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Jesus' feeding of the multitude is the only miracle included in all four Gospels. His example here teaches us that we cannot minister to His flock alone nor can we expect that someone else will do the hands-on work in our place. The kindnesses, selflessness, compassion, competence and love we give to them will come from Him when we abide with Him.
Compassion and the Compentency We Have with Christ: How We Can Feed Five Thousand
Bingo! The Answer is "Jesus". (And the Question is: "Who is God?")
The King and His Kingdom and What You Must Know to Enjoy them Both
Jesus on Jesus
Do You Want to Get Well? Here's Your Man and Here's How.
From Confusion to Crisis to Clarity to Completion: The Progression from Christlessness to Contagious Faith
What Worshiping in Spirit and Truth Means for Disciples and the Harvest
The Woman at the Well: A Picture of Grace, a Picture of Us
It's the Relationship, Stupid: The Right Well for Your Bucket
Clearing the Way, Preparing the Way, Getting Out of the Way: How Great Men Respond to the Greatest Calling
Open your Bibles to John 6 with me. We're going to look at one of the most important passages in your entire New Testament today. Now why would I say that? Well, when people of authority and influence in your life say something to you, you want to always take note, but when they care to repeat it, go back over it, and state it again and again and again, you might want to really begin to lock in on it.
There are 36 miracles in your Bible if you count the resurrection; 35 prior to the resurrection. There is only one of those 35 that every different person who was moved by God to give you pictures of who Christ is, who sought to reveal to you the person of God through his Son Jesus Christ… There is only one sign, one miracle that all four of them…Matthew in chapter 14, Luke in chapter 9, Mark in chapter 6, and John in chapter 6…thought it necessary to list.
Why is that? It's because of its theological importance, certainly. In fact, this sign is so significant that after we look at the first 15 verses in chapter 6 today, we'll take a little break, because there's another sign Christ gives us, but then he'll come back in verses 20-22 and spend another 50 verses talking about the theological significance of what we're going to look at today. It is tremendously important. It's one of the longest chapters in John. It is the sign that gets the most discourse, and it's the only one that's recorded in all four gospels.
What I really want to focus on today is not the theological importance of it but just the practical nature of it. What I want to remind you is that John only grabbed 7 of the 35 different ones, and this one is the only one that, like I said, the other guys cover. In fact, five of the seven John uses are unique to John, and the two that are in all four or three of the other four are in chapter 6. There's a reason he wants you to get this one.
All of the Gospels have this story show up right after there is a clear rejection of who Jesus says he is. What you're going to find out is that Christ is going to be doing some things, and the people are not going to have any spiritual understanding about why he's doing it. This is a consistent pattern throughout John. Jesus would show up, and the guys would ask, "By what authority do you do this?" He'd say, "You tear down this temple, and three days later I'll build it back."
They go, "It took Herod 46 years to build this temple." Jesus goes, "You don't get it. You're not spiritually appraised. All you do is think materially, and I don't want you to think materially. I want you to understand what I'm saying." Nicodemus. "You have to be born again." He says, "How in the world is a grown man going to crawl back into his mother's womb?" "No, Nicodemus. I'm not talking about you physically crawling back up inside your mother."
The woman at the well. "Hey, if you knew who I was, you would ask me for the water I have, and you would drink of it and never thirst again." "How if you have no bucket will you give me water?" This keeps showing up. Jesus here is about to say to them, "Look. I am the Bread of Life. I am not somebody you should seek because I'm going to fill your stomach and six to eight hours you're going to hunger again, but I'm the one who will give to you what you need to satisfy something much, much more needy than your stomach: your very soul."
All that theological stuff is going to come out in John 6 as he talks about, specifically, his claim. I'm going to show you when it happened, where it happened, and why that's so significant. There is a practical lesson here that will influence us, hopefully, if we are to be his church, that we cannot miss, and none of the gospel writers were allowed to miss it because of its significance.
Let's take a look. It says, "After these things…" What are these things? These things are the events that happened in roughly a six-month period between John 5 to where we are in John 6. If you go and look at the other gospels, you'll know that John the Baptist was not just imprisoned already during that time but he was actually beheaded and died. Jesus had commissioned the disciples to be effective to go out and to share who he was, largely to the Gentile northern kingdoms up there in Israel.
It was always after Jesus presented himself to be more than a great teacher but to be the visible image of the invisible God, and the Jews rejected him. They said, "No, you're a deceiver. You're deluded. You're a demon." They had made a decision collectively as a nation that Jesus was not going to be the means through which they received God's blessing for them. What you find is right after that decision, there's a shift in all four gospels.
