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John 14:9-10 NLT – Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.”
God is revealed through Jesus.
If we want to know God, then we need to get to know Jesus. And thankfully there are four entire books of the Bible dedicated to the life of Jesus. We call them the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Through this series, we are working through the book of John and observing the way of Jesus. What we’re finding out is that the way of Jesus is different.
So let’s head to John chapter 6. We are about to witness one of the most amazing miracles.
Feeding the Five Thousand
You may remember two weeks ago where we read in John chapter 5 that Jesus has been in a debacle with the religious people. They didn’t like that He healed a man on the Sabbath. They didn’t like that He called Himself the son of God.
Jesus then spent quite some time explaining to the religious people that He and the Father were one. Jesus only did what God told Him to do. He wasn’t here on His own agenda, He was here on God’s agenda.
After this, Jesus went into the wilderness to unplug a bit. But people followed Him. A lot of people followed Him. We’re talking thousands of people followed Him.
Of course, Jesus was moved with compassion and postponed His alone time so He could teach and heal the people. So, thousands of people were out in the wilderness and Jesus realized the people were probably getting hangry.
But what do you do when Chick-fil-a is too far away? Well, here’s what Jesus does first:
John 6:5 NLT – Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”
Can you imagine being Philip? You are looking at 5,000 men plus women and children and Jesus asks you to go get them all some bread.
I can see it now, rolling up to the Chick-fil-a drive through, “Yeah, I need 5,000 12-count meals.” Their response would be, “My pleasure. We can have that ready for you in a few days. Your total is $46,800.”
We find out in the next verse that Jesus did not expect Philip to have the solution. He was actually testing Philip because Jesus already had a plan.
You know, I think Jesus likes to have fun. I mean, He saw the opportunity to ask Philip an outrageous question, so He took it for the sheer entertainment of his response:
John 6:7 NLT – Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”
There’s a hidden gem in this part of the story.
Jesus will point out an impossible situation to move us towards faith.
It seems cruel, but it’s actually really helpful.
I mean, how many of you hit up WebMD when you’re sick instead of believing God for healing? That’s why WebMD always leads you to find out you are going to die. Now it’s impossible, so you can trust God.
Only when we come to the end of ourselves, only when we gain full awareness that we are completely incapable of solving the problem do we turn to God and ask for His help.
Jesus draws attention to the impossible not to discourage us, but to get us ready for a miracle.
Next in the story, another one of the disciples speaks up:
John 6:9 NLT – “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
This brings clarity to the attitude we should have about impossible situations. We still have a responsibility to figure out what we can do. It’s going to seem really small and insignificant, but you have a part to play in this.
You do the small thing and let God work the miracle. But you have to take action. You can’t just sit there and be lazy. Look around, see what you can do, and then partner with God to bring forth a miracle.
In this story, they had five loaves and two fish. So great, everyone gets a crumb. How in the world is Jesus going to make this work? Well, here’s the instruction He gives next:
John 6:10 NKJV – Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Once again, there is significance here. Normally this is one of those scriptures that you just read over real quick to get to the good stuff. But why did Jesus have everyone sit? Why does it mention they were sitting on luscious grass?
Psalm 23 has the answer:
Psalms 23:1-6 NKJV – The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Jesus was showing us that He is our shepherd. He wants us to rest while we trust Him for provision and protection.
So, Jesus brought attention to the impossible. He asked them what they could do. And then asked them to sit and rest in Him.
This miracle is all about rest and provision. Jesus is showing us that we don’t have to do this on our own. We don’t have to strive and hustle and wear ourselves out. Nope. He wants us seated with Him. Just like it says in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:4-6 NLT – But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
So here’s what we’ve learned so far:
To follow Jesus, I must rest in His provision.
This really goes against our American culture. We celebrate people who work long hours. We honor those who hustle. We think it’s great to be busy. But none of this aligns with the way of Jesus.
When all we do is worry about the next house, the next car, the next raise, or even where the next meal will come from, do we ever hear the voice of God in the frenzy?
This would be like going on a hike with my wife. I take off running because I am obsessed with getting to the end of the trail. She takes her time and enjoys her surroundings.
But while I’m running off, she is trying to talk to me. At first, I can faintly hear her but can’t understand what she is saying. It doesn’t take long and I have no idea she is talking to me at all.
This is most of us with God. You see, His pace is walking. Take a look:
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
So God is on a walk. Most of us are running. Occasionally we will catch a glimpse of Him when we lap Him on the trail. He can only get a few words in because you’re moving so fast and He says, “Rest in me.”
There’s a quote out there that relates to what we’re talking about:
“If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.”
This seems accurate, but it is actually a cop out. The devil doesn’t make you do anything. Sure, he will tempt you. But you’re the one that chooses to be busy.
Don’t pin this one off on the devil. The only one in charge of your time is you. So if you are moving at the wrong pace, go look in the mirror when you get home and have a talk with yourself.
