I’m gonna show you a picture of the largest sandwich ever made. Look at that thing. That thing was made in Mexico City on April 24th, 2004 and the weight of that sandwich is 6,991 pounds. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Super size me,” doesn’t it? That’s a big sandwich. Just the top slice of bread took 8 men to maneuver it into place. Now that’s a novelty because people really didn’t sit down and eat that thing afterwards. It was just for the Guinness Book of World Records.
We’re about to read the story of a meal that Jesus provided that is the biggest meal found anywhere, certainly in the Scripture. It is typically called the Feeding of the 5,000. But that’s a little bit of a misnomer because Matthew gives us the notation that they were counting that day the men only besides women and children. So there were at least 10, upwards of perhaps 15,000 people and Jesus gave it to them absolutely free. It was a free lunch for those who were in need at the shores of Galilee.
This week I attended a conference, a senior pastor’s conference, in California and I decided to ride my motorcycle there and back and on the way back I stopped in Grants at this little burger joint and as I was walking in the burger joint, I noticed a sign on the door that said, “We no longer accept $50 or $100 bills.” It just sort of struck me—that sign. Because I thought, if I had a $100 bill, I probably wouldn’t be eating in that little burger joint.
But 2,000 years ago, they didn’t care where they were eating because most people were just barely subsisting at a poverty level and to have their needs met in any fashion was seen as a blessing. It’s really a rare exception, the story we read about, it’s rare for this reason. Number one, Jesus never, ever gave money to anyone. Number two, He rarely gave food to people and when He did, this is the occasion.
But it’s much deeper than just a feeding story, a picnic story. In fact, it is the most famous miracle of all of His miracles and it’s recorded in all four Gospels. Did you know it’s the only miracle Jesus performed that is covered by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—all four of them include this miracle?
But I don’t know how many people really get it or understand the real significance of the feeding of the 5 or the 15,000. I think it’s greatly misunderstood. Like the little boy who said my favorite story in the Bible is of the multitude that loaves and fishes. Well they’re not loafing and fishing. They were fed loaves of bread and fish for lunch. But what I want to do this morning is comb through verses 1 through 14 as we look as the story and there are 4 principals based upon the 4 people groups that are here. There’s the crowd, there’s Philip, there’s Andrew, and there’s a little boy.
But I want to give it to you in terms, not of personalities, but principals. There’s 4 big picture principals that all have to do with God’s care, God’s provision, and God’s work. And they’re found also in your outline and they are these. Problems don’t escape God’s view. Second, perplexities test faith in God’s power. Third principal is people are part of God’s plan. And finally, provision is abundant in God’s time. Those are the four principals that emerge from this picnic.
Now before we jump right into the story, I want to sort of let you know that I take it as it is written. I see it as a bona fide miracle. That is John’s point because he’s highlighting who Jesus is, unique from everyone else, that He is God in a human body. But some people amaze me when they write commentaries on this stuff. They feel like they gotta help God out a little bit and rationalize the miracle and say well it probably didn’t really happen that way. The way it really happened, one commentary says, is that everybody really brought their lunch that day but they were selfish, nobody wanted to bring it out and eat it and have to share with anybody and so Jesus saw a little boy with a few loaves and fish and, with that wonderful, warm, Jesus smile, He persuaded the little boy to take his lunch out and share it. And that brought conviction to everybody and so they took their lunch out and they shared it and everybody ate. Seriously. That’s how one person explains it.
Another says that well, Jesus and His disciples had already stored the food in advance in a cave upon this hillside where He brought them. And at just the right time they sort of moved backwards toward the mouth of the cave and there’s a couple disciples in there slipping loaves of bread out to Jesus under His arm and they just kept coming and kept coming. Now, ok, ok, if you want to believe that, but it doesn’t say that, number one, and I think it’s much easier to just believe and say Jesus worked a miracle! And for Him it’s like not a big deal, right, a miracle? It’s just simply enacting a whole higher set of laws than you and I know. I mean, if I look on a tarmac at a 747 airplane, I look at that big, heavy beast and I say gravity says that thing ain’t going anywhere. But if you enact a couple of laws that can supersede the law of gravity, like aerodynamics and propulsion thrust, it’ll supersede even the law of gravity and that heavy beast will fly across the world. And so here is Jesus enacting a set of laws that might be not familiar to us, but certainly He can traffic in them. And He imposes that in human time and space.