What is the King going to do now that those he was coming to be the King of rejects him as their king? What's going to happen to the kingdom, and what's going to be the means of blessing if God's provision is rejected by those who were to be the instrument of that blessing being distributed throughout the earth? John 6, Matthew 14, Luke 9, and Mark 6 answer that question. What's God going to do now that the Jews have rejected Jesus as the Messiah?
So those things have all been happening now, and it says, "…Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias)." It is not a sea; it's a lake. It's about 7 miles wide, 14 miles long. It's in the northern part of Israel, and it's a really interesting thing. I've had the chance to be there a couple of times. Let me show you a drawing of this little sea. You'll see Tiberias there on the western bank on the left side. Magdala is kind of a suburb of Tiberias. Tiberias is an expansive Roman city that's right there.
As you walk around, I want you to pay attention, as you go up a little bit farther north, to Capernaum and Chorazin and Bethsaida. Those are the three cities Jesus did more miracles in than any other. I want to show you a picture today, almost like a Google Maps shot, a satellite shot of the Sea of Galilee. If you look at it, you'll notice it is largely uninhabited all around that sea today. There are a lot of ruins there. You can see little specks of ancient ruins, but there is a city that still exists. It's the city of Tiberias.
The actual feeding of the 5,000, most scholars think, happened up more toward where 10:00 would be. That's where the Mount of Beatitudes is. That little region up there is all the Tiberias region, but Tiberias itself is the only city that's still there. There is no Chorazin, there is no Bethsaida, there is no Capernaum except, literally, 2,000-year-old ruins. Why is that? Here's why. In Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus said, "I denounce you different cities here in which most of my miracles were done, because you did not repent. You did not respond to the purpose of me doing these different miracles." He said:
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon [two cities in the Old Testament that were brought under judgment] which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you."
He goes on to say the same thing about Capernaum. "You're not going to be exalted to heaven. No. It's going to be worse for you than Sodom and Gomorrah, because if Sodom and Gomorrah had seen what you have seen, they would have remained to this day. They never would have been brought about to judgment."
Let me say this very quickly. There is some sense, according to Christ, of a degree of suffering and judgment. Now how is that? I want you to hear me on this. The Bible is very clear that there is enough revelation of who God is in creation and in conscience that every man is culpable before him. God says that every man…
Just with creation, what they can see in general revelation about the glory and beauty and power and reality of God, and then the evidence God has stamped on every human who has ever lived, a conscience, a moral sense of right and wrong, apart from any external law, that we all violate, that we all stand in offense to this beautiful Creator, that we all stand in contradiction to this rightness within us, and all of us will experience some sense of separation from God if we don't cry out for mercy and find out what that mercy comes in the form of.
Jesus says that Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida are types of places that it's going to be worse for them than others. How is that? Look. Hell is hellish enough for anybody who is there. There are two kinds of people, C.S. Lewis once said. He said there are those who say to God, "Thy will be done."
In other words, "Lord, I acknowledge that I could never, ever satisfy you. I could never justify myself before you, and if it weren't for your goodness and kindness and mercy in yourself paying my eternal debt to you with your eternal perfect self as a sacrifice for my sins, I could never have a relationship with you.
I see that that provision is there. I accept your gift, and I want to live now in relationship with you, seeing that you're a good and gracious God, filled with lovingkindness and truth. I don't want to run from you; I want your will to be done in my life, knowing that your will for me is that which is for my best interests." Two kinds of people: ones who say to the Lord, "Thy will be done" and those who God will say to one day, "Your will be done."
"You want nothing to do with me? You want to find life on your own? You want to get away from me? You want to suppress conscience, that evidence that there is right and wrong that I've given to you and set in your hearts so you might not destroy yourself? You want to suppress that and harden your heart toward me? You want to say this all happened by time plus chance through some spontaneous event and get away from order and beauty? Then I will one day grant you that in its full perfection."
Hell is a place where there is nothing that will remind you of beauty and order. It is chaos and darkness and loneliness and death, a spiritual death that will never end. I mean, physical death would be pleasing. That's why there is no death. There is no relief. Relief is good. God says there will be none of that. So how could it be worse if you're in that place? Well, I think part of what he's saying right there is that it's awful if you knew…
There's enough revelation, enough teaching, if you will, by God through creation and conscience that you should have seen, "I am not like the God of this universe. I am not as good as I should be. I am not as ordered and beautiful in my life as I should be. I need mercy." God says he will reveal himself to anybody who responds to that. The problem is the Scripture says there's nobody who responds to that unless God does an efficacious work of grace in them, but that's another message for another day.
