02 Dec 2018

Lessons From The Five Loaves And Two Fishes [John 6:1-15]
  • Topic: Calculations, David, Days, Denarii, Disciples, FAITH, Fishes, God, Gospel, Grace, Jesus, Learn, Life, Loaves, People, Philip, Sufficient, Tells, Thinking, Weakness


When Andrew brought the boy with the five loaves and two fishes to Jesus, he exclaimed, “What are they for so many? ” His cry of helplessness at the feeding of the five thousand has been echoed by the saints throughout the ages. What the disciples did not realise was this was precisely the lesson that Jesus wanted to teach them. Jesus wanted them to learn in actual situations of life that His power is made perfect in weakness. Jesus wanted them to learn to appropriate His all-sufficient grace. Come and learn the lessons from the five loaves and two fishes for your own walk with God today!


Sermon Transcript

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I am excited and happy to share with you a message from the Gospel of John. I am covering the gospel of John in the Chinese services. And if you have your Bibles, please turn with me to chapter six of the gospel of John, chapter six. The gospel of John is a wonderful, exciting chapter whereby Jesus performed one of his most public and significant miracles so that the people, especially his disciples, can come to a fuller, richer understanding of who he is and what he wants to do for our lives. Now, I would like to introduce our topic today, with the verse that we have just read, which is 2 Corinthians chapter 12, verse nine. I’d like to focus on this phrase, “for my power is made perfect in weakness”. This is a wonderful, glorious truth for our walk with God, for our journey of faith. And when we understand this correctly, it ought to bring comfort to our hearts, and it ought to bring us hope and confidence in facing the future. This is the truth that the saints of old have always been learning and we will have to continue to learn in order to move forward with God.


I think of Moses when he led the nation of Israel to the shores of the Red Sea, and there the pursuing armies of Egypt in the chariots were coming; the mountains on the left and on the right blocked them in, and they had no escape. But right when they felt most hopeless and helpless, when they thought they were going to die, when they thought that all is lost, their God displayed His power by parting the Red Sea.


I think also of Gideon, who was called by God to meet with the armies of the Midianites in the book of Judges. In the book of Judges, the Bible tells us that he had to face an army of 135,000 strong and the Israelites were only able to gather about 32,000 soldiers to meet this vast army. It's almost more than three is to one ratio, and it seems to be a certain defeat. But what was surprising in this story is that God felt that Gideon was still too strong. So first, he dismissed about 22,000 troops off. And then he continued to reduce the number until he was left with merely 300 men. And how were they equipped for war? They were given trumpets, pitchers and torches. If you think about it, this is hardly what you bring to a war. Maybe it's what you bring when you go shopping in those days, but certainly not to battle. And so they were standing there looking at all the encamped soldiers, ready to engage them and they were probably feeling very hopeless and helpless with how they are going to engage the enemy. Yet, right there, when Gideon and his 300 men were feeling weak and helpless, was where God displayed His power and defeated the Midianites so that they will know the God of Israel.


I think also of David. David, as you know, a very familiar story: David and Goliath. And you know that Goliath is a giant, and he was armored from the top of his head to the sole of his foot. That was like no vulnerable spot to this awesome warrior. And he taunted the armies of Israel led by King Saul for 40 days. No one dared to answer the challenge because no one is his right mind, thinking rationally, will dare to face a giant of this size, until David came along 40 days later, and he was just a young boy. Goliath is a warrior from his youth, and David is still just a youth. But he was furious that Goliath dared to blaspheme in the name of God. And so he volunteered to face the giant. The joke is when King Saul tried to protect him by covering him in his armor, he was so big that David could hardly walk. And so David went to face the giant Goliath in his shepherd clothes with five smooth stones and a sling; a picture of helplessness and weakness. Even the giant looked at him and said, “Who are you facing? Do you think you're facing some bear lion? Who do you think you are?” He taunted David. But David said, “I come in the name of the Lord”. He knows that he is weak. But yet, he trusted God to give him the victory. And the victory God did give to David, because His power is made perfect in weakness.


