Have you ever faced an impossible situation and felt that you didn’t have the resources to deal with it? That’s exactly how the disciples felt when Jesus told them to feed a crowd of over 5000 hungry people. They couldn’t do it. But Jesus can. And the sooner we realize that and turn to Him, the better off we’ll be.

August 11-12, 2018

Pastor Joe Wittwer

Summer Bible Series

More than Enough!

Luke 9:10-17 (p. 890)

See also: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, John 6:1-71

  1. The vacation: _____________________________________________. v. 10-11

Mark 6:30-31 (p. 864)

  1. The test: ________________________________________________! v. 12-13a

John 6:5-6 (p. 916)

  1. The obstacle: ___________________________________________! v. 13b-14a
  1. The solution: ____________________________________________! v. 14b-16

Matthew 14:18 (p. 840), Exodus 3 (p. 49)

  1. The outcome: ________________________________________________! v. 17

August 11-12, 2018

Pastor Joe Wittwer

Summer Bible Series

More than Enough!

Luke 9:10-17 (p. 890)

Introduction and offering

ILL: In 1971, the Jesus People Revival was happening primarily on the West Coast and very prominently here in Spokane. The high school ministry I led in Eugene decided to hold a weekend retreat at the Oregon Coast in June right after school let out. I asked the students who they’d like to invite to speak. They said Billy Graham; I told them he might be booked. They suggested Dave Wilkerson, author of the best-selling book The Cross and the Switchblade. I told them he might be booked too. But then someone suggested some other characters from that book, and that led us to Spokane and Carl Parks and the band Wilson McKinley. So we mimeographed some flyers and spread them all over the state: a 3-day Jesus Retreat at the Oregon Coast for only $5, pay at the gate. Can anyone see a problem with this? We had no way of knowing how many people would show up.

The camp held 150 people—350 people showed up. Even worse, the day before the retreat, my pastor asked me who was cooking. Oops. “Do you have any food?” Oops again. So he put me in his station wagon and we went to the local Pay n Pak and filled his car with $200 worth of groceries.

The next day we got to the camp with $200 of food, no menu, no cooks, no plan—and no idea how many were coming. Then a bus load of hippies rolled in—it was the Jesus People from Spokane—60 of them on an old school bus. Some young ladies in long skirts asked who was in charge; someone pointed to me. They asked if we had cooks. I said no, and they volunteered since they cooked for their communes. They asked what I had for food, and I pointed to the station wagon. Later, after paying the camp what we owed, I gave them the rest of the money to use for food. Somehow, they fed us all on next to nothing!

There are two lessons from this story. First, I’m a disaster; I need lots of help planning anything. Second, God comes through. He can take our little and turn it into much! Great things happened at that retreat despite me!

Today we’re going to read the story of Jesus miraculously feeding a crowd of over 5000 with a small boy’s sack lunch. The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle of Jesus that is reported in all four gospels. (I’ve included the references for Matthew, Mark and John on your outline.) Why is it so important?

Open your Bibles to Luke 9:10–17 (p. 890)  You’ll notice that this story is sandwiched in between Herod wondering who Jesus is, and Peter announcing that Jesus is the messiah. What about this story would convince Peter and others that Jesus is the messiah? Jesus did what Moses had done: fed the people in the wilderness. God provided manna in the wilderness for Moses and the Israelites. Now Jesus is feeding the hungry in the wilderness, and in John’s account of this story, he makes that connection: Moses gave the manna, but Jesus is the true bread from heaven, the bread of life. This story is a pivotal moment in the life of Jesus and His disciples, and convinced them that He was the messiah.

Luke 9:10–17 (p. 890)

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.

13 He replied, You give them something to eat.

They answered, We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.15 The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

We’re going to cover 5 things.

Offering here.

  1. The vacation: take a break but always be ready. v. 10-11

10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

In the previous section, Jesus had sent the 12 disciples on a mission, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, and healing the sick. Here, they return and report in. Then Jesus takes them and “they withdrew by themselves” to the region of Bethsaida (map). Bethsaida was on the northern shore of Lake Galilee, on the eastern side of the Jordan River—toward Gentile territory. The crowds would be less likely to follow them there. We know from verse 12 that they weren’t actually in the village, but in a “remote place.” So what’s going on? Why did Jesus take them away?

