Welcome to Expound, our verse-by-verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Father, thank you for this group of people. That's my prayer. I'm so thankful that I look out and see familiar faces of those who through the years, Lord, have grown. And we have experienced things together, and that love is deep.
Your faithfulness is what binds us together-- not only your faithfulness, Lord, but we really are a textual community. We do gather together over the text of the scripture. That is our playbook. We take our cues from you. And the more we're exposed to it and the more we talk about it and pray it into our lives, the stronger we become.
Make us, Lord, a bright testimony to this community, this place we live, this beautiful spot. And Father, we pray that we would be your witness in this area. Thank you, Father, for these people once again. May we grow in our grace and our knowledge of Jesus Christ. It's in his name we pray. Amen.
Jesus Christ is always on trial. In the court of popular opinion, he is being tried every day. People consider him. They consider his claims. They evaluate him. They test him. They probe him. They accept him. They reject him. They make documentaries about him. They write books about him, some favorable, many not so favorable. He is always on trial.
Some of you know that because you work in the secular workplace, and you know about Jesus and how people think about him or want to discuss him. In fact, you're on trial. They look at you because they want to see not only this Jesus they're considering, but they want to know the people who follow him, what are they like? What difference does it make in real life? And so on his behalf, we are on trial.
But really, he is the one on trial. And later on, in the Gospel of John, Jesus will stand before Pontius Pilate. Jesus will be going through a trial by the Roman government, and Pilate will say to him, don't you know that I have the power to release you or to crucify you? But at the same time, Pilate was the one on trial. The decision that he was making concerning this Jesus would determine his eternal destiny.
And so while Jesus is on trial, certainly in the court of public opinion, Jesus is really the judge. And we discovered that last time when we were together. In verse 26 of Chapter Five, Jesus said, "For as the father has life in himself, so he has granted the son to have life in himself and has given him authority to execute judgment also because he is the son of man."
As the judge, and also as the one on trial, the end of Chapter Five is a court room scene, a legal scene, so to speak. There's a word that is repeated eight times in this section that gives us the little clue. It's the word "witness." It shows up eight times in this section. Witness. The same word, another three times, translated testify, is also mentioned. So we have witness, and we have testify.
Jesus, like a lawyer, brings in three witnesses because he has been telling the crowd they ought to believe in him. They ought to believe in him, and here is the reason Jesus would say you ought to believe in me, and he brings these three witnesses.
Now, why is this important? Because he is speaking to a Jewish audience, and the Jewish audience filled with Jewish truths, their own Old Testament scriptures-- they know what Moses had said in Deuteronomy, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses, a person would be authenticated, or every word would be established.
And so like a rabbi, Jesus brings in one witness to testify of him, and then another witness to testify of him, and then another. It's not that Jesus didn't bear witness of himself. He did. He plainly told people who he was. But he also knew that they weren't receiving his testimony, that for them, his witness of himself was not valid. There weren't honoring that witness.
So Jesus brings in three more witnesses. Let's look at them, beginning in verse 31 of John Chapter Five, as we finish out the chapter. Notice what he says. "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of me, and I know that his witness, or that the witness which he witnesses of me, is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth, yet I do not receive testimony from man. But I say these things that you may be saved. He, John, was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light."
The first witness is the worker, John the Baptist. J the B, we like to call him. We know them well now. John the Baptiser knew Jesus very well. They were related, as we have seen. John spent time with Jesus. He was a eye witness of Jesus growing up and as an adult. It was John the Baptist who said about him, behold, this is the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. That was his testimony of Jesus. Here's the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb, the one who had come to pay for the sin of the world.
This same worker, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, said of Jesus, he came after me, but he was preferred before me because he was before me, speaking about Jesus' pre-existence. So this was John's testimony of Jesus. He was the one that pointed and said, he must increase. I must decrease.
So Jesus brings into the courtroom the first witness, the worker, John the Baptist, John the Baptizer, and said his witness is a true witness. Now, he's not the only one. He's the one Jesus brings up, but there were many eyewitnesses of the life, ministry, miracles, words of Jesus.
You remember that Peter, one of the Twelve Apostles, would write a letter. And he said, for we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. We were there, man. We heard it. We saw it. And he talks about being transfigured with Moses and Elijah. They saw Jesus in that moment.
Another eyewitness was the author of this book, John. John's writing his account. He will write a letter, first John. And in first John, Chapter One, you remember how he begins that book? He says that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes and we have gazed upon intently, and our hands have handled concerning the word of life. And of him, we testify to you, this is the one.
So first on the stand, the worker. And specifically here, by Jesus, it is John the Baptist. Here's the second witness, and that is the works, the works of Jesus himself. Verse 36, "But I have a greater witness than John's, for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the very works that I do bear witness of me that the Father has sent me."
