Good morning, friends. How are you doing today? My name is Alex, I’m one of the pastors here. If you’re watching online, if you’re visiting for the first time, it’s great to have you here. . We’re in the middle of a series that we call Build a Bigger Table, walking through the book of Luke. If you’re unfamiliar with the Bible, that’s fine. Luke is one of the books of biographies of Jesus’ life. Four people chose to write about what Jesus had done, and Luke is one of them, and so we’re following Luke, this incredible author, this historian, really, he goes,into incredible detail. We’re following it through. Sometimes with Jesus around food.. . . . . .
We specifically picked that avenue maybe because we know that most of us love food, but also because there’s something about it that we still understand todayThink about all of the things that as you read this book that are foreign to you. This is a different culture, one that you’ll never understand completely, and yet still today we sit, we gather around tables, we enjoy food together, and so we picked out every time that Jesus does this with a group of people, and we’ve just experienced how he teaches through that, how he uses that. He sits with enemies, they become friends. He sits with people who are unlike him, he uses it for transformation and all of these wonderful things. So this is the adventure that we’re taking. Today as well, we will take part in the Lord’s supper, communion and the Eucharist,, however you grew up knowing it, it’s this moment of remembering specifically that Jesus came to give us new life and so just hold that in the back of your mind and think about how he inter-plays with this passage.
I’m gonna start us off with.a little snippet of Luke Chapter 9. We’re gonna start in verse 4, and I’m gonna give you some more context as we go to the plan for today, We’re gonna start with the micro, and then we’re gonna kind of back up and ask, How does this affect me today? what is the message God might have for me? And so we’re told this, “He said to his disciples, have them sit down in groups of about 50 each, the disciples did so. And everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them that he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the: disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”
: We just read the story of the feeding of the 5000. We’re told 5000 men sat down to eat with just five loaves and two fishes, and there was enough to eat. This is one of the few stories that appears in every gospel account.. In the four biographies of Jesus, every single one of the writers chooses to focus on this incredible event. we have 5000 men, maybe 10000 altogether, maybe 12000, 15000 sat down with just a few loaves and fishes and there was enough to eat.
As we started to jump into this book, Luke, what we’ve discovered is this, this is kind of like an anchor passage, when Jesus starts to describe to a group of people for the first time what His ministry will look like. He says this, “Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” Jesus is interested and has come for a group of people that find themselves living on the margins, people that society generally has rejected, pushed to the fringes, and Jesus uniquely is interested in them. He brings good news to those who are not familiar with good news. He’s interested in a group of people for whom society has nothing, no good message to share, and Jesus comes and says, I have something specifically for you, and we’ve seen that start to unfold in the way that we have seen him do things. In the start of Luke, we’ve seen that he sat with Levi, a tax collector who was generally despised by society. He would be seen as that he turned his back on his own people. He was in league with the Romans that were ruling the area. Levi was rejected by almost everybody. People didn’t think much of the people who were employed by the Romans. His own Jewish people didn’t think much of him. And we’ve watched as Jesus sat down with this group of people and said, I’m gonna accept you, I’m gonna include you. And the reaction of the religious leaders has been, why? Why are you sitting with these people? We’ve watched as he sat with an important person, a Pharisee, and the meal has been invaded almost by someone on the very fringes of society, by a prostitute, and Jesus has sat with her… And to think that in the first century to sit with someone over food was so much more significant than it is today, today we’ll sit with almost anyone… Yeah, in the first century society, there was this inclusion thing going on when you sat with someone, it was to say, You’re okay, you’re a suitable person for me to sit and eat with. A religious leader would never sit and eat with a prostitute, yet, Jesus is very comfortable, very inclusive in all of that, we’ve seen as Jesus has brought good news to this group of people considered as poor, and that term poor, in first century context, was so much more than just monetarily poor, it was anybody who finds themselves on the fringes of society. Jesus says, I have come with good news for you, and that good news seems to be summed up in these words,” You are included in what God is doing:.
People on the fringes of society were not considered included in what God was doing because you knew who the blessed people were, the blessed were the rich… The blessed were those that had stuff happening, . . . .the blessed were those with great families, the” Blessed”… The poor were not considered the blessed but Jesus says, No, you are blessed because you’re included in this thing that I am doing. So we have seen Levi who sat with Jesus and an unnamed woman who gathers with Jesus, and today we move on to this encounter with 5000 people that sit with Jesus, and to get us into this… I’m gonna ask you a question.
Have you gone somewhere expecting food and found…there is no food? Have you been invited maybe to a party that you assumed food was included in the process, and yet you found just maybe light finger snacks or something like that, and it’s just not as substantial as you are hoping, have you had false expectations about just what was included in the invitation? Have you been to an event of some kind and then find you are disappointed? A few years ago, I was in the Philippines, and we had this tradition in the Philippines- – – – – I went with this group that went back every single year, and we planted lots of churches in the area. Now, what we found is that these churches that were planted loved to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the church with us when we were there.
Now, the problem was this,We went on different dates every year and we found that while that was a problem to us as westerners, it was not a problem to people in the Philippines because they just changed the date. There were churches that had had five or six different dates of anniversaries during the time we were there that were just delightful and it could include us. And this would always come with a big party and all those different types of things. Now, that in itself had this humbling aspect to it, because they would always insist on providing as much food as they could. And we knew that they couldn’t afford it. We knew that they were suffering for their kindness in lots of ways, that sometimes these parties that they would throw might be 1/12 of the income for the small community for the entire year,Iit was like a month living cost but they would always long to provide these feasts and we would travel hours and hours to visit these churches, some of them on tiny little islands where you would have to get a long coach, and you get a boat further out and It would take a long time to get there.
: So I remember this one distinct church driving for 6-7 hours along the Philippine Coast, finally getting on this boat and making this journey out to this tiny little island and finally arriving, expecting a feast and being so excited. And when we got there, I didn’t see it. But my question was, Where’s the food? Food?
And the response is, Well, it’s still being cooked. It’s gonna be done in awhile.. Now, if you’ve traveled for seven hours, there’s a certain appetite that has built up, and I’m like, Okay, can we move this thing along? But it turns that they had turns out, they had chosen to slow cook a pig over a fire on a spit.
Now, this takes a certain amount of knowledge and some special system to cook this thing properly, so we finally, after many hours sat down to eat and I was excited about this process, and then they cut it, and I looked under the first cut, you take that sliver off the top, and I had this moment where I said, that’s raw, that is actually not edible in the condition that it’s in, and so then you start to calculate, well, how many hours will it take to cook it properly, and
am I willing to risk that it’s not going to damage me internally right now. Do I eat it and just trust everything will work out fine, or do I say, Could you keep cooking it and we’ll eat it later on, and they were very sweet and said we’ll give you guys the most cooked part of it and stuff like that, and I’m like, Most cooked is not the verb that I want… Actually, cooked is what I want. And so I just sat for a moment in this tension of What do I do now, and I’ll leave you to imagine just how badly it goes when you choose to eat partially cooked pig in the middle of the Philippines and all of those different things, but there’s this expectation in this moment for me of there’s going to be food, and there was no food. When I think about that in pop culture context, I grew up in the 90s, so one of the first movies I got to see was this movie Hook where they sit around a table, and Peter Pan has grown up in this story. He’s no longer a child, and he goes to sit down with them to eat and he’s excited because for some reason it smells great, the steam coming out of everything, and then they sit down and start opening all the pots, and there’s nothing there.
And Tinkerbell, Julia Roberts, looks at him and says, Well, come on, eat, enjoy the food. And he has this response of Gandhi had more than this, I want some real food, I want steak and I want eggs, and it’s not there, and you can feel his disappointment, and every time I watch the scene, it gives me a deep, deep, real hunger. I’m like, I’m actually getting hungry as I’m watching it, there’s something about the expectation that there will be food and not getting food that seems to drive us nuts,, And yet we’re gonna talk about this passage where Jesus feeds 5000 people, We’re gonna talk about it in a world where we know one million people don’t have enough to eat. 700 million people on this planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. We’re gonna talk about Jesus providing supernaturally food for 10,000, 12,000.many people, and yet we wonder why isn’t that happening today? Why does it seem that there isn’t enough?.
