I had the privilege this weekend of preaching on John 6, the feeding of the 5000. This has come to be one of my favorite passages, probably because of how much God is teaching me through it right now.
One of my favorite things to do when I read the Bible is to picture it as a TV show or movie. I try to visualize it and almost let it play out in my imagination. Of course this only works with major stories that have vivid or fun details. (Trying to visualize something out of Leviticus could cause you to need some counseling.)
If you are interested in watching the message you can watch the video below. The message starts around the 26 minute mark. Below the video you will see my basic outline for the weekend along with a few of my additional thoughts and challenges.
If you are not familiar with the story you can read it by clicking here and reading John 6:1-15.
I open with a quote from Henry Ford. It is a quote that has been bouncing around in my head for a little while anyway and seemed to fit well into the context of inviting God into your problem or dream. Often we count God out before we even start trying because the size of our dream or obstacle is bigger than our time and resources.
- Do not measure a problem or challenge according to your own ability.
In the moment that you start to only look at your dreams, obstacles, or problems by your own abilities, you are immediately saying that God has nothing to offer you in this situation. Now don’t get me wrong. God has given us wisdom to know when we should chase a dream but if that dream is truly from God, than our abilities and resources are not the measuring stick to decide whether we should move forward or not.
Back in 2005, I left a job and was faced with so many obstacles and issues on whether I should continue to stay in the ministry or not. (Most of these obstacles were in my head.) One day a friend handed me two books that really helped me see that I was looking at every obstacle rather than focusing on God who could over come that obstacle. If you haven’t read The Dream Giver, you should pick it up today. It is an easy read but worth the time and entertaining as well.
This particular miracle, in our view, is an unsolvable statistical equation because in our logical world 5+2=7. But when you add God to the equation 5+2 equals at least 5000 with a remainder of 12. The problem is that this takes Faith.
Faith is a funny thing. It is something we all have. Whether a Christian or not you have faith in something. Everyone loves faith and honestly we don’t think much about faith until it is challenged or exercised. It is sort of like my Bowflex weights at my house. (They are currently a hanger for partially dirty clothes. You know the clothes you have worn once but you weren’t really that sweaty that day so you feel like you can wear them again before washing.)
I love what my Bowflex weights represent and what they can do for me. However I hate the process of exercising. And just like that, you and I love what faith can do we just don’t like it to be exercised. But it is in those moments that our faith grows the most. Think about a time when your faith was stretched. I promise you, that will also be the same time that you feel like your faith grew.
2. God does not need what you do not have.
This is where I see people get stuck the most. We feel like in order for us to change the world we have to do it in a big way. (Part of the problem is running on emotions and feelings but that is another blog post for another day.) Think about it, if everyone was changing the world a little at a time, wouldn’t that be huge. God wasn’t asking the disciples to prepare a buffet to fix the problem, he just wanted them to provide a starting point and to let him do the rest. Even beyond that, he just wanted them to turn to him for the answer.
My favorite part of this passage is when Jesus begins to pray over the meal, the 2 fish and 5 loaves. Imagine being in that prayer circle and looking at the disciples wondering if Jesus saw something you didn’t. He was praying over something that wouldn’t fix the problem in their eyes, yet he was praying with faith.
3. God’s output always exceeds your input.
At the end of this story we see that there are 12 baskets left over after everyone eats. I like to think that this was a little gift basket reminder for each of the twelve disciples about their lack of faith. If it was me, I would have taken that basket and hung it up in my office as a reminder of what God has done. Sometimes those reminders are what we can use to catapult our faith in our next dream or obstacle.
What I love most about this passage is the reaction of the disciples. I do not know how many times I have said, “If I had just seen Jesus do some of those miracles I would never struggle with my faith again.” Yet here they are, his friends, his disciples, and they had just witnessed first hand Jesus doing some major miracles. (ie. Turning water into wine, healing the man by the pool) Yet when Jesus asks Philip where they should go to get food for all these people, Philip has no clue and honestly thinks it is impossible.
Even for those that have seen God do great things in their lives and have seen a miracle, faith is still not always our first response. Sometimes we need a little reminder…maybe a little gift basket from God. I pray today that this is your reminder.
Let God’s remainder become your reminder.