So we begin in verse 1 and we go down to verse 14 and we’ll take it principal by principal and here’s the first one: problems don’t escape God’s view. Verse 1: “After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.” Tiberias is the capital city of the region and it was also called that by the Romans. “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. Then 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?”
Now one of the things John is sort of famous for writing in all of his writings is that beginning phrase of chapter 6 verse 1: “After these things”. In Greek: after this. The problem is he doesn’t tell us after what or how long after what. It’s just after this. Now we notice that it’s Passover, a feast of the Jews. In chapter 5, it also says that there was a feast of the Jews and either it was the Feast of Passover, which places this a year after chapter 5, or it’s the Feast of Tabernacles, which would place this 6 months after chapter 5. Either way, you have at least 6 months up to a year time difference between chapter 5 and chapter 6, which helps explain why there are so many people gathered around Jesus because by this time, His popularity is soaring because of the signs, the miracles, the teaching which He had already performed in His earthly ministry.
So there’s a great crowd. But John gives us the notation as to why so many people were following Jesus. Now was this crowd following Jesus because they wanted to hear what Bible study He was teaching or some great truth would fall from His lips or because they just loved Him so much? No. Verse 2 tells us, “because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.” This is the reason Jesus was never all that excited about crowds. At least He didn’t gauge His ministry success by how many people were following. That was never an issue with Him because way back in chapter 2, when there were also crowds starting to form, and it even says many believed in Him when they saw the miracles that He did, remember what John writes? But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, he said. Did not commit Himself to them because He knew what was in their heart. So likewise, this very crowd is following Jesus for selfish reasons. They don’t care about His words. They simply care about His miracles. They want more miracles. In fact, we don’t have time to look at it today, but toward the end of this chapter, this very crowd, after Jesus begins to speak to them, the Bible tells us that many of them departed and followed Jesus no longer, when they heard what He had to say.
So here is the crowd all excited about the miracles, within 1 year from this Passover, by the next Passover, many people in that crowd will be the very ones shouting, “Crucify Him!” That’s a fickle crowd. William Barclay writes these words: when we want comfort in sorrow, when we want strength in difficulty, when we want peace in turmoil, when we want help when life has gotten us down, there’s no one so wonderful as Jesus. Then we talk to Him and walk with Him and open our hearts to Him but when He comes to us with some stern demand for sacrifice, with some challenge to effort, with the offer of some cross to bear, then we will have nothing to do with Him. When we examine our hearts, it may be that we will find that we, too, love Jesus for what we can get out of Him and when He comes to us with great challenges and demands, we, too, grow lukewarm, even resentful, and hostile to this disturbing and demanding Christ.
Have you ever met a person who’s mad at God? They’re bitter at God? They say, oh yeah, I’ve followed Jesus once, I was into it just like you are, I’ve been into that stuff. But now they’re mad, they’re bitter, because something happened. You can fill in the blank: death of a loved one, lingering disease, loss of a job, whatever. Now they’re bitter; now they’re mad. And you look at that and you go what happened? I’ll tell you exactly what happened. Unfulfilled expectations happened. Unfulfilled expectations. In other words, they were following Jesus on their terms only. If you were to examine carefully, you would find that person holds a theology that says they are lord and Christ is the servant rather than Christ is Lord and I am His slave, I am His servant. They’re people who follow Jesus for fun and profit and it always will affect a crash landing eventually. The crowd, they’re following Jesus.
Now having said that, because that’s what the text says, the great thing I want you to notice is they have a physical need. They’re out away from really any of the towns. They’re out on the shores of Galilee, in a very rural environment. There’s thousands upon thousands of them. It says it’s around Passover time, Galilee’s below sea level and it really heats up by Passover. So they’re hot, they’re hungry, they’re thirsty, and Jesus notices that and He’s about to fix that. He’s about to tend to the need. Problems don’t escape God’s view. Verse 5: “Then 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?”
Now it says He saw them. He was seeing them come. The word seeing is the Greek word theaomy. We get the word theatre from it. It’s the idea of sitting at a place for a prolonged period of time and looking in one direction. So the word meant to notice, to take notice of, to really study hard and get an assessment of what was going on. Jesus saw them coming. And knowing the needs of the human body, that we require replenishment and refreshment. He was there to meet that need and, in a moment, we’ll read He gives them a meal. That’s the great point I want you to notice this morning is that when it comes to problems, they don’t escape God’s view. And if you’re a child of God, and most of you are, you’re in a very special place of care by God.
