Clarence R. Bolton
I remember reading a story some time ago about a little boy having a conversation with his dad. In the conversation he asked his dad “What does God do all day?” Sometimes questions like that can make you sit back and go – hummm. In the grand scheme of things, we know that God is busy 24/7/365 doing wonderful, mighty and miraculous things. But what if the answer to that question depended on how much you allowed God to work in your life. Although God is doing mighty and miraculous things all the time, He did institute free will. God knows our needs and concerns; He knows our moves before we even make them. He is willing and able to solve all of our problems. Yet, He will not force Himself on us. With that in mind, unfortunately, I think some folk would have to answer the question by saying that God doesn’t do much all day. That’s because we don’t allow Him to work in all areas of our lives. And when we are faced with problems, God, although ever present and all-powerful, is not always given consideration in the solution.
Our text for today talks about the miracle where Jesus feeds the 5,000. This is a well known miracle and one miracle that all four Gospel writers talk about. I want us to look for a minute at the dialog between Jesus and his disciples just before the miracle takes place. Before this miracle, there was a crowd that had been following Jesus all day and they were following Him because of the miracles they had seen him performing. Now the day has been long and it was getting to be time to eat. So Jesus takes advantage of this time and situation and uses it as an opportunity to teach his disciples a lesson on compassion and faith. Jesus posed a question to His disciples on providing for the crowd. The text says that He asked Phillip, where shall we buy bread for these people to eat. Now if you look at Phillip’s response in vs. 7 and the response of Andrew in vs. 9, you’ll see that they overlooked Jesus.
Even though these disciples had seen Jesus’ work, they didn’t consider Him in the solution to the question. See – by this time in His ministry, Jesus had already done some mighty and miraculous things. He had already turned water into wine. This was the wine that the ruler of the feast said was the best that had been served all night. Jesus didn’t even have to speak any words over the water to make it wine. He simply willed it and it was so. He had already healed the nobleman’s son of an affliction that had the boy near death. Jesus did this miracle while He was in one city and the boy was in another. He did this by just speaking a word. He – by this time – had already healed the man at the pool that had been sick 38 years. Jesus simply asks the man do you want to be made whole. He then said rise up, take up your bed and walk. See – his disciples knew that Jesus had the power and had seen him do many other things at this point. They knew Jesus was able – Yet – they still overlooked Jesus as the solution to the question.
Now before we start condemning the disciples, we need to take a hard look at ourselves. See, I believe God wants us to consult Him on all things no matter how trivial we think they are. If truth be told up in here today, some folk are struggling with family problems, you are in debt or some other mess simply because you didn’t consult with the Master before you did what you did. We know about God’s power – just like the disciples. We know God is still a miracle worker – just like the disciples. And some of us in here today still fail to consult the Master when problems come up. We are no different that these disciples. That is why I believe this text is written. It was written so we can learn from the disciples. This text will help us see first that…
WHEN WE OVERLOOK JESUS – OUR RESOURCES ARE LIMITED
Why is it that when God puts something on our heart that our immediate focus is on our own resources rather than on God? We’ll say that God has called us to a particular task – then almost immediately – we start thinking of what we don’t have to do the work. (Ministry – not enough people-space-money) We need to understand and internalize this fact – where God leads – God will provide.
The question was put to Phillip, who was one of the first disciples and one who had seen all of the miracles. Philip, like so many of us, tried to solve this overwhelming problem based on what they had on hand. Philip left Jesus totally out of the picture. In this text – Philip focused on the money. I can hear Philip ponder the question. Do you know how much money it would take to buy food for this many people? (We are talking 10-15 thousand people) He said 8 months wages wouldn’t buy enough bread for each one to have a bite. Philip didn’t talk about going to the store to buy the food, who was going to buy it or even what to buy. Philip knew that when he searched their treasury, they didn’t have enough money. He went right to the bottom line. There is no sense in discussing 7-11, Wal-Mart or Food Lion. If you don’t have the money, we can’t do it. You know what – I hate to think of all of the work that is NOT being done in the name of the Lord because Jesus is overlooked.
