John 6:1-15 - Part 2 - The Heart of Ministry

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“The Heart of Ministry”

John 6:1-15 Part 2


I.       The Feeding of the Five Thousand.

Review: Last week we looked at (1) The Example Of Jesus: He seen the need of the people, His heart was moved with compassion, & He met their need.  (2) The Example of the Disciples: Busy about their Fathers business, & Jesus took them aside privately & they spent time with Him.   


Frequently “bread” was used as a metaphor for food itself, and so it was bread that sustained biological life. So when Jesus said “man does not live on bread alone” (Matt. 4:4), He was affirming that human beings, although material, are also spiritual beings, & we are not to be dominated by physical urges or even needs.

Jesus’ miracles of feeding the 5,000, and later the 4,000, were dramatic evidence to all Israel that Christ was concerned with every human need.

The miracle serves as the occasion for Jesus preaching on the Bread of Life.

q         The crowds who ate the food Jesus provided were challenged to see in His miracles evidence that He Himself was the “true bread” (John 6:32) sent by God from heaven to sustain not merely physical but more importantly spiritual life.

q         It is also clear that the crowds rejected Christ’s explanation of the meaning of His miracle. They “began to grumble” (6:41) and because Jesus’ words constituted a “hard teaching” (6:60), many early followers of His movement “turned back and no longer followed Him” (6:66).

This week we are going to look at the disciples again, but this time how they responded to the needs of the people and how to meet them.

A.     The Response of the Disciples (v.5)

John’s Gospel only tells the response of Philip when Jesus asked him the question, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (6:5).  But Mark tells us, “When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.  Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat” (Mark 6:35-36).

The Disciples Had Two Suggestions For Solving The Problem: either send the people away to find their own food, or raise enough money to buy a bit of bread for everybody. As far as the disciples were concerned, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and nothing could be done!

1.       Blessed Are the Flexible For They Shall Not Be Broken

Sending the Multitude Away Was Not the Response Jesus Was Looking For

Remember, John tells us in his first epistle (2:6), “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked”.  In spite of the interruption to His plans, the Lord welcomed them, taught them the Word, and healed those who were afflicted.

q        In ministry there are not interruptions, just opportunities to minister the love of God to others.  If our lives are guided by the Holy Spirit, we need to be open to hearing and obeying His voice as he speaks to us from His Word.  Walking in the Spirit implies an openness to have one’s schedule rearranged

q        Having experienced interruptions many times in my own life and ministry, I marvel at the patience and grace of Jesus! What an example for us to follow!  Jesus seen the need, was moved with compassion, & met the need

The Very Opposite Was True Of The Disciples.  To them, the crowds were a problem, perhaps even a nuisance, the disciples wanted to:

q        Tell Jesus What To Do (Mark 6:35-36)

q        Get Rid Of The Very People God Wanted Them To Help (Matt.15:21-28; Mk.10:13-16; Lk.18:15). 

They wanted to avoid the problem, ignore it, and just let it go away (Psalm 55:6; Jer.9:2)

q        Tell Those Who Needed Help To Be Quiet (Mark 10:46-52)

q        Do Nothing About It—That is what the Priest and the Levite did when they saw that battered Jew dying by the side of the Jericho road (Luke 10:25-37; Prov.3:27-29; 1Jn 3:17-18).

q        They Were Blind To The Needs Of Others (Philippians 2:3-4).

q        Note this: After Jesus met their need that is when He sent them away (Mark 6:46).  

B.     Only God’s Resources Will Meet the Needs of Others.

Jesus told them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16 cf. Mark 6:37).  Then Jesus 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 (John 6:5-6).

1.       Trust in God To Meet Our Needs

A)       Problems to Us Are Only Opportunities For God to Work.

To Jesus, This Was Not A Problem, But An Opportunity To Trust The Father And Glorify His Name.

Many I fear, never see God work for them because they always have a way out—some friend, perhaps, who might help a little if God does not!  Most to be pitied are those who, brought to a supreme crisis, still find an avenue of escape.  For necessity is the foundation of miracles.  To escape the one is to miss the other.  Great difficulties are meant only to force us out of ourselves into reliance on Him (Watchman Nee)

God Alone Has The Resources To Meet Human Needs.

q         Jesus saw the people’s problem then He gave it to the disciples.  Jesus asked the question in order to expand the disciples’ spiritual understanding & trust in Him.  He wanted them to see how to appropriate His power and sufficiency, to see how that He could make a difference in their lives.

q         All we can do is receive His riches and share them with others. 

q         When it comes to ministry, all of us are bankrupt, and only God is Rich (Acts 3:1-6; 2Cor.6:10).