Now, Jesus has performed many works. In Chapter Five, he performed a work at the pool of Bethesda. It was done on a Sabbath day, so the Jewish leaders were skeptical. They knew it was a miraculous work, but they were skeptical of it.
And honestly, they were taught to be skeptical because even Moses said if a miracle worker is in your midst, be skeptical. Deuteronomy Chapter 13-- make sure that that miracle worker testifies the source of his power, the reason he is doing the miracles. You test him on what he believes. You are to test those prophets to make sure that it's not just a miracle you're swayed by, but you understand the kind of teaching and doctrine.
So they were skeptical of Jesus, so he brings in his miracles. But here's the deal. Jesus in the Gospels, it is recorded, performed over 30 miracles. Those are just the ones recorded. Over 30 miracles are recorded in the four gospels. John, the author of this book, records seven of them. Those are his purpose-- he selects seven for his own literary purpose to prove who Jesus was. But 30 are recorded. By themselves, miracles are powerful.
But alongside of the other witnesses that Jesus brings in, they're unmistakable. They could be skeptical, but what Jesus did along with what John the Baptist said and the next witness that he will bring in is a very, very powerful statement as to who he was.
So Jesus did works. He performed miracles, and this is what he said. He will say it, I think, Chapter 12, Chapter 14. I don't keep it all up here, but I do know he said this. He said, "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me, or else believe for the very work's sake." Believe me on the evidence of the miraculous work themselves, in other words. So there were plenty of times where Jesus suspended natural law and enacted supernatural force, and they were show stoppers. They got everybody's attention. Those miracles, along with what John the Baptist said-- those two witnesses are powerful.
Now he brings in a third witness, and that is the word. So we have the worker, John the Baptist, the works of Jesus, his miraculous power, and then the word of the Father, the prophetic work. "And the Father himself," verse 37, "who sent me has testified of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. But you do not have his word abiding in you because whom he sent you do not believe. You search the scriptures, for in them you think that you have eternal life. And these are they which testify of me, but you are not willing to come to me that you may have life."
One of the most powerful witnesses, testimonies of the authenticity of Jesus Christ is the word of God, the prophetic word, the Old Testament scriptures that paint the picture of what the Messiah will be like, fulfilled in Jesus.
The Bible's an amazing document. We're holding a Bible. I just saw yours. You held it up a moment ago. You held up the book, but the book isn't a book, but 66 books, right? 66 books comprise your Bible, 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament, 66 books written by over 40 authors in three languages on three different continents over a period of 1,500 years. It deals with the most controversial subject matter possible, the existence of God, the origin of man, the beginning of evil, the future of the world.
And yet those 66 books by 40 authors written over 1,500 years-- they coalesce. They go together seamlessly. They agree with one another. Somebody will say, oh, but what about all of those contradictions in the Bible? And I always say, show me one. You see, they'll bring that up usually because they have heard that they're there, and so they've got to say that because it's just another layer of an excuse for them not to believe.
So when they say what about all those contradictions, I say show me one. Now, if they've studied enough to know an "apparent" contradiction, I'm glad because of it because now we have ground to speak on.
But you know, if you were to apply the rigorous testing that has been applied to the Bible to other documents, I wonder what you'd have. Let's say you took not 66 books or 40 authors. Let's just say you took 10 people from your neighborhood, not from three continents, just from your neighborhood-- 10 people from your neighborhood-- with the same educational background, same language, and I gave you a few controversial subjects to discuss. I wonder how much agreement there would be in that room. Not much.
Or what if you were to take 25 medical books written over a 1,500-year time period and treat a patient based on the information that you take from that? You would either have a dead patient, or you'd have Frankenstein.
66 books, 40 authors, 1,500 years, three languages, three continents, controversial subject matter-- and the Old Testament, Jesus' point is, speaks of, predicts, paints a picture. And there are over 300 such descriptions, predictions of what the Messiah would be, fulfilled in Jesus. And I've told you before the odds of the fulfillment of just a few of those, how astronomical it is.
So the very word of God testifies of who Jesus was. Now that is why, and I wish we had it recorded. Unfortunately, we don't. Every time I read this text, I go, oh, and that is Luke, Chapter 24. It's after the Resurrection. The two are walking on the road to Emmaus from Jerusalem. And Jesus comes up-- you know the story-- incognito. He goes, what are you guys talking about? And they say, are you a stranger in town? And don't you know the things that have happened? And Jesus goes, like what things?
And so they tell about this guy named Jesus, and we had hoped in him, and he said a Resurrection. It's been three days, and we're bummed out, and all that stuff. You know the story. And then it says this. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them all of the scriptures concerning himself. He gave them a prophetic Bible study of Old Testament passages that predicted him, beginning at Moses and all the prophets.