If you are looking for a place to start, I recommend implementing one day of complete rest every week. It’s what the Bible calls the Sabbath.
Beth and I started practicing Sabbath at the beginning of last year and still do it today. We don’t look at our phones the entire day. We don’t have a schedule or an agenda. We just wake up, relax, and go with the flow.
Our Sabbath is on Monday. The first few weeks, the people I work with would call me on Sabbath. I don’t look at my phone on Sabbath, so I didn’t see the missed call until the next day. I called them back and explained the delay.
The first time people say, “Really? Like you are really not going to look at your phone for an entire day every week?” And I just reply, “Really. You should try it some time.”
It took some time and some explaining, but now most everyone respects the fact that I am going to be honoring Sabbath every Monday whether they like it or not.
And you know how many times this has ruined a work project, the fact that I didn’t respond until the next day? Zero. Turns out, what feels like an emergency rarely is.
So here we are in a culture that doesn’t understand Sabbath and it’s easy to see the results of it. We’re exhausted, overworked, and spiritually malnourished. We’re slaves to the unsustainable rhythms of our success-obsessed culture.
God knew we would struggle with this. So He gave us a gift – the Sabbath.
Just don’t turn it into the religious nonsense that we read about two weeks ago when the Jews fussed at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. If you are using Sabbath as an excuse not to do good, you got the wrong idea.
Sabbath is a day to say no to work. Say no to achievement. Forget about the pile of tasks and emails and texts you’ll face tomorrow and spend one day every week unplugged and focused on God and family.
I did an entire message on Sabbath last year during our Choose Joy series. You’ll find it here.
God’s Provision vs Our Provision
So Jesus had the people rest on the grass so He could demonstrate His divine provision. The food they had available wasn’t even close to enough, but that didn’t bother Jesus at all.
He took the five loaves of bread and two fish and gave thanks to God. He then gave the food to the disciples and they distributed it to the crowd. Everyone ate as much as they wanted and there were even leftovers.
So many of us are living in our own provision. We’re working hard and we’re struggling because what we do is never enough. You get a raise, but it never seems to make a difference because your expenses get a raise too.
What if we rested in God’s provision? What if we brought before God the small, insignificant things we can do and then trusted Him to multiply it?
It really doesn’t matter what kind of job you have. The truth is, in light of eternity, it’s small and insignificant.
I’m not trying to discourage you. I’m simply pointing out that we are all up against an impossible situation. And it’s not until we realize that we can’t do it on our own that we finally turn to God for a miracle.
Jesus Walks on the Sea
This next story in the book of John is going to blow your mind. It’s going to describe so many of you and then show you what happens when you invite Jesus into the situation.
So they had just fed the five thousand and the miracle was so incredible that the crowd was determined to make Jesus king. It wasn’t yet time for that, so Jesus took the opportunity to escape and finally have His alone time.
The disciples waited until dark, but Jesus never came back, so they got in their boat and left Him behind. They were in such a hurry to get to their next destination that they left behind the person they were following.
While they were on the sea, a great wind started blowing so the waves were fighting against them. They were rowing, struggling, fighting the wind, fighting the waves, and not getting anywhere.
Am I telling anyone’s story yet? Anyone putting forth a bunch of effort day in and day out and struggling to make progress?
When the disciples had made it about half way to their destination, they saw Jesus walking on the water heading towards them. Here’s what happened next:
John 6:21 NKJV – Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
You mean to tell me as soon as they invited Jesus into the boat, they immediately arrived at their destination? They struggled to get to the halfway point and then Jesus suddenly transported them the rest of the way?
Yes. That’s what it looks like when you rest in His provision. When you stop trying to do it by yourself and you invite him into the boat.
When you stop running and instead walk side-by-side with Him. When you say no to non-stop hustle everyday and take a full day every week to rest.
Let me put it to you another way:
To follow Jesus, I must move at His pace.
Just in case you are still not getting this, Jesus is about to go vulgar. He’s about to say something very distasteful. It even causes many of his followers to turn away. But you guys can handle it.
We’re now at the day after the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus and His disciples had made it across the sea. And guess what? The crowd got in boats and followed them!
I’m starting to feel for Jesus at this point. Can you imagine a crowd of thousands of people following you wherever you go?
Once again, they track Him down and He calls them out because their motivation for following Him is whack. Take a look:
John 6:26-27 NLT – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.
In other words, they were only following Jesus because of what He could do for them. This still happens today. There are people who come to church only because they want to extract something out of it.
Here’s what Jesus has to say about it:
John 6:26-27 NLT – But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.”
Jesus wants us to get to a place where we don’t spend our energy striving and hustling and trying to make things happen. Instead, we trust Him with our basic necessities while we focus on His kingdom.
In other words, you can spend your energy building your own kingdom, which will die when you die. Or you can spend your energy building God’s kingdom that will last forever.