No doubt Jesus took them away to a remote place so they could debrief. They “reported to Jesus what they had done,” and I’m sure that Jesus used this as an “on the job training” opportunity. That kind of training is certainly done better away from the crowds and noise and distraction.

But Mark tells us that there was another important purpose for withdrawing. Look at:

Mark 6:3031 (p. 864)

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.

Verse 31 is one of my favorite verses. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Music to tired ears! Jesus cared that His disciples were exhausted and needed rest, so He insists that they leave the crowds behind, and withdraw to a remote place, a quiet place where they can rest and recharge. They needed a vacation! A rest. A break. And so do you.

A few years ago, Tim Hansel wrote a book entitled, When I relax, I feel guilty. Can anyone relate? I haven’t actually read the book—I’m too busy! But I sure identify with the title! I often find it hard to relax because I have so much to do! When was the last time you did nothing? Just relaxed? Watched a sunset? Had some porch time?

ILL: I just got back from a 9-day motorcycle adventure. I rode with 5 buddies through the 5 national parks in southern Utah. Spectacular! I left my computer at home. I didn’t do any work—I relaxed! I didn’t look at my emails. In fact, for the first time ever I used an automated “out of office” response. It said: “I am off the grid until August 4.  When I return, I will delete all emails received between now and then (I don’t want to process over 1000 emails).  So if your email important, you’ll want to resend it on or after August 4.  If you need immediate help, please contact my brilliant assistant, Alicia.”

When was the last time you went off the grid? Unplugged? Relaxed and rested? Stop feeling guilty and just do it. Jesus wants you to take a vacation! “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Jesus cares about your physical and emotional well-being.

So Jesus and the boys take a break—they head for the hills. And what happens? Somehow the crowds figure out where they are going and show up. Bummer!

ILL: Pastor Noel told me that when he and Marty were married, they honeymooned on the Oregon coast. They woke up the first morning to a knock on the door—it was Marty’s parents. They had come to spend the week with them! Not your dream honeymoon!

That’s how Jesus and the disciples must have felt when they got to their vacation spot…and a crowd was waiting for them. Notice what Jesus did. V. 11 He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

He welcomed them and served them. That wouldn’t have been my response!   I would have resented that my vacation was interrupted by these insensitive clods. Don’t they know how hard I work? Don’t they understand this is my vacation? But even on vacation, Jesus was ready to serve others. Jesus not only cared for His disciples; He cared for each person in this crowd too. He didn’t see them as interruptions, but as opportunities to love and serve.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work. This is the great conversion in life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us for his return.”[1]

How do you see people who interrupt your schedule—as nuisances, or as opportunities to serve? Jesus saw them as opportunities to serve—the disciples…not so much. They wanted Jesus to send them away.

  1. The test: you do it! v. 12-13a

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.

13 He replied, You give them something to eat.

The disciples’ request seems perfectly reasonable. It was getting late and people needed to get food and lodging and they were in a remote place—nothing in sight. Clearly, it’s time to send everyone home.

Then Jesus blows their minds. “You give them something to eat.” You feed them! You meet the need! What was Jesus thinking? John gives us a clue:

John 6:5–6 (p. 916)

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

It was a test! Remember that Jesus has already given them power and authority to proclaim the Kingdom of God, heal the sick and drive out demons. And Jesus has shown them time and again that He can do anything. They’ve been in school with Jesus for quite awhile, and here comes the pop quiz. “You feed them.”

Question: do you think God would ask you do something that you and He couldn’t handle together? I think that God regularly asks me to do things that I can’t do on my own, that are bigger than me. But I know that with Him I can do anything He asks. And that’s the test. When God calls, will you look to Him? Will you tackle that seemingly impossible task with Him?

The disciples didn’t have the resources to feed the crowd. Jesus knew that. But Jesus also knew what He could do—and He expected His disciples to know that. So the response Jesus was looking for was: “Lord, we can’t do it—but we know You can, so let’s do this together!”

