Hello again, if you’re following Lumber City Baptist Church youth’s journey through Finding I AM by Lysa TerKeurst! 🙂
Today’s blog focuses on the feeding of the 5,000–a miracle that’s recorded in all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry (John 6:1-15, Mark 6:30-42, 49-52). As I was reading the Scripture passages and reviewing my participant guide answers from a year ago, the following points became salient in my mind.
- Sometimes, we follow Jesus for our gain and not His glory.
After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias.A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. John 6:1-2
I know I’m specifically guilty of this. I treat Jesus like a genie, always bombarding Him with my “list” of things that I need and want. The majority of my prayers seem to go something like this: “Dear God, thank You for this day and everything You’ve given me… please be with my family and friends and keep us all safe. Please be with the people that I support in my city, state, country, and overseas. Please help me find motivation to do homework. Please be with my friend who just had surgery and alleviate the pain that he is feeling,” etc etc.
It’s almost like I’m saying: “Dear God, thank You for this day and everything You’ve given me… and oh by the way, give me some more while You’re at it.”
I was hit with such conviction in this study that I don’t take the time to just be present with God, to sit at His feet, to revel and marvel at His Words to me. It’s certainly not a bad thing to bring our needs before God, but if that’s the first thing that we do each time we pray, our priorities are misaligned. Sometimes, I follow Jesus for my gain and not His glory. One of my connect group members made such a simple yet profound statement last Monday night. She said, “I’m not my own anymore. I gave that up.” We gave up our lives, our old selves, the day that we accepted salvation, and that old part of ourselves, our flesh, was crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6). In turn, we should follow Jesus and do His will for our lives in order to spread the good news of salvation to those who have not heard or have not accepted, not follow Him to selfishly gain!
2. We go through the motions, miss Jesus, and miss the miracle.
Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up.“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. John 6:3-13
The saddest part to me about this section of Scripture is the doubt experienced by the disciples. They had been with Jesus in ministry, seen His prior miracles, and yet still doubted that He could handle feeding the 5,000 men plus their wives and children. As I read this passage, I just think about how easy it is to become a robot, mindlessly “doing the work of Jesus” and going through the motions. I can just see them waking up, preaching, ministering, traveling, sleeping, repeating… and ceasing to be amazed at Who they had the privilege of being with… and forgetting Who He was and was capable of doing.
But I can’t be too harsh on them because I, too, get caught up in going through the motions. I’ll wake up, get dressed for work, work 8 hours at a job I love, work out, go to Bible study, make dinner, get ready for bed…. and repeat. It’s easy to become mindless in the routine and miss the miracle. I believe that Jesus has “miracles” sprinkled all throughout our days, but we miss them because we’re focused on other things, or worse, we lack faith that He is still in the “miracle-working business.”
If Jesus hadn’t slowed these disciples down, forced them to pause, asked them an important question, and caused them to think, they would have missed a monumental miracle. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss any miracles that Jesus has planned for me. I’m saddened at how much I have already missed out on due to my lack of faith.
3. His power defies logic and is more than sufficient for our every need.
“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. John 6:10-13
The power that Jesus showed in this miracle just blows my mind. He took what one little boy had to offer, a meager lunch that his guardian had packed for him so that he could eat and listen to Jesus, and He provided for 5,000+ people. Not only did He provide enough for that many people to fill their bellies, there were leftovers! I’m reminded of Malachi 3:10 that says,
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be good in my house. ‘Test me in this’, says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'”
Jesus provides, but He also goes above and beyond! He doesn’t just give to meet our need, He leaves us with leftovers! Charles Spurgeon once said, “While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” And that’s exactly how I feel. I didn’t deserve salvation, but God extended that wonderful gift to me… but He didn’t stop there. He also continuously blesses me each and every day. He has given to me in abundance, and I am still feasting on the leftovers from the joy of my salvation and from the many blessings that He has given to me the past 25 years.
4. Thanksgiving is the key to living a full life.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. John 6:11
Everything that Jesus did was an example for us. In this instance, He gave thanks before He distributed the food. But in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, God says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 5:1 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children…” We should give thanks in all circumstances. It’s easy to give thanks when things are going our way, but what about when we get that diagnosis from our doctor? when loved ones pass away? when people talk about you behind your back? What then? How can we give thanks? How can we live in the fullness of Christ? Lysa TerKeurst, in her Bible study called Uninvited, says that we can be full because Christ brought the fullness to us (Ephesians 3:14-19). And how do we remind ourselves of this fact? By studying His Word, saturating ourselves with it, and by giving thanks in all circumstances.
5. Thanksgiving is hard and missing the miracle is easy when our hearts are hardened.
“They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” Mark 6:51b-52
Right before this verse, the disciples were caught in the middle of a storm. You could say they were going through a pretty rough situation. They were not giving thanks in the midst of it. They were terrified and allowing fear to rule their lives. Then, Jesus comes along and calms their storm, their tough situation, and that’s where this verse picks up. They were amazed. They hadn’t understood about the previous miracle because their hearts were hardened.
This is how I know that my heart has become hardened to God. 1) I don’t want to attend church. It seems like a chore. I offer up excuses like I have homework or I rather sleep in a little later. 2) I don’t have a hunger or thirst to read God’s Word or pray. Again, it seems like a chore, and I offer up every excuse that I can. 3) I make excuses to not tithe like I should.
The list could literally go on and on. And here’s my advice to myself and to you, friend.
DO. IT. ANYWAY.
Attend church anyway.
Read your Bible anyway.
Because eventually, surrounding yourself with Godly people, participating in worship through songs and hymns, saturating yourself with God’s Word, crying out to God in prayer, sacrificing monetarily to further God’s work here on earth WILL produce a softened heart. Guaranteed. 100%. Every time.
Lord, help us to change if we’re following You for our gain. Help us to follow You because we love You and because we want to live a life that gives you all the glory, honor, and praise and points others toward You. Help us to break through the robotic-going-through-the-motions lifestyle that so easily entangles us. Don’t let us miss You and Your miracles because we lack faith or because our hearts are hardened. Help us to trust You to provide for our every need, and let us be thankful in all circumstances… when we can see the leftovers… and when our situations are so dire that we lose sight of the blessings that You have given. Order our steps. Let us not live this life selfishly. Let us live it to bring You glory, and You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.