministering in the park there where we were ministering in. So, the disciples, man, God works through them, and of course they’re blessed as a result.
Jesus can get you through any storm in life, his eyes are upon us
Verses 15-21, “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he departed again to the mountain by himself alone. Now when evening came his disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat, and they were afraid. But he said to them, ‘It is I, do not be afraid.’ Then they willingly received him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” Well now this multitude wants to make him king, for of course their own purposes. Jesus perceives that and he’s not going to allow them to take him, I mean, he is already the King of kings, and he’s not going to be some puppet for the people, that’s for sure. So he leaves and departs, we’re told he goes to a mountain by himself alone. When evening comes, verse 16, the disciples now go down to the sea, and they go into the boat to cross over to Capernaum. [Comment: these are real rugged fishermen-sailors, not afraid to set out to sea at night. Storms, fierce ones, could crop up very suddenly on Galilee, a “Sea” that had a depth in certain places of 1,300 feet, allowing huge waves to form on its surface when the wind really blew.] But as they are on their way, it’s dark, it’s evening, Jesus isn’t with them. We’re told then in verse 18 that the sea begins to arise, the waves begin to form, as the wind begins to blow down through the mountains. And it does there on the Sea of Galilee, just the way the mountains are. Man, a storm can come up real quickly. I remember the first time going across the Sea of Galilee in a boat, and it was just picture perfect, it was like glass, and we didn’t get halfway across when there were choppy waves. Just the wind can come down very quickly off of Mount Herman and just blow right through there. And so the waves can build up, and there can be some tremendous storms. So the disciples cross and they get caught in one of these storms, and they begin to struggle. And we see even in the other Gospels, they struggle hard, rowing, trying to cross, there’s desperation, things aren’t going very well. They intended to get across, in fact, they were even led by the Lord to go across. But now there’s this storm and things aren’t going as they had hoped. We’re told they row about four or five miles, they’re basically in the middle of the Sea at this point. And they see Jesus coming to them, and Jesus appears to them, and as Jesus draws near to them, we’re told that they are afraid, they don’t understand. In fact, we’re told in the other Gospels they think he’s a ghost. And this of course, if you look at the other Gospels, this was another test that he was allowing into their lives, just this storm to test them, so they could see what was in their hearts. And they could then realize as he comes and delivers them, and gets them through this storm, that they could then learn that, man, he could get them through any storm in life. He certainly can deliver them from any battle, that is for sure. At the Festival of Life there was a particular wife that shared her testimony each night at Centennial Hall. She was married to Al Bracka, you maybe read his story in the CC magazine. And her husband Al Bracka worked for Cana Fitzgerald on the 104th, 105th floor as a stock broker, had many people working for him, had a plush job. He didn’t like his job, really had a heart to minister, and especially minister to kids. But he felt called to be there, so he would continue to work in this mid-town Manhattan, certainly a coveted job by many. But then on September 11th, he died as those Towers came down. Well anyway, his wife shared each night her story at the Festival of Life, and basically her story was, “You know, I’ve had this experience, I’ve lost my husband, I’ve had other experiences, it’s been very difficult. But I want you to know” she said, “that Christ has given me strength.” She says “He filled my heart with peace, I have purpose, I have hope, I have direction in my life.” She even shared how God was preparing her for this experience, but yet she was able to share the hope that she had in Jesus Christ with people in New York City, people grieving, people struggling. She knew that Christ was with her. [The Twin Trade Towers came down on September 11th, 2001. This Festival of Life took place late August 2002. The date this sermon was given was September 1, 2002. So memories in New York City were still quite vivid, and people were still grieving and struggling to cope with personal loss.] And with that, she still had this peace, this sense of direction, and just meaning to her life. Well, she shared that because of course there were many New Yorkers that don’t have that in their lives, and many New Yorkers that have gone through very difficult experiences. In fact, one particular young man shared, a pro-skate-boarder, had a suicide happened in his family, and then after September 11th, because of the desperation, because of the suffering in his family, he shared, there was a total of 13 suicides that came from that one suicide, just in desperation, people that knew that individual that then committed suicide. And then because of September 11th, and just overwhelmed, committed suicide, and 13 suicides last year that he knew of, related, he knew these people in different places. Just didn’t have hope in their lives. Going through difficult trials and difficult storms, but no hope. And she was sharing, and he was sharing that there is hope in Jesus Christ. That’s the only place for hope. He will get us through any storm, and of course is with us, has his eyes certainly upon us. No doubt he has his eyes upon you this morning, man. He knows where you’re at, he knows what you’re going through, and he can minister to any need, he can get us through any trial, any tribulation. In fact, he’ll work it all to good in our lives. And he does this in their lives even here. But the Lord’s eye is upon us, man, he knows where you’re at. We’re told in the other Gospels that when they’re out on the water, Jesus saw them, he knew what they were going through completely, it was no surprise. And he had a perfect plan, he was going to use it to his glory. And I take comfort in my life, you know. Sometimes I have difficult experiences, but yet I know the Lord is with me, and he’s got his eye upon me. We had experiences in New York City, man, where, you know, you just have that sense, the Lord is with us, he’s just kind of pointing us along, just watching us, taking care of us, keeping us out of trouble, looking out for us. There was one particular time, this happened a couple of times, the group I was with, we talked to other people about it, and they said “You know, we had the same experience.” But there was one time, a group of us got on the wrong subway, and as we got on the wrong subway, we didn’t know we got on the wrong subway, but this guy we did not know came up and stopped the doors from closing, and he said “You’re on the wrong subway.” And we’re like, “We’re on the wrong subway? OK, well we’ll get off.” So we got off, started to talk to this individual, and in fact, it was interesting, it was a God-thing, he had been given a flier about the Festival of Life, but we didn’t know this guy, we weren’t talking to this guy, but he just happened to know we were on the wrong subway and told us. [Comment: I had this very same type of experience while on a two-day photo-research trip to Rhode Island, first in Newport, and then in Westerly, Rhode Island, while I was researching and talking photographs for the article on “Sabbatarian Churches of God in Rhode Island, Our Heritage” (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/historycog1.htm.) It was really freaky, people popped up right at the right time, giving directions, inviting us into ancient Sabbatarian church buildings. At one point, a former tour-guide, very nice man, was walking by as I got out of my car. I simply asked him if he knew where a certain building was. He not only showed me where it was, but gave me the history, and showed me other significant building locations, as well as where the important Sabbatarian graveyard was and how to get there. I had no idea he was a former tour-guide for Newport until we got talking, but God knew and timed his walk past my car perfectly. He saved me hours of wandering. A similar thing happened in Westerly Rhode Island, another major Sabbatarian Church of God city of the 1600s. What might have taken four days of bouncing around, took about a day and a half actually in Rhode Island, without any wasted trips back and forth or getting lost in a major way. And I did get lost a few times. God was working, for sure, God was watching, and looking out for me.] Nice individual. But as I began to talk to him, he told me as we started to talk, he started to talk about September 11th, he shared with me how he had seen things, he said, “which I wished I had never seen, because I’ve not been the same.” Very troubled, and I only had a little bit of time to talk to him and minister to him, and had to get on another subway, which he directed us to, told us “This is the one you want to be on.” That happened to us a couple times, you know, where Jesus was just leading us, taking care of us. A lot of people had stories like that as we were in New York City. But seeing this man, and his trial, his tribulation, not knowing necessarily where to turn. But man, it’s Jesus Christ, and that’s what we were trying to tell him and all the people in New York City. But the Lord’s eye, man, his eyes are upon us, he’s there with us. Just the grace of God, man. Indeed, I can tell you a lot of stories, and my mind, you can tell, I’m rambling, just sharing from the heart this morning. I’ve got a couple stories, and I’m wondering if I should even share them. Well I’ll share one story with you that Mike McIntosh shared about just the love of God, his eye being upon us, you know, watching us, just his love and grace. As the Towers were on fire there in New York City on September 11th, one particular man in another building, a building right next to the World Trade Center, was at work and his building, because of the fire of the plane crash in the first Tower, his building was evacuated. And so he left the building, and as a Christian man was there now in the streets looking at the World Trade Center on fire, but yet he felt compelled to go back into the building, and wrestled with the thought for a moment, and I’m not sure how he did it, but he decided to go back into this building which they were told to leave, because right next to their building was one of the tallest buildings in the world on fire. So he went back into the building, went up, he was quite a ways up into the building a good number of floors, and went into the office he had, and there looked over out the window at the World Trade Center, just watched it on fire. But Mike was sharing that this man told the story that as he stood there something caught his eye, and it turns out it was a person that had jumped from the Tower, so he began to pray for this person obviously, and began to continue to pray, and as he stood there 51 people jumped from the World Trade Center, he counted 51 different people jumping off. But the interesting thing to consider, as Mike was saying, it was if God had sent somebody up into the building next to the Tower to pray at that moment, to pray for these people. I mean, God was doing all kinds of things as we hear different stories. God ministering, God having people pray for people who are in a desperate point in their lives, jumping from buildings. Yet there is a Christian we hear about standing in a building watching it very close, and just praying and crying out to God for these individuals. Interesting to hear stories about that now. But God knew obviously all that was going on. Knew all the difficulties, knew the crisis people were in, the trials, and yet he had people praying, people interceding, and in interesting ways. [Jesus said somewhere else, that God knows when a sparrow falls.] And here the disciples are struggling, and yet Jesus’ eyes are right on them, and he comes out just at that right time. And I tell you, sometimes, he lets it go a long way before he appears and delivers us. But he’s got the whole situation under control. And maybe that’s what you need to be reminded of this morning. Lets just read a few more verses that here have the gospel message, and we’ll conclude our time together.