Wouldn't you love to have that on MP3? Jesus' own study of himself as portrayed in the Old Testament scriptures. But that's his point here. I've got three witnesses I call to the court room, the worker, J the B, my own miraculous works, and the word of my Father, in your scriptures that you search. Now look at Verse 39. It says, "You search the scriptures, for in them you think that you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of me."
I read this not as a command, but as a fact. He's not saying, hey, you guys, go search the scriptures. He understood he's talking to people who have searched the scriptures. They knew the Old Testament well. They spent their life reading, and studying, and memorizing, and singing, and chanting the scriptures.
And he was talking to a group of people who knew the word of God, but they didn't know the God of the word. "You search the scriptures," fact, "because in them you think that you have eternal life." You think that just because you read the Bible a lot, you have eternal life. Don't you know that I am the subject matter of all of those scriptures? They testify about me. I'm the one Moses wrote about. I'm the one the prophets identified. I'm the one tucked in those psalms.
"But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive honor from men, but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, him you will receive."
I've always regarded that as a chilling prediction. I see that fulfilled in the future when, on the world scene, will come somebody we know as the Antichrist. He'll come in his own name. He'll be very proud, very boisterous, very powerful, and the world will swoon over him. Jesus came in his Father's name. He came with the three witnesses of the worker, his works, and the word. The nation didn't receive him, but in the future, one will come, and the world will go after him.
"How can you believe, who receive honor from one another and do not seek the honor that comes only from God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you." Moses, in whom you trust. Come Judgment Day, all we have to do is read what Moses said, and you'll be condemned just by that. "For if you believe Moses, you would believe me, for Moses wrote about me."
Now, there's your challenge. Go back to the first five books of the Bible, the writings of Moses, and go on a search for where Moses predicted Christ. Now, there are some obvious ones. For instance, he said God will raise up another prophet like unto me. Him you shall hear. He predicted that Jesus would come, the Messiah would come, one like Moses to the nation, one who would bring in a covenant like Moses did.
But there are many places where Moses spoke about him, wrote about him. So that's your challenge. Go find those places. And when you do, you'll have an idea of what that Bible study Jesus gave in Luke 24 to those two on the road to Emmaus-- what kind of content it had. It's fascinating to do that.
"But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"
Studying the Bible will not bring you to heaven. Knowing Jesus will bring you to heaven. Jesus will save you. Bible study will not. Now, I do want to add to that, however, that statement. Studying the Bible won't bring you to heaven, but studying the Bible will bring heaven to you. It'll bring heaven to your soul. It'll get you in touch with truth. It'll talk about the necessary daily regulation, regulating your life, getting you back on track, nourishing and feeding your soul like it said in Psalm 19, reviving the soul, David said.
But I love what Gypsy Smith, the old evangelist during the time of G. Campbell Morgan used to say. He said it's not how many times you've been through the Bible. It's how many times the Bible's been through you. And I love going through the Bible. I love studying it. I love reading it daily. But when I do, I always pray that it would go through me, and it would be just a part of who I am. My very speech, my attitudes would be changed because of it.
Now, John Chapter Six, and we get into the very familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Everybody's heard of this story. You can't read a gospel without coming to this miracle. It's one of the only miracles mentioned in all four gospels. That's how stand-out and significant this miracle is.
So I know in your mind, you're picturing 5,000 people. That's a lot of people on a hillside. But you have to picture many more because the four gospels in the composite rendering, putting them all together, tell us there were 5,000 men who were present, and that is because the estimation of the crowd was about 5,000 men, not counting wives who may have been there or may have been at home, children who may have been there or been at home. But upwards of 10,000 to 15,000 people, perhaps, were crowded around Jesus. We call it the feeding of the 5,000, but they're numbered as males, or men.
"After these things, Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberius." Now, some of you have done that. Isn't that great? You know, you have been to Israel. You've been on the boat. You've sailed across the Sea of Galilee. So you read this verse, and you can picture it in your mind. Not trying to stir up the flesh of those of you who haven't gone or make you angry and bitter at me for saying it and-- I wanted to go. Why'd you have to bring that up?
But you can let others who have been blessed enjoy the blessing in their mind of what it's like to sail over the Sea of Galilee. So that's for next time. Remember to get ready for next time.
"Then, a great multitude followed him." Now, stop right there. Isn't that encouraging? A great multitude followed Jesus. Isn't that what it's all about? The bigger the crowd, the better? Well, not so fast. You will notice what it says in qualifying that statement. "A great multitude followed him because they saw his signs, which he performed on those who were diseased." Crowds are exciting. Growth is exciting. Never want to put that down. That is the New Testament norm in the Book of Acts.