What you need to know is whoever those people are who only have creation and conscience, you are not them. You are people who have heard about the revelation of God's love for you expressed through his Son who died on the cross; that he is the way, the truth, and the life and nobody comes to the Father except through him; that the gospel of God, the good spell he puts on you, is that Christ died for your sins. He made him who knew no sin to become sin on your behalf, that you might become the righteousness of God in him.
If you're in hell next to a person who maybe never had the opportunity to hear songs sung about the fact that Jesus paid it all and declared his amazing grace and folks teach you from the Scripture the specific revelation of God, and they're down there and they go, "Look, man. We had creation and conscience, but you had all that plus that?" then what kind of hell would that be? And for you to be experiencing what they're experiencing and to know how much worse it is that you just spit back in the face of the kindness and graciousness of God.
I think that's an extra kind of hell. So don't think it's going to be worse for Hitler than the philanthropist who doesn't receive Christ. That's not what Jesus has in mind here. What he's talking about is folks who rebuff and reject revelation. It's as if we're in the same class together, and the teacher said, "I'm going to ask you one question on the test," but he taught us a thousand things, and he pulled you aside and said, "I'll just tell you what the question is. Make sure you know the answer to this one," and then you didn't study that one thing.
I was trying to study a thousand things and work my way and think that was the way to do it, and we both flunk, and I find out when we're both flunked and miserable and impoverished and poor and separated from the road we were on that you had that extra revelation. We were all given what we needed, but you knew exactly what we needed? Oh my goodness! That's an extra kind of hell and suffering.
So, this region that he did this in is the only place that's still preserved. It's a thriving city on the Sea of Galilee, this Gentile city named for Tiberius Caesar, but that's not what we're focusing on. It says, "A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick."
What you're going to find out is that twice in these first 15 verses Jesus withdraws from the crowd. It's really odd. If you're a guy who's trying to gather a following, then you always want crowds. Right? Well, Jesus isn't looking to gather a bunch of crowds who just want to have their ears tickled. Christ is trying to lead men to life. He's trying to say, "Follow me. I want you to reorder your priorities and your appetites and know that I am God and I am good."
When crowds were around him for the wrong reasons, he would withdraw from them. You're going to find that he does it right now, and then he's going to feed them. Actually, he's going to withdraw from them now, and they're going to seek him out still, and then he's going to feed them, and then he's going to withdraw from them again.
So what happens here? What happens is that people, it says, were after him because they were sign-seekers. They were wonder-worshipers. They liked being around him because he met their appetites. What you're going to find out is that Christ used physical things to teach spiritual lessons. All of the signs he did weren't to amass a huge following; they were to reveal something about him.
That's why he told the folks when he turned the water into wine, "You don't need to tell anybody," but he begins to reveal something about himself. "I am the author of creation. I am sovereign over time." What is wine? Wine is grape juice with apparent age. He says, "I can change the material substance and nature of something because I am Creator." That's why he turned water into wine.
When he healed the nobleman's son, the man said, "Come over here to my son. I want to make him well." Jesus said, "Go. Your son is well." Jesus was showing there, "I am sovereign over space. I'm not limited to geography." He's revealing something about himself. You have the lame man who he has walking. It's not just so he can show that he can restore lame legs but, specifically, he told him to do something on the Sabbath.
They said, "You can't do that on the Sabbath," and he said, "Yes, I can, because the Sabbath is my day." "It's the Lord's day." He goes, "Exactly. I don't want you to follow me around because I make lame men walk; I want you to follow me around because I'm Lord. I don't want you to follow me around because I can heal your son who's sick; I want you to follow me around because I am Lord of every place and everything."
The feeding of the 5,000. "I'm not here just to give your stomach something for a moment, so don't follow me for your base appetites. I am the Bread your soul craves for." A lot of folks like Jesus if they can make Jesus kind of jump on board with their appetites and use his energy or his power and his nature to bless what they want. In other words, "Hey, Jesus, I'm all in if you can give me a baby and I'm barren; if you can give me a spouse and I'm single; if you can deal with my financial crisis."
There's nothing wrong with children. They're a gift from the Lord. There's nothing wrong with sex and relational intimacy. God created those things, but if you live for sex, you're never going to be satisfied by sex. If you think another person can ultimately bring joy and peace to your life, you're going to find out that's not it.
