LEAVE IT ALL IN JESUS HANDS
JOHN 6: 1-15 JULY 28, 2002
1Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7Philip answered him; "Eight months’ wagesA would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
10Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
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Dearest Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
We have heard that song ?He?s got the Whole World In His Hands?, and that?s what our text reminds us of this morning. The Lord keeps the whole world in His hands to provide for the needs of His believers and everyone else because He knows the needs of His believers and everyone else. We talk about the right hand of God and we immediately think of the fact that this refers to God?s power. It also refers to His care for God?s creation, something that the Old Testament people knew and talked about. In the Psalms we read: "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing"(PSALM 145:15,16). And so, with that idea of God?s hand opening and satisfying the desires of every living thing, we use that as our theme as we look at these familiar words before us this morning.
Leave it all in Jesus Hands
I. Jesus knows all our needs
II. Jesus provides His solution
Now we?re told that Jesus is going to once again take His disciples and try to be off by themselves a little bit, but that?s not to be the case because the popularity of Jesus was increasing. Sometime after this Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, that is, the Sea of Tiberias and a great crowd of people followed Him because they had seen the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick. So again, they?re back on the boat, they are on the Sea of Galilee going to a remote place. The crowd follows them because they had seen what Jesus had done for the sick. He had healed the blind and the lame and those who were infirm. They didn?t want to lose this miracle worker. They wanted to stay close to Jesus because He was able to help them. He healed the sick because that?s what they needed at that time.
We?re given a little bit about the setting. When Jesus went up on the hillside and sat down with His disciples, the Jewish Passover feast was near. So we know it was in the spring. They sat on the hillside where there was plenty of grass, so the disciples and Jesus would be comfortable. Jesus is going to teach His disciples very quickly about trust in God.
But when Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Phillip, ?Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?? Phillip is the first disciple to be put to the test?our text explains that. He was wondering if Phillip was going to trust in himself, if Phillip was going to wonder himself what to do next, or if Phillip would understand, like the crowd, that Jesus was able to do all things. He was able to heal the sick, he was able to provide for these people. And in the next verse it tells us that ?Jesus only asked this to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.? And Phillip?s answer: ?Eight months? wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!? Phillip looked at the crowd and realized that there were too many people. There certainly was not enough money?eight months wages was quite a sum of money and it would not be enough. They needed more money in order to buy more food for more of the people that were coming. And then another disciple comes, but he too, looks at the situation, sizes it up and says, ?It?s futile.? Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter?s brother spoke up. ?Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?? So, at least he had found some food, but only five loaves of bread, two small fish, and he says it?s just not enough.
We need more, we want more. The people want more because they need more. It sounds like the sentiment of the world around us today. People often ask for more..more..more. We want more so we think we need more. And so in our day and age it?s hard to determine what we truly need as opposed to what we really want. We want a lot of things out of life, especially for ourselves. But do we truly need all of the things that we want? It has become difficult for many to determine what is truly what we need or simply the things that we want. Rather than trying to determine what we need or what we want, we just say ?we want more? because we think we need more. At least that?s the attitude of the world around us, and sometimes that becomes our attitude. After all, we?ve worked hard, we?ve struggled long and we deserve to have more, even if we don?t need it but simply because we want it. Scripture warns us to be careful. In Ecclesiastes, it tells us: "Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.? (ECCLESIASTES 5:10) When is enough?enough? When we just really finally are fulfilling all our wants, instead of looking at what we truly need, it?s difficult.
We need to turn to the Lord and seek His wisdom and guidance. We need to ask Him to bless us with the things we truly need, not just all of those things that we want. Paul gives us this advice in Romans. He says: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express"(ROMANS 8:26). Even Paul admits that a believer doesn?t know what he ought to pray for, and here he?s referring to those things that are spiritual, isn?t he? Those things that the Spirit has to intercede on our behalf and say, ?Well that person needs to have a stronger faith, that person needs to have patience and humility, kindness, gentleness.? Those are the things that we truly need. We may not necessarily know that we want them but the Lord says we need them. We ought to be praying for those things and asking for them. We look around us, we become pretty focused in our lives, focused on the here and the now, focused on the present. We realize that we need rain, at least that?s what we think. (Not to make light of it, it certainly is something that we desire most wholeheartedly.) It would solve problems in the present here and it would solve problems in the future, at least physically. Sometimes we are wondering if God really does hear our prayers. Sometimes we wonder if God has forgotten us, if He ever will remember us. And then we?re reminded what the Scripture says. It says to us: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight"(PROVERBS 3:5,6).
Our gracious God knows what we need. We know what we want, but God knows what we need, and He reminds us to leave it all in Jesus? hands. To leave it all in Jesus hands is the point of the ?Feeding of the Five-Thousand?. Leave it all in Jesus hands because Jesus knows all of our needs and thankfully, He provides His solution.
II. God provides His solution
What about the disciples? They wanted to try to solve the problem with their own hand?let?s buy more bread, let?s find someone with food that we can share it, but we wouldn?t have enough. And Jesus says, ?Leave it in my hands. Have the people sit down.? There was plenty of grass in that place and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. So we know there were at least five thousand, since they just counted the men. They sat in a comfortable place where there was plenty of grass and Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed it to those who were seated, as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. And we note that Jesus, even though He was God himself, still gives thanks to His heavenly Father for these gifts that He had provided?these gifts which the disciples thought ?There just isn?t enough??these five loaves, these two fish, five thousand people. We would think the same wouldn?t we? There?s just not enough. What was Jesus? solution? Jesus solution was to give thanks for what He had, not for what He did not have.
