Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jesus Provides pt. 3

The Apostles were still developing the attribute of compassionate care that their Master divinely displayed. These men were dead tired, and probably a little aggravated. After all, their much needed retreat had been interrupted. The day was late, and they still hadn’t eaten. It was time, as far as they were concerned, to close down the service and send the people home. So they came to Jesus and said: “This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: send them away…for they have nothing to eat.” (Mark 6:35-36)

There is nothing like stating the obvious. Was Jesus unable to ascertain the terrain? Was Jesus’ watch broken? Did He think the event was catered? Of course not; Jesus knew where they were, what time it was, and that no one had eaten in a while or had anything to eat at the moment. This is another case of the disciples telling the Master what to do.

Back in chapter one, after Christ had spent the entire day healing the diseased, exorcising the possessed, and proclaiming the Gospel, He departed to a solitary place to pray (v. 35). When the cadre, led by Peter, finally found Jesus’ quiet place, they told Him, with a hint of reproach, “Everyone is looking for you.” They were saying, “Why are you out here alone when everyone is clamoring for You? Let’s build on Your popularity.” Jesus simply answered, “Let’s go into the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I have come.”

At the end of Mark 4, when the disciples think their boat is about to be sunk, they wake Jesus up and say, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” Jesus asked why they were so afraid, and He rebuked their lack of faith.

The disciples were way to proficient at telling Jesus what was happening and what needed to happen. They not only stated the obvious, they also gave Him instruction: “Send them away.” Pragmatically speaking this doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. After all, it was late, they were in an out-of-the-way place, the people were hungry, and there was nothing to eat. The people would have to leave the place and enter the surrounding towns and villages if they were to have any hope of enjoying supper. On the surface this was a sensible suggestion.

Then Jesus gave them an uncomfortable and seemingly impossible command. He said, “You twelve feed them.” Imagine their faces! We know from John’s gospel that it is Philip who said with more than a tinge of incredulity, “I’ll tell you right now, Jesus, that 200 hundred pennyworth would barely feed this mob!” Penny means denarius; an average worker would earn one denarius per day. “We’re talking 5 ½ months of wages, Jesus. We don’t have that kind of money, and besides, would you want us spending that much to feed them?”

Their tone was disrespectful. After all, this was just too much to ask, even if He was the Master. But Jesus wouldn’t quit. “Well, how much food do you have?” The twelve were clueless as to how much food was available, so Jesus orders them to conduct an inventory.

What a futile exercise. There was no possible way that they would find enough food among the people to feed everybody. Mark says there were 5,000 men and Matthew says there were women and children there as well, yet Jesus wants the Apostles to feed them. It’s an impossible task.

The inventory was finally finished, and the numbers were predictable: five loaves and two fish. Again, John records that Andrew was the one who reported the tally to Jesus, and he said what the others were thinking: “But what they among so many?” “There’s not enough money, to feed these thousands, and all we have is a little boys’ lunch. What can we possibly do with this? This is an impossible situation.”

Was it impossible? Yes, it was. It was impossible for the Apostles. It would be impossible for me. This was an impossible situation. You cannot feed thousands of people with one sack lunch. It was also an impossible situation when the storm almost sank the boat. Likewise, it was an impossible situation with the Demoniac. That man couldn’t be rehabilitated or restrained. Yet, the storm was stilled and the Demoniac healed, and, in just a moment, the thousands would be fed. How? Because “with men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Don’t forget the meat of Jesus’ message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” An indication of that fact was about to be demonstrated. The unanswered question from the previous passage – “Who is Jesus?” – is about to be answered.

Jesus directs the Apostles to assemble the thousands in seated groups of hundreds and fifties. When I read this my mind immediately runs to the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” He wanted the people organized so that all could be fed in an orderly fashion. Jesus was about to spread a table in the wilderness!

When everyone was seated, and there was room to navigate between the groups, we read:
And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave [them] to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled.
Jesus provided!

He provided as only He could. “Who is this Jesus?” you ask. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear: He is God incarnate, the Creator of the universe; only the Creator is able to feed thousands of people with five loaves and two fish. These thousands were not filled by an optical illusion, hypnosis, or some other silly theory, and it’s not as if they were rationed. Everyone had bread and fish aplenty: “they did all eat and were filled.”

This creative power of Jesus is not only evident in miracles such as this. His creative power is most clearly and gloriously revealed in the creation of a new man via the new birth. Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for our sake so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old having passed away and the new having come, and all this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself.

Jesus provides! He will provide deliverance for you from the bondage of sin. He will be your Shepherd, if you come to Him in repentance and faith. He will deliver you, and He will totally satisfy you.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep that they may have a new and abundant life. The 23rd Psalm states “My cup runneth over”; a truth that is here vividly illustrated. Thousands were fed from five loaves and two fish. Everyone ate to their fill, and there were twelve baskets full of leftovers; one each for the “send them away” apostles. Just picture them for a moment; each one lugging a basket full of leftovers, perhaps thinking to themselves “Each one of us is carrying more than we started out with, and we’ve already fed thousands!”

Christ’s provision was complete, total, and satisfying then, and it still is now. In Luke 1:53 we read: “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” All men are hungry, but only those who will acknowledge their hunger and come to Him to be fed will He feed. Those who believe they have no need of Him will He send you away hungry. “Rich” here is used as an antithesis to “hungry”, not as a condemnation on those who have money.

Paul said in Colossians 2:9-10: “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power”

Beloved, Jesus completely satisfies! Who is Jesus Christ? He is not John the Baptist returned from the grave. He is not a mere prophet of God. He God’s only begotten Son, the Bread of life. By His death and resurrection we may have life. He is the Good Shepherd who compassionately cares; powerfully provides, and superbly satisfies. He is the one who calls us to give what we have to Him, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant it may appear to be.

This is who Jesus is. Do you know Him? If you know Him, do you look and act like Him? The man who cares nothing at all for the souls of others is no like Jesus.

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