But what I find interesting is that Jesus himself wasn't always excited by the size of the crowd. In fact, listen to this. All these people that are gathering around him, and more will come-- by the time you get to the end of this chapter, he will have thinned out the ranks.
It says many disciples turned and followed him no longer. That's because he's going to make claims on them and give them some hard sayings, hard truths. They're not going to like what they hear. Oh, they'll like it as long as he gives them food, and as long as he has a happy event and does things that don't offended me. But Jesus won't do that because the big crowds didn't excite him all that much.
John Chapter Two-- it said many believed in him because of the signs which he did, but Jesus did not commit himself to them, for he knew all men, and he didn't need anybody to testify of man, for he knew what was in man. But they're there. They're following him because they saw the signs which he performed on those who were diseased.
Have you ever met someone-- they follow the Lord seemingly. They love the Lord, apparently. They're on fire. They sing. They're in church temporarily. But then something happens. A catastrophe happens. Something unexpected happens, something tragic and gut wrenching, and they're moved from that position. They become bitter at God. They become angry at God. They double up their fists and-- how could you allow this, God?
What makes a person get to that place? If you study that person and dig deeper, you will discover there are unfulfilled expectations that that person is now discovering. They had expectations. When they signed on the Jesus boat, when they signed on the Jesus following thing, they had certain expectations they wanted Jesus to meet for them. They didn't voice it, but they were there. I will follow Jesus as long as whatever. Fill in the blank. They'll follow him, but they'll follow him under their terms.
So some people are followers, but they're selfish followers, and they have a theology. Oh, it's unwritten. It's not codified. It's unspoken. But their theology is this. I am the Lord, and Jesus is my servant. If he serves me well, if he provides for me well, if he heals me when I got a problem, good. I'm following him. If he doesn't do that, I'm not going to follow him.
Didn't Jesus talk about this kind of a follower? He said the sower went out to sow seed, and some of it fell on stony ground, and it sprung up immediately. There was joy and emotion. But then the sun came, and they didn't have much earth. Jesus said that's the tribulation of this life, and they fall away.
And you all know people who are like that. They were red hot. They were on fire. And then all of a sudden, cold. No pulse. No life. No trust. Hey, how come you haven't been at church? Oh, man, Jesus let me down, man.
So big crowds, but because of the signs which he performed on those who were disease-- and Jesus went up on the mountain, and there we sat with his disciples. Now, the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near, OK?
At the same time-- what I just said is true-- at the same time, Jesus does have a compassionate heart for people with physical needs, and he's going to do something about it. He's not going to say, yeah, well, you're not following me for the right reason. He's going to feed them. That's how gracious, and merciful, and kind he is. He's still going to feed them because it's Passover time, and that means the roads are more crowded than ever before. They're on their way down to the festival, the feast.
So Jesus is up in Galilee, and he will be on the northeast side of the Lake of Galilee, where there's not many towns during that time. And the crowds are growing thick, and they don't have food. They're ill prepared for this kind of Woodstock event, so something has to be done.
"The Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near, and Jesus lifted up his eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward him, he said to Philip, where shall we buy bread that these may eat? But this he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered and said to him 200 denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little."
Now, why did Jesus turned to Philip and ask Philip this? Because Philip lived at a little village called Bethsaida Julias. It's just a set of ruins these days. But it is on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee at the time of Jesus. He's from the area. If anybody knows the area, knows what stores are around, knows if there's an In-N-Out Burger or McDonald's, or a grocery store, a Walgreens or whatever, it's him. He's got the lay of the land. He's from the area. If anybody knows, it's him.
Of course, it says Jesus said this to test him. It really was an impossible situation. 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000-- don't know exactly the total number, but 1,000-- how are you're going to feed them? It's an impossible situation. And so I could just picture Jesus turning to Philip, kind of a gleam in his eye, maybe a wry kind of a smile. Hey, you know the area, Philip. What's open? Where can we buy bread for this crowd?
What was the test? The test was the test of trust. Will this guy trust me? Does this guy know me well enough now to give me the right answer to this question? There is a right answer. Now, as I see it, Philip failed the test. He said 200 denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little."
And as somebody once said, when God wants to do something wonderful, he begins with a difficulty. But when he wants to do something very wonderful, he begins with an impossibility. Here's an impossibility. There's no outlet. There's no source they could feed this group that has gathered there with them.
Now, I say he failed, what do I mean by that? Well, he calculates, which is a good thing. He's the accountant type. He surveys the crowd. He has an idea of how many people are there, what kind of need is present, and he has a calculator for brain. So he quickly goes to work and does the math, and he goes, OK, the way I figured it, it would take 200 denarii, 3/4 of a year's wage for a common person.