Now Andrew speaks up and at first, he seems to speak with the voice of faith. What he says at first is good. Verse 9,”There is a lad here that has five barley loaves and two fishes…” Now if he had stopped there, it wouldn’t have been bad. But he kept on talking and blew it. He said but Jesus, look at all these people. What is that going to do for all of these people? Let me help you get in Andrew’s shoes. When we think about the fish and feeding a whole lot of folk, we usually think of a good size fish. Maybe even one of those fish you see mounted over a fireplace. But it was not a trophy sized Bass. We are talking Sardines. The loaves were not like Wonder Bread loaves. They were cheap biscuits. Remember this was a snack for a child. When you think sardines and biscuits, instead of big fish and loaves, we are better able to understand why Andrew would look at the sardines and biscuits and say, “C’mon man – this is not going to do anything for all these folk.”
But you know what church? Jesus wanted a faith response from Philip and Andrew. Lord this problem is too big for us, but not for you. Jesus didn’t get that. What He got was overlooked.
Both of these disciples did what we do when we face problems. They took stock of the natural resources available (money in the treasury & the lad’s lunch), measured those resources to the need (we got to feed about 10 to 15 thousand people), and looked at where they were (a deserted place) and then made a decision. I am not saying that this approach is all bad. As a matter of fact, I think that it is a good approach as long as you don’t stop there. If you stop there, we would conclude just like Philip and Andrew. We don’t have enough money – and we do not have the ability to feed this crowd. You know what church; if things had stop there, look at the opportunity that would have been missed to provide for and service the crowd. If things had stop there Jesus wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show that little becomes much when you place it in the master’s hand.
What Philip and Andrew did is a classic example of folk facing a difficult problem and not bringing God in on it. The bottom line is this. As children of God, we should never try to solve our problem based only on what we have on hand. We should always consider the one that owns the cattle on a thousand hills. And don’t overlook the fact that He also owns the hills. We should always consider the one that said He would supply all our needs according to His riches in Glory. This means – with God in the mix you will always have more than enough to meet any need. If you overlook Jesus you will soon discover that your stuff is not enough – your resources are limited. Not only that – you’ll see that…
WHEN WE OVERLOOK JESUS OUR OPTIONS ARE LIMITED.
I want you to look at something here. Jesus included himself in the problem solution. Look at how the question was asked. The question was where shall WE buy food. He didn’t say where can you buy food or where can they. Even though Jesus said WE, the disciples completely overlooked Him as an option. If you look at the other Gospel accounts of this miracle you’ll see that their immediate and only option appeared to be – send the people away. Let them fend for themselves. This is the best solution they could come up with.
There is nothing like having a lot of options when you are faced with a problem. When you run out of options and the problem is still not solved, the result can be catastrophic. It can be deadly. I don’t think I am over stating the case (I heard about the stock market crash back in the 20’s and I lived through the mini-crash of 1987and this recent one. People committed suicide because they ran out of options. They saw no hope of recovering their wealth and they just could not see themselves without their money). When people have no hope, strange things can happen. Desperate people will do desperate things.
When your options are limited, Frustration kicks in church. When you have done all that you know how to do. You have gone every place you know to go. And you have talked to Lottie, Dottie and everybody and you still can’t solve the problem, frustration kicks in. When you are frustrated you will either give up on the matter or do something you may regret later. When you focus on your own resources (money, your ability, possessions) your problems can seem too large for you to handle.
The words to my favorite hymn say this – Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bare. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer. There are limitless possibilities when you put Jesus in the picture. When you have Jesus as an option, doors that were shut can be opened. He can make ways where there seemed to be no way. I can’t help but think about Moses and the Israelites when Pharaoh’s army was behind them and the Red Sea was ahead of them. There was no way out. But with God in the mix, they had another option. Consult with the one that is Omniscient. He knows everything and can find a solution to every problem. Consult with the one that is Omnipotent. He has the power to right any wrong and overcome any evil. When you overlook Jesus, your resources are limited and your options are limited. Also…
IF YOU OVERLOOK JESUS YOU MIGHT MISS YOUR MIRACLE.
