In John 6:1-15, we see the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 men with five barley loaves and two fish. Most people read that and think, "Wow, look what Jesus did in the bible almost 2,000 years ago! He sure did some crazy miracles back then!" But, does this same God still work in miraculous ways today?
God has blessed me for some 13 years now to make a living as an artist. In today's economy, let's just be honest...art is not a necessity. If I had to choose between feeding my family and purchasing a painting, the painting had better be digestable, come with plates and forks, and cost under $9.95. Yet, somehow, even in this horrible economy, I still have food in my pantry and diesel fuel in my car. How does this happen?
In John 6:1-4, we see the Faithless Crowd. These people were motivated to follow Christ because they saw Him as some side-show, miracle worker. They were just looking for a cheap thrill. How many today only want Jesus if He'll show them some sign or wonder? John 2:23-25 tells of this type. They believed on Him because of the things they saw Him do, but Jesus did not believe in them because He knew their motives.
John 6:5-9 tells us of the Failed Test of the disciples. With the approaching crowd, and being so late in the day, Jesus tested His disciples with an impossible task. "Where can we buy bread to feed these people?" My first reaction is reflected in Philip's response: "Who cares where we'll buy bread...we don't have the funds!" So Philip, like me, when faced with the impossible, looks toward his starving wallet.
Andrew does a little better; he at least puts forth an effort to find the goods. He finds the material that could be used (five loaves and two fish). However, like me, he says, "But what are they among so many." So, his response is "We don't have enough material!"
If you look at this same story in Matthew 14:15, some of the disciples made the suggestion to just send the crowd away. So, their response, also like mine at times, is to just ignore the problem...and make it go away.
So often I fail the tests of life and trusting God by looking toward money, material, and making the problem go away.
However, in v.10-13, we see a Fulfilling Christ. Notice also in v. 5 that Jesus lifted up His eyes and saw... He knew the problem before the disciples did. We can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus already knew of our problem before it ever was one. In v.10, He takes control of the situation. How great it is when God takes control of our impossibilities! In v. 11, He creates the solution. He supernaturally defies the laws of nature to multiply the food. Then, as if that wasn't enough, He uses those same doubting disciples to distribute to the crowd. How often has God done this in our lives? He will miraculously provide and then use us, who doubted and were faithless, to distribute blessings to others. Then, in v.12, He left nothing to be wasted. He always provides enough; He completely satisfies. What a great, fulfilling, compassionate, and graceful God!
Lastly, in v.13-14, we see the crowd's reaction. They wanted to take Him by force to make Him king. Is that all that bad? At first glance, one wouldn't think so. But Jesus leaves them. So, the reaction of Jesus is very telling. Their motives was one of "make Him king, so He can feed us all the time!" They were lovers of Christ because He filled their bellies. He met their physical needs and fulfilled their fleshly desires and they stopped there. They didn't see the miracle as a sign pointing to the supremecy of Christ. They saw Him as a means to fulfill their physical desires. This sounds a lot like the prosperity gospel being preached today...Come to Jesus so He can make you rich...come to Jesus to fix your marriage...come to Jesus to fix your physical problems! However, you'll not use Jesus as some way to fulfill your carnal desires. If we come to Him, we'll come to Him on His terms, not our selfish terms.
To see this painting, visit http://www.jeremysams.com/