Even Jesus, when He gave the Sermon on the Mount, He made special notation that the Father in heaven notices human need and cares for us. Let me remind you of it. It’s in Matthew chapter 6 verse 25, Jesus speaking, therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, what you will drink, or about your body what you will put on, is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? So even Jesus makes mention of the basic needs of the body—food and clothing and shelter. Then He goes on, look at the birds of the air. For they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? You ever seen a bird worry? Do you ever think of a time when you saw a bird in your backyard with its beak in its little arm going, how am I gonna pay the rent on the nest this week, man, this is tough? Did you ever, ever see that? What are they doing? They’re chirping, singing. They never, ever give it a thought. Ok, now here’s what I want you to connect. Jesus uses specific language. He said look at the birds of the air yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Not their heavenly Father. God isn’t the birds’ heavenly Father. He’s their Creator. But He’s your heavenly Father. So you get the implication. If your heavenly Father is caring about birds, won’t your heavenly Father care about you as His son or daughter? No bird was ever created in the image of God. No bird is ever recreated in salvation in the image of Christ. No bird is ever promised heaven and eternal life.
If you’re God’s child you are—special care is given. Paul amplifies that in Romans chapter 8: He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also along with Him graciously give us all things? I’ve always been fond of a truth expressed in a great little poem about two birds having a conversation. It goes something like this: said the robin to the sparrow, friend, I’d surely like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, friend, I think that it must be that they have no heavenly Father such as cares for you and me. Jesus, God, notices our problems. That’s the first great principal. Problems don’t escape God’s view.
Here’s the second: perplexities test faith in God’s power. Don’t you notice in life, as you follow Christ, that you go through tests? Just a word up if you don’t. They come all the time. And what I notice about God testing our faith is that He seems to test it beyond the very edge of it. Now just at our limit, He just sort of moves the marker just a little further than we’re presently believing. And why does He do that? To stretch us, to grow us, so that we kind of overcome that and we learn a lesson and the next time He moves the bar a little bit further and so here, beyond the limits of Philip’s own faith, Jesus sets a test.
Let’s look at it. Verse 5 again: “Then 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?” Now He’s not asking that because He’s looking for information. Because notice what it says in verse 6: “But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him,” I love this guy, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” Wow.
Question: why did Jesus, of all the disciples, ask this question to Philip? Well I can’t be sure but I have a guess. We read in John chapter 1 that Philip was from the town of Bethsaida Julius, a little town on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. And here it says Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, or Sea of Tiberias. So Jesus and His disciples are now in the very place that Philip grew up in, near his hometown. If anyone would know what resources are available, it would be the local kid. So hey Philip, you’re from around here, where on earth is there a bakery big enough to feed this crowd? Now it says He said that to test him. And here’s the point: Jesus was asking this to Philip as a test, presenting to him what you and I would consider an impossible situation. This is impossible on a human level. There’s not a place around here that can accommodate these people.
Somebody once said when God is gonna do something wonderful, He begins with a difficulty. And when He’s gonna do something very wonderful, He begins with an impossibility. This is very wonderful and this is absolutely impossible. So here’s the test: will Philip focus on his inadequacy or will Philip focus on My ability? Philip! Where do we buy bread? He says well, you know what? Two hundred denarii won’t cut it.
Question: did Philip pass the test or fail the test? You’re not answering. So I’ll answer: I think he failed the test. He failed the test. It wasn’t that he, you know, he’ll get demoted in heaven or anything, it was just sort of, He’s trying to stretch his faith here a little bit and he comes up with this answer, two hundred denarii. Philip had a calculator for a brain. Everything had to be figured out before he could believe in it. So you can just picture Philip. He actually came up with a number! He’s saying ok, there’s 5, 10, 15, 20, 100, there’s a couple thousand, maybe more, ok, and he comes up with this two hundred denarii. What does that mean? Well one denarius was what you would pay a day laborer for a day’s work. So two hundred denarii’s like eight months’ wage. So let’s just assign a figure of $10,000. So Jesus asks him a question, Philip doesn’t answer the question Jesus asks him, he kind of goes to a whole different conversation. The question is where. He’s all about how much. Hey, where do we buy bread? $10,000 won’t cut it! Not gonna happen! This is an impossible situation. Now let me give you a little insight into Philip’s character—it’ll help. Philip is the guy who, later on, will say, Jesus, just show us the Father and that’s all we need. That’ll be sufficient. We’ll be happy. Duh. Yeah. I mean, who wouldn’t be happy with that? Just show us God the Father! We’ll be happy from then on. So you see Philip was the guy who had to see everything. If he didn’t see it, he’s pessimistic. If he can’t figure it out in his own mind and apply the math and ok, well I can see how this would work, ok now I have faith. It doesn’t take any faith if you can figure it out. and so here is the test and Philip failed it. Men, this is the reason why your wives have more faith to pray for a broken car than you do. Honey, I’m just gonna pray that God will fix your car. Why bother? I know what’s wrong with it. Your prayers on earth isn’t gonna fix it. They don’t know it like you know it. They just have faith in God and so often they’ll answer that simple prayer of faith, won’t He? Well, here is Philip. He’s a calculating pessimist.
I heard about two neighbors. One was an optimist, always joyful, always trusting God, smile on his face, believed the best. But his neighbor, both of them were farmers, his neighbor was a pessimist. Woke up every morning with a sigh. Maybe you know somebody like that. Maybe you are somebody like that. So one morning the sun was shining and the optimist got up and he said what a beautiful, bright, sunny day God has given us! And his neighbor said, yeah, that sun keeps shining it’ll scorch all of our crops. Next day it rained. And the optimist, true to form, said, what a gift God is giving us to water our crops and give them a drink. And the pessimist said, the rain doesn’t stop, it’s gonna wash all our crops away. And so this went on like all the time. One day the optimist decided to give the ultimate test to the pessimist, take him duck hunting. He had something in mind. There they were out on the boat with their shotguns, ducks flew up, they pulled the trigger, shot a couple ducks, they fell into the water and the optimist couldn’t wait. He smiled and twinkle in his eye said to his dog, go get ‘em! His dog gets out of the boat, walks on the water, gets the ducks and brings them back again walking on the water. And the optimist smiles and goes, what do you think of that? And the pessimist said, oh, your dog can’t swim, can he? That’s a pessimist. When two pessimists meet at a party they don’t shake hands, they just shake heads. That’s Philip.
Philip is calculating need and cost, need and cost, need and cost. Here’s where he made a mistake. He actually made a mistake in his calculations. He calculated need and cost and he didn’t factor in Jesus next to the need and the cost. That’s the wrong—that’s the mistake in calculating. And here’s why: difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work. So for Philip this is impossible. For Andrew, Peter, John—it’s all impossible. But factor in Jesus and now difficulty must be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work.
Now you might want to defend Philip because you weren’t ready to say that he failed. And you might want to say well Philip had an excuse. He didn’t know what Jesus was gonna do! I would disagree with that. Philip was there when Jesus turned the water into what? Wine. Now that’s pretty cool. That should be, like, wow. That’s pretty cool! Philip was there when Jesus healed the nobleman’s son. That was pretty cool. Philip was there when all those miracles happened in John chapters 2 and 3 in Jerusalem that Nicodemus made note of. And Philip was there when the man at the pool of Bethesda, 38 year lingering disease, was healed. But he didn’t calculate it here. Here’s what his answer should’ve been. When Jesus said, Philip! Where can we buy bread? He should’ve turned to Jesus and said, Jesus, there ain’t a bakery big enough to do it. But You don’t need one. I’ve been watching You. In fact, You rather like these impossible situations so I can’t wait to see what You’re gonna pull off. That would’ve been a pass for the test. Philip, however, is focusing on inadequacy—not Christ’s ability.
Here’s the third great lesson from this picnic lunch: people are part of God’s plan. Now this is a story about people. There’s a crowd of people. There’s Philip. There’s Andrew. There’s a little boy. And all of them will be used by Christ. The boy, Philip, Andrew, all of the disciples to distribute the meal. And so the point that comes to mind is that people are part of God’s plan. Let’s look at verse 8. “One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad [little boy] here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” He’ll show them in a minute what they are among so many. “Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” In other words, get them ready for a meal. “Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.”
There’s two more people that are introduced. Andrew, an apostle of Christ, and this little boy. Now Andrew, what do you know about Andrew? Now you’re probably, if you’ve been a Christian long, you’re thinking really hard, you’re going, Andrew, huh. That’s a tough one. Andrew. What’s he known for? Can you think of any book that Andrew wrote in the New Testament? None! The gospel according to Andrew—not there. Uh, Andrew’s epistle to the Romans—not there. Can you think of any great sermon that Andrew preached? He might have but it’s not recorded.