A miracle is an event that appears to be neither a part nor result of any known natural law or agency and is therefore often attributed to a supernatural source. Based on that, I can say that feeding over 5,000 folk with 2 sardines and 5 biscuits will qualify as a miracle. But I don’t believe this miracle was for the benefit of the crowd. The text said that the multitude was following Jesus because of the miracles He had already done. This miracle, I believe was for the benefit of the disciples. Even though they had been with him for a while, they still had some things they had to learn. There were still a few things they needed to know about His power. They were still having their On The Job Training with Jesus.
The disciples looked at the problem and figured out that they couldn’t solve it. Church they came to the conclusion that Jesus knew that they would reach. Verse 6 tells us that He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. I really believe he wanted them to see that there was no human answer to this problem. I also believe He wanted to show them that when you consider Him and His power, when you don’t overlook Him in the solution to your problem, there is nothing that can’t be done.
Jesus knew what the solution to the problem was before He even asked Philip the question. That lets me know that whatever comes into my life, Jesus already knows about it. It lets me know that whatever He allows to come into my life; He is able and willing to handle it and bring me through it with victory. This is the case in our text today. He knew the solution and He allowed the disciples to participate or partner with Him in the solution.
Look – Jesus told the disciples to have the men sit. You know the rest of the story. Jesus took what they had, blessed it and the multitude had all the fish sandwiches they could eat. Whatever you place in the Master’s hand – It may be small in quantity – It may even be small in quality – He will transform it. He will transform it from being not enough to being more than enough. I bet every time they handed out a piece of fish and a biscuit and realized that they were not running out of supply, they had to ask “is anything impossible for Jesus?” He took the limited resources, two Sardines and 5 biscuits, and the multitude was filled. I don’t know about you but that would have been miracle enough for me. But how many of you know that Jesus is more than enough. Since they said that this couldn’t be done, since they said that there was not enough, He had them pick up the abundance from what they said was not enough. The Bible said that there were 12 baskets full of leftovers; a basket for each disciple. And each one had a basket full of what they said was not enough and a basket full of what they said couldn’t be done. Do you hear what I’m trying to say? We don’t have enough has been transformed into an abundance. It can’t be done is now look at what he did.
This was a lesson not just for the disciples but for us as well. We should learn from this that we should never overlook Jesus. There are some things that we know that there is no human or natural answer for. Like the situation in today’s message, there was no human or natural answer for that. When a situation like that comes into your life – that’s a job for nobody but Jesus. When you know that there is no way to meet your bills – you have figured it out on paper and the ends just don’t meet – don’t overlook Jesus. He will make a way out of no way.
When that child of yours won’t listen. You have been to counseling; you have withheld privileges; you have put the paddle to the saddle; and that child still doesn’t act right. Don’t overlook Jesus. He is a heart fixer and a mind regulator.
When your enemy stays on your case and you have done all that you know how to do; don’t overlook Jesus. He will give you strength and power to overcome your enemy. As a matter of fact, he will make your enemy your footstool. Can we give God some Glory up in here today?
DON’T OVERLOOK JESUS! He is a problem solver.
Let me close with this thought. We may overlook Jesus but HE NEVER OVERLOOKS US. He said that He would never leave us nor forsake us. He was with us in the beginning and He will be there with us in the end. The miracle that we talked about today shows that Jesus does not overlook us. He is willing and able to provide for all of our needs and the Bible tells us that He has protected us from dangers seen and unseen.
He had us on his mind way back in eternity even before we knew who He was. He looked forward and knew that there was no way for mankind to make it if He did not give up His position in Glory, come down to earth and give His life to pay the price for our sins. When it comes to our salvation I beg you not to overlook Jesus. You may do some things without Jesus while on this earth. You may even accumulate some wealth without Jesus. BUT, you will not get to heaven without Jesus. In John 14:6 Jesus said that I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the father but by me. God knew how humanity would end up so He made a way for everybody to go to heaven. That way is through Jesus. Don’t overlook Him today. He said that He is coming back again and He will be looking for a Church without spot or wrinkle. I believe there may be some spots & wrinkles up in here today. You can have your spots washed white as snow by the blood of Jesus. Don’t overlook Jesus.