I came across a story about a ship that was sinking in the middle of a storm, and the captain called out to the crew and said, "Does anyone here know how to pray?" One man stepped forward and said, "Yes sir, I know how to pray." The captain said, "Wonderful, you pray while the rest of us put on life jackets--we're one short." Isn’t that true of us at times? When were faced with a trial or testing we usually try and solve it in our own strength or we forget about anyone else! The old saying “every man for themselves” We forget about the bigger picture, we forget about were our next breath comes from. Chuck Swindoll reminded me of a truth this week in his book “The Greatest Life of All, Jesus” “God never calls His people to accomplish anything without promising to supply their need….” We all know the passage that Jesus spoke! In Matt 6:25-34 Jesus said "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
We know passages like this one are in the bible! Spoken to us by God, Himself, and yet we fail to believe Him sometimes. Let’s be realists this morning! We’re no different than that captain of that story. I will be the first one to say “I hate tests” always have and always will! In school I despised tests, before I dropped out of High school I hated tests….. especially those pop quizzes! Even when I went to Bible school I dreaded tests; especially my Theology tests, because I knew they would take about 4 hours to complete every time. Don’t you hate that overwhelming feeling of helplessness; you can feel your blood pressure and anxiety levels go through the roof when you’re faced with a test. There is something about that word “test” that sends shivers up and down my spine. But tests are needed to help each and every one of us grow to understand whatever the subject is better! The Christian life is filled with a series of tests!Though they stink at times, they’re to help us grow more and more into the image of the Son as we await His return. But the reality is! Some tests we do well in, and others we fail miserably [I’m speaking from experience]. God this is nothing new to an all knowing and sovereign God who created me for His glory. We come to a passage [a miracle that displayed the glory of God as Sovereign Provider]. A miracle that all 4 gospels thought it was important to witness about, so that we could see not only Jesus the man, but Jesus God in flesh. It’s a time in history that speaks volumes to the soul….saved and unsaved! Especially if you were there that day to witness this amazing event.
Let me ask before we get into this wonderful and amazing miracle! What would you have done if you were one of the disciples that day? How would you have approached this dilemma or test as I like to call it? Let’s get personally this morning! Is God testing you in something this morning, this past week, this past month or year? Remember! The Christian life is a series of tests to help mold and shape us into the children of God. To be perfectly honest, how we approach a problem or situation, and how we respond to it, will determine where our strength comes from! See we all are faced with challenges each and every day. From the time we wake up to the time you go to bed. Usually! The way you respond to your first test of the day will determine the rest of your day! If you don’t believe me, look back at your past week and answer this question! Did you fail more than you passed or did you pass more than you failed, this past week? Remember! Christ often tests us to see what we shall say and do in the presence of overwhelming difficulty!
THE DISCIPLES WERE GIVEN A TEST QUESTION (V5-V9)
The test was your faith at work "by feeding the multitudes" It’s impossible logically to do this with what they had. There is no way that we can do what Jesus is requesting. Look what Philip says to Jesus in (v7) 200 denarii: is about 8 month’s wages. One denarius was a day's pay for the common person. Philip could not see past the logically explanation of it all. He only saw what we see humanly speaking sometimes when we cannot see past the problem. See Philips faith and ours requires us to move forward without understanding and knowing everything all the time. That’s the problem with most of society! That’s the number one problem for most Atheists! If I can’t figure it out and bring it to its final conclusion, than it can’t be right. Richard Dawkins said “faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.” Think about it for a moment! If you knew what the Lord had in store for your life ahead of time, would you continue to follow Him? Would your response be any different than the disciples? Think about that before you answer! We are to walk by faith and not by sight……………..Philip walked by sight, just as we do at times of testing. What Philip should have said was….."OK Lord I will tell the people to sit down as we will bring them food to eat". Or he should have said “I don’t know yet Lord, but I know You’ll think of something.”But he doesn’t! His doubt and lack of faith couldn’t see past the lack of funds. He couldn't see past the human capabilities of the God man (Jesus Christ). Forgetting everything that Jesus has done up to that point in time. Remember it was Peter's faith that upheld him on the water, not humanism or his knowledge of great understanding. It was trusting by faith in a faith God who could not deny Himself. This is God in flesh here! There is nothing to impossible for Him to achieve. See when we doubt our faith becomes weak like Philip and the disciples, just like Peter when he took his eyes off of Christ and doubt set in, in our humanity we tend to do the same at times. In Matt 14:29-33 it says ".... But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" This happens to all of us, doesn't it?We have all taken our eyes off the prize at times when we are faced with testing and trials! We have all said Lord!….
- You do not understand my problem!
- If you only knew how I feel at this moment!
- I have calculated it all up and it’s impossible!
- I have consulted the authorities, I’ve crunched the numbers and there is nothing I can do!
When things get tough and there is no logical answer to how we can handle the situation or in the disciples case feed these people. We scramble and try to find a way out, panic or better yet throw in the towel. But here is the kicker! Jesus knew what their answer would be, as we see in (v6) Jesus knew that they couldn't solve this problem themselves. Jesus had this situation under control. The same goes for you and me, when we are faced with a test. Jesus wants us to look, rely, seek, and humble ourselves onto Him.
THE DISCIPLES COULDN'T ANSWER THE TEST CORRECTLY (V10-V14)
Their lack of faith lead to fear and helplessness “but what are they among so many?" This little boy’s lunch wasn't enough to feed this amount of people. Jesus knew that! The disciples knew that, but what the disciples forgot was who they were disciples of [The One who created all things for His glory]. Jesus once again had to remind them of His sovereign provision and does the same thing to us on occasions of doubt and lack of faith. Jesus once again had to show them who He was. God almighty in the flesh! Isn't that always the way in our lives? We get all stressed out for no reason, and think things are not going according to our plans and then it happens His way. I've failed at this many times in my Christian walk. Asking those doubting questions
- Why Lord, why now in my life?
- What's the hold-up Lord?
- Why isn't anything happening or changing?
- There is no way this is going to happen in my life?
The Israelites did the exact thing in the wilderness "why have you brought us out here to die" The disciples did it here in this miracle "but what are they among so many" And sadly, I've done this many times "you’ve got to be kidding me” That's why my wife calls me Peter sometimes, because I have foot in mouth disease! We should never test a holy God, because we may not like the results to our disbelief, impatience and doubt. All things always fall right into place at the perfect time according to God's perfect plan. Not ours! Why? Because He must get the glory. What right do we have to doubt a holy God who….
- Died for us
- Rose for us
- Gave us life eternal
Tests are appropriate to refine us into the children He called us to be. Tests are always for our good and always for His glory. He can always us every situation in your life and use it for His glory as He did by using the disciples even in all their weakness and doubt to distribute the food to the people. He did it here by taking a small lunch and turning it into a feast to remember " they were full'. The only way for this event ever to be pulled off is though the supernatural work of our Lord. Remember! When God displays His glory, He makes it known throughout the land (v14). He does this with us, when things don't seem possible to our understanding or thinking. How? Through our testimony to the world of His wonderful sovereign hand in our lives found in the gospel that saves “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 1 John 5:10-11.
"I hate tests" I think you know that by now, but they are for my good, they are for my growth, they are to direct me in the path of His righteousness. Are you facing your tests with the Lord as your shield and strength as David did when he defeated Goliath? Or Are you stressed and doubting the Sovereign Creator as the disciples did here in this miracle? The size of the challenge should never be measured in terms of what we have to offer! It will never be enough. Provision is God’s responsibility, not ours! All He asks of us is to commit what we have to Him..……even if it’s no more than 5 loafs and 2 fish. The Lord can take something that seems impossible and make it possible. Just as he did with this boys lunch. As the Lord said “But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27. All things are possible if Christ is first in our lives and in our decision making. The late great Charles Spurgeon said "If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem be against us, we do not believe Him at all." The disciples forgot that truth and so do we at times. This wonderful event is a reminder that our God much bigger than our problems or present tests in life. As Jeremiah the prophet said ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. Jer 32:17. I like what Hudson Taylor said "I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done." Remember "And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them" and they were full! (v11)
- Taking the impossible, and making it possible
- He did this through His miracles
- He did this through His promises
- He did this on the cross of Calvary
- He does it through our lives today
Remember on test day! Don't doubt what you cannot control! Seek the Kingdom and not your own understanding as you face each test of life. It’s for your good and His glory! The Christian life apart from Christ is like trying to feed 5000 people in our own strength...it's impossible! But with God all things are possible.