Now you know what he’s known for? Being Simon Peter’s brother. Got any younger, you grew up with older brothers or sisters, and you can relate. I was. I can relate immediately. Look at verse 8: “One of His disciples,” even John has to write it, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother”. Because otherwise you’d go, who? But now you go, oh! See I grew up with that. Oh! You’re Rick’s little brother. Yeah. Oh! You’re Jim’s kid brother. Bob’s little brother. See I was number four. I had three older brothers. I walked in their shadow. That’s what Andrew is known for: he’s absolutely an unknown apostle and many would consider insignificant.
But let me tell you what he is known for. He’s known for the guy that brought people to Jesus. It was Andrew that brought Peter, his brother, to Jesus. It was Andrew that, later on in chapter 12, will bring a group of Greeks that are seeking to have an audience with Jesus, he’ll connect them. Andrew will bring them to Jesus. He’s the guy who brings the kid with the loaves and fish to Jesus. So he’s the guy bringing people to Christ. And so I say thank God for all of the Andrews, whether they’re known or not, but they’re always connecting people with the guy who can fix things. Those are Andrews.
Most of us have heard of Dwight Lyman Moody, the great preacher of Chicago. Oh, yeah, D.L. Moody! But how many of us think of Kimbell? You go, Kimbell? Yeah. Kimbell was the guy who witnessed to Moody in a shoe store and led him to Christ. He was the connector. He was the Andrew. We’ve all heard of Martin Luther. But how many of us immediately think of Phillip Melanchthon. You go, who? Only the guy who taught theology to Martin Luther, encouraged him to write, translate the New Testament from its original language. Billy Graham, the world has heard of Billy Graham, but how many know about Mordecai Hamm? That was the evangelist preaching in a tent in the 1930s when young, 16-year-old Billy Graham heard the gospel and walked forward. These are the Andrews that connect men and women to Christ.
And then notice there’s the boy. Now what’s his name? We don’t know, right? We don’t know and we’ll never know till we get to heaven. He’s not mentioned. In fact, John, out of the four Gospels, is the only writer who mentions there was a boy! Matthew, Mark, and Luke just say there were loaves and fish. There’s no mention at all of a boy whatsoever. So he was like a lot of kids that day on the slope: insignificant, poor. You say, poor? How do you know he’s poor? Well he brought barley loaves.
Now I want to clear something up in your mind. You’re thinking, that poor little kid lugging around big loaves of bread and fish. No. A loaf of bread was the size of a pancake. You know what pita bread is. A little, flat pita bread, five of those, made out of barley. Barley is the grain for the very poor and the fish, don’t think of big catfish, big salmon. Now the word in Greek is pickled fish. Little sardines about that big. In fact, what it was was like a relish. It was a spread that you’d put on the bread just to give it some flavor. That’s what he had. Now I can just picture him at home that morning. He’s gonna go out and play and there’s a big crowd and his mom goes, honey, just a minute, you can’t go out without your lunch! She’s making the lunch. She had no clue that that little lunch would feed so many people. And that little boy would never forget it.
Here’s the big point: unknown, unnamed, insignificant does not mean unimportant or useless. That’s the big point. Something really little or insignificant or someone small and insignificant, when placed in the hands of Jesus Christ, can bless multitudes of people. Question: could Jesus have performed this miracle without the boy? Could He have performed the miracle without Andrew? Could He have performed the miracle without any of the disciples distributing it? Absolutely. He could’ve gone like this! An In-N-Out burger instantly plopped in everybody’s lap. Burger, fries, Coke—everything. But it didn’t happen that way and the point is He uses people to do His work. He uses people.
Now I don’t know but perhaps some of you have been thinking of your life lately and you kinda got down into the doldrums and you’re going, you know, I’m really not all that gifted and all that talented and I don’t have that much to offer. My response to that, with all due respect, is how dare you look at your littleness above His greatness? The issue isn’t what you have to offer. The issue is when you place yourself in His hands, what He can do. Now here’s the mathematics of a miracle. 5+2. 5 loaves and 2 fish equals? Not much. But 5+2+Jesus Christ? The sky’s the limit. You place that in His hands and He does this. So never forget to factor in the unmitigated power of Christ when you commit your life into His hands what He can do with you. So problems don’t escape God’s view, perplexities test faith in God’s power, people are part of God’s plan.