So whatever that is-- let's say $10,000, $25,000. So let's just call it that. Hey, 25,000 bucks isn't enough to buy this crowd just a little food. He's doing the math. He's calculating. And you have to understand something about Philip. Philip had to see it. He was the pessimist-- not the doubter, the pessimist. You know, there's a difference. Who was the doubter? Thomas.
So in the upper room-- do you remember the story? They're gathered together around Jesus, and Jesus said, hey, let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father's house, there are many abiding places, rooms, mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also. Beautiful truth, beautiful promise.
And then he said, and where I go, you know, and the way, you know. And Thomas goes, we don't know where you're going, so how can we know the way? That's doubt. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Then Philip speaks. Know what he said? Show us the Father, and that's good enough. Duh. That'd be good enough for anybody. That's what everybody says. Just show us God. Show us God, your Father, and we'll be OK. We'll be convinced. Philip is the pessimist. He's got the calculator for the mind. He's got to figure it all out.
This is why men have a harder time trusting God for issues like with their car than their wives do. Their wives may not understand about internal combustion engines and spark and timing advancement and all that stuff, but the men might know that already. And so the car doesn't start, and the wife might just-- well, let's just lay hands on it and pray for it.
And they go, oh, my goodness. What a nutcase. It doesn't work that way. Look, I know these things. I've figured this stuff out. There's something wrong with the fuel, or there's something wrong with the electrical, the spark. It's one of those two things.
But I love it, how God just honors the faith, and sometime there's that simple faith. Lay hands on it-- I've seen it start right up.
200 denarii worth, 3/4 of a year's wage for the common laborer isn't enough so that this crowd can even have just a little bit. Pessimist. You hear about the two pessimists? They met at a party, and instead of shaking hands, they just shook heads.
So there's Philip. Thomas is probably over there going, yeah, I'm with this guy. Not going to work.
The story isn't over with. Oh, and by the way, let me add to that. I don't know how you do your math. He did his math. But you've got to factor something in. It's the God factor. See, here's the math of a miracle. 2 plus 5-- because there's loaves and fishes, you'll discover-- don't add up to much, just seven things, a few loaves, a few fish. But when you add plus God, changes the whole scenario. The equals is like, whatever. Difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work. Difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work.
Philip, where can we buy bread? OK, I've done the math. Listen-- wrong answer. Here's the right answer. Jesus, this is an impossible situation. There's not a bakery around here big enough. Doesn't matter. I've seen you work. I was there at the pool of Bethesda. I was there at the miracle of Canaan. I saw the water get turned into wine. I saw that with my own eyes. Do whatever you want to do.
That's the right answer, because you can say, well, he didn't know better. He had been there. He had seen these miracles. He'd seen enough to know the right answer is surprise me, Lord.
The story goes on. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, there's a lad who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many? Now, who is Andrew? It tells you. He's what? Simon Peter's brother.
Isn't that a bummer, to be known as somebody else's brother? You know why that resonates with me? I'm the youngest of four boys. There was Jim, and there was Bob, and there was Rick. Those were my older brother. Then there was Skip.
Jim and Rick were both valedictorians in their school. They were on varsity football, varsity baseball, varsity track, varsity basketball. They played all the sports, and they were always in the upper part of the class. And I was their brother. Oh, you're Jim's brother. Oh, Rick! He's your brother?
Now, here's the thing about Andrew. He is not a prominent apostle. Did he write any book of the New Testament? Not a one. Did he give any sermon? Not that we know of. It's not recorded. It wasn't that important, if he did, to record it. He is known as Simon Peter's brother. But here's what I want you to see. Unknown, unnamed does not mean insignificant because I'll tell you who he was and what he did. He was a connector. He connected people with Jesus Christ. That's his claim to fame.
He didn't have to write a Bible book. He didn't have to perform a miracle or preach a sermon. He connected people. He was the one that led his brother Peter to Jesus. He brought him there. He connected Peter to Jesus. Peter's salvation and the Book of Peter and all that he did is because he had a faithful brother who connected him to Jesus.
Then, we'll get to him again in Chapter 12 of the Gospel of John when a group of Greeks come to the feast in Jerusalem, and they say, sir, we would see Jesus. We want to meet Jesus. Philip goes, I'll introduce you. Let me connect you guys. So again, he brings people to Christ. Just be content if that's what God has called you-- just to connect people to him, introduce people to Jesus.
And then there's this boy. Do we know what his name is? No, it just says there's a lad. In fact, you know what? Did you know this? I said that this miracle happens in all four gospels, right? John is the only gospel author that even mentions there was a lad. All the other accounts just talk about the loaves and the fish. That's it. They have a few loaves and fish. They didn't say a lad has them, a boy has them, a kid has them. They don't even mention the kid.