Jesus says, "Look. If you marry, you don't sin, but if you marry looking for marriage to be the only thing you have in your life that will satisfy you, you're going to be a very discouraged married person before long. If you just seek to have money bring you peace, money will never bring you peace. It takes wings. It flees. I don't care how much you have."
What Christ is trying to say here is, "I'm not here to feed your appetites." You don't get your appetites to have Jesus jump in and bless them. He changes your appetites and makes you find satisfaction in him, and that way you can enjoy sex how it should be enjoyed, not as a slave to it. Money can be your servant, not your master. Children are a gift; not something you're dependent on for meaning and significance but something you can build into and love and shepherd.
I want to tell you what. There are a lot of false teachers who are out there trying to give you what your appetites want. They'll tell you that God is going to make you healthier, wealthier, and more prosperous to build a crowd. You're going to find out that Jesus moves away from people who just want him to bless their appetites. He doesn't endorse that. He withdraws from that.
Let me read you this little excerpt that goes with this. This is what one guy observed. He says Jesus withdrew from crowds because the enthusiasm the people had was not for who he really is. He said, "This is very important for our day and for your life. People can have a great enthusiasm for Jesus, but the Jesus they're excited about is not the biblical Jesus.
It may be a morally exemplary Jesus, or a socialist Jesus, or a capitalist Jesus, or an anti-Semitic Jesus, or a white-racist Jesus, or a revolutionary-liberationist Jesus, or a countercultural cool Jesus. But not the whole Jesus who, in the end, gives his life a ransom for sinners. And if your enthusiasm for Jesus is for a Jesus that doesn't exist, your enthusiasm is no honor to the real Jesus, and he will leave you and go into the mountain."
Gang, this is very important. If you just want to get your Jesus and put him in a box and have him add on to your appetites, and you're good with him as long as he's good for what you're about, and you wonder where your abundant life is, you've never met Christ. You don't say, "God, come bless my singleness. God, come bless my bank account. God, come bless my health. If you do that, then you'll be my Jesus." No. You just say, "You are the author and giver of life, and you are sufficient. Christ plus nothing is everything."
If you're wondering why Jesus hasn't given you what you're looking for, it's because you have not understood him for who he is. This is what's going to be John 6:20 through the end of the chapter. "You seek me because I fed your stomachs. You don't understand the reason I fed your stomachs was to teach you something far greater. I am the bread for your soul. Trust in me."
You're going to find twice… First, when the crowds came to him because of earlier signs he did, he withdrew from them. Then they sought him again, and you're going to find out what he does. He tries to serve them with truth, and then they go, "We like you," and they were going to by force, verse 15 says, try to make him king. He withdrew from them again, and on and on he goes.
Verse 3: "Then Jesus went up on the mountain [away from these sign-seekers, these wonder-worshipers] , and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near." John puts this in there. He has three different Passovers in his text. It's one of the ways we can see the progression of the life of Jesus in John, but John is not ultimately concerned with chronology. He puts this in there for theological reasons.
People are thinking about the Passover. What is the Passover? If you know anything about the Passover, it is a time when the nation of Israel had their mind on the blood and the body of the lamb, which was a means through which judgment would pass over them, and then sustenance that they would receive for the long journey that was ahead of them as they moved out of bondage and into a place of freedom.
So Jesus says, "Okay. You have your mind on blood and body. You have your mind on provision and strength. You have your mind on being led out of slavery into freedom. I'm your man." In effect, he's saying, "I am your Passover Lamb. It's my blood that will be shed for you, that if you shelter yourself underneath it, judgment will pass over you. It's my body you ate the meat of the lamb that will give you strength on your journey as you move forward now to serve me and honor me and live in freedom from sin and self."
Theologically, what he's going to do here is remind them of some things. Also, you're going to find out in verse 14 that they start to go, "This is the prophet Moses talked about." Who was that prophet? Moses said, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet from among your own brethren. You should listen to him."
Jesus is going to come back and say, "Hey, what did Moses do when you were making your way? Moses would come down from the mountain. Moses would provide for you bread, manna from heaven, but it wasn't really Moses who gave you that bread; it was God who gave you that bread, and that bread made you hungry."
He said, "If you eat of me, the manna from heaven, you'll never hunger again." All this theological stuff we're going to get into, but it's the Passover, and the people are keenly aware of provision from God that would pass them out of judgment and give them sustenance and strength. Jesus says, "Let me try to reveal myself to you one more time."
Verse 5: "Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip…" He just picked Philip out. "'Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?' This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do." This is where we're going to get to the very practical thing. Let me just say there are two things you have to get out of this text.
First, to be effective in ministry you have to have compassion. When Christ saw the multitudes, and he saw it was late in the day (toward evening, one of the other gospels says), and he saw the multitudes were there and were looking for provision from him, he had compassion on them. He was expecting his disciples to care with him for people he loved, and he was going to teach them to have eyes of compassion for other people.
It's one of the things we have to be. As we talk about Hunger Month here, as we talk about what's going on in our community, if we're going to say we're going to serve God, it's not enough for us just to pray for them and move on. God says, "No, I want you to really care for them. I want you to get to know them. I want you to love them." That's why when you walk through a town, you don't just tell people how much you know. People really don't care how much you know until they know how much you love.
That's why if you're like Julie Anders and Jeff Hewitt, the folks in your Watermark News this week… They're just walking through Lake Highlands, and they start to see this Karen community, these refugees, and they start to go, "Hey, we have compassion on these people. We don't just pray for them and say how hard it must be to be new in this town." They dive in and care for them. They go, "This is my path. Those are the folks in the ditch on my path; therefore, my neighbors. I can't say I love God and not love them."
Jesus when he captures your heart makes you a compassionate person. We don't just talk about hungry folks; we get to know them. We don't talk about kids who are suffering under educational injustice; we begin to mentor them. We don't just talk about how awful it is to be a victim of a fatherless household because your mom and dad died of AIDS in Africa. We train caregivers over them, we teach them theologically, and we go to watermarkworldwide.com and jump in and provide for them. We don't just talk about the orphans in Africa; we adopt kids from there. We see them, and we think it's our responsibility.
One of the things Jesus is teaching his disciples here is "I see these people. They're like sheep without a shepherd. You love them." It's interesting. What Jesus is going to begin to do is he's going to start to teach and train his disciples that "The way we're going to care for the world now is going to be through you, because they're going to reject the King. They're going to crucify the King. The King is going to go away. So how are the people going to be cared for? Answer: the King's servants. You need to care for them like I do."
It says in Matthew, when Jesus saw them, he saw them like sheep without a shepherd, and he had compassion for them. So he's going to dive in. It's really interesting. When you look at this, how do the disciples respond? The committee of the disciples do one of two things. They go, "Let's send them away. Let's get rid of this nuisance." Or they try to hold a fundraiser. They go, "What can we collect for them so somebody else can meet their needs?" Jesus says, "You care for them."
G.K. Chesterton, who was an English humorist and writer, much like our American Mark Twain… One of my favorite quotes by Chesterton is, "I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees." God uses individuals who will rise up and believe. What a leader does is he never gets overwhelmed by a situation, but he sees the need that is there, he looks at the resources that are available, he seeks and determines God's need and trusts in God's provision and seeks to do God's will.
A committee, on the other hand, is a group of people who don't believe they can do anything and collectively believe they can do nothing. Often, in all genuineness, committees are a group of people who have all the power and none of the real responsibility. Jesus says, "You're not going to be a committee that sends missionaries into the world; you are going to be the mission. It's your job to care for the multitude. You have compassion on them."
Folks ask me at Watermark sometimes, "Hey, Todd, what's the mission budget at Watermark?" I go, "A hundred percent." Everything we do is part of the mission. We don't sit here on a committee and listen to people present a 15-minute deal, saying, "Will you support me as we go do the mission?" We are the mission. This is the mission. We're not looking to make you comfortable here.
We've used this analogy from day one of a cruise ship and a battleship. Most churches are places that you kind of come, and you decide if you like the captain. If you like the music they play in the ballroom, if the food they serve and the way it's presented is largely acceptable to your palate, then you'll come and sail with them again. A lot of churches are trying to make you comfortable and satisfy you as a consumer so you'll keep cruising along with them.
Let me tell you something. That is not Watermark. It's not Christ's church. This passage is so significant. What we are is a battleship. We are men and women on mission, each of us discovering and developing and deploying our gifts for the purpose of our King, our Commander in Chief. All of us have valuable and important and necessary roles. Nobody is cruising here. You don't come here and find out what the captain can do for you to make you comfortable as you sail through life.
We're saying we're on mission to love those he loves and to care for those he cares for. That's what he wants us to do. "Hey, look at the multitudes. You care for them. Don't just pray for them and move on. That's a joke. Feed them." This passage is what makes churches, bodies of Christ, ultimately great or frauds, if they get this text. What Jesus is saying to you in Dallas is "Hey, care for Dallas."
"Well, we're going to pray for them."
"No, no, no, no, no. Feed them."
