Summary: Jesus offers us more than the flash of the world.
“You are what you eat!” is the old slogan that we have been hearing for years. Many of the fast food chains are trying to become more “healthy choices” facilities. Just this week KFC announced that beginning in the New Year, they would change their frying methods by switching to canola oil. This is supposed to cut down on the number of trans fats that people consume each year.
Food can do some strange things to a person. I’m not talking about food-borne illnesses that have been in the news recently. Food can change the behaviour of people. On the hit reality program Survivor, many of the “luxury” challenges often deal with food. It is amazing how quickly a friendship can disintegrate over a chocolate chip cookie on this program.
It’s not just food that people go nuts over. I’m sure you have seen it on television or at least heard about it - hundreds of women rushing to racks and racks of designer wedding gowns and trying them on in the aisles at Filenes in Boston. According to Filene’s website, basement buyers accumulate gowns from a variety of sources including manufacturer’s samples, overstocks, cancelled orders, excess merchandise, etc. Many of the dresses still have their original price tags and may be priced in the thousands. So, when these buyers have accumulated at least 1000 gowns they set a date for the "sale" and price all dresses at $249 each.
We can get lost in the heat of the moment. One second our heads appear to be screwed on straight, and the next second, we’re going nuts for the “Tickle me Elmo’s” and “George Foreman’s Lean Mean Fat Burning Machine!” It happens in the “real world” and it can happen in the church as well.
A few years back, and even today, one of the best selling books has been “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. I’ve bought it and have read it. The book shows what a lie with Christ looks like. I have no problem with that. Pastor Rick even explains what the Plan of Salvation in the early goings of the book. My problem with the whole book is that some people, even people I know, have made it sound like it almost ranks up there with the Bible itself.
It seems like people like the latest fads and fashions. Many churches use hi-tech gadgets and specialized programs to reach people. I feel that some people only come out to these things for the “entertainment” value of it. They like the latest craze in churchiness. But in the same breath, some people come to our Celebration Sunday concerts and coffeehouses for the same entertainment.
I’m not questioning why churches do these things. It’s not an issue about big church vs. little church. What I’m talking about today is allowing God to take us past the flash and the fancy of the wrappings, and digging into the gift inside.
In the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, we find a story so amazing that Matthew, Mark and Luke have included in their own accounts of the life of Jesus. Jesus, with a small boy’s lunch, feeds five thousand people. I’ve heard of some people who give the big churches a hard time over little things. No offence but I have yet to see a big church take five barely loaves and a couple fish and feed thousands.
That miracle is amazing in and of itself. I could preach a message on the God of miracles, but you have heard them, and He hasn’t placed it in my heart to talk about it. Today, I want to look at what takes place on the other side of the lake. Let’s see what happens after the fellowship time. When all the pomp and circumstance had died down, what happens next?
Read John 6:25-35
In the first fourteen verses of this chapter, we see that five thousand men sat down for this meal of fish and bread. In other accounts of this gospel, we see that women and children were also fed. I believe, as a little aside to the whole story, that the men were responsible for feeding their families. So whatever they received that day from the disciples was also further divided among the wife and kids. The special thing about this story is that everybody present ate well, and there were twelve baskets of leftovers. We again get a chance to see that Jehovah Jireh, “God Provides” is present.
Jesus looked at the crowd, had compassion on them, and fed them all. In verse fifteen, however, the people were all set to make Jesus their king, and He hikes across the water... literally. It’s on the other side of the lake that the crowd finally catches up with Jesus, and that is where the real lessons begin.