He's unnamed, he's unknown, but he's not insignificant. He's the kid with the food. The whole miracle is based upon what this little kid brought to the table, brought to the equation. Here's a lad who has five barley loaves and two small fish, and look at this question. What are they among so many? Not much. But add Jesus to the equation-- a lot.
What are these among so many? Oh, we'll have leftovers. We'll have 12 baskets of leftovers. See, it depends on whose hands they're in. The miracle didn't happen in the apostles' hands. Happened in Jesus' hands.
Now, this boy was a poor boy. How do we know that? He had barley loaves. Barley was the poorest of the grains, often fed to animals. It was hearty, wasn't all that tasty. The barley loaves back then-- they're small little loaves like pancakes, like pita bread, flat and kind of hard to chew. It was the bread of the poor.
Then he has these fish, and the fish were either dried fish or pickled fish, little ones, not like sea bass, not salmon. Just little, tiny, bite-sized chunks of fish. But what are they among so many?
Jesus answered, make the people sit down. Now, there was much grass in the place. These are things that interest me. Matthew says there was grass. John says there was much grass in the place. Now, think grass grass. Not Colorado grass. I mean grass. Lawn kind of grass. You have to differentiate these days.
Dude, there's grass in that place. Just the wild grasses that grow in the spring-- it is Passover time. And Mark's Gospel adds green grass. So it was an earlier Passover season, like when we went to Israel with our group this last time. Galilee was bathed, swathed in verdant grass. And you could sit down on it. It would be comfortable at the right time of the year. By late spring, early summer, it's brown already from the sun. But this time, it's green, hearty-- much grass.
And so the men sat down, a number of about 5,000, and Jesus took the loaves. You know, when Mom packed that little boy's lunch, she had no idea who would be holding the lunch she packed. Jesus himself. Honey, don't go out without your lunch. Oh, Mom, I want to go hear-- nope. Come here. Take your lunch. She was fixing lunch for Jesus and 15,000 of his new best friends.
Some of you look at your life. You see it as insignificant. You're so down on yourself. Who am I? I don't have many gifts. I don't have many talents. I can't do much. And I see to you, how dare you talk about God's property that way? You are precious in his sight. He has given you all that you need to change the world, change the world.
Make sure that you get into his hands. Let him get his hands on you and show the world what he can do through just a few simple-- what are these among so many? And I say, how dare you because how dare you focus on your littleness rather than focus on God's greatness?
Watch what Jesus does. He sits them down. He took the loaves. When he had given thanks, public prayer, he distributed them to the disciples, and Jesus to those sitting down, and likewise, the fish, as much as they wanted.
So when they were filled, he said to his disciples, gather up the fragments, the remains, so that nothing is lost. Therefore, they gathered them up and filled 12 baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten.
Jesus gave thanks. He prayed a prayer. Now, it's my belief that the prayer that Jesus prayed was the typical prayer that would be prayed in any Jewish home by the father. He acts here as the father of the crowd, or the father of the Jewish nation, if you will. And the typical prayer of the Jewish father at the breaking of bread done in the homes daily, and at Sabbath weekly, and at Passover yearly, is [SPEAKING HEBREW].
Just thought you needed to know that. Which is translated, "Blessed are you, Lord God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth." It was the Jewish blessing over the breaking of the bread. And so he prayed. They would have all said amen, amen, yes.
And notice, Verse 11. It says, likewise of the fish-- and look at the last part of the verse-- as much as they wanted. OK, so go back and compare what you've just heard here with Verse 7, where Philip says, man, $25,000 won't even give them a little. See, he's calculating for the minimum, the little that they could eat, survival. Jesus gave them as much as they wanted.
Philip planned for the minimum. Jesus gave the maximum. Jesus did-- let's put it within Paul's language-- exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to his riches. Now there's leftovers, 12 baskets. Why? Well, there's 12 disciples, apostles. Leftovers for tomorrow, just to show that he does things exceedingly, abundantly, that there's no limitation to him. And you could draw a lot of analogies from this, but we'll leave it that.
Therefore, they gathered them up, the 12 baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, they said, this is truly the prophet who had come into the world. Therefore, when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, he departed again to the mountain by himself, alone.
This miracle-- I tell you what. His approval rating went through the roof that day. You add the approval rating from this miracle to the messianic expectation that the Jewish nation had that their Messiah, when he comes, will be the king who will depose the rule of Rome and set up the Jews as victors over the world, and you have a recipe for a political messiah. They wanted to take the Jesus movement and turn it into a political movement. We want him to be king.
He didn't come to be their king. He will be their king, one day. He'll come back to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He came to be their savior first. So he withdrew. He knew what they were about, and he's going to thin out this expectation mighty quickly, mighty quickly. He'll say some hard sayings, and we'll get to that when we're together next.
