Signs & Wonders (John 6)

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MOTIVATE

–        The good book says “Man shall not live by bread alone…” but there’s implication that we should live partly with bread.

–        Any bread lovers?

o   Dinner rolls with butter or honey or jelly or just plain

o   Biscuits – Southern Style of course

o   Pizza

o   Bagels, Muffins, Scones,

o   Tortillas, Texas Toast

o   Doughnuts, Pancakes & Waffles

o   Pumpkin, Banana, Cinnamon Raisin, Corn (yum)

o   Varieties: White, Wheat, Multi-grain, Sourdough, Pita, Challah, Ciabatta, Pumpernickel, Rye,

I mean seriously, bread is a blessing from God.

Today’s text is another sign-wonder of Jesus, with the greater revelation of Jesus’ identity. In this miracle we see Jesus not just providing bread but becoming bread.

EXAMINE       John 6            Healing Hungerlogo-signs-and-wonders-john

The sign-wonder of the Feeding 5K is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all 4 Gospels (Matthew 14:13-20; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17). I believe the reason for including this miracle in each Gospel is two-fold

1)    Display the compassion of Jesus for the needs of people.

2)    Demonstrate the power and identity of Jesus as God and the soul-satisfying food for life.

 

We must hunger for what truly satisfies (John 6:1-3).
Crowds of people sought Jesus for the miraculous signs that He was doing on the sick. They wanted more miracles. Jesus withdrew from the crowds because He wanted their faith in Him to be as Messiah not the miracle worker. The object of our faith matters.

Today this crowd is

–        Democrats who think Jesus needs to remove wealth from the rich and give to the poor and insure healthcare for every person.

–        Republicans who think Jesus needs to back off governing rules and slow down all that omniscient spying and wiretapping and give us more freedom to live our lives.

–        Religious people who

o   Attend but don’t activate faith through spiritual disciplines and faith growth.

o   Believe on Sunday but don’t bother with Jesus’ Lordship the rest of the week.

o   Contribute but not sacrificially to an urgent mission with reality of a hot hell and eternal destiny.

o   Devoted with intention but not implementation of serving in ministry.

–        Rebellious who mock Jesus for morals but claim entitlement for handouts.

In all, Jesus is not a means to our own end – a genie instead of God. Many people view God in humanity’s image – one who caters to our comfort, convenience, and consumer wants. The idea is that God exists to make us feel good inside, make us laugh and keep us happy. This worldly god doesn’t challenge, confront, or convict us; he keeps things casual. However, in reality, this is no god at all – at least not the God of the Bible.

Jesus is the God who calls us to believe, trust, and obey. Religious belief is like putting on a parachute pack and getting into a plane. Fine and good. However, faith that saves is jumping out of the plane believing your parachute will work. Saving faith is full trust and obedience that your life depends on it.

–       “If you love [Jesus], you will keep his commandments” (John 14:15).

–       Jesus calls us to “not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life (John 6:27).

–       “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)  

Throughout John 6, Jesus is identified as the far superior Messiah than just the mere miracle worker.

–        Jesus is the greater Elijah whom God fed prophets (2Ki 4:42-44; Jn 6:25-30).

–        Jesus is the greater Moses whom through God gave the Israelites manna (Ex 16:4; Jn 6:32-33).

–        Jesus is sent by the Father to be the bread of life and fulfill the messianic banquet (Isa 25:6-9; 55:1-2; Jn 6:35, 47-58) as “true food” and “true drink” that eternally quenches hunger and thirst.

◊      We must wade through the flash and fluff of the world to have real faith in the real Jesus; eating food that will last and not spoil.

è Some of you like to read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies. Be careful that input overflows to outcomes. A regular diet of God’s Word sustains your life but also helps to sort out the junk food of world.

o   Like eating fast food on vacation you’re filled but feel empty and long for home-cooked meal.

o   Take your spiritual nutrition seriously! In a truthless time we must get into timeless truth!

è Some of you are seeking a church home. My encouragement is to plant yourself in the soil of a church’s pulpit preaching and small group teaching that is saturated with the Word of God. Prayerfully, SPBC is such a place.

 

We must hunger for what truly matures our faith (John 6:4-9)
The Synoptic Gospels set this sign-wonder after an extended session of ministry for the Disciples. They have been teaching and caring for the crowds. Jesus takes the Disciples up on a mountain, but the crowds are still surrounding them. Jesus asks Philip “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” John also notes the reason for Jesus asking this question was to test Philip and the Disciples’ faith, and He already knew what He was going to do.

Again, the Synoptic Gospels (Mark) position the Disciples’ as seeking to send the crowd away. John provides what may seem as a different perspective, but is simply more details to the story.[1] Text critics should be glad for the uniqueness of John in that they give testimony to the veracity of the events from additional sources. When the Gospel accounts contrast, they are to be understood as complementary for a fuller account.

So, while the Disciples are wanting to send the crowds away, Jesus questions Philip, and perhaps testing all the Disciples’ faith. Philip responds in terms of sight: 200 denarii (about 8+ months wages) wouldn’t buy enough bread for the entire crowd to even eat just a little. However, Andrew (Peter’s brother) found a boy (perhaps he was the first youth pastor!) who had 5 barley loaves and 2 fish and said, “but what are they for so many?”