I found this passage in a book called Rich Christians in the age of hunger, This was an interview with a woman, Incema DeSilva who said sometimes I think If I die, I won’t have to see my children suffering as they are, sometimes I even think about killing myself. So often I see them crying, hungry, and there I am with not a cent to buy them some bread. I think, My God, I can’t face it, I’ll end my life. I don’t want to look anymore.
We wrestle with the tension about my feeling in the Philippines that I’m hungry, we wrestle with the tension of a scene in a movie that can make us physically feel hungry, and yet we wrestle with that and realize that most of us in this room have never been hungry, we’ve never been hungry. it’s just not a part of our experience, and we know a billion of our fellow creatures experience that on a regular basis, and so we wrestle with this question of, Is there enough?.. Why isn’t there enough? and all of those different things. This passage has a ton of tension, so we’re gonna go wrestling with that as a community together.
But here we go, Luke Chapter 9, verse 10, Then he took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. This is the preamble to the moment of the feeding of the 5000. These followers of Jesus, these 12 that He has gathered he’s, gathered them and said, Let me show you the way that I follow God . . . . .In our language today, the way of walking in the way of Jesus. . . . he’s teaching them and say, copy me, copy what I… Do I’m gonna show you how to practice this, he’s gonna teach them, yes, but they’re gonna watch him and they’ve got a copy and they’re gonna learn from his behavior, and yet he’s constantly saying things like, I’m gonna take you off just by yourselves, we’re gonna get away from the crowd, we’re gonna have time, just the 13 of us, and it never seems to happen.
It’s always this deferred hope, there’s this moment where they say, we’re going to get away, and then the crowds always find them, always follow them, and because Jesus is for the poor, because he is gracious and kind, he always does this, he always welcomes them. And he speaks to them about the kingdom of God and heals those who need healing. The disciples have their dream for this weekend or whatever it is, it’s gonna be time that we get with just us and Jesus/ Then, the crowds turn up, Jesus welcomes them and he begins to teach them. He provides for their spiritual needs, he also heals them, He provides for that physical need of healing for those that are sick, those that need that, he provides that… But I feel like this question, this tension hovers over the whole event, because that becomes this moment where it’s something like this, Jesus heals and teaches. Will he feed them too? When you look at some of the other Gospel writers, specifically John, John will say at times, I’ll record Jesus saying ” Did you just follow me because I fed you food?”
It seems like there’s always a crowd but Jesus is known for providing. He will feed people who need feeding, so there may be a group that followed him because they wanted to hear the teaching, there may be a group that followed him because they wanted healing, but there is probably a group as well, that followed him, because Jesus was known as someone who provided a very basic element of food/ As this tension builds late in the afternoon, they’ve been sitting all day in the hot sun, they’ve been learning things. In the afternoon, the 12 came to him and said, Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place. The disciples start to recognize this tension and they start to say, We’ve got to solve this. That’s their problem-solving solution to this . . . .we gotta get rid of the crowds, send them off, there are villages that they can go to so have them just go and provide for themselves.We have no solution to this problem, Jesus, they suspect doesn’t have a solution to the problem,so just send them somewhere else..
And then this is Jesus’ reply. This Is where it starts to get interesting. He replied,”You give them something to eat.” Does Jesus believe on a natural level that they have food for this crowd of people? .Of course, he doesn’t. He would know if they did, they have made this journey out into the wilderness, and if you think about the amount of food required for five, 10, 12000 people. Does he think that they have the resources to do this. He is absolutely under no illusions that they have the physical natural resources to provide for five, 10,12000 people, but look at the disciples’ response because it’s fascinating in terms of how they understand Jesus.
“They answered, we have only five loaves of bread and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all of this crowd” Jesus knows the resources they have, he knows the food they have, he knows the money they have, and yet they seem to question Jesus’ intelligence in this whole thing. Their response to him is like, Well, we don’t have enough of course, he knows they don’t have enough, that wasn’t the point, but this group of 12 disciples have become lost in this moment in this specific struggle to them in their minds, in the natural level, the task is impossible. Jesus has set them this task, He told them, This is what I have for you to do, this is. the requirement, or this is the request, or this is the dream for this next moment, you’re gonna provide food for these people, and their response is, it just can’t be done outside of us having a ton of money or having a ton of food… It can’t be done. We should send them away, they should provide for themselves.
Now, on the surface. I think most of us would say this, that’s fair, I don’t know that if I had a crowd of 5 to 10000 people and just a few loaves of bread and a few fish, my automatic response would be, I can’t provide for you. It would seem, at least on the surface, like something of a crisis, the fair response seems to be, Jesus, what do you want us to do? Yes, they’ve got to get food, but yes, we don’t have the resources, the best solution in my mind is for them to go and provide for themselves. On the surface, it’s very hard to blame this group of 12 followers of Jesus for our response for believing that this task is impossible, except for a couple of things, they have already experienced, Jesus, doing these kind of things in multiple settings, and at some point, the message he seems to be conveyed to them is this.. . .When it comes to me, Jesus, the natural resources, they’re not the most important part of the equation, there is something else at play when I am operating that is beyond just what is in front of you. Check out these couple of passages, and what I love about going through Luke, looking at the meals is how often other passages just get pulled into it, and we really get a good sample of the whole book.
So we’re gonna go back to the start of Chapter 9, ?When Jesus had called the 12 together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. And he sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Think about that Rabbi model for a while. Come copy me. Come see how I live. Now you go and do it. The things that I have done, you go and do now, it looks a little bit different with Jesus than other rabbis, because Jesus has this supernatural element to him, but now in real terms, Jesus says to them the things I have done, the things that nobody else has done. Now you go and do them.
And they go and they go with this premise, “Take nothing for the journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt, Whatever house you.enter, stay there until you leave that town. Go and do the things that I have done with the absolute minimal resources to do them
Actually specifically, he tells them to intentionally take nothing but to go, simply believing that he will provide, and then they come back and report. That’s exactly what happened when the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done., In one of the other gospels, the apostles report,
“even the demons obeyed us.. Everything that you said would happen, Jesus, it happened”. They have already experienced what it is for Jesus to say, go and do these things, and when they have gone, these things have happened.
How about this? In Luke Chapter 5, we’re told that “One day as Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret , the people were crowding around Him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge, two boats left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
So to give you a picture of this culture, fishermen were dependent on day-to-day catching, and this is an exhausting job. They would fish mainly at night because these fish could only be caught at night. They would throw these nets into the water at night time, the fish couldn’t see them, so they would swim into them. In the daytime, the fish could see them, so they would avoid them, so they would fish through the night, and then in the morning, they would spend their time repairing a net, making sure that they were in good condition ’cause they got dilapidated really quickly,. Then they would go off and they would sell their fish at the market. They are dependent on this day-to-day fish that turns up with regularity, To give you a modern example, some of you may have been tracking with this story, there’s this story about the shipping container with oil and different things by SriLanka that basically caught fire and sank. Now, what’s happening with that maritime area around there is that the area is being destroyed by the oil leaking into the water by all of the other things that were on the ship.
And so you’re watching SriLankans going to their usual fishing spot and seeing just less and less… Again, it’s that problem of what happens when a Western society creates some mess and these people that can’t afford to have a mess or having to deal with it, but this is a quote from one of the fishermen,” If we fish, money comes, if not, we are left hungry” ( if we catch fish, we eat..if we don’t catch fish, we don’t.eat).. That sort of culture would be very familiar to someone like Simon who is used to needing to catch fish every day to be able to sell them, that’s how he would provide a living for himself, that’s how he would provide a living for his family. But think, how all of that interacts with this story,” When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. Think about Simon who will later be called Peter, he knows Jesus is smart, he knows Jesus knows lots about lots of different things, but Peter knows fishing, he’s probably been fishing for most of his life, he knows that when you go out at night and don’t catch anything, if you just go back out in the morning, you’ll catch nothing again.he knows more about..fishing than Jesus will ever know, almost to the point that for Peter that it could be kind of insulting.
Go and do this, go out and fish in the morning, even though you know practically… It will never work.
“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that the nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” . Simon and the other followers of Jesus have had multiple experiences of Jesus where they have been told this over and over again. . . . . The natural isn’t the most important part of the equation. When you are talking about Jesus, he has an ability to do things that other people don’t have an ability to do, and He has given that to them, He has sent them and the same things have happened, and yet to this group of disciples, the task appears impossible and yet their experience should tell them that nothing is impossible… Yes, the task seems impossible. But their experience of Jesus should tell them that nothing is impossible. Jesus gives them this challenge to feed these 5000, 10000, 12000 people. They have had multiple experiences that tell them that Jesus is exactly the sort of person that can make this happen, and yet in this moment, they’re like, We can’t do it, we don’t have enough bread, and we don’t have enough fish.
And so Jesus takes over, they regress in their following of him, they’ve gone through the stages of
watch me do this thing”, and then you go and do it, and they have regressed back to watching him do it again, he gives them this opportunity to continue this journey , continue this faith growth, and yet they go back to watching him, but he said to his disciples,”have them sit down in groups of about 50 each.The disciples did so, and everyone sat down, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks, broke them. And then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. And the disciples picked up 12 basketfuls of broken pieces that were leftover” . I’m always intrigued by the different sort of understandings or readings people give to the 12 baskets, some people have said the 12 tribes of Israel in the 12 baskets. Because of the 12 tribes, I actually think it’s Jesus saying to the disciples, there’s one for each of you. I
told you it was going to be fine. It’s like this message of like, You didn’t think it was possible. Not only was it possible, it was more than possible, there’s something about the sort of ending with 12 that I think is just the delightful little twist, but what we do know is this meal, even with the left overs, is enough. In this moment, there is enough. God takes this moment with five loaves and two fishes and 12,000 people.
In natural circumstances, we say that’s not possible, that there is enough… Interestingly, when you read different readings of the text, there is a sociological reading of this text, which I don’t subscribe to, because it’s very faith-removed, it’s a sort of reading that you might give if you believe that God doesn’t exist, so you have to interpret these stories in different ways, and this story or this interpretation would say, Well, they just shared, there’s all sorts of different groups of people in this gathering, there’s probably some people that are on longer journeys, they have a big supply of food, there’s some people that are there for the day they have no food, but as everything gets thrown together together, there is enough for everybody to have one meal.
Now, again, I don’t agree with the reading, but this part of me, just this little part that says, I actually wonder, which is a bigger miracle? Is
It a miracle that the supernatural Son of God takes five loaves and two fishes and says, I just made more, rather than a miracle that says human people actually shared and filled each other’s,needs. To me seems a stretch to believe more so than the five loaves and two fishes expanding, but
There is something about this that challenges us in that area..We ask questions about, Is there enough? And we read stories that say God can provide, but maybe we’re inspired to ask questions like, What do I have?
And what do I have in terms of having enough? And how do I steward what God has given me? Because again, one billion people don’t have enough to eat, and most of us have never experienced hunger, it at least challenges our understanding of how resources should be shared and what we should be doing with what we have on that micro-level, it makes us ask questions about food specifically, how do we make sure people have enough to eat, how do we mirror this? Jesus says, I am on the side of the poor, and i say, I too, I’m going to be on the side of the poor. It’s at least a challenge in that area, but I think that this passage has bigger applications.
It has applications for everything that we do and everything that we need God to provide for us. I would ask you to ask this question, What has God given me to do? God made you with distinct passions to do specific things. A good way of expressing that we used a couple of weeks ago is this, what is your deep passion, where does it meet the world’s deep need when those two collide… When they collide together, that’s your part to play, that’s your role to play in this world. What has God made you to do? What are you passionate about? When you enter into the things you’re passionate about, there’s something inspiring that takes place. When you take those passions and fit them in with the kingdom of God and say, God, how would you use them, then it’s beyond just exciting— then the limits are off. As it were, what has God given you to do?
This is my friend Verrell,, a friend, even though we haven’t spoken for five years, because the moment I met him he felt like a kindred spirit. Verall did something very dangerous. He lives in Romania in the north west corner, and a few years ago, his kids went off to college, and so he sat there in his fairly empty house that is big by Romanian standards, not huge by American standards for bedrooms.
And he sat there and he said, God, what do you have for me to do with this house? It’s too big for me. It’s kind of empty. What do you have for me to do? And as he was praying, the news switched to a story about the homeless crisis amongst the elderly in Romania. There’s this system in Romania where the state pension will give you enough to pay for either costs of food or costs of housing, it doesn’t give enough to cover both. So there’s all of these elderly Romanians that have to choose food or lodging, and so many of them hae chosen food and now live out on the streets.
And so as he’s praying this prayer, He sees this story come up and he said, I felt very strongly God said to me, You need to house these people. Where? I have a four-bedroom house, but he said, I went out on the streets and I found three guys that were homeless, and I said, come home with me. So they came home to live with him. The last time I spoke to him, he had 200 Romanian people living with him, 200!. And I remember saying to him, Verell, If you had known that it would look like this, when you started… Would you have said yes? And he looked at me and said, No, I would have run away. And then he said something so poignant. He said this, he said, You know about the frog? if you put it in boiling water, it will jump out. If you put it in cold water and turn up the heat, it will let you boil it to death, he says, I have a frog, and God is boiling me to death. God is boiling me… This facility now holds 200 people, they have built all these extensions to…
the houses, all of these different buildings. There’s one area that they house 50 people with mental disabilities, Romania has no capacity in the state to deal with people with mental disabilities, and Varell provided a home for these people so that they get to live out some of the last years on Earth with dignity and they get to be loved. And he started with a four-bedroom house- – – – if that isn’t the equivalent of trying to feed 5000 people with a few loaves and fish, I don’t know what is, but he said, I felt like I was called…, I felt like it’s what God has given me to do. And yet he wrestles with this question, how can I believe there is enough?. To me, the story about going to a wedding with 100 people and seeing all the food that they were unloading to cook, and he had this crisis moment, he says, we feed twice this number of people three times a day, and this is so much food like… How do we provide… He said, I said to the people that cook, stop telling me what you need. Just buy it or just find it, but when I don’t know, I can believe God will provide when I know what we need.
My pain seems to disappear, and yet he tells these stories about going into a week saying, We just don’t have enough for this week, and miraculously boxes of meat will turn up at the doorstep, he sees God provide in these supernatural ways, but it started because he took what he had and said, I’m going to use what I have and then trust God to provide the rest. What we see with this group of disciples is, yes, God is moving, but suddenly the thing feels impossible. What has God given me? What has God given you to do? What is the thing he’s called you to..do that now seems impossible?. What is it that now seems impossible, maybe it’s something very simple, like I was called to a marriage, and it now seems so hard. I’m not sure I can keep going. Maybe it’s raising a family. This was what I was given to do, and yet it seems difficult, Maybe you started a business and keeping it going now seems impossible. Maybe it’s managing people, caring for a piece of property,.. Whatever you were called to do, maybe it started like, Okay, yeah, there’s enough… and now you’re having those questions, will God still provide, is there enough… How can I believe that is enough, this was the disciples question, it’s something that we wrestle with too, and yet when we read the New Testament, we see passages that looks something like this, this is a guy who is poor writing to a church in Philippi, “my God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” There’s this promise of provision for what we need.
I think this is something sort of embarrassing that I would confess to you or I believe this is true, If you apply( and by apply, I mean “ask” ) God will supply… If you apply God will supply. The disciples,at no point in the story, when Jesus challenges them, think to say, Jesus, we need Your help or think to pray, it is simply “we don’t have enough”.
And if I’m honest in my life, there are times when I have a need. And then I think, did I actually ask God for what I need? There are moments where I say, I didn’t… I tried to figure out every natural way to solve that problem, I asked wise people… I did all of the work, and yet there’s times where I’m like, I didn’t actually stop and say, God, I have a need, I need you to provide in this situation, It seems that God is willing, and yet sometimes the thing is that we don’t ask. This even comes up in James, you;ve got a whole group of people in the community that are memorizing James, which is a super cool test. “You do not have because you do not ask God.” It is true for us that sometimes we just don’t ask… You just don’t ask…
I’m not trying to over-simplify the problem, but I am saying if you haven’t asked God for what you need, maybe a good first step is to ask, but I think this sentence also can be flipped… Yes, I think that if you apply, God will supply, but God will supply if you apply… Think about my friend Verell, he took what he had and he used it. He took the resources that were available to him and he used them. And think about the story of the feeding of the 5000. And no point does Jesus say to this group of people, this group of disciples who are present, with these five loaves and two fish, at no point as he say, Yeah, just throw those away, I’m gonna do a supernatural thing, I’m gonna make this work with other stuff that’s expendable stuff, just get rid of it, throw it to the side of the road. He takes what they have, and he breaks it, giving thanks, and he begins to pass it around. It starts off with the little that they have, and the supernatural comes from that. I think the challenge for us as a community is, that we’re to ask, yes, we’re supposed to believe God will provide, but also we’re supposed to take what we have and use it well, If we apply, God will supply, God will supply.
What resources do you have? How are you using them? How might God take simple things that you have, like you did with Verell, and how might he boil you to death?.
We’re gonna move now to the time in our service where we’re gonna come to the table. In the midst of doing that, I love the way that this story connects with the table. What we see Jesus do is this.
“Taking the five loaves and two fish. and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them, then he gave them to His disciples” Jesus takes the five loaves, the two fish, the little that they have, and he takes them and He gives thanks, he breaks them, and He gives them to the disciples. Now, this wasn’t an incredibly unique practice in that day, but look at the symmetry in the language between this and Luke 22, where we see Jesus gather for the last time around a table with his friends, “And he took bread, and he gave thanks, and he broke it, and he gave it to them saying, This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. When we see this process, we see a meal in which everyone is satisfied, they all eat and are satisfied, this meal is enough, and this meal that you are about to partake in, is enough. This meal is enough, we’re gonna invite you to a table and we get to come and remind ourselves of what that Jesus story is and just what it means.
In this moment, I think we are closer to that original table, closer to that death and resurrection of Jesus than we are to yesterday. There is something about the way time works in God’s economy, that we come and we come to this table and it’s Jesus’ real presence here with us. And you get to bring whatever you have in whatever ways you are living out a story that now seems impossible, you get to come and you get to remind yourselves of the way that God has provided in the past, and the ways that he might provide in the future. You get to come and you get to remind yourself that when it comes to Jesus, natural resources are the most important part of the equation. There’s this idea about this table that I love.
Out on the Great Plains where they get these snow storms, incredible white outs so you can’t even see your. hand. In front of your face,
In these incredible snowstorms, farmers would go out and they would get lost just a few feet away from the door, and so what the farmers with would do after a while, they would tie ropes around their waist, and they would carry a bell and when they got lost, when they got disoriented, the guy would ring the bell, and, the wife would start to pull on the rope, it was the way of finding their way back home. There’s something about this table that I think is like that story.
There’s something about this table that it’s like a rope around our waist and when we are out in the world, when we get disoriented, when we get lost, it’s something like ringing a bell, and this thing pulls us back into the story. Wherever you are in your story, wherever you are in your brokenness, all of your heartache, all of your guilt , whatever task you feel God has given you, in whatever ways it feels impossible,. . . with all of your doubt, with all of your fear, you get to come to this table… And you get to remember that the greatest need that any of us have is the need for grace, for forgiveness, a need to be redeemed and need to have a relationship with God reconciled. There was no provision for that until Jesus came along and said, I have provided a way for you in your brokenness. We come to this table, reminded of that story. Take a step towards Jesus and find forgiveness and grace. He will meet you at the point of your need and He is Enough!!