Now, when evening came, Verse 16, his disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then, the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.
Can I quickly paint the picture for you? The Sea of Galilee is entirely below sea level. That adds an interesting dynamic. 700 feet below sea level-- the Jordan River that goes all the way down to the Dead Sea, also below sea level. The Dead Sea, also below sea level, but even lower, 1,290 feet below sea level.
So the entire Jordan Rift Valley is below sea level, and that is because geologically, there's something some you may know about called the Syrio-African Rift, that the tectonic plates, the African and Arabian plates, formed a Rift Valley that begins way, way up in Syria and goes all the way down through Israel, into Africa-- Syrio-African Rift-- renders that valley very, very deep.
So you have a lake that's 700 feet below sea level surrounded by hills, and in the distance, mountains that are some 2,000 feet above sea level. So you now have a difference of almost 3,000 feet. You follow? When you have winds from the Mediterranean Sea that blow from the west to the east, which-- that's how it works-- the coastal winds blow. The air is cool. The air down below is hot. It brings in that cold air, sweeping down through the canyons.
And all I can describe it is it's like a carburetor. When you take air and gas, you funnel it from a throat into a very thin passage known as a Venturi, and so you accelerate it. And so you can imagine this cold air being accelerated downward. It hits this warm air produced in this valley on this lake, and it's a recipe for an incredible storm.
It could take the Sea of Galilee-- I've seen placid, calm-- but by the afternoon, the waves can sink boats. So one of these things came in, and it stirred it up. And it simply says-- turn the page-- the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat, and they were afraid.
OK, so please, just for a moment, think of the disciples, what they had just seen, 5,000 plus women and children fed, fed. They're on a spiritual high. The last thing they expected was a storm. Now, why am I saying that? Because that's how life works. Why is it you go-- and you've said it-- things have been going so well, and then this, from out of nowhere? Where did that wind come from? Where did those waves come from?
A storm comes unexpectedly. Trials come without your anticipation, without your expectation. You can't prescribe them. Only God does and can. Somebody said God speaks to us through the regularity with which he interrupts our plans. Some of you have said, boy, then God speaks to me a lot because he disrupts a lot of my plans, and I've had a lot of hardship in my life. They didn't expect it, but they got it.
And here's what else you need to know. In Mark's account of this, it said Jesus made them get into the boat. It's not recorded here, but Mark said Jesus made those disciples-- and the King James uses the word "constrained" them, compelled them. Get in the boat!
So when they're out on the Sea of Galilee and the storm is coming, they have to remember this. Jesus made me get in this boat. And you need to remember that. And when you come to the realization in your storms of life, your trials, your difficulties, God brought me to this storm, it will revolutionize your periods of pain. It changes the dynamic of the pain. God brought me to this storm. God made me get in this boat.
But notice, Jesus came walking to them on the sea and drawing near, and they were afraid. Yeah. Mark tells us it was the fourth watch of the night. You need to know what that means. He just didn't come at night. They had been out there 20 minutes, and Jesus shows up. Hey, guys. Fourth watch of the night.
The night was divided into four watches, first watch from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, second watch from 9:00 to midnight, third watch from midnight to 3:00 in the morning, fourth watch from 3:00 to 6:00. They had been out there rowing for around eight hours. You think they were exhausted? You think they were in extreme situations? Oh, yeah.
But Jesus showed up, didn't let them die, didn't let them sink. Sometimes you think, I've been praying. I've been waiting. He didn't showed up. Not the fourth watch yet. Just wait. He'll be there. It might be the third watch. Might be the first one. Don't know. But he will come.
Let's close of our story-- the last two verses, and we'll close. But he said to them, it is I. Do not be afraid. Then they willingly received him into the boat, and immediately, the boat was at the land where they were going. Here's what I want you to see in closing. The storm didn't last forever, and your storm won't either. Trials, difficulties, storms are seasonal. They are not perpetual.
God knows what you can take. God knows when he should show up. God knows when the deliverance should come, and it will. They're seasonal, not perpetual. Remember Peter, who was in the boat, would write a letter later on, and he said, in this, we rejoice even though if now for a season, if need be you are grieved through various trials. Seasonal, but not perpetual. There's an end to them all.
And here's what else you need to know. This storm wasn't a waste of time. They got to their destination, and they learned vital lessons on the way. They got to their destination. They learned vital lessons on their way.
Do you remember Jonah got into a boat? He paid the money. He paid the fare. He was going to Tarshish, to Spain. He wanted to have a nice, sunny vacation out there under the palm trees out in Portugal. Oh, awesome. Gibraltar-- nice this time of year.
