Loving Jesus For What We Can Get Out
Dou Ting Didymus
John 6:1-15; also: II Kings 4: 42-44 Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18 Ephesians 4:1-6
T odays Gospel reading tells us about the multiplication of the food, how five
barley loaves and two fishes fed over five thousand people. This was indeed a miracle. But
Christ did not come to dazzle us with miracles. That was not his mission.
My brothers and sisters, the miracle is not the main point of this famous Bible story.
We know from the reading in II Kings that Elisha multiplied barley loves to feed a
hundred. Multiplying loaves was not new. Before Christ the prophets cured people, cleansed
lepers, and even raised the dead to life. The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is not
the main point of this story. Lets see if we can find the main point.
Jesus had gone to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida. Large crowds
followed this young, charismatic teacher who could heal the sick. Jesus went on to a
mountain and sat with His disciples. Jesus chose a remote place. He looked up and saw
thousands of people coming toward Him. He knew these poor pilgrims were hungry and tired.
A compassionate Jesus said to Philip, Where are we to buy bread for these people to
eat? Philip answered that; Six months wages would not buy enough bread for
each of them to eat a little.
On of the other disciples, Andrew, said to Jesus, Theres a boy here who has
five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people? Jesus said,
Make the people to sit down.
Then Jesus took the loaves and the two small fish and when He had given thanks, He
distributed to the people and they ate as much as they wanted. When the people saw what
Jesus had done they began to come toward Him. When Jesus realized that they were about to
come and take Him by force
to make Him king
He withdrew to the mountain by
Himself. He escaped from the people. He fled from them.
What can we learn from this story? What is the teaching all about? Let us look at the
First, there is Jesus. The feeding of the five thousand occurred very early in
Christs ministry. It occurred not long after John the Baptist baptized our Lord.
After baptism, Jesus went into the desert where Satan tempted Him. In the third
temptation, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms
of the world. And the devil said to Jesus, All these I give to you, if you will
worship me. In other words, the devil offered Jesus power and an earthly
kingdom. There was only one small catch; there was only one small compromise
devil would have to be worshiped. Jesus, of course, would not forsake God. Now, with the
people surging toward Him at Bethsaida, wanting to make Him their king, Jesus saw the
devils temptation again. And so,
he withdrew to the mountain
One of the lessons here is that the devil never quits. As the devil did with Jesus, he
will follow us to the very hour of our death, tempting us at that last moment to forsake
God. We must be forever vigilant and watchful. And we should never compromise with Satan.
We shouldnt leave a part of our life devoted to evil pursuits. My brothers and
sisters, its not good enough, in Gods eyes, to be 75% devoted to Gods
virtues and 25% devoted to the pursuit of greed, fornication, hatred, and envy. Being
by-and-large or more-or-less a good Christian is not our aim.
There is no compromise with the Devil. Every temptation must be resisted.
Lets look at another character in the loaves and fishes story. Theres the
disciple Philip. When he considers how the vast crowd might be fed, Philip throws up his
hands. He declares the situation hopeless. Are we like Philip? When the Lord asks us for a
hard task like forgiving our enemies -- do we say: Its impossible, I
cant do it! Its too much for me. If we have this attitude, we are like
Philip, we have forgotten about Christs power and grace. We dont think to draw
Jesus Christ on to our team.
Then theres Andrew. He doesnt declare the situation hopeless. He enters the
crowd and begins to look for food. He finds a young boy with five barley loaves and two
small fishes. Andrew does something the Lord likes. Andrew tries, at least, to do his
part. He takes the first few steps toward Christ. But then his faith falters, too. He says
but this little food is nothing to feed thousands. Is our faith like Andrews? Are we
double-minded in our belief in God? Do we believe in God
up to a point? Then does
our faith falter?
Then we have the boy who would donate his five loaves and two fishes. He must have felt
embarrassed. The hungry crowd saw him making his way forward with his tiny offering. Was
the crowd laughing at the boy? But what did Christ do? He accepted this small gift with
gratitude. He then took this modest gift and added His own power to multiple it to feed
thousands. What is the lesson for us? The lesson is that when were asked to give to
our church, or to give to our neighbor who is in need, we must not say, But I have
so little to offer. Dont use that as an excuse to do nothing. We should give
whatever we have. Even if our gift is small, if we try to give to a righteous cause,
Christ will add His power to make it grow.
Jesus needs what we can bring Him. If we would only make ourselves His servants,
theres no telling what He could do with us and through us.
Lastly, in this beautiful story of the loaves and fishes, there was the crowd. The
crowd was waiting for a prophet. The mob was eager to support Jesus when He gave them what
they wanted. He had healed them and fed them. The crowd would mold Jesus to their own
dreams of a conquering political Messiah. They wanted a political leader, a political
king. They wanted Jesus to drive out the Romans who occupied the Jews homeland.
Are we so much different than the crowd at Bethsaida? Dont we, too, appeal to
Jesus for strength to go on with our schemes and ideas? Or do we ask for His strength to
make us humble and obedient so that we might better accept -- not our plans and wishes --
but His plans and wishes? Do we say, Lord give me the strength to do what You want
me to do? Or, in reality, is it more like, Lord give me the strength to do
what I want to do?
Are we so much different than this crowd at Bethsaida? Were glad to take from
Jesus. We take comfort in sorrow; strength in difficulty; peace in turmoil; help in the
face of depression. But when Jesus comes to us with a stern demand for sacrifice
like asking us to forgive our enemies
then we want nothing to do with Jesus. Like
the crowd at Bethsaida, do we love Jesus for what we can get out of Him?
Isnt it true, my brothers and sisters, that we sometimes would like Christs
gifts without his cross? We would like to use Him instead of allowing Him to use us?
Isnt this lesson the main point of the story about the loaves and fishes?
Jesus performed miracles among the Jews. He cured paralytics; He cleansed lepers; He
raised the dead to life. But other prophets had done that too. Jesus changed a few loaves
into many and fed a countless multitude. But Elisha did that. What new thing, then, did
Jesus Christ do? What was new was that God died as man that man might live! The Son of God
was crucified that He might lift us up to heaven.
This being His great gift to us
shouldnt we pray to the Lord
that He always help us to do what we want to do, but pray instead that the Lord use us as
instruments to do what He wants us to do?
God bless you.