Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Middle part of last weeks sermon: loaves and fish

Now people were getting confused with Jesus questions, so the apostle John lets us know that this is a rhetorical question. John says he is testing the disciples. He is making a point. He is teaching a lesson.
Phillip informs Jesus that purchasing bread for 5000 people in cost prohibitive. There are always those of us like Phillip. We look at the situation, and we realize that there are all sorts of problems in the game plan. We can see the flaw in the logic of the plan from a mile away. We are wide-eyed realists. We believe in saying it how it is, and responding directly to a direct concern. Sometimes we may be called critical or negative. But we believe in a direct and forthright assessment of the situation. That was Phillip. “It is cost prohibitive,” he said or in the NKJV “Two hundred denari is not sufficient for them, that everyone may have a little.”

While Phillip was pondering financial matters, Andrew was scoping out the crowd. He noticed this little boy, with his momma’s backpack eating a little bread. They asked him how many barley loaves he had.

“Five,” the boy squeaked out.

The disciples asked the boy how many fish he had.

“Two,” the boy sheepishly admitted.

“I don’t know what good that is going to do but it is something,” they muttered.

The Bible says Andrew said, “What is so little among so many?”.

Jesus started instructing the disciples. He wanted them to get everyone seated for a meal. He lifted up those loaves and fishes and blessed them. Then he started distributing the loaves and fish to the disciples, who in turn distributed them to the people. He just kept handing out more bread. And more fish.

And the people ate. Then they ate some more. The smiled and laughed and burped and smiled. When everyone was filled the Bible says, it is at that point that Jesus instructed the disciples to gather up the loaves and the fish. Jesus didn’t want any of the food to be just left lying around and go to waste. So they gathered up the loaves and there were twelve baskets full of bread. Twelve baskets from the five loaves of the little boy. The people were amazed enough that sought to seize Jesus as their king. Jesus didn’t want to be a politician. So when they started trying to take him and make him king he decided to slip away for some alone time.
There are so many sermons that could be preached on this passage. This morning I want us to take notice of one thing. I want you to notice the difference between the resources the disciples perceived that they had, and the resources that the disciples actually had with Jesus.

The disciples looked at the situation in front of them—five thousand hungry people—and saw an unsolvable problem and an insurmountable challenge. Phillip saw the lack of money. Andrew saw the lack of food on hand. They saw not enough. They saw not good enough. Not enough stuff. Not enough resources to work with. As a result, they come off a little befuddled.

Thank God the kingdom of God is a little bit bigger than our realism and our sober assessments about what we lack. Thank God that he is bigger than our worries about the circumstances in front of us. Thank God that He is bigger than our limited abilities and skills.

Jesus takes a few loaves and fish, and turns them into a banquet fit for a king. And what Jesus does then, he does now. He takes our humble gifts and offerings, skills and abilities, and multiplies them for his glory.

If you are paying close attention to this text you will notice that there a number of words that communicate the abundant and lavish provision of God in this passage. It says each person ate all they wanted. The Scripture says that the disciples picked up the food after the people were filled. Then they had twelve baskets full of food after the meal.

We see not enough. We say not enough. Jesus says for us to give him our loaves and fish, and see what he can make of them. When we say not enough, Jesus shows us that with him there is more than enough.

We say I am not young enough. I am not strong enough. I am not good enough. I am not smart enough. I don’t have enough. I am not enough.

Jesus challenges us to offer what we have. The time we have. The skills we have. The resources we have. The excitement and passion we have. Jesus says give him what we have, and let him multiply all of our “not- enoughs” into more than enough. And exactly what Jesus wants.

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