We need to learn to keep appropriating the all-sufficient grace of Jesus to keep moving forward with Him

So what have the saints of old been learning? What are we to learn today if we are to move forward with God? This is the simple truth that we have learned from this story, from this verse. And I hope that this is the truth that you would pick up and apply to your own life today. We have to learn to keep appropriating the all-sufficient grace of Jesus to keep moving forward with him. Notice that I put in two times the word “keep”. It means that it is not a one-time learning and then leave-it-behind lesson. This is something that is practical, that is real. In our Christian journey, we have to continuously apply. The moment we stop, we roll back. The moment we forget, we slip and we fall short. But if we keep on learning to appropriate, we will keep on moving forward with God. And this is the lesson that we can learn from the five loaves and two fishes.


So turn with me now to the gospel of John, chapter six. And we'll begin by looking at verse one and two to see the setting behind this miracle. Now John chapter six, verse one to two, he says, “After this, Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is a sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sea”. At this point in Jesus’ public ministry, he is growing in popularity. Huge crowds are coming to listen to him and watch him perform miracles. And he has come to the Sea of Galilee, and people continue to flock from as far as 16 kilometers away, just to gather, to hang on to his words, to watch what he would do next. And the Scripture tells us in chapter six, verse three to four, that when “Jesus went on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples”, that it was a time of the Passover. This gives us the timing of this miracle that he performed. This Passover is a time when the Jews remember the Exodus. They remember how God led them through the Red Sea into the wilderness and performed wonderful signs. Providing them with bread from heaven was one of the signs. It is a time where they were thinking, ‘When is that Prophet that Moses promised coming? Where is that King, that Messiah? When is he appearing so that he could restore the kingdom to us?’ So this is a time of great nationalistic fervor among the Jews. Excitement is running high. They are hoping that perhaps Jesus is really the one. There is anticipation. There is excitement for God to show himself strong among his people once more. Then at this point, at this juncture, the Bible tells us that Jesus, “lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming towards him,”, he “said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Why Philip? Because Philip stays about 14 kilometers away in a town called Bethsaida. In other words, he knew where the local amenities and bakery stalls were. In our local context, you know where the 7-11s, the mama shop, the convenience store, the Sheng Siongs are. So probably, he could figure it out, put it together and decide how he's going to resolve this problem. You see, when God wants to teach us a truth for our lives, very often, He doesn't just teach us in a service or in a Bible study. He teaches us right where we live, because we will have to work through the actual physical constraints and needs to see how His strength can be perfected in our weakness. So he turned to Philip 2000 years ago. Perhaps today, he's turning to you, and is asking you the same question. How are you going to solve this problem in your ministry? How are you going to resolve this issue in your marriage? How are you going to deal with this problem in your family? We all have different struggles, different needs, different scenarios thrown out before us as we journey through life. But if you are going to move forward with God, you need to learn the lessons of the five loaves and two fishes. The Bible tells us that Jesus said this to test him. You see, Jesus asked Philip, not for information. He asked for his education. You see, God is not interested in what we know. He's interested in how much we trust him. He doesn't need us to offer our knowledge to Him because He knows everything. But He wants us to take what we know and yet learn to follow Him through what seems to be impossible situations. Because that's how our faith grows! Not in the textbook, not in the comfort of our study, but in the rough and tumble of life. So by the Sea of Galilee, when the national fervor is rising, when all these things are going through Phillip’s mind, Jesus asked this to test him and all the other disciples are listening in to this question. And they are all wondering and thinking, ‘what does this tell us? What does this teach us?’ It teaches us that we have to learn to keep appropriating the all sufficient grace of Jesus, to keep moving forward with him.


You see, if you have placed your trust in the Lord, in Jesus, as your Lord and Savior, some of us are thinking, “Oh, after I trust in Jesus, I just come to church, read my Bible, pray, join a care group, and then I wait for heaven to come”. Now that is a very basic understanding of the Christian faith. The real picture is that when you trust in Jesus, you have a relationship with our all-Holy God, and you begin a journey of faith with God that is intended to change your life and mine. In other words, real Christian faith is a faith where we keep climbing, we keep learning, we keep appropriating the all-sufficient grace of Jesus. And you see, when you learn this lesson, you move forward with him. When you don't learn this lesson, you roll back, you step back, and you just go through the motions of having a religion. And I pray this morning, that you're not just going through the motions of having a religion, but that you are determined to keep on moving forward with God.


Two different scenarios are thrown out for us in our passage, and I'll share both with you.


