Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Althrough the Gospel of Mark and in this passage in John, those who interact with Jesus often misunderstand or mistake Him for something or someone he is not. Those at the "feeding of the 5000" thought this was the long expected king. (some "gospel" ph

In Jesus Holy Name July 29, 2012

Text: John 6:14-15 Pentecost IX

“A Case of Mistaken Identity”

Mistaken identity is not an uncommon thing. The Bible records more than one incident of mistaken identity. The narrative which is most important for our message today is found in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. It is a case of mistaken identity….Jesus is not who they thought he was. We’ve seen these cases of mistaken identity before in the Gospel of Mark because Mark is constantly asking the reader to answer the question… “Who is Jesus?”

When he was vice president of the U.S., Thomas Jefferson, attired in soiled working clothes, tried to get a room in Baltimore's finest hotel. The manager, a fellow by the name of Boyden, took one look at Jefferson's scruffy clothes and turned him away. A few minutes later, after someone had informed Boyden he had mistaken the man's identity and just turned away the vice president, the manager immediately dispatched a servant to find Jefferson and offer him a room, as many rooms, as he wished.

After he heard the message, Jefferson, replied: "Tell Boyden that I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no room for a dirty farmer, he shall have none for the vice president." Mistaken identity…

Two weeks ago in the Gospel of Mark Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life. “Mistaken identity.

In our Gospel reading today we see another case of mistaken identity about who “Jesus” really is.

Imagine you are a Jew in Palestine a little more than 2,000 years ago. You hear about a man named Jesus who is teaching and healing in a region around the Sea of Galilee. You decide you want to hear him. Is he really a man sent from God? You don’t know. You only know him by reputation. You want to find out for yourself.

You’re self-employed as a farmer or a fisherman or a shopkeeper. It would be no big deal if you closed down the shop or left the boat or the farm for the day and went to where Jesus is teaching. But the meeting lasts longer than you expected. Jesus obviously doesn’t realize it is written in stone that worship services should always conclude sharply at 9:15 or 11:15.

He keeps teaching and healing people long into the afternoon. People are sitting there in awe at his wisdom and his acts of healing. It is a wonderful event. It’s all you had hoped it would be and more. However, your stomach is beginning to growl. You had come expecting that the event would last an hour or so; you hadn’t even thought to pack a lunch. Not a brilliant move. Is there a village nearby where you can grab a sandwich? NO.

Then you notice the Teacher talking to one of his associates. You step a little closer so you can hear. The Teacher asks, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Good question. At least the Teacher is aware of your situation. Little good that will do, however. About all he can do under these circumstances is to pronounce the benediction and tell everybody to go home.

One of the Teacher’s associates, a man named Philip, can see how hopeless the situation is. “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” he says. You’re thinking, We’re on top of a mountain. How are you going to get the food up here even if you had the funds to buy it?

But everyone starts sitting down. Then the Teacher does something unbelievable no, unbelievable doesn’t even begin to describe what you are witnessing. The Teacher takes the five small barley loaves that the boy had with him, says a prayer over them, and then starts passing the bread among the crowd. Five thousand men, and no telling how many women and children? Five tiny barley loaves? Who’s he kidding? Then he does the same with the small fish.

But something miraculous is happening. Something that cannot be explained. The more bread that is eaten, the more bread there seems to be. The same thing is happening with the fish. Five barley loaves and two small fish and thousands of people are being fed. “That’s impossible,” you think as you reach out for your share. “It’s impossible. Fish and bread don’t multiply. What’s happening here?” Then the thought grabs your mind: “Holy smokes. God is here. This is holy ground. I am standing in the presence of God.”

This is the impact Jesus had on people. They came to see a simple carpenter who built cabinets and kitchen tables and instead they found themselves in the presence of the one who created the universe. Make no mistake about it. Jesus was more than a wise teacher. We have always had wise teachers. Every faith has laid claim to wise teachers. And we should listen to them. But Jesus was more than a great teacher.

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