Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More than we can ever comprehend

In John 6: 1-15, Jesus does something that simply blows our mind. 

It reads. 
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.It's a miracle that if we've ever encountered, we're never the same. The crowds were gathered once again because of the signs He has shown, including healing the sick. Jesus has gone up on the mountainside and is sitting with His disciples. We realize the Jewish Passover Feast is near and Jesus sees the crowds and says to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" We know from the text that this was asked only to test him. But imagine being Philip for a moment. There you are with this crowd gathered around you and you know after their travels toward the feast, they have to be getting hungry. Your heart goes out to them. There's nothing that tugs on my heart more than someone without food. It's why we offer food banks, serve at soup kitchens, and find ways to feed the hungry. But as you listen to the words Jesus is saying, your heart sinks. You start to feel as though there's no way possible you're going to make it happen. As Philip goes on to say, it'd take a half years wages and even then it would only give them a bite.
If we're like most, we like to get a bang for our buck, a bargain for our dollar. This bite seems too little for such a grand investment. Others speak up and if we're in Philip's shoes, we feel sort of a relief. But then they bring a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish. We're probably thinking to ourselves, that's too little to even make any type of impact. But if we have paid attention at all, we may very well realize Jesus is up to something beyond our comprehension.  Jesus goes on to say, have the people sit down. Now the passage notes 5,000 men were there, but we have to consider women and children as well. So we're talking more along the lines of 10,000. We might ask why that's important and in the following verses, our mind gets blown and we continue to see and perhaps even more clearly now that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. Notice in these verses how He takes the bread and fish and gives thanks. What a tremendous lesson in being thankful.
We often see the little that we have and we gripe and complain, wishing we had more. But Jesus sets the example and says to us, give thanks in the little things. There's only five loaves of bread and two fish, but be thankful and be a witness to what God can do.
I'll share an example from my own life. I've served prior years as a youth pastor and one of our priorities was to see that the youth were fed. It was a way to appreciate the hard work of their parents and offer them a night off from cooking if you will. One particular night, we were extremely blessed with a significant attendance. The problem was we knew we didn't have enough food. Our youth team gathered in prayer and we asked God to provide. This is where it became more than we could ever comprehend. We stood there and watched the youth take all the food they wanted, even coming back through the line a second or third time, and there were still leftovers.
God tell us he will provide. We simply trust and thank and ask Him for provision. We read on in this passage and find the disciples collecting twelve large baskets of leftover pieces of bread. This crowd had it's fill in food but even more so, they have their fill spiritually in what God provides as the Bread of Life. He is sufficient. He will meet our needs. We step aside and let God. We no longer worry or stress. We do our part in thanking Him and trusting Him and following Him closely. It may not be the miracle we were expecting, but what comes out of little is always more than we can ever comprehend. This kind of extravagant love cannot and should not be contained. It needs to overflow from our lives to the corners of the earth. We may not always agree but we can always love.

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