Faithlife
Faithlife

Br Rd He had it in mind John 6 12 Sept 2004 PM

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He had it in mind[1]

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards 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.

JOHN 6 5,6

We come this evening to the fourth sign in John’s Gospel.  It’s effect was dramatic:

14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

But, compared with the response of the crowd, the response of His own disciples was slightly disappointing. John tells us the story – a story told by all the four gospels – from that perspective.   He has quotations from Jesus, of course, but also from Philip and from Andrew.   They will help us to understand the enormity of what Jesus did – and the wonder of who He is.

If you look at what the disciples said here:

7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

You can see that they saw the magnitude of the task – and the minuteness of their resources:

“Only enough bread for each one to have a bite!”      Philip

“a little boy  …. Little loaves … little fish…”     Andrew

And elsewhere it is recorded – that even after the miracle – the disciples did not remember the lesson of that occasion.

Do you ever wonder if Jesus was tempted to give up on His friends?

Do you think He might have felt that they weren’t worth the effort?

Certainly the crowds who followed Him to see wonderful signs seemed to have a better – if somewhat one-sided view of His greatness!

But Jesus did not and does not give up on His disciples – He loves them to the end, and He spends even more of His time bringing them to the place of faith in Him where – with the Spirit’s help – they will be able to spread His gospel throughout the world.

As we look at this fourth sign this evening I want you to think about how well you really know the Lord Jesus.

He knows what he will do – “He already had in mind what He was going to do” – He knows His power and His plan – His purpose and His future.   He challenges us as He challenged Philip

“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 

Please notice the WE …   I suspect that Philip didn’t listen very closely, and only remembered that part afterwards.

Between the disciples and the need of the immense crowd stand Jesus, and that’s enough – more than enough as we shall see; but Philip and Andrew don’t.

Between the challenge of our needy world and our weak efforts stands Jesus – and He has more than enough to satisfy all.   Do we know that? Do we understand it?

Do we respond to the challenges of His questions with positive expectations – or an eye for small resources, and small insignificant things?

The central theme is “HE HAD IN MIND WHAT HE WAS GOING TO DO”.

The Lord has a plan – a Master plan – and all the resources to go with it.

He invites us to share in His endeavour, to have a part in His glorious purposes.

How do we respond?

One of the marks of this fourth sign – is the involvement of His disciples in His amazing work.

Consider:

1.     Question and answer

2.     Small things

3.     More than enough

1.  Question and answer            vv 5-7

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards 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.

7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Matthew, Mark and Luke record the story with a challenge to the disciples:

“You give them something to eat”

We can sense the daunting nature of that challenge.  Especially when we are involved in Church work we hear His words – but we are quick with excuses – just as the disciples were.

It seems likely that – as John’s account shows – Jesus had raised this issue about the feeding of the crowd earlier in the day.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 

It seems equally likely that the other disciples based their response on the calculations made by Philip, and later that day, as evening drew on, they asked Jesus to send the people away… and when challenged to feed them complained that a vast sum would not be enough to satisfy the need.

Here in John’s account – and earlier in the day as the crowd approached, He asked Philip a leading question.

John goes out of his way to make it plain that Jesus did not need advice – He knew what He would do – but He did need to involve His disciples. They needed to learn a crucial lesson.  

So He asks:  “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 

I want to suggest to you that Jesus constantly uses this kind of strategy to draw out of us a deeper faith, a clearer commitment and a positive view.

Christ’s view of the world of need, and His clear understanding of what He will do does not need our advice – but HE ASKS SO THAT WE MAY GROW.

He asked this only to test him… He knew what he had in mind to do…

 

On a previous occasion Philip had shown remarkable insight into who Jesus was:

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.                                         JOHN 1 40-42

Confronted with the needs of a crowd his response is very different:

7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

I suggest to you that it is the way of the Master to challenge us as well – and not only once.

 

We too are confronted with the challenges of the world around us, the changing circumstances of our own lives, the needs of others …

 

And Jesus wants to ask us how we will meet the need.   But the WE includes Him.

