Jesus And His Disciples
John chapter 6 contains a unique event. It contains the only miracle mentioned in all four gospels. So it seems to be extremely significant to the Gospel writers, and the Lord. Also, it is the only account where Jesus asked advice of someone else. Then, it is the only time Jesus performed a miracle before such a huge crowd. John 6 begins with these three words, “After these things…” When we read those words ask, “what things?” John’s account is preceded by five chapters and if you suddenly come into the midst of the story it is like beginning a novel in the middle. Look at “what things.”
Jesus has just chosen His disciples and sent them out. Matthew says they went to villages in the area and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, the message of repentance. Now they are back with Jesus, tired and weary. They’ve preached in every nook and cranny. They are physically worn out and exhausted. Now the Lord desires to be alone with them and to rest. He wanted to provide these hard working men a little “R” and “R” away from the crowd (John 6:1-3). But Jesus looks up and a large crowd is approaching (John 6:10). According to Matthew there are 5,000 men (Matthew 14:25). Here they are in a barren place and wouldn’t you know it, the whole crowd is hungry. There is no Kroger’s. No McDonalds’s. The disciples don’t know anyone and they have no source of food. It is an impossible situation. These disciples are just like us. They cry, “Oh, no, Lord. What on earth can we do?” Jesus however, saw this as an opportunity for a miracle. He had explained to them that He is the Son of God, God’s son in the flesh. Now they were about to see what they knew theoretically. So, He gives them a test.
The first to take the exam was Philip (John 6:5). “Where are we to buy bread that these may eat?” Now, Jesus knew what we He was doing with Philip. He was testing him (John 6:6). He wanted to know the depth of Philip’s faith. “Has he really learned to trust me?” Now there is the background for this test. Philip was the one who later said to the Lord, “Just let us see God and we won’t have any more questions.” He was the fellow who wanted to see everything. He had to see with his own eyes. If he could figure it out, o.k. Philip never answered Jesus’ question. He said, “200 denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” No, the Lord asked where to go to get bread? Philip said, “200 denarii will not feed them.” All the Lord wanted Philip to say was, “I don’t know.” The test was over. Philip saw only the situation, the size of the problem. He did not remember how big God really is. He was more convinced of what could not be done than what could be done. All who are like Philip say, “Oh, no. That won’t work.” And, when some situation gets worse and we cannot handle it any longer, it never dawns on us to trust God. All Philip saw was what could not be done.
Next comes Andrew, he had one strong thing going for himself. Any man who can talk a little fella out of his lunch must have some degree of persuasion! He said, “There is the lad who has five barely loaves and two fish.” How did he know that? He must have been in his lunch sack. He has probably been rustling around the crowd seeing who had what. He didn’t stop with that advice. He went on, “But what are these for so many people?” Too bad he didn’t stop when he was ahead. He volunteered information he wasn’t even asked. The Lord didn’t answer him. Such “little thinking” turned him off. Andrew’s are hardworking and diligent, but are also shot down by the prospect of the odds being against them. We’ve heard of the needs of the unreached multitudes. We’ve heard of the world out there aching to know Christ. We tuck our babies in bed at night. “Lord, they are yours, but what are these among so many?” You have little and are not able to give much and say, “Lord, what is it among so many needs?” Little time, work takes up 10-12 hours a day, as we think, “We often don’t have but five or ten minutes to pray. That hardly counts.” Maybe we don’t have a lot to give, but that is all the little fella had, and that is all Andrew could find. That was all the Lord needed.
Therefore, the Lord had the disciples seat the people (John 6:10.) He took the loaves and the fish and people had as much to eat as they wanted (John 6;11). The word for fish is not the word for a big bass or salmon but the word for little pickled fish, like a sardine. Barley loaves were the size of large pancakes, flat, hard, and brittle. The bread of poor people. Jesus took these brittle loaves and two fish and pulled off the impossible. Remember Philip was figuring in the minimums but John says they ate as much as they wanted and all the people were filled (John 6:12).
See, the Lord not only does the impossible. He does abundantly beyond all anyone could ask or think. He gave until there was plenty. When the people finished eating there were twelve baskets of fragments left over. Can’t you picture Philip all the way down the hill. “I can’t believe it!” Andrew the little thinker must have been stunned! How about us?
Finally, the disciples should have learned to trust the Lord. Refuse to calculate. Refuse to doubt. Refuse to work it out by yourself. Refuse to worry or encourage others to worry. What is impossible to us is nothing to the Lord. Our problem is that we hold onto our problems and the Lord gets our leftovers. We make all the mistakes and get things tied into 19 different knots then dump them in His lap and say, “Here, Lord.” No, at the very first say, “It is impossible, I can’t handle this. Lord it is yours.” God did not say all things are possible to him who worries or attempts to work it out on his own but all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23). We are all faced with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
By Rickie Jenkins