All four gospels end the same way: "Go, make disciples. Do you love me? Feed my sheep. Hey, you wait for my Spirit to come upon you. You walk in intimacy with me, and out of the overflow of your relationship with me, you will be my witnesses." They all end the exact same way. Churches that miss this become places of ritual, ritualistic institutions where folks go and sit through a service and go, "Okay. Check the box. I did what God wants." God doesn't want you to go through a ritual.
They become intellectual institutions where you sit and go through Bible studies and teach and take notes and fill up your little notebooks and go, "Okay. We've learned more about God." They become emotional places where you go and have a wonderful experience. "The worship was awesome. The vibe was cool. It felt good. I'll go back." They become social networks for you to go and meet people, and they are dead, false representations of what Christ wants the church to be. We're not here to be ritualistic, intellectual, social, emotional cruise ships; we're here to be on mission. You care for them.
Here's the second thing you have to get from this text. If compassion is something, you need to learn something about competency, and that is that you don't have it. People ask me a lot, "Todd, are you surprised by what's going on here at Watermark?" and I go, "No, not at all." In fact, every now and then, I look around and wonder why God isn't doing more. I wonder why there are not 20,000 to 30,000 folks who are at different times ministered to in different ways all throughout this city through what's happening right here.
I'm not at all surprised, but when people hear me say that they might go, "Well, that's pretty arrogant." I go, "No, it's not. It has nothing to do with me." I have never one time stayed awake or stressed about shepherding this body. Using my gifts… All the time I'm concerning myself with being faithful, but I have to tell you something.
I could have the now 10 years of experience I have in planting a church and working with people and building teams and all the stuff I've done now all through my late 30s, early 40s, getting to 50, and I could not do this again. I couldn't get us here. I never thought I could get us here. It's not up to me to get us here, and it's not up to me to make us get to wherever else we're going. It's up to me to be faithful. This has nothing to do with Todd Wagner.
It has nothing to do with our elders. It has nothing to do with our staff. This has everything to do with the one who is sufficient. I can remember how many times we have prayed, and we'll do it again tonight… We just go, "Lord, you love this world. You want to do something great in the world for your name, so why not with us? We'll give you what we have, however unimpressive it is, and we'll do the best we can with it, always giving glory to you and always acknowledging that everything we have is from you and for you. So you do what you want."
This has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with the giftedness that's in here, other than we are maybe taking it and letting him have it and we're expecting him to take care of people, but how do we think he's going to take care of people? We don't just preach and go home and put our feet up. We have compassion. We go amongst the people and care for the people and serve the people, just like he says.
We have no illusion about how the multitudes are being fed and cared for. There is a multiplication thing happening here. We're raising up more disciples to care for more people. I mean, how in the world can you care for so great a number? I'm going to show you right now. So let's see. Let's get 12 of you guys. Can you guys all come up here for a second? I'm going to have you guys do something for me.
Here's what we're going to do. We're going to feed the multitudes. We're 12. This section right here is about 300 people, just this little middle section. That's all we're going to feed. So think middle section times 50. Andrew came over here, and what it would really be like is this. He found a knapsack with this little boy. He'd be walking around carrying something like this.
What you would have in here would probably be more like a granola bar than anything. Mashed barley and oats with some dates and some honey would be dried up like this, and he would carry it around. It wasn't something that would spoil. He had two fish in here as well. So they go, "This is all we have. How is that to feed this times 50?" Jesus says, "Look. Here's what you need to know. Give it to me. Remember who I am. Give it to me."
What we're going to do is we're going to come over here. It's not me, but Jesus went over here. He gives thanks to the Father that we can teach this lesson right now. "I'm training you guys, my Twelve, to know that it's our job to care for those people. If we don't give them what they lack, they're never going to get it. Those people need something, and it's going to come from me. You're not the miracle workers, so don't be overwhelmed. I'm the miracle worker. You're my instruments."
So Jesus gave thanks, and then he came over here, and they would keep coming to Christ. So now you guys come. We're going to distribute this, and I want to do it for a reason. We have some fish, some tuna, and we have a loaf of bread. It's a sweet bread with a creamy white center, just to let you know how good Christ is.
Here's what I want you to do. While I talk for a little bit, I want you guys to take all you can carry and go feed them. When you don't have any more to feed them, what are you going to do? "Jesus sent me to feed them, and I can only carry this much. I'll go back to Jesus and get some more." So let's get busy. You guys go ahead. Let's feed the masses. You guys keep doing that while I continue. Up and down, as much as you want, and back to Christ every time you're out.
