More Than More - Jesus Can
September 29, 2019
water cooler conversation:
Netflix just teased Season 4 of Stranger Things. Do you think there’s a supernatural world beyond what we can see? Not like demogorgons, but spirits that exist all around us yet separate from us?
If you were suddenly given an extra hour of free time every day, how would you spend it?
did you know…
The New Testament makes references to two kinds of baskets. Kophinos (Matthew 14:20, Mark 6:43, John 6:13) were large enough to be worn on one’s back to hold supplies and provisions. Twelve of these baskets were used to gather the food remaining after the feeding of the five thousand. The second type, the spuris, was much larger, and is the type used to lower Paul down from the wall at Damascus. (Acts 9:25) Seven of these baskets were used to gather the leftovers after the feeding of the four thousand in Matthew 16:9-10.
Archaeologists found a mosaic of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in a place dubbed the Burnt Church that overlooks the Sea of Galilee.
Though all four gospels record the miracle, only Matthew records that the number 5000 resulted from a tally of men only. Jewish law prohibited women and children from eating with men in public, so they were no doubt fed in a separate area. Estimates vary, but the number fed could easily stretch to ten thousand or more.
Jesus would have been traveling eastward, so the mountain mentioned would be in the general area of what is now the Golan Heights, bordering Syria.
This remote area would have had little to no food resources and it’s unlikely that nearby villages could have met the need of a crowd that size.
Bread was particularly significant to the Jews as it represented a gift from God and Jewish law required that scraps that fell during a meal be picked up. Gathering the leftovers was a spiritual exercise as well as practical, demonstrating gratitude for God’s gifts in abundance.
unpack the message:
Though Jesus’ earthly ministry is still in its early days, His reputation is growing as evidenced by the crowds that have begun to follow Him everywhere because “they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” In John 5, Scripture records the miracle of Jesus healing the cripple by the Pool of Bethesda. Approximately six months have passed, so word of Jesus’ miracles and His teaching has had time to spread to a vast number of people.
In John 6, He and his disciples have attempted to get away from the crowds for a while, even crossing the Sea of Galilee to put some distance between them. However, the crowd has followed them, even hiking up the side of the mountain to be near Him.
Jesus looks up from his conversation with the disciples and sees the crowd approaching. Verse six refers to a “great crowd,” but verse 10 tells us the number of men was 5000, not including the women and children.
Since Philip came from nearby Bethsaida, (John 1:44), it made sense that Jesus would ask him where to buy bread. Philip reacts as we would likely have, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”[a] The Greek text translates “money” as “two hundred denarii" which scholars estimate to be the equivalent of eight months wages in Jesus’ time.
Remember, Philip was present at the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned dirty water into fine wine, yet like us, it seems he’s already forgotten what Jesus can do.
Think of a time in your life when you saw God move in a supernatural way. Maybe He calmed your fear when you were overwhelmed or perhaps He provided financially when it seemed there was no way. How did you access that power from God? Prayer? Fasting?
How quickly did you fall back into old patterns of doubt and ingratitude? How can you be intentional about moving past these sinful patterns?
Andrew’s response is as equally practical as Philip’s, and though he tells Jesus, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?" he clearly doubts the value of his own suggestion.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus invests in His disciples in a more intentional and focused way than He does when speaking to the crowds. He’d tried to get away by crossing the sea and likely hoped that this would provide an opportunity for intensive teaching as He knew His time on earth would be brief. Jesus seizes this as a teachable moment for all the disciples, and He uses Philip and Andrew’s responses to frame His response to the hungry crowd. Jesus was perfectly capable of handling the situation on His own, but note that He invites the disciples to be part of the miracle. Theologian and author Merrill C. Tenny says, “Jesus was not at a loss for the solution to the problem; he wished to educate the disciples by calling attention to their responsibilities and by leading them to prepare some plan of action.”
Think of a time in your life when God allowed you to be part of something significant for His kingdom. Have you led someone to faith in Christ? Have you prayed for healing and seen God do a miracle that confounds doctors? Has He enabled you to provide food, housing, or resources to someone who was out of options?
Jesus too uses practical wisdom in telling the disciples to have people sit in groups of 50-100, (Mark 6:40), as a way to bring order to the situation, avoid a mad rush for the food, and allow the disciples to serve the crown in an orderly way.
But, Jesus’ next action can only be seen as the result of His supernatural power. The people sit as commanded and as was customary for the time, Jesus gave thanks for the food. The disciples distributed the bread and fish, and when the crowd had eaten their fill, the disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers.
Why would Jesus provide more than was needed for the crowd?
Why would Jesus have the disciples rather than random individuals from the crowd be the ones to distribute the food and clean up after?
Other than Jesus' resurrection, this is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four gospels. How important is this miracle in the life of Jesus?
Consider the baskets of food that were leftover. In light of other His miracles, we can see that when Jesus heals, He heals completely. When He provides, he provides completely, or more accurately, He provides abundantly. List examples of times Jesus has exceeded your expectations or your need.