Did he ever make it to his destination? But he paid the fare. He paid the money to get there. Did he get there? No. When you go your own way, you pay the fare, and you don't get to your destination. When you go God's way, he pays the fare, and you get to your destination.
Closing thought. What the apostles did was the smartest thing they could do. It says they willingly received him into the boat. Some of you still need to do that. You're in whatever boat you're in, your trial, your experience in life, just your life. It's your life. You're floating on the sea of life. It's your life. It's your boat.
The smartest thing you could do-- let Jesus into the boat. In fact, let him be the captain of the ship. You're just crew now. None of this, I did it my way. Dumb. Lame. Not smart. Do it his way. Invite him into your life, into your boat, and let him be the captain.
Father, as we close these heart-warming, encouraging stories, seeing these apostles very similar in nature to us, whereas Peter described men of like passion, we're encouraged that you are teaching them, mentoring them, bringing them to maturity. And eventually, they will pass the test. They will carry your word around the world. They will mature in their faith, in their relationships. They will be honorable to you and faithful to your name.
Lord, I pray for anyone who has not let Jesus into the boat, anyone who has not let him into their life. They've studied the word. They've listened to the word. Maybe like some of those leaders, they think that in studying the word, they have eternal life. But all of it testifies of Jesus, and he's a person. He's not a principle. He's a person. You want to have a relationship with people.
I pray, Father, if anyone here hasn't let Jesus into their boat, into their life, they will let him come in. Invite him. Our heads are bowed. Our eyes are closed. It's been a wonderful time together, wonderful family night, Wednesday night on welcome week, but some of you still need to let Jesus into the boat, into your life. You've been struggling at the oars long enough. You've been trying to go your way long enough.
Let Jesus take you where you need to be, but let him into the boat. Let him control your life. Let him be your Savior, your Lord. Admit that you need him. Admit that you're a sinner. Admit that you've blown it, that you've failed, and turn your life-- and ask him forgiveness. Turn your life to him and say, Jesus, come into my life, into my heart. I want to follow you.
If you're willing to do that, as we close this service, if you've never done it before, or some of you may need to come home back to him-- you've wandered away-- I want you to raise your hand up in the air, high up in the air, for just a moment. Keep it up so I can see it. I'll acknowledge your hand, and I'll pray for you.
God bless you, toward the back, on my left, and you right in the middle, and you. Anyone else? Raise your hand. Raise it up high so I can see you. Anyone else? Say yes to him. Turn your life over to him. Let him into your life, into your boat. In the balcony, God bless you. Thank you, to my right. Anybody else? Anybody else?
Father, thank you for these lives, these men and women. You love them. You've got a plan for them. Lord, I pray that they would be brought to the destination, to safe harbors. They're going to have more storms, but you're going to be with them. You're going to come to them. And eventually, you're going to take them all the way to the destination called heaven as they turn from the past, repent of their sins, turn to Jesus as their Savior and their Lord. Fill them, Lord, with peace as they finalize this decision. In Jesus's name, amen.
Let's all stand to our feet. Those of you who raised your hands, even if you're in the balcony, or the family room, or the very back. As we sing this song, I want to ask you to come down whatever aisle you're close to and stand right up here, and I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ as your Savior right now. As we sing, you come. We'll welcome you into God's family. We'll welcome you into our family.
But this is an important threshold moment. Jesus called people publicly. Our counselors are coming down. Come join them if you raised your hand. If you're in the balcony, come down those steps. If you're in the family room and you want to give your life to Christ, come through the door on the front and right around here. Awesome. Yes. Beautiful. God bless you.
Give you just another moment. We have some brave women up here who have come. What about you men? Come on, guys. You raised your hand. Come give your life to Christ. Follow the man from Galilee. Follow Jesus. Awesome. Awesome. God bless you guys. Come on up. That's so great. It's so good. Anybody else?
Some of you have watched these time and time again, and that's the problem. You've just watched them. You've never asked Jesus into your boat, your life. Anybody else?
You know you need to do this. You were created to have fellowship with God. He wants you to know his love, his forgiveness. He wants you to have purpose. Do you want it? Then you receive Christ. You receive Jesus. Anybody else? We're about to pray. Anyone else? Music, mood music or not, just come.
For those of you who are here, I'm so glad you are. We welcome you.
I want to lead you in a prayer, and I'm going to say this prayer out loud. I'm going to ask you to pray this prayer out loud after me. Say these words from your heart. Say them to your Lord, to your God. You're asking him to take over your-- asking them into the boat.
So let's pray together. Say Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. I'm sorry for my sin. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ, that he died on a cross for me, that he shed his blood for my sin, and that he rose from the grave and is alive right now. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as my Savior. I want to follow him as my Lord. In Jesus' name, amen!
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