When we lean on our own resources

The first scenario is when we lean on our own resources. The Gospel paints a picture of how the disciples tried to respond to Jesus’ question. The first solution they tried to offer is found in the Gospel of Mark. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter six, verse 36, the disciples responded there and said, “Send them away”. You see, the people, they are not going to starve and die. It's not a life and death issue here. But out of Jesus’ compassion and mercy and because he wants to test his disciples and show them that he is able to meet such a great need, that’s why he asked. But what are the disciples saying? What is it that they are offering as a solution? They are basically saying what we often say when we meet with problems: well, try to avoid the problem. Isn't that what we do all the time? We try to sweep it under the carpet. We try to act blur, “Huh? You said that meh? Is it? Got such an email ah? I didn't receive the SMS leh.” No, you bua bodok (slang for ‘you act like you don’t know’). You know, and that hopefully after a few days, everybody forgets and life goes on as normal. You know, nothing wrong with that. Sometimes we do it, you know, other times as long as you're not deceitful, alright. Now we try to avoid the problem because we know we can’t solve it. But if you have walked with Jesus long enough, you will realize that there are times when you just can't avoid the problem. It is not going away and you don't have the resources. What are you going to do? Well, the disciples had another solution, and it's offered by Philip. Philip in the Gospel of John, chapter six, verse seven tells us that he answered Jesus and said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little”. You see, one denarii is about one working day's wages. 200 denarii would be about eight months worth of wages. And that in those days is a large sum of money. Even in our day, regardless of what economic status you're at, almost one year of wages is a lot of money. And what Philip is saying is that he did some mental calculations and he, you know, connected it with what the price of bread selling at Bethsaida 14 kilometers away, so he could rush there and back, and he could bring all this bread over. Even with 200 denarii, it was not enough. What was he doing? How was he responding to the challenge, to the test? He was doing some calculations. Now isn't that how we respond to problems in our life too? When you receive that medical report, or when that bill comes in your letterbox? When you hear of a crisis or a need in the ministry, in your family, where do your minds run off to? One of the first things that our minds run up to would be our bank account. We want to pull it out, see the statement, and then we want to do some calculations. We want to see if we have sufficient resources to meet those needs financially. Now, there's nothing wrong with doing some calculations, I want to be balanced in the way we understand this. Nothing wrong. We need to have good practical people in the church, in our homes, to do the calculations, to balance the sheets so that we are not always going into the red and overspending. Right? So we need these people around. But you see, if you walk with Jesus long enough, you will realize that yes, financial considerations are important, but they are not the most important with God. And if you do sufficient, extended calculations, it can paralyze you with fear. Have you done retirement planning? You know, at the rate we are going in Singapore, you got to plan for all kinds of diseases and illnesses, all kinds of holidays to exotic locations. After a while, you will feel you have a very hard life. Because now already not enough money, then want to enjoy when you retire? Lagi (which translates to, even worse) no hope. God, why is life so difficult? You see, if you do mere calculations, you're going to get trapped in your own fears. Your analysis will lead to your paralysis. So well, calculations are good, but it’s not good enough. So what else did the disciples offer to do? The Scriptures tell us that Andrew, Simon Peter's brother said to him. Now, Andrew is a great guy. He knows people well. He's the kind of guy who is friendly. You like him and you start chatting with him, you start telling him stories, and he listens in. And you know what, he's the one who brought Peter to Jesus. And now we see Andrew bringing a boy with five loaves and two fishes to Jesus again. You know what? If Andrew is here in our church and you're chatting with him, soon he will know what lunch you have had, what your breakfast you have had, how much you know, what you're going to do next, because he has got all this information. It is in China, what we call ‘guan xi hen hao’ which means very good relationship, EQ very high, social skill number one. And so what did he do? He did what he could do well. He gathered the resources. He tried to get help from others. Now, once again, there's nothing wrong with getting help from others. Teamwork, we learned as a church, makes the dream work. We need to pool our resources together, help one another, and strengthen one another. But you see, even with the best of relationships; with all the resources pooled in together as a church or as a family, there are times when you walk with God where it is still not enough. So what are we going to do when you have done everything you could? When the need is greater than everything you have to solve it, you will find that you can’t move forward from it. That is scenario number one.