There’s no mention in any of the gospels about the crowd’s reaction to being fed until they’ve finished eating. Once again, just as he did at the wedding in Cana, Jesus supernaturally transforms matter into a miracle.
The law of conservation of mass states that mass in an isolated system is neither created nor destroyed by chemical reactions or physical transformations. In other words, matter cannot be created or destroyed, only changed. Boiling water doesn’t make it disappear; the liquid becomes vapor. Burning wood doesn’t eliminate it, it transforms it into ash and other particulates.
In August 1945, the “Fat Man" bomb nuclear bomb was detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki, effectively ending World War 2. It had a blast yield of 21 kt (88 TJ). October 30, 1961, the Soviet Union detonated the “Tsar Bomba,” the largest nuclear device ever detonated and the most powerful man-made explosion in human history. It weighed 59,520 pounds and a blast yield of 50 megatons of TNT. Its mushroom cloud extended approximately 40 miles high, seven times higher than Mount Everest. At its highest altitude, the cloud reached beyond the stratosphere with the top of the cloud 59 miles and the base 25 miles wide.
By multiplying the bread and those two little pickled fish, Jesus is putting His power on full display. Yet, there was no mushroom cloud, no cataclysmic explosion, not even a cloud of dust is mentioned. The power Jesus harnesses in this miracle is equivalent to 1,420 Tsar Bombas - more energy and power than man has ever created, enough to destroy the world three times over.
John 6:14 tells us the crowd’s response. “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Can you blame them? Their rabbis and teachers have taught them Deuteronomy 18:15 which says, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”
Jesus, recognizing that they don’t understand He’s not going to establish an earthly kingdom, withdraws from the crowd once again. Sometimes we look to Jesus’ incredible power (as these crowds did) and want Him to do what we want rather than seeking what He wants in our lives (also, like the crowds). We need to understand that Jesus’ power is as great as His will.
When the crowd identifies Jesus as “the Prophet,” who might they be thinking of? Read Deuteronomy 18:15. How is Moses a foreshadow of Jesus and what he is to do for all mankind?
Let this miracle stand as a reminder that Jesus can do what seems impossible. Think about your life and what God is calling you to do. Understand that Jesus is powerful enough to see you through even the most overwhelming and seemingly impossible situations in your life.
Jesus has the power. Jesus is the power.
Jesus can do it.
make a move:
Choose an action step based on what you’ve learned this week.
Make a list of impossible things in your life that you want to surrender to Jesus. Your list may include the name of a person who needs to believe in Jesus as their Savior, a specific dollar amount that would get you out of debt, or even a ministry opportunity that you’ve been putting off. Make a commitment to pray daily over your list and ask God for the faith to believe He can make it happen and for His will to be done.
Talk to Pastor Lucas about the new season of growth groups and the exciting changes we’ve made to our format.
Get involved with the Operation Christmas Child initiative. A simple gift of $20 provides a child with a shoebox filled with hope and happiness, and most importantly, the opportunity to hear the gospel.
Commit to daily prayer and Bible study so you can grow your faith and tap into the supernatural power of God. Ask one of the pastors or eGroup leaders for recommendations or use an app like YouVersion, Life.Church, or Bible.is.
Where do you need a miracle? Finances? Start tithing. Your schedule? Start serving on Sundays. Relationships? Hand them over to God. The only way to see that supernatural power is to stop trying to manage it all on your own. Put Him first then stand back and watch Him do miracle after miracle in your life.
If you’ve experienced a miracle, ask God to show you someone who needs a miracle in their life and needs to hear your story. If you need a miracle, believe that Jesus can make it happen.
Pray this prayer: I bow before Jesus, humbling myself to see Him for who He truly is, rather than making Him into something He is not.
Pray daily for the faith to believe God can do the impossible.
Ask God to show you someone in your life that needs to hear the life-changing Good News of the gospel. Ask God to fill you with His supernatural power so you have the boldness to share with that individual. Ask God to connect you with people different from you to whom you can minister, those on the edges of society or even our congregation. Ask for the courage to reach out to someone hurting, lost, and lonely, and the humility to do so without needing any credit for having done so.
Pray for the Operation Christmas Child initiative. Pray for the children and their families who receive these gifts to be saved through this program.
If you haven’t decided to follow Christ, what’s holding you back? Salvation is as simple as acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Right now, you can pray this simple prayer, believing the words not only in your mind but in your heart, and be saved. “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I recognize that I can never be good enough to work my way into heaven on my own. I believe that there’s only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ who died to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven with Him. Right now, at this moment, I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me. My faith now is small, but I ask You to help it grow. Thank you that your promises are true, and especially for the assurance that I am now your child. I thank you that no matter what lies ahead, you will walk with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer, share your decision with one of the pastors or staff who can help you with resources and encourage your newfound faith.
Pray for your pastors by name: Christian Gaffney, Roy Dowdy, Lucas Johnson, Mike Zizolfo, and Austin Parkhurst.
Ask God to show you where you can serve, what eGroup you should connect with, and who in the congregation is looking for a friend or a mentor like you. Ask for a list of missionaries we support and commit to praying for them regularly.
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