Here’s another way Jesus explains this to us:
Matthew 6:31-33 NLT – “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
You mean I don’t have to worry about my basic needs? I can follow what God asks me to do and He will make sure all the other stuff is taken care of?
But notice there is a condition. There are lots of people who think God will take care of them regardless. But the truth is, you have to seek the kingdom of God and live righteously, and then you will have everything you need.
Come on somebody – this is a good life! Yet, we struggle with it. I mean, how do you envision this kind of life?
Quitting your job and sitting at home all day while trusting God to put food on the table? Living a nomadic lifestyle where you bum off other people for the basic necessities of life?
No. Sorry to break it to you, but this is not a license to be lazy. Here’s what it means:
To follow Jesus, I must seek God first.
I’ll share my journey with you to help you understand.
I like to work. I thrive off of accomplishment. If I didn’t have a family, I would work all day, every day and would even skip at least one meal a day to get more work done.
There’s been times in my life where I literally worked that hard. The problem was, the harder I worked, the more I had to do. I never got caught up. I was always behind.
On top of this, when you fill yourself with accomplishment, you keep needing a bigger hit. So the accomplishment that used to fulfill you no longer does. You just need more and bigger accomplishments.
I would cycle. There would be a few weeks where I would feel great about what I was accomplishing, only to be followed by a few weeks where I felt like I was on the verge of losing everything. Success, fear of failure. Success, fear of failure.
My wife appreciates that I work hard, but she doesn’t appreciate overworking. What’s the point of working hard for money that we can’t even enjoy together because I am always working?
Thankfully, I found my way out. And it was when I started paying attention to how Jesus lived His life.
Jesus lived from a place of rest.
He was never in a hurry. There was a time when one of His best friends was dying, and instead of rushing to heal him, He waited a few days, let him die, and then raised him from the dead. You couldn’t hurry Jesus for nothing.
Jesus took time for Himself when He needed it. You’d think He’d be always on, always available for whoever would need him. But nope. He often disappeared to where even the disciples couldn’t find Him.
Jesus didn’t worry about how much money was in the bank, or how popular He was, or where His next meal would come from. Because He knew that as long as He was about His Father’s business, He would be taken care of.
I discovered all of this and realized, “I want to follow Jesus. If the most important man to walk the earth could live from a place of rest, I can live from a place of rest.”
I started by implementing a hard stop to my work day. At 5pm, whether I am done or not, I walk away. Even if it means I have to miss a deadline, I walk away because there’s always more where that came from and there’s always tomorrow. I’m not in a hurry.
And then I implemented Sabbath. Every Monday, I completely unplug from work. I don’t check my email. I don’t respond to texts or calls. I don’t think about project deadlines. I just wake up and enjoy the day with my family.
Y’all, I’m not there yet. But I am taking steps towards the pace of life Jesus wants me to live. Most of the time I seek His Kingdom and trust that my family’s needs will be taken care of. But sometimes I still get caught up into trying to take care of it all myself.
Then I get frustrated and burnt out and suddenly remember where I got off track. And I go back to waking up every morning, asking God for my daily bread, and move at a pace where I can listen to His assignment for me today.
This is what Jesus is trying to get across to us through these stories. He wants you to sit down in the luscious, green grass and trust Him with the things of life. That’s why He says this:
John 6:35 NLT – Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
We like to over-spiritualize this scripture. But it isn’t just spiritual. It’s also natural. Yes, the most important thing Jesus gives you is eternal life. But He also cares for you in this earthly life. But He can only care for you if you come to Him.
And just like we struggle with this today, they struggled with back then. So Jesus pulled out all the stops to help them understand. I told you Jesus was about to get vulgar. He was about to say something very distasteful. Here it is:
John 6:53 NLT – So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.”
Say what? Thankfully this is symbolic. Otherwise we’d all be sunk. I mean, not only do none of us want to be cannibals, but it’s been two thousand years since Jesus was here in the flesh. I’m pretty sure His flesh and blood would be long gone by now.
Walking with Jesus Every Day
By eating His flesh, Jesus was referring to our daily relationship with Him. Just like you eat every day, you walk with Jesus every day. This can’t just be a one Sunday thing where you say the salvation prayer. No, this is every day.
By drinking His blood, Jesus was referring to salvation. He sacrificed Himself so that you could be forgiven and saved from eternal death. And you receive salvation by believing in Jesus.
You know, when Jesus said these things about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, many of Jesus’ followers walked away. They stopped following Him. Why?
Well, remember when Jesus called them out because they were only following Him for another free meal? Now you see that it was true. Jesus starts talking about cannibalism and all of a sudden, they are no longer interested in His food.
Jesus isn’t your sugar daddy. If you are only following Him because you want something for free, it isn’t going to work out. It won’t be long before you are offended by something in the Bible and walk away.
Jesus is your savior. He’s your teacher. He’s your leader. He wants you to believe in Him and receive eternal life. He also wants you to get with Him every day, do what He’s called you to do, and trust Him to take care of your basic needs along the way.