Why did these Disciples – who had been with Jesus for over a year since it’s the second Passover mentioned (2:13; 6:4), and who had heard Jesus’ teachings and seen Jesus do other sign-wonders such as transforming water to wine and healing miracles – not trust Jesus’ ability to provide and produce food for this crowd? Perhaps it is because they allowed their relationship with Jesus to become overly familiar. Perhaps they came to see their relationship with Jesus and ministry with others as mere routine. They overlooked people as those for whom Jesus came. Instead of seeing people they saw problems.

è Do we understand that people’s problems are means toward faith, seeing God answer the spiritual through the physical? Evangelism goes beyond winning a convert to having compassion for a persons physical life as well as their eternal soul. Hungry mouths have no ear ability to listen; we often have to meet physical needs before meeting spiritual needs.

o   SPBC is providing through budget & designated funds 2 food containers in MPNICA again in 2017.

o   SPBC has 4K designated to a church building in El Soccoro (23’ x 39’) towards total of ~$7K.

o   SPBC food donations to SPAN for serving our community

o   SPBC with The Well is having impact in Curtis Bay

è Another application, Jesus allows us to face adversity to bring us into maturity. God gives us opportunities often disguised as obstacles and often at inopportune times & places, to grow our faith in Him.

We must hunger for what truly unifies (John 6:10-14).

While the Disciples saw the problem, Jesus responded to the people with faith saying, “Have the people sit down.” The people sit down and someone notes the count of the men about 5K, which means adding women and children could have been upwards of 10-20+K. Interestingly, the Gospel writers give small unique details where Luke adds that the people sat in groups of 50, while Matthew and John notes there was much grass in the place for the people to sit, and Mark goes further still to say the grass was green.

Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish and multiplied them for a miracle and teaching moment of signs-wonders to feed this entire crowd. The crowd ate “as much as they wanted, and when they ate their fill” there were leftovers of filling up 12 baskets. 12 was the number for each of the disciples to have a basket of leftovers, reminding them of what Jesus can do.

What can we learn from this?

–        Jesus sees our needs and satisfies us to the full. 

–        Jesus gives generously and abundantly. 

–        Jesus takes our little and makes much.

o   We must be willing to surrender our little to help others and not hoard selfishly.

o   We must admit our inadequacy to be able to see God’s capacity for blessing.

o   Christians fret over little… income, health, relationship health… but God wants to grow our faith.

o   Church frets over little… volunteers, money, resources… but God wants to grow our faith. 

–        Jesus does sign-wonder miracles when we trust God’s provision and obey God’s commands.

o   When it comes to miracles, God can do anything… but He seeks your cooperation.[2] Many Christians seek magic (easy) rather than miracles (faith challenge). We expect God to simply remove all the obstacles without any personal involvement and growth in our faith.

  • Money problems – God’s miracles often come through wise stewardship
  • Health problems – God’s miracles come through treating bodies as temple of Lord
  • Relational problems – God’s miracles come through biblical agape love, purity, forgiveness
  • Decision problems – God’s miracles come through wisdom in Scripture & godly counselors
  • Emotional problems – God’s miracles come through worship, praise, prayer, thankfulness
  • In summary, “Without God, you cannot. Without you, God will not.” 

o   Missionary William Carey, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

o   We as Christians and a Church must factor God into the equation and not discount His willingness to work and bless (Ephesians 3:20-21 God is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”)

  • Feeding of 250 with Sandy Sparling. We kept digging into a pot of rice and praying over this bowl with unending crowd line and somehow able to feed every person. God provides!

This sign-wonder miracle fueled the crowd’s faith: “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ (John 6:14).

This sign-wonder miracle fueled the disciple’s faith for later some of the crowd would stop following Jesus and He asked the disciples, “Do you want to go away as well?” And Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)

è Trusting Jesus and living on mission unifies the church. Let us hunger for mission by seeing people not as problems but objects of God’s compassion.

o   Start with Easter Invest & Invite – Incarnate & Intercede

o   See a need, meet a need in Jesus’ name…

  • note: what you see may or may not become the specific mission of SPBC! Church equips and then Christians are called to engage, but not necessarily programmatize the Great Commission!

 

APPLY/THINK

è Are you following Jesus expecting handouts or because He is your only hope? Jesus is the bread of life! We starve and die without Jesus. “Do not labor for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27)

o   The family who has financial struggle… trust God to provide, obey God’s principles.

o   The spouse who labors for earthly compensation to the exclusion of eternal treasure.

o   The parent who labors for compliments from children or spouse and may not receive the praise they deserve, but trusting they are fulfilling Psalm 127.

o   The young person laboring for grades and gifts of talent and possessions but fails to see while these are worthy goals they cannot become the god-idols of our life.

  • Young person, have you ever asked God what He wants for your future?

 

è Do you realize how much Jesus is ready and willing to work signs-wonders in your life if we just surrender our little? What are you holding back from God? Where do you need to commit to surrender and serve God?

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/four-Gospels.html or for more academic approach see David Alan Black, Why Four Gospels? The Historical Origins of the Gospels, Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, and Blomberg’s same title for NT

[2] Thought inspired from Steven Furtick http://www.stevenfurtick.com/spiritual-growth/whose-idea-was-that/

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