What’s God asking you to do? Do you have any God-sized assignments? You can do it—with Him! Here are a couple of my big deals.

We’ve teamed up with some other churches in our community to start a movement of multiplying disciples, leaders and churches. We plan on starting 400 new churches in our region and in the Pacific Northwest in the next 10 years! Can we do it? Don’t think so. Can we do with Him? You bet—so let’s do this!

We are working to bring the races together. We believe that racial reconciliation is a gospel issue: Jesus died to bring us together first with God and then with each other. Our region has had a reputation of racial intolerance—we want to change that and make our region famous for racial harmony, justice and peace. I’m reading One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love, by John Perkins. He repeatedly emphasizes that we will never achieve racial reconciliation on our own. God has to work and we work with Him. Can we do it on our own? Don’t think so. Can we do it with Him? You bet—so let’s do this!

Once again, the response Jesus was looking for was: “Lord, we can’t do it—but we know You can, so let’s do this together!” Are you ready to say yes to whatever Jesus asks, knowing that you can do it with Him? That’s the test.

Unfortunately, the disciples didn’t do so well on the test. They focused on the obstacle.

  1. The obstacle: we can’t do it! v. 13b-14a

They answered, We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.14 (About five thousand men were there.)

So their response wasn’t, “Lord, we can’t, but we know you can—let’s do this together.” Their response was simply, “We can’t do it.” We know from John’s version that Philip said, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” First, we don’t have the money. Second, even if we had half a year’s wages, it wouldn’t be enough; everyone would get just one bite. Third, even if we had the money, where would buy the food? Albertsons closed an hour ago! “We can’t do it.”

And all of this was true. They couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the resources, the money, time or food. They couldn’t do it. That’s a fact.

Mark tells us that when Jesus said, “You feed them,” the disciples protested, and then Jesus asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” So the disciples started scrounging, asking people what they had, and came up with five loaves and two fish that belonged to a boy. What was Jesus doing? He was showing them that on their own, they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have enough. They couldn’t do it.

And we can’t do it either. News flash: I can’t work miracles. I can’t feed crowds with a boy’s sack lunch. I can’t heal the sick. I can’t save your marriage or your soul. I can’t change anyone else. I can’t do it. But Jesus can. And the sooner I realize that and turn to Him, the better off I’ll be.

Are you facing something impossible? Good! Realize that you can’t do it on your own and turn to Jesus. That’s the point of the obstacle: you can’t do it. Here’s the solution.

  1. The solution: bring it to Me! v. 14b-16

Matthew tells us that before Jesus had everyone sit down in small groups, He first asked the disciples to bring what they had to Him.

(Matthew 14:18 p. 840)

17 We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,he said.

“What do you have?” Jesus asks. “Bring it to me.” Here is the solution: bring what you have to Jesus. When Jesus asks you to do something and you don’t have the resources, bring what you have to Jesus and let Him multiply it. When it’s not enough, bring it to Jesus. What you have may not be much, but when you bring it to Jesus, He can do great things with it.

ILL: I love the story of Moses in Exodus 3 (p. 49). God uses a burning bush to get Moses’ attention and then calls him to go back to Egypt and deliver the Israelites from their slavery. Moses makes excuse after excuse.

“Who am I?” He asks. God says, “I will go with you.” It’s really not you that’s going to do it Moses; it’s Me.

“Who are You?” Moses asks. “When they ask who sent me, what will I say?” God says, “Tell them, “I am who I am. I am sent you.”

“What if they don’t believe me?” Moses asks. God replies, “What is that in your hand?” It was a staff—a stick. “Throw it on the ground.” Moses did and it became a serpent. “Pick it up,” God said. Moses did and it became a staff again. But now it was “the staff of God” (Ex. 4:20). This is the staff that Moses used to strike the Nile and it turned to blood. This is the staff that was used in most of the ten plagues on Egypt. This is the staff that Moses raised and the Red Sea parted. This is the staff that Moses raised and brought victory in battle. This was the staff of God.

God asked Moses what he had. It wasn’t much—just a stick. But when he offered it to God, that stick became the staff of God, and miracles happened.