When you lean on the all-sufficient grace of Jesus

That story gives us a second scenario. It is when you lean on the all-sufficient grace of Jesus. What happens when you turn to Jesus and trust him to solve and to answer the need of today? The Scripture tells us that when you turn to Jesus, Jesus said, “have the people sit down”. You see, Jesus had a plan all along. He knew exactly what he was going to do. The moment that boy was brought to him, he already had an idea; to give instructions. But you see, we often do not know the plan and the will of God, because we are too busy trying to avoid the problem, do our calculations and gather the resources, and we forget that we can turn to Jesus. What happens next is a very astounding, a very shocking action by Jesus. Now, when we read our Bibles today, because we know that he is the Son of God, we know that He is the Savior, the Messiah, we are not surprised. But look with me at these words. When Jesus took the loaves; how many? Five. How many fishes? Two. And when he had given thanks; now, of course, today, we know because we have the benefit of hindsight, we know what Jesus is going to do. But try to understand it from this perspective. So I'm going to use an illustration - it is not real, it is probably not going to happen. But imagine if pastor Jason came up to the stage and said, “Folks, I believe you're hungry, let's have lunch. Ushers, bring up lunch.” and the ushers came forward and brought up five roti prata kosong, and not very big ones, maybe the coin prata type. “Alright, and then bring up the meat!” Oh, the meat? Two Kuning fish, okay? Now, this is not a real story, okay? So don't go home and practice this. And he brought the 5 roti prata in one hand and two fishes in the other hand, and he lifted up his hands saying, “Guys, this is our lunch. Now, let's give thanks”. Now, there's about maybe not more than 1000 people here. But you know what? I bet you, very few of you will be praying and giving thanks. You'll be looking at him and wondering, ‘Is he crazy? What is he doing? Does he mean this is his lunch? Or our lunch? What is he doing?’ This is not enough! ASnd knowing his appetite, this is not even enough for a snack. So you see, nobody would be thinking this! That is why it's astounding. That's why it's surprising until it happens. You see, until God works, you're not going to see the answer. You are going to be held in tension. And the tension is what oftentimes drives us away. Because we don't like the tension. We don't like the anticipation. We are doing our calculation. We're trying to run away. We're trying to get our resources. And you know what, the transition from where we are to where Jesus wants us to be when he is giving thanks is not easy for any of us. But yet, that's what Jesus did. And when he gave thanks, he began to hand out the food. They could not have imagined a plan for this because they had no clue. But soon, could you imagine there is a murmur rippling through the crowd. And soon the murmur grew into a roar of excitement. And everybody was in rapture because they saw what was impossible and unthinkable happening before their very eyes. That is what Jesus did. And that's the lesson we must learn from the five loaves and two fishes.


There is going to be a test of our faith. And before Jesus gives us the answer, it would seem ridiculous. Before Jesus shows us his power, we would only know our weakness. And the Scripture tells us that not only did Jesus hand out the food, but they were able to eat to their fill. You know, just now, Philip was saying after he did all his calculations, even if we had 200 denarii (and I trust that Philip did his calculations and projected a bit of excess), but still not enough. But now what happened when Jesus answered the need, the Bible tells us that they had eaten their fill. It is not just a snack. You know, the sad thing is a lot of Christian think that to follow Jesus means you will only get little snacks on the journey. They think that, “Oh, this is part of suffering. I hear all these scary stories are what saints suffer for Jesus. So you know what, I better be out there in the world working, earning my power, rather than following Jesus because that's not going to be enough”. But you see, when Jesus answers out of his all-sufficient grace, there's always going to be more than enough. Because our God is a gracious God. He is not stingy, he is generous. And therefore, the multitudes, not just 5000 men, plus women and children, maybe 15,000 - they were not a problem with God. They could eat to their fill. And not only could they eat to their fill, they could gather 12 baskets full and there are leftovers. This is a picture of his all-sufficient grace.


And that's why we must learn this lesson, so that we can move forward with God. Because if you don't understand this, you will stay far far away from God because you are so afraid of what he may ask you to do. Or you may be so afraid of what he may allow to happen in your life that you cannot handle. What are these among so many? Andrew cried out when he looked at the five loaves and two fishes, against the need of the multitudes. And this is the same cry that has been echoed throughout the ages, from the shores of the Red Sea when the Israelites saw the attacking, pursuing armies of Egypt, to the soldiers standing by Gideon’s side, holding on to what they felt might be ridiculous weapons (“what are these against those warriors?”), to David, when the gathered Israelite soldiers saw this little shepherd boy against this huge giant. They were thinking, “no way”. But you see, if we don't correct this thinking and this mistake, it's going to paralyze our faith. Because Andrew and the disciples have not understood their full resources, or shall I say, they have not understood their true resources, that little is much when they are with Jesus. Jesus is all that they need. His grace is sufficient for us.


I'd like to share with you a little video clip of a believer. So what happened to this believer was that he went through the Chinese Communist Revolution and he was imprisoned, he was tortured, and he thought that he had exhausted all that he could give for Jesus. And it was right there when he felt that it was the end that he learned the lesson of God's grace. So watch this video with me and may we be blessed by his faith.


I was in jail for 23 years. If they had told me that it would last 23 years, I don't think I would have made it. When they held a public meeting to criticize and denounced me, they asked, “Do you still believe in God? Do you still believe in Jesus?” They pulled my hair and my ears. They punched me, knocked me to the ground and kicked me, and they jerked my handcuffs, and asked, “Do you believe? Do you still believe?” The handcuffs made deep gouges in my flesh which had started to fester. They hold me away like this; back and forth, back and forth. But I prayed to the Lord, “I have followed you as far as I can. Surely you're not glorify when they denounce and torture me each day. I'm your servant and your child. Are you glorified in heaven when I am suffering like this?” In prayer, I entrusted my whole family to the Lord. Then I was ready to kill myself. But how could I do it with handcuffs on? When the two guards went for lunch, I jumped onto the bed and unscrewed the light bulb. I planned to kill myself with an electric shock. But the electricity wasn't strong enough. Later, people told me it was because I had handcuffs on. The handcuffs diverted the electricity and saved me. While I was in the middle of doing this, people from outside noticed and shouted, “Moses Xie wants to kill himself”. The government officials called me out and lectured me, “You want to threaten the government? You want to make the government look bad by killing yourself?” At night, I confessed to God. I said, “Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of your glory. I have made it through 12 years of labor camp and endured a lot of suffering. Why can’t I rely on you till the very end? I'm not worthy of your glory. Please forgive me, oh, Lord.”. Then I heard the Lord speak to me, “Dear child, My grace is sufficient for you. Dear child, My grace is sufficient for you.” And the third time He spoke, so very gently, “My grace is sufficient for you”. The Lord comforted me, and by His grace, I survived.


So Moses here was a Chinese believer who was faithful. And he suffered for the Lord, 12 out of 23 years to the best of his ability. But then when he reached the 12th year, he felt he could not carry on anymore. And that's why he tried to kill himself. But yet, right where he felt most helpless and hopeless is when he realized his true resources in Jesus. And he heard the same words that God spoke to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”. You know, friends, you may not feel that you are being imprisoned and tortured. But perhaps life has given you a beating far more than you feel you can take. Perhaps it is the relationships in your home or at work. Perhaps it is because of your financial situation, or some illnesses that has plagued, or your relationship has gone south or turned sour, and you feel that you're taking beating after beating and you feel like you can't carry on, you feel that God could not possibly be glorified, and all this and you wish to end it all. You may be in a prison of anxiety and fear and frustration in your life. But you'll see, right there is where we need to learn to keep appropriating the all-sufficient grace of Jesus. Because when you do so, you will find that you can keep moving forward with him. You don't have to avoid a problem anymore. You have to do some calculations, but they no longer would imprison you in fear because you know that His grace is sufficient. What else can we learn from the five barley loaves? I want to highlight that these five barley loaves would seem so small and so insignificant against the needs of the multitude. In the same way, whenever we pool together our resources, wherever they may come from, and meet a need beyond our ability to control, they always seem small and insignificant. Like good people, you probably have worked all your life, study hard, tried to find a good job to build up your resources in life. And for most times, they are adequate to meet needs and challenges. But you see, there will still be times when you are brought to the test of the five loaves and two fishes. And in those moments, all your resources pooled together will still seem like mere five barley loaves. But what is to you insignificant and small, in Jesus’ hands, it is much, it is all that he asked of you.


You see, it was a small boy who brought this to Jesus, and age was not a barrier for him to come to Jesus. So regardless of how young you may be in person, or how young you may be in the faith, or how old, it does not matter because Jesus looks for the heart that turns to him. And don't forget these barley loaves, they are the lowest grade bread in the economic ladder of the people of Israel in those days. In other words, these are not distinguished items. These are not coveted items. Sometimes you may think that God only listens to the prayer of the bright, the rich and the beautiful. But you need to realize that God hears the prayers of all His children, regardless of how dazzling or not dazzling your gifts or sacrifices may be. This is the testimony of a lady of faith, Elizabeth Elliot. For those of you who know her, she was the wife of Jim Elliot, the Christian who was martyred in the 1950s reaching the Alka Indians. And after that she moved on to live in faith to journey with God. She moved forward and this is a lesson that she wants to share with us about the five loaves and two fishes. She said, “Realizing that nothing I have, nothing I am will be refused on the part of Christ, I simply give it to him as the little boy gave Jesus his five loaves and two fishes… Naturally in almost anything I offer to Christ, my reaction would be, “What is the good of that?” The point is, the use he makes of it is none of my business; it is his business, it is his blessing.”. So the five barley loaves remind us that no matter how small and insignificant it may be in your life, that's not what you need to worry about. Bring it to Jesus, trust him with it, and let him show you how his power is perfected in the weakness of your five barley loaves.


Now some of you may be listening in and you are saying, “I have heard this story umpteen times. I've been interested in it since I was young. I know this story, through and through.”  And some of you may be saying, “I'm an old Christian, I have heard this story. I don't know how many times I have applied or taught this to others. But why is it that I still can't experience it?” In other words, you may be thinking to yourself, ‘I can understand this truth. But why can't I have victory and move forward still?’ Now, that is a very real struggle of many Christians. It is not that they cannot understand and not they cannot articulate this truth. But they just don't know it's reality. And this requires some illumination, or guidance from Scripture. I’d like to quote you this verse from 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse four to five, that talks of spiritual battle. What is it talking about? It is talking about strongholds, but don't get me wrong. We're not talking about demonic possession or attacks, etc. You know, that seems to be very current this day, but look carefully at the context. It says, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds”. What are the strongholds? The next part of the passage tells us, “we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God”. The knowledge of God is the truth of his word. “His grace is sufficient for you” is one example. “His power is made perfect in weakness” is another example. The lesson of the five loaves and two fishes is another example of the knowledge of God. So they are listening in right now. But what keeps you from appropriating the grace? The Bible tells us it's because of strongholds in our hearts. What are these strongholds? Don't think demons, okay? We're not going that route. Come back. We are thinking of arguments and lofty opinions. What are these? Could it be that these are some special areas of weakness in your own life? Every one of us is wired differently as a person. Some may be given to excessive fears. Some may be given to excessive worry. Some may like to think and analyze and get stuck because they are very rational. You see, because we have these areas of weakness in our lives, there are times when you can observe a Christian to be very bold in faith, like taking a mission trip - “no worries, I can go”. Wow, you say, what a strong Christian. But come home, look at the bills in the letter box and become totally crushed. What happened? Well, there is some wiring that allows him to take on adventure. It may be just his personality. It may not be real faith. But when he comes back in an area where he's wired not to be able to handle and process truth, that is an area of weakness. So some people are quick-tempered, some people couldn't control this and that emotion in their lives, and Jesus knows all of it in our lives. He knows that. And that's why he wants us to learn the lesson of the five loaves and two fishes, because he knows that there are strongholds built up over the years because of sin and its corruption.


Now, another explanation for strongholds existing in our lives could be due to stubborn habits. We grow up having different notions and ideas about life, about the world, about people, about church, and they accumulate over the days. And you may have developed an instinctive response to certain situations. In some situations, you are totally closed up and defensive, “Don't talk to me because I am not listening”. You see, that may be good for certain situations. But when the Word of God is trying to come in, the knowledge of God, and you raise up that defense, that stubborn habit, it blocks up the Word of God, and that happens often in our hearts. These are the strongholds, the arguments, the lofty opinions. You'll be looking and listening and say, “Aiya that is just in the Bible. Aiya that is just the spiritual people who talk like that. Aiya that is just for those who are in the New Testament.”. You have your own take, your own explanation that excuses away the promises of God. You see, when that happens, you know but you don't really know. You understand, but there's no way you're going to apply because actually, you don't believe it. And that's exactly why Jesus tested his disciples. Jesus tested his disciples because he knows that real learning is not going to take place verbally, intellectually, mentally only. He knows that his disciples have to face a real need, see their helplessness and then experience His grace. In other words, friends, Jesus knows your special area of weakness, he knows your stubborn habits, and he presents to you situations in your life. What are they? The moments when you feel hopeless and helpless., The moments when you are struggling and frustrated; when you feel like running away, when you take your calculator and do all the calculations and you are still without a solution. Those are the moments - look for them, for the lesson of the five loaves and two fishes. Those are the moments whereby Jesus wants you to experience His all-sufficient grace. You see, the disciples have seen God work, turning water into wine. They have seen Jesus heal a noble man's child from a distance. They have seen Jesus raised that the lame to walk again by the pool in Jerusalem. But now, they have to experience it for themselves. You see, you can’t live on borrowed faith. You may be in a good church. You may be in a good Christian home. But no one else can live out your faith for you. You have to experience Jesus’ all-sufficient grace for yourself if you are to move forward with God.