The people want an everlasting supply of physical food, Jesus is offering them and everylasting supply of spiritual food and drink
“On the following day the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there except the one which his disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but his disciples had gone away alone. However other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks. When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they also got into the boats and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus.” (verses 22-24) So people are wondering the next day, ‘How did Jesus get on the other side of the lake?’ I mean, he walked across, that’s why they’re having a hard time figuring this one out. Verses 25-40, “And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, you seek me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you because God the Father has set his seal on him.’ Then they said to him, ‘What shall we do that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.’ Therefore they said to him, ‘What sign will you perform then that we may see it, and believe you? What work will you do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ Then they said to him, ‘Lord give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out. For I’ve come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all he has given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of him who sent me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Well as they ask Jesus, ‘Rabbi when’d you get here, how did you get here anyway? We don’t understand how you did it.’ Of course, it was miraculous, that’s why. Jesus answers them and he says, and he uses the opportunity to speak again right to their hearts. He says there are some who seek him because of the signs, but they were seeking him because they were fed, he provided food for them and gave them this temporary filling. But he says then, ‘Don’t labor for such temporary things, for food that perishes, for food that doesn’t endure to everlasting life. But the food which does endure is food that I give, and I’ll give to you.’ And God the Father has set his seal on him, he says there in verse 27. And then they say ‘What do we do, how do we get this food? What work do I need to do, what do I need to perform in order to get this food?’ [Comment: The people are still thinking on physical terms when they ask this question. Sort of like, ‘Lord, where can I get this kind of food, that when I take it out of the freezer, what I take out will instantly be multiplied, so the freezer remains full?’ They had witnessed physical food being multiplied right as it was being broken off the five loaves and two fish, so they were still thinking on physical terms of replenishment. Working for food, and to replenish it is a major concern for humans, both back then and even now for over two thirds of the world’s population. So their question still concerns the physical multiplication of food.] ‘Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the only work, this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.’ You want the food, you want eternal life, you want to be satisfied, he says ‘All you’ve got to do is believe.’ That’s it, believe in him. Of course that’s faith, that’s a real faith, that’s a trust, believe in him, put your trust in him, and those that do that, that’s it. Salvation is by grace through faith. Well they say, interesting, verse 30, I mean they’ve seen miracles already and they respond ‘What sign will you perform then that we may see it and believe you?’ I mean, they’ve seen plenty already. ‘What work will you do?’ Now, as we see there, they refer to some of the rabbi’s teaching of that day, that is, that the Messiah when he came would also bring manna down from heaven. So they say ‘Our fathers ate the manna in the desert, and it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ He says, ‘Well, I tell you, Moses didn’t give them the bread, but God fed them from heaven. But the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ And they say ‘Lord,’ just like the Samaritan woman, ‘we want this.’ He says ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you, you have seen me and yet you don’t believe. But those who do, the Father will draw them, and those who believe, he says, I’ll by no means cast out.’ Anybody that comes to me I will receive, not only will I receive them, they’re not going to ever be lost, I’m going to keep them. And then in verse 40, ‘This is the will of God, he said, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life, and I’ll raise him up at the last day.’ Well, he says, don’t look for the temporary things, don’t waste your time seeking those things, and trying to be satisfied, and to fulfill your life with those things, don’t get caught up in that, but seek what is eternal, and that is Jesus Christ the Bread of Life. [Comment: Look up and read Matthew 6:25-33, esp. verse 33.] Let’s close in prayer….[transcript of a sermon on John 6:1-40, given somewhere in New England.]