Here’s the fourth and final lesson from this picnic: provision is abundant in God’s time. You know the story but let’s read it. Verse 11: “Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks,” now He must have done that publicly so if you’re ever wondering, should I pray when I eat at a restaurant, He gave thanks, “He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.” And notice this: “So when they were filled”. They were filled. This was an abundant provision. “He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve 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, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Boy this is just like the Lord, isn’t it? Not only does He do a miracle, but it’s exceedingly, abundantly above what anybody can ask or think. Ok. So go back for a moment and remember how Philip was calculating, right? Remember he goes, ok, 5, 10, 100… 200… $10,000! Philip was calculating on the bare minimum. Verse 7 it says that every one of them may have a? A little. I’m figuring on what it takes to just give everybody a bite. Compare that with verse 11: they had as much as they wanted. He calculated on the minimum. Jesus provided the maximum. Can’t you just see Philip’s face? When somebody goes, hey Philip! Bring me some more bread and fish. I still am hungry. Uhh… ok. Abundant provision.
Then verse 12, as they gather up the fragments, and they gathered up twelve baskets, so what is this all about? Keep Galilee Clean campaign? No. It’s about economy. Why twelve baskets? Now I’ve read books where commentaries, commentators get very eloquent, pages are filled with the meaning of the twelve baskets and the twelve tribes of Israel, they try to make a correlation. I think it’s much simpler than that. How many people were gathering up the fragments? How many disciples were there? 12. Each of them had a basket, all Jewish males 2,000 years ago carried a basket to keep their stuff in it, their bag. And they filled it up with stuff—with food. There were 12 baskets that remained. In other words, Jesus not only provided free lunch for everybody that day, but breakfast for His 12 for the next day. An abundant provision. God provides and provision is always abundant in God’s time. That doesn’t mean you’re gonna eat gourmet food every day. This was simply barley and fish. But they were all filled. God will provide.
There’s two passages from the Psalms that came to my mind. I want to share them with you. Both are written by David, both written by David when he was older, he had learned a few things in life. Psalm 37 David said, once I was young, now I am old, but I have never seen the godly forsaken nor have I seen their children begging for bread. A beautiful promise. The second one is Psalm 23—his famous psalm. Here’s part of it: You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies, my cup runneth over. Can’t you just picture a host pouring drink for the guest and it just goes to the top and just overflows? I do that as a joke sometimes with my friends, pouring water in a restaurant, just keep pouring and keep pouring. But the symbolism behind that is it’s an abundant provision. My cup runneth over!
Now I know a lot of people who just don’t view their life that way. Like the pessimistic farmer they would say, my cup leaketh under! And that is because it seems that we write our miseries in marble and we write His mercies in sand. We so quickly forget His goodness. Our conversation so quickly tend toward complaining rather than thanksgiving.
Let me tell you a story of one that didn’t as I close. Howard Hendricks wrote in a book, it was the very first book sent to me by the Billy Graham Association when I was a brand-new Christian. Howard Hendricks wrote a book on love and in there he writes the story about a family in Dallas, Texas, had fallen on hard times, mom and dad and four kids. One of their boys named Timmy, as they would gather together for family devotion, they’d pray every single night as a family, and one night Timmy said, Mom and Dad? Do you think Jesus would mind if I asked Him for a shirt? I just want a shirt. And Dad said, nope, I don’t think Jesus would mind at all, Timmy, in fact, let’s write it down in our little prayer journal: one shirt for Timmy. And then he wrote: size 7. They got together and prayed every night, every week, for months. No shirt for months. Then one Saturday, a Christian businessman in Dallas, a clothier called, Mom picked up the phone and the businessman said, Ma’am? I’m going through our July clearance and I know that you have a bunch of boys there and I’m just wondering if you could use anything. I have some shirts. She said, could I ask what size? He said I have size 7. How many? She said. He said, Get this. I have 12. 12 shirts. That night when the family got together to pray and Timmy was starting to pray for his shirt, Dad interrupted and said to him, you don’t have to pray, God provided. He did? Just then his little brother was all on cue, his little brother comes and brings one shirt all wrapped up, puts it on the table for Timmy. And his eyes got as big as saucers. I’ll let Howard Hendricks tell the rest of the story: He piled all twelve shirts on the table one after the other and Timmy now thinks God is going into the shirt business. But you know? There’s a little kid in Dallas, Texas today named Timothy who believes there’s a God in heaven interested enough in his needs to provide little boys with shirts.
What problems do you face? What perplexities are you facing? What impossibilities are in your life? God’s gonna use it. Moreover, God’s gonna use you in it. There’s gonna be other people that are gonna hear your story as you tell them in days and ages to come.