God Will Test Us To See What Or Who We Will Trust In To Meet That Need (John 6:6)

q         Deuteronomy 8:1-20 God allows us to hunger to keep us humble.

B)       Human Resources Are Not the Answer (John 6:7)

1)        Philip Tried To Solve The Problem Himself, He Looked At Money As The Answer.

q         Having More Money To Spend Is The Solution To Every Problem.  This is where Philip went wrong.  Jesus was hoping Philip would look to Him rather than to human and earthly resources.  Philip always looked at external the external evidence (John 1:46; 14:8).

q         Philip Was More Awed At The Magnitude Of The Crowd Than The Power Of Jesus.  They were like a person who stands in front of Niagara Falls and asks where he can find a drink. They were face to face with the supreme power in the universe and yet were spiritually blind.

q         Thinking the Problem is Our Responsibility.  The disciples thought it was their responsibility to come up with the money or the food or some clever way to solve the problem. 

When believers live on the level of spiritual trust and obedience, God makes provision for their physical needs, In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus cautioned, “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33).

Remember, when we look at the circumstances and there seems to be no way out, the Lord knows what He is going to do… Jesus Himself knew what He would do (John 6:6). 

2)        Andrew Looked to Someone Else To Solve the Problem (John 6:8)

q         Still his faith fell short of what Jesus wanted to do.  “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?

q         He did not look past the resources he had in his hand

q         This is a little better, but nevertheless he looked to the wrong person.

2.       Be A Channel Of God’s Resources, not Reservoirs (John 6:9)!

And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”  But He said to them,  “How many loaves do you have? Go and see (Mark 6:37-38)…  One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many (John 6:8)?”… He said, “Bring them here to Me.” (Matt.14:18)

a)        Start With What You Have & Give It To Jesus—Do Not Hold On To It

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38; Luke 19:11)

Mark 6:31 says, “For there were many coming and going, and they [the disciples] did not even have time to eat”.  Proverbs 11:24-25 says,        There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.        The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself… Note: after the disciples gave away the food, the Lord took care of them:  “So when they were filled, 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 (John 6:12-13).  God Takes Care of Those Who Serve Him.

q        Was the boy willing to give up his lunch? Yes, he was!   He gave what little he had into the hands of an Almighty God.  And the Lord Jesus was able to take what seemed insignificant and make it into something of value.  God begins where we are and uses what we have.

q        The Lord wanted the disciples to see that no matter what they had—even the tiniest or menial thing—if they really give it to Him, he could use it.  The miracle of multiplication was in His hands! “Little is much if God is in it.”

b)        What Do You Have To Offer God?

q        Problems, troubles, a Broken Heart? (Psalm 34:17-18; 51:17; Isaiah 57:17; 66:2)

q        Abilities?  Even your Inabilities?

q        Strength?  Even your weaknesses?

q        Praise to God & not forgetting to do good (Hebrews 13:15-16)

q        Spiritual Sacrifices acceptable to God (1Pet.2:4-10)

q        Body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)

3.       Obey What the Lord Commands - Be Obedient To God (John 6:10)

Jesus told the disciples to “bring the five loaves and two fish to Him” (Matthew 14:18).  Mark say’s in his gospel (6:39) that Jesus “commanded them (His disciples) to make them (the multitude) all sit down in groups on the green grass (Psalm 23)… Jesus took the five loaves, & looked up to heaven, blessed (Mark 6:41) & gave thanks for the five loaves (John 6:6, 11 cf. 1Tim 4:3-5) then broke the loaves and gave them to His disciples to set before the people


a)        The Disciples Brought the Food to Jesus & Had The People Sit Down As Jesus Commanded.

q                                     They took the broken pieces and distributed them, and discovered that there was plenty for everybody. As His servants, we are “distributors,” not “manufacturers.” If we give what we have to Him, He will bless it and give it back to us for use in feeding others.

b)        Ministry Directed By the Lord Results In Full Nets (Luke 5:1-7)

q        Nevertheless at Your Word (v.5 cf. John 21:6); Whatever He says to you, do it (John 2:5)

q        He told Peter to go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you” (Matt.17:27).

q        Jesus says we are His friends if we do whatever He commands us to do (John 15:14).

c)         Do Not Forget What the Lord Has Done (Mark 8:1-10, 14-21; 6:52)

q        (v.4) the disciples still did not understand, they were spiritually dull.

q        (v.17 their heart was still hardened (lit. their minds were closed)

q        (v.18) do you not remember?

q        We should make a diary of all the things that God has done for us so we can look back and remember what He has done.

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