Jesus? solution was to be thankful that God had given them something and that something turned in to everything that they needed. For when they had all had enough to eat, Jesus told the disciples to gather the pieces that were left over and let nothing be wasted. So we find that they had plenty to eat. The Lord says, ?We?re not going to be wasteful,? even though it seemed like so little that they had. Even though it seemed as though it was not enough, even though it seemed like they wanted more because they thought they needed more. The Lord?s solution was to give them abundance?super-abundance as we look at it. So they gathered the pieces, filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. There no longer were just five loaves of bread and crumbs from those loaves. There were twelve baskets of crumbs left from the food that had been eaten after feeding over five thousand people. It was a miracle. It was Jesus solution to the needs of the people at that time. They were hungry. He provided for their needs with His solution of bread to eat.
Even the people realized the miracle. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, ?Surely this is the prophet who is to come into the world.? They remembered the Old Testament prophecies that a prophet would come and provide for his people. And they even had to admit this Jesus is that prophet. They understood, although briefly, that Jesus was God?s Son and King of the world. We see it was short-lived, for they wanted to make Him an earthly king and Jesus was a spiritual king. Again, their need at that time was that they were hungry. They thought if Jesus could feed them now, He could feed them for a long time. In the last verse we?re told: Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.? He had to leave until the time was right and they would truly understand the kingdom of God?that He was the real Bread of Life.
We see that the disciples, although they were right there with Jesus, weren?t so anxious to leave it all in Jesus hands. I?m sure, many in the crowd maybe wondered where all the food might come from. Yet when they left it in Jesus hands, He provided His solution with plenty of food to eat.
You and I, in essence, live in a lap of luxury, don?t we? We always have plenty to eat, we always have plenty to wear, in fact, almost too much to wear?we have to make all those choices of which shirt, which tie, what dress, which piece of clothing to wear today and the next day. That?s a great blessing from God. Yet because of those great blessings, sometimes we think we ought to have a life of ease also. The Lord doesn?t always say that. In fact, He says just the opposite?that life isn?t going to be easy, that life in essence will have trials, we will have tribulation, we will have heartache and sorrow, and we will have temptations. Listen to the words of the apostles from the book of Acts. It says: "Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ’We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said"(ACTS 14:22). And so from time to time in our life, we face hardships. What does the scripture say here? It says ?in order to be strengthened and encouraged, we go through these hardships.? Our faith is strengthened. We grow closer to our Lord when we face those difficult times. In reality, we realize that certainly our difficult times are hardly difficult in comparison to many others. We can be thankful that the Lord has blessed us. We can be thankful also then during those difficult times.
We have the example of the apostle Paul. He wanted something?he had a thorn in the flesh. He kept going back to the Lord to ask Him to remove that thorn in the flesh. We don?t know what it was?it could have been malaria, it could have been poor eyesight, it could have been some other weakness or sickness that came back again and again. Finally the Lord said no. That?s not what you need, that?s what you want. So did Paul go off and grumble and complain and say, ?God is so unfair and unjust. I want this. I need this.? No, he left it all in Jesus hands, and he realized God?s great truth. Paul says: "But he said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me"(2 CORINTHIANS 12:9). He realized when he was weak, the Lord was strong.
There are times in our life when we see our weakness, our human frailty. We might be tempted to grumble and complain about those aches and pains, but the Lord really wants us to remember His strength. He wants us to remember that we don?t trust in ourselves, we don?t look to our own hand to provide for ourselves. Instead, we leave it all in the hand of Jesus, who with His powerful hand is able to provide for us daily as He has for years in the past for us, for our grandparents and their parents, for generations before us. He says He will provide for us for generations to come. He does, doesn?t He? We need to broaden our horizons and look at the hand of Jesus that provides for us and realize that He provides for us more than just the ?here and now? but He provides for us in eternity. He provides for us with the riches of the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. That?s how He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.
Again, we can look at our situation today and say, ?Boy! How will we ever overcome that drought that we face?? The Lord provides a solution doesn?t He? Listen to these beautiful, descriptive words for our present-day situation from Isaiah: "The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail"(ISAIAH 58:11). Yes, the ground around us might be parched, we might wonder what the future holds for each one of us, but the Lord says He is with us always. The Lord says, ?I have caused faith to be a wellspring in your life. I am your Redeemer. I am the Water of Life.? And with that, He provides us with His solution. We also become the solution to people who suffer with heartache and sorrow in this world, because we know that the Lord provides. He opens His hand and satisfies our desires.
Today?s Scripture readings are just beautiful?how He comes to Solomon and says, ?Ask for whatever you want!? What if God did that for us? What did Solomon say? He says, ?I don?t know how to take care of your people. Help me.? And God did. In the next lesson, all things work for our good, and in the next lesson, the treasures, the pearl?all the kingdom of God?all spiritual things.
The Lord reminds us this morning in this beautiful miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, to leave it all in Jesus hands. He knows our needs. We know our wants, we know them too well because of our sinful nature. The Lord truly knows our needs and then He provides us with His solution. A solution that isn?t just temporary, that isn?t just for this life but for eternal life. We agree. We conclude with what the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians. We read: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."(EPHESIANS 3:21,22). And we say, Amen!
Pastor Timm O. Meyer