Let me ask you: What is in your hand? What do you have? You might be thinking, “Not much. Just a stick. I don’t have much talent or money or time or energy.” But if you’ll bring what you have to Jesus, He can do something wonderful with it.

Having trouble loving someone? Bring your little love to Jesus and let Him multiply it.

Having trouble forgiving someone? Bring your willingness to Jesus and see what He does.

Don’t have the money for that big dream God gave you? Bring your little money to Him and let Him multiply it. We’re trying to bring water and sanitation to 42 schools in Kenya that serve 15,000 students. Imagine 15,000 students without clean water or bathrooms. It’s going to cost way more than we have—about $350,000! That’s roughly $8500 per school or $25 per student. We can’t do it, but He can, so we’re bringing what we have to Him and trusting Him to multiply it!

In Jesus’ hands, our little is more than enough. And that’s the final point:

  1. The outcome: more than enough! v. 17

17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Who ate? They all ate—all of them—thousands of them. Not just a few—all of them ate!

And they didn’t all have just a bite—they were all satisfied. They were full! On our motorcycle trip, we went to one buffet. I try to stay away from buffets. When I pay for all-you-can-eat, I feel this crazy compulsion to eat-all-I-can. I could barely push myself away from the table. I was FULL! And everyone who ate in this story went home full, satisfied. It was a Jesus-buffet! They had enough.

But it wasn’t just enough—it was more than enough! They picked up 12 large baskets full of leftovers—one basket for each disciple! I’ll bet that made them happy. They showed up to this dinner party with nothing, and each left with a big basket of food!

In Jesus’ hands, their little was more than enough. When we surrender our shortage to Jesus, He can make it more than enough to meet the need.

So often we live in fear, with a scarcity mentality. “There’s not enough. There’s not enough.” But with Jesus, we can cast off that fear and live with an abundance mentality. Jesus can make our little more than enough.

The church fathers believed that this story encouraged generosity with others because the Lord will provide. I’ll finish with a story that happened just a couple months ago that illustrates that.

ILL: The Lord’s Ranch is a Catholic ministry in Juarez, Mexico, led by Father Rick Thomas. They have seen food multiplied many times, most recently just after Easter. Each year, they take the week after Easter off, closing their centers to give the volunteers a rest (remember our first point). This year, the schedule threw off those who buy the food, so the volunteers returned to empty cupboards. Usually on Saturdays they prepare a meal for all the children who attend catechism classes, plus all the adult volunteers who help out. This day the cooks only found one leftover loaf of bread – no baloney, no beans, no tortillas, no fruit.

Ramona, the coordinator, asked around and found a couple packets of donated tortillas, but that was it. The cooks were very worried.

Esmeralda, one of the volunteers said, “I have some potatoes left from the groceries I received last time, and yesterday I cooked up a small pot of beans. I can go get those and bring them.” Ramona was hesitant to accept her offer since Esmeralda is poor herself and raising 4 children. But Esmeralda was excited and happy to share what she had. Ramona thought of this story of the young boy who shares his 5 loaves and 2 small fish, and so accepted her generous offer.

Someone went to the tiny corner store to buy a few packages of chorizo, and Esmeralda ran home to get her small offering of beans and potatoes. With these meager supplies, the cooks went to work preparing burritos and tacos.

Mealtime came and went. Ramona had not eaten since she knew there wasn’t enough food, but she went to the kitchen to ask how it went. The cooks said, “We served food to everyone! Everyone ate their fill.” There was still food left, so Ramona ate too. They fed 123 children plus 58 adults. There is no way the amount of food present could have stretched that far unless God acted. Esmeralda gave what little she had, and the Lord multiplied it and fed everyone.

Prayer: What impossible thing is God asking you to do? What’s in your hand? Bring it to Him.

Communion

In this story, Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to His disciples. Take, bless, break, give. Those same four words show up at the last supper. Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to His disciples and tells them to remember Him. This is another reason this story is in all four gospels. It has sacramental implications. Jesus is the Bread of Life, the true bread from heaven that fills and satisfies.

[1]Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude, 1974

More than Enough!

 
 
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