Here's what's happening. This is why this miracle is so significant. I want you to watch what they have to do as they try to feed you. You're hungry, like, "Come on! Let's go. Get it to me." It's the end of a long day. This is very important. Watch this. I don't want you to miss this. Look here in verse 10. Jesus says, "Have the people sit down." That might be a little throwaway passage for you, but when folks would eat, there wasn't a Chick-fil-A to drive through. There wasn't a Denny's to go sit down in. This is the way people ate. It was just one continual picnic.
This is very important. Jesus told the folks to sit down, and I want to share with you the people at Watermark who get well. The people at Watermark who get well, who get fed, are the folks who sit down. It's not the folks who are passing through while that guy is up there on the mountain talking and listen and go, "Huh, interesting," but it's the folks who sit down and go, "I believe that guy has something for me that can provide for me. So I'm not going to go, 'Huh, it's an interesting message.'" They sit down.
What do I mean by that? See, everybody in this little parable that we have working here before you, this actual event that happened historically that I'm letting you see… Every time they go out and go, "I'm overwhelmed. I've given this to my group of 25 or 50…" We know that's how they broke it up…in 50s and 100s…by reading the other gospels. Whenever they run out and go, "I can't give anything more to the people," what do they do? They come right back.
Let's say you're out there, and these folks are going, "It's never going to make its way to us." What do you think some folks are going to start to do? "Where are you guys getting all this food?" What would you say to them if they're out there asking, "Where are you getting all this food?" "This guy I'm hanging out with. I don't know. We had five loaves and two fish." (Five plus two is seven, the number of perfect provision, and all that different stuff. Let's not make too much out of numerology. That got Harold Camping in trouble.)
He's going to go, "It's from Jesus. It's this guy we've been following. He continually shows us that he is not just a prophet. So look. Come with me. I'll show you I'm just an instrument. I'm not the miracle worker, but come with me." So if you guys want to do that, you can't go get stuff, but if you want to grab other folks to help you get all that out, make a disciple.
Be out there and tell somebody else, "Look. What I'm giving people isn't me; it's Jesus. Let me introduce you to Jesus." What you need for them you get from him. Every time they get to a place where they go, "What do I need? It's not me anymore. I'm never out of resource if I'm connecting myself with Jesus…" There is nothing in us that says we're competent, we're the ones who figured this out, we're the ones who are carrying it on.
Do you know what we're trying to do? We're trying to give to you what we get from Christ. I don't have the creativity to be a liberal preacher. What do I mean by that? If I had to think through what I was going to say that was going to inspire you every week, I don't know what I'd say, but if I just go to the text and go, "What's Jesus teaching us there?" I'll give to you what he has given to them, and then we'll make disciples.
"These things which you've heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." Do you see what these disciples are learning, by the way? "There are a lot of people out there. I'll never be able to feed all of them. What I need for them I get from him." Every time they run out, they come back up and get more. They go, "Jesus, what am I going to give them?" "You give them this from me."
Here's the deal. Don't mess this metaphor up, thinking, "That's what I do, Todd. I study my Bible in the morning, and then I charge out into the world for God every day." No. You abide with him continually. You're going to see the need is so overwhelming that what we have to do is not just feed the hungry, but all the time we have to realize that folks are hungry for something more than just being recipients.
We can tell them, "Let me share with you why I've learned to love this way, steward my life this way. It's because I'm following the example of Jesus. Let me make you a feeder, not just a receiver. Let me tell you where I'm getting this worldview. Let me tell you where I'm getting this forgiveness. Let me tell you where I'm getting this love. It's not mine. I'm not a good person.
I'm a wretch who loves me, who rebels against God, but I found God's goodness and grace. I've seen what he has done for me, and I'm learning from Christ to yield to his Spirit. This is what makes me a person now who wants to give this way, live this way, mentor this way, reconcile this way. All that you're receiving from me is a reminder of God's goodness for you. I am an instrument of the one you should love."
Guess who's going to get fed by that: the folks who sit down. Gang, if you're here and you just keep passing through and you're wondering why you're still hungry, it's because God's program for you to be fed is to sit at his feet. It's to be in accountable, known, regular relationship with other people who can train you up until you personally are a leader and shepherd of others.
We just sent out a letter this week to about 50 or 60 folks who have been members who are not connected in any way with us. They're just kind of isolated in the back. They're not in groups of 50. They're not in groups of 25. They're not in groups of 10. There's no connection with them. Do you know there are over 1,000 folks at Watermark who are trained shepherds, small group leaders, Community Group leaders, who we meet with on a regular basis to build into them, to encourage them, to respond to them?
