Summary: Pagans doubt God because they try to put Him in a box. But Christians sometimes doubt because they forget that He was in the box to begin with.
OPEN: (I had brought a large cardboard box on stage that my children had turned into a house)
I suppose some of you have wondered what this is.
Does anybody know what I have on stage with me?
That’s right - it’s a box. But, it’s not just any box. This is a marvelous box. This is the creation of my children’s imagination.
Notice the doors (Front and back) And the windows.
My kids have played in this thing for hours… even my cats enjoy playing in it.
And you know the most marvelous thing about this wonderful toy? It didn’t cost me a cent. It’s the box that my Christmas present came in (a Craftsman Project Center).
Now, we’re going to put this box aside for a moment and focus on our text this morning.
Jesus was a very popular teacher, because not only was He interesting to listen to, but wherever He went He would touch people – and he’d heal them and cast out demons and raise the dead
And so, here in Mark 6 we read that people have discovered where Jesus has gone to rest, and a large crowd has gathered because they had seen the miraculous signs he had performed among the sick and they wanted Him to touch them.
We’re told that Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them of the love that God had for them.
Now as the day went on and it began to get late, Jesus’ disciples encouraged Him to send the people home so they can eat. But Jesus surprised them by saying: “You give them something to eat!”
Now, the Gospel of John tell us a few more insights on this conversation. Apparently at about this point in the conversation Jesus asked Philip a question: “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:5
Now, this wasn’t an idle question.
John tells us that Jesus asked this question deliberately: “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” (John 6:6)
Now Philip was apparently the accountant in the group because the Gospel of John tell us that (snap fingers) just like that Philip answered him, "Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" John 6:7
So, it’s obvious that Jesus was setting His disciples up for a “teachable moment.” And to drive His point home, Jesus asks His disciples to find how much food was available… and they round up a paltry 5 loaves and 2 fishes which John’s Gospel tells us was some little boy’s lunch.
Andrew - Simon Peter’s bro. - gave the food to Jesus with this discouraged comment: "… but how far will they go among so many?" John 6:9
But of course, Jesus knew how far it would go.
He blessed the food, broke the loaves and gave it to His to pass out to the crowd. And when all was said and done, the Disciples collected the leