Summary: Faced with an impossible situation, Jesus’ disciples responded with human calculation rather than the faith Jesus requires in those who follow Him.


“Looking for Supper”

CLBC January 11, 2004 a.m.

Subject: Christ’s Almighty Power

Theme: His Power over Nature

Passage: John 6: 1 - 13; Mark 6:30 - 44; Matthew 14: 13 - 21; Luke 9: 10 - 17

As we return to the gospel of John, Jesus is at the height of his popularity. Vast crowds

are flocking to hear him. It appears that a great revival is taking place. Surely we are on the brink

of a great reformation of religion within the nation of Israel.

So great was his popularity, that “many were coming and going that Jesus and his disciples

had no leisure so much as to eat.” “Come apart into a desert place and rest awhile

But guess what! When he took the disciples to the other side of the “Sea” of Galilee to

rest, a great multitude followed him because they had seen the signs which he did on those who

were sick. More people followed him than live here in the Cowichan Lake area. Can you imagine

that?I want you to get a picture in your mind of everyone in Lake Cowichan and Youbou, and

Honeymoon Bay, and Skutz Falls all coming rushing up the hill to this church. Imagine how they

would fill the field behind the church. What was he to do?

He did what he always did, He had compassion on them, because they were as sheep,

not having a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6: 34; He Had

compassion on them and healed their sick; Matthew 14: 14; He welcomed them and spoke to

them of the kingdom of God; Luke 8:11

Tell me, is that how you feel about every person in these communities? Do you have

compassion on every one of them. Do you see them as sheep without a shepherd?

All day long he kept at it, teaching, preaching, healing, and they hung on every word. Late

in the afternoon, his disciples came to him with concern. “Send them away that they may go into

the country and the villages and buy food.” And this gives the setting for this morning’s message:

for this crowd were “Looking for Supper!” John. 6: 1 - 13

Now we have to remember as we read this story that Jesus is training the 12 disciples.

This is one of the only miracles that is reported in all 4 gospels John 6: 1 - 13; Mark 6:30 - 44;

Matthew 14: 13 - 21; Luke 9: 10 - 17. The other three gospels all speak about thye 12 disciples

coming with this concern, In John’s Gospel, you will notice that Jesus asks Philip where they were

going to buy enough food to feed this crowd. In both cases, the answer is given that 200

pennyworth of bread would give each of them only a little. It helps us to understand this if we

realize that a penny was the wage of a man for a day, so they are saying that in the wages of that

day, a man would have to work for over six months to buy enough food for this crowd.

In John’s gospel, we find that Andrew had been doing some checking and all the food that

he could find was a boy’s lunch: 5 barley loaves or flat cakes and 2 small fish. How do you like

the idea of a pot luck supper where only one little boy brings something?

Now, notice the reaction of the disciples:

1. Send them away

2. We do not have enough money to supply this need

3. What we do have is entirely inadequate

1. In other words the best the disciples could do was to calculate the need, and their calculations

were probably quite accurate.

2. Human calculation showed the impossibility of the situation.

3. Human calculation leads to fear and worry.

4. Human calculation leaves God out of the picture.

And all of this reveals:

1. The Bankruptcy of Human Calculation

Now is that not a parable about human nature? Does that not describe our nature? This is

our normal problem isn’t it? The only way we know to approach a situation is to estimate, to

calculate, and God often does with us exactly what he did with these disciples. He lets us get into

situations in which our need far outstrips our ability to meet that need. In the case of Philip. we

read in 6: 6 “And this He said to prove Him.” Jesus saw this as an excellent opportunity to test

the faith of Philip and his fellow disciples. He also saw it as a wonderful opportunity to teach them

more about His own almighty power and to increase their faith in Him.

For now we shall see:

2. The All Sufficiency of Divine Provision.

I want you to look closely at 6:6 “And this he said to prove him, for he himself knew

what he would do.”

G. Campbell Morgan tells of being taken by his father to hear George Mueller preach. Do

you remember that George Mueller was that man who started a string of orphanages in England,

and literally prayed in the daily provision for these children.

Mr. Morgan says, “I can see him yet, that wonderful old man. That was his text.”He

himself knew what he would do.” He could not pronounce it in good English; he had a quaint and

picturesque German accent. Sixty years have gone, and I have never lostthe effect of that great

sermon, for it helped me to understand the ways of my Lord.”

Now, before I go on with this miracle of God’s provision, let us remind ourselves that this

miracle was not the first example of extraordinary multiplication that we have seen in the


Let us remember that for 40 years in the wilderness, God sent manna every day to feed not

5000 but perhaps 2 million people. He caused quail to come into the camp in such great numbers

that the people were able to have meat to eat.

Do you remember Elijah in 1 Kings 17 being sent to the widow’s house and asking for

bread. She replied that she had only a handful of flour and a little oil, and she was just about to

make a little cake for herself and her son after which they expected to die. Elijah told her that she

should first make something for him "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour

shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the


She obeyed and we read that 1 Kings 17:16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the

jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.

Do you remember the story of Elisha who was approached by a widow lady who was

hopelessly in debt. The only thing in her house was a jar of oil and he told her to borrow as many

vessels as she could and to start pouring oil out of that jar into those vessels. She filled every

vessel until there were no more, and Elisha told her to sell the oil and pay her debt and you and

your sons shall live on the rest.

Of course the other noteworthy miracle performed by the Lord Jesus was at the wedding

feast when he had the huge water pots filled with water, which was turned into the best wine.

So, now with this background, let us look further at this miracle.

I would like you to note that

1. God’s supply still requires order.

Mark and Luke both tell us that he had the people sit down in groups of hundreds and

fifties. So that would mean that there were at least 100 groups, because Matthew tells us that

there were about 5,000 men besides women and children.

Isn’t it interesting that someone took the time and the trouble to count? Are statistics

wrong? No, only if they cater to our pride. They are not wrong if they are used to bring glory to


But have you stopped to think about the fact that God is still feeding the multitudes, even

if he uses the normal means of people working to provide funds with which to buy our food. Have

you stopped to think about the fact that even those on welfare and disability pensions are supplied

with their food through the work of those who are able to earn their own living plus paying taxes

which governments distribute. And what of food banks and Christmas hampers provided through

the generosity of others. Surely God is still performing miracles every day of the year for the 6

billion inhabitants of earth.

2. God’s supply is drawn from God by prayer and thanksgiving.

Is it for nothing that the scripture records, that “looking up to heaven, he blessed and

broke these five loaves and 2 fish? John says, “and having given thanks, he distributed...”

Why do Christians “say grace”, or give thanks before eating our meals? Did we not learn

this from Jesus, that we should express our thanksgiving to God for His provision? Is it not sad

that so many people have so little conscience of God and His daily benefits that they can’t see any

reason to stop and say thank you before digging in to their food?

3. God’s supply is not only sufficient but super abundant.

Have you thought about the logistics of distributing food to more than 5000 people? How

long did it take to pass out this food? And did they supply tartar sauce for the fish?

None of these answers are given to us. We simply read that all ate and were filled. The

supply never stopped until the need was met.

4. God’s supply must not be wasted.

Not only were all filled, but after all had eaten, Jesus sent the disciples through the crowd

again to gather up what was left over.

I have wondered, what was done with these 12 basketfuls that were collected. Were these

scraps that had been simply thrown on the ground, or were they food that was left over in baskets

after everyone had eaten?

Was this just an environmental concern or were these remainders carried with Jesus and

his disciples to meet their own need for coming meals, or were they taken to other people who

had need?

We aren’t given answers.

The Bible always gives us enough truth to promote faith, but not enought to satisfy



So what can we learn from this miraculous feeding of the 5,000.

Part of the answer will show up in coming weeks as Jesus challenges these Jews about

their priorities and why they were following him. He will expose their tendency to be “rice

Christians” that is to follow Jesus only for what they could get out of him, rather than out of faith

in the living Messiah.

But surely we can learn more than that. Surely we find here encouragement for ourselves

in every situation of need we may experience whether individually or as a church.

I was thinking for instance of the results of my visitation program. Was visiting the homes

of the community a worthwhile effort? Yes, I believe it was, but look at the people who have

come to share with us here at Cowichan Lake Baptist.

Wendy and Gerry Lee: Did I visit them? No, Wendy came on her own; Ken and Ruth

Jack: I visited their home before they moved here, but they came on their own. I didn’t get as far

in my visitation as Lucille Kitle, or Claudia Power or Bob Peel. In fact, with the exception of

Penny Hutchison and Ethel Leverington, those who have come have all been brought by the Lord,

not through my visitation.

Does that mean we shouldn’t waste our time visiting the community? Not at all. It simply

means that we can bear testimony to the fact that this church is being sustained by the Lord our

God, the same Lord who fed the 5,000.

Do you have a need? Then let us follow the truth we have discovered. Let us appeal to the

King of Kings and Lord of Lords who is abundantly able to supply every need and let us give him

humble thanks for his daily provision.