There are folks they're connected to who are seated in Community Groups and relationships all around this city, and those folks are the ones who have more transformative change and healing than anybody else. But some of you guys are out there wondering where the life is. You have to sit down and say, "All right. One of the disciples is coming to me, and he's not just going to feed me; he's going to teach me where he's getting the food I'm receiving so I can feed other people."
Do you get the picture? Do you see the practical nature of this miracle? Do you see why it's in all four gospels? All right. Great, guys. I know you're exhausted. Grab yourself a Twinkie and sit down. That's good. Do you see how long that would take? Here's what I want you to do. Just so you know, at the end of the service, I'd like you to come put the tuna back up on the stage, because we'll use the tuna at 5:30, and then we're going to stuff the truck with it, and we'll feed people. That's where the tuna is going. The Twinkie is yours to enjoy.
So bring the tuna back up. We'll use it tonight, and then we'll stuff the truck, and the Twinkies… Just be reminded of the sweetness of Christ and the richness of a relationship with him. Here's the deal. I wanted you to see how many times… This is the beginning of the training of the Twelve. It's an overwhelming task to change the world, isn't it? Will you take the ones who are obedient to sit with you and give them what you get from Christ?
It's an overwhelming task to change the vicary. You just take the ones who are sitting with you. You give to them the kindness, forgiveness, selflessness, and love you get from Christ…the money he has given you, the education he has given you, the strength he has given you. What you get from him you give to them, and you give him the glory and say, "I can introduce you to that same King. All I am is his servant. If anybody regards me, let him regard me as a servant of God and as a steward of the mysteries of Christ." That's it.
What you need for them you get from him. We don't run away from Jesus and come back exhausted; we abide with him, and that's how we abound. So here's how I want to end this morning: with just two songs of worship that capture this. If you're here today and you're still hungry and still thirsting and still trying to make yourself new and still lame and you've run out of resource and provision at your wedding feast, Jesus is the one who can satisfy you.
He is the one who can give you an end to your thirst. He is the one who can give the resource to make your wedding celebration one worth celebrating. He is the one who can help you live in the midst of his rest, because he is Lord of the Sabbath. He loves you, but you have to sit and receive his love. You have to acknowledge your need for it. You have to take it and eat it, and you have to sit down and let his disciples build into you until you can be strengthened and be a discipler and servant of others.
That's where your life becomes noble. That's where you become useful: when you become a person on mission and not just floating along trying to increase your comfort, hoping God blesses your career. No. Your career is to do divine work in the name of the King. He loves you, and he calls you to come and receive of him.
We're going to sing a song that celebrates his provision, that he himself would be the manna from heaven who has come to you. He loves you enough to leave the comfort of eternal community with the Father and the Spirit to be your Passover Lamb. Oh, how he loves us.
We are people who are here, and we celebrate his provision. Imagine being in the desert, out of your Egypt, and you're wondering how you're going to provide, and then here comes the manna. Oh, how he loves us. We're complaining about the lack of meat, and then here comes the meat. You would be singing, "Oh, how he loves us."
This is the provision we have found in Christ. He is the manna God has brought from heaven to provide what we crave. Not in our lost crazing, not in stomachs that will need to be filled again in six to eight hours, but the craving of our souls. Here's the thing. Think about this. God says, "There's a reason I feed you. I'm going to make your life noble, not just a fat, spoiled, entitled child of the King."
The King loves his people. He's a good King. He doesn't just build walls to protect himself from the unwashed masses. He raises his children to be servants of his people and not just to sit and stuff their faces. He says, "You go, son. Learn. You go lead my people. Care for my people. You make their life better. You take to them the goodness of the King that you've been privileged to sit at his table and receive from him life. You go share that life."
The great news is at this table there is no lack of provision. That's what he calls you to. I say that in as compelling a way as I can. I'm going to give you a very crass, ugly picture of too many of God's children who talk about how he's their bread and how great their life is now that they know him, and they just leave the unwashed masses out there…the hungry, the orphan, the uneducated, the poor, the lost…alone while they in their satisfaction cruise along, stuffing their faces.
Isn't that disgusting, just to sit and feed your face and not care when you have a relationship with the King? "It's all about me. I don't really care. I have all of the Twinkies I need." You look at people like that and feel sorry for them, and you wish judgment would come on them. God says, "You'll get your wish. Just don't be that person." No. You pray that he would change you and would give you one pure and holy passion, and when you see people, you care for them. "I can't do it." "You're right. What you need for them you get from me." Let's make this our prayer.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.