I suppose Philip could have answered:

“Lord – you know!”

Or

“Lord – you are the Messiah – you can do anything!”

Instead he does a quick calculation and concludes that it is not possible!

Take out your calculator – and address the needs of today!

2.  Small things              vv 8 & 9

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Yes – we have most of us grown up with this part of the story, haven’t we?

It is another answer to Jesus’ question.  You can sense the smile in Andrew’s voice.

Notice how he uses diminutives in his answer.

“Here’s a (little) boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish…”

At least Andrew had taken seriously our Lord’s instruction to find out how much food there was (Synoptics) – but the stress, as you can see from his language is all on the smallness of it.

The contrast between Andrew and Philip’s assessment is instructive – to Philip the situation is calculated but impossible, to Andrew it is also quantified but quite inadequate.

NEITHER of the disciples (and none of the others) really saw what was before them – the Lord who had changed water into wine and healed the chronic invalid at the pool of Bethesda!

The perspective on the major problems that face us can only be changed by putting CHRIST INTO THE EQUATION.

Water + Jesus = wine

Philip measures the problem. His assessment influences all the others (see how they take up his view in the other gospel accounts of the miracle) - his conclusion is NEGATIVE – would not buy a bite each!

 

Andrew finds the small boy and the small lunch – and asks the (rhetorical?) question “How far will they go among so many?”

I have to say that I have something of both of those opinions in my disposition – I calculate the magnitude of the problem and it easily seems TOO MUCH

I assess the resources available – and they are TOO LITTLE

How about you?

Jesus’ second challenge (as recorded by Mark) is appropriate too:

Mark 6:38

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

I have to say that something else in this narrative strikes me – and I find it particularly appropriate to our fellowship just now – and that is the influence of such views on the whole group of the disciples.

As I have already pointed out, if you compare John with the other gospels you will see that the negative views of Philip and of Andrew rapidly become the views of all the disciples.

There is a very real risk that such views – that magnify our problems, or minimise our resources – in short anything that criticises aspects of the Church’s work has a strong influence on the whole.

This means that a minister has a very real responsibility to raise the eyes from their natural downcast earth-bound perspective to the Lord of glory – it also means that all of you who know the Lord and have a part in this fellowship have a responsibility to BUILD UP rather than TALK DOWN.

Remember HAGGAI  2:3

3 ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?

We need the influence of encouragement.

A view that scours the unlikely hillside crowd and finds the small boy with lunch that – in the hands of the Master – is the solution to everyone’s problems!

And does not BELITTLE it!!

But of course the story does not end on such a note:

3.  More than enough        vv 10-13

10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

The children’s hymn goes:

Who took fish and bread, hungry people fed?

Who changed water into wine?

Who made well the sick, who made see the blind?

Who touched earth with feet divine?

Only Jesus, only Jesus, only He has done this:

Who made live the dead? Truth and kindness spread?

Only Jesus did all this.

I hope you have not forgotten our recent motto texts – both of which in their own ways underscore this wonder:

EPH 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

1 JOHN 3:18

For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Notice the way John dwells on the amazing provision of this fourth sign:

As much as they wanted

all had enough to eat,

Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.

You remember our running challenge through this series?

What do you want, do you really, really want?

Well our Lord offers us AS MUCH AS WE WANT

And against the background of great need:

ALL HAD ENOUGH

So that – in the world of God’s grace and super-abundant provision there is a RULE ABOUT THAT WHICH IS SURPLUS

“Let nothing be wasted…”

Where Jesus goes there is need.

Where Jesus goes there is transformation                     water-wine

Where Jesus goes there is healing                                        Bethesda

Where Jesus goes there is more than enough                        5000

With Jesus there is a SURPLUS

Those who failed His challenging question – and saw only small resources – placed them in his hands – were later picking up the pieces – not in any sense of failure but rather abundant prodigality – twelve bags that remained.

1.     Question and answer

2.     Small things

3.     More than enough

HE HAD IT IN MIND …..   HE KNEW WHAT HE WOULD DO.


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[1]Fourth Sign of John’s Gospel

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