I want to close with this final thought to help you understand this truth. The Bible tells us in this passage in John chapter six, verse 14 to 15, that

“when the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘this is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” Now the people were so excited at what happened, they ate to their fill, they had excess and they thought, ‘Well, this must be the Messiah. This must be our king. This must be the prophet who is to come. Let's make him our King.’ because they experienced the miracle that Jesus performed. But do you know that not every commentator on the Bible, not every so-called ‘scholar’ on the Bible believe in miracles. So when they talk about this story and this scenario, they have an alternative explanation. This is what they say. They said that no, there was no multiplication of bread and fishes. This is what really happened. When Andrew brought the boy to Jesus and he offered that meager five loaves and two fishes, the rest of the people were so embarrassed and ashamed of their selfishness that the lunch boxes they hid under their clothes, all the good food they had, they took out and shared with everyone else. So this is a miracle of generosity. This is a blessing of sharing one with another. But it's so strange if they were so generous, if they were shamed and if they had learned to share, why would they want to make Jesus King? If this is merely man-made, if this is a mere matter of psychology, of positive thinking, of human kindness? My friends, it's easy to walk away from church, read your Bible and think that all it does for you is to make you feel better in your heart. Have some positive ideas for life, develop a sound philosophy, but that is not the Christian faith.


Now, if you have experienced the power of Jesus in your weakness, then it can no longer be a matter of psychology for you. And I hope that for you, as you walk with Jesus, you may start thinking that he makes you feel good, it gives you some good ideas, and helps you feel really wonderful when you sing in church. I'm glad he does all that for you. But I hope it does more than that. I hope that you see that his grace is sufficient for you right where you live. Because when you have experienced His grace and seen his power perfected in your weakness, then you will know that he is truly the Son of God, that he is good not only for the life to come, but in this life. And because you are willing to follow him in every area of your life, the gospel will continue to shine through you, not just someone else. Through your life, not merely through your words. So I hope that if you have not learned this lesson before, you will begin to apply it now. If you have already learned this lesson, why not come back and keep on plowing through? There is no end to our journey of faith in walking in Jesus. But if you have learned this lesson, and you say, “Now, it didn't really work for me, I'm not sure if it is really true.” Why not come back to Jesus today, and say, “Lord, I want to know of your all sufficient grace. Teach me now, the lesson of the five loaves and two fishes.”




Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, we thank you so much. We thank You for Your Word that gives life - not life as we want it to be but life as you have designed and appointed for each one of us with you. So may we not merely run on the milk of human kindness and thrive on the energy of human endeavours. May we experience the power of God in our weaknesses. May we embrace the all-sufficient grace of Jesus in every area of our lives, so that we would be able to witness to the reality of God in this world. Father, do a greater work in our hearts and lives than we could have possibly imagined for ourselves. Because you are not here to merely wait for us to come home to heaven. You want us to start moving forward with you and start shining for our Lord Jesus. Do this, we ask and we pray. I’d like to invite you to bow your heads and close your eyes to commune with God and think about what God is saying to you today. Many things have been said this morning in the message but I do not know what may have spoken to your heart but I want to invite you to take what has been spoken to your heart for you to tell it to Jesus. So spend some time thinking about your life and how you're navigating through your challenges, your needs, your struggles, your fears, and your successes. Bring it to Jesus and may the light of his word guide you to take the next step forward. Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for our sins, to redeem unworthy, ungodly, unholy people as we are, so that we can have the hope of a life with a God who is so full of glory, mercy and love. That our future and this life will never be the same again, if we understand just a glimpse of who You are and what You have done for us. Help us to remember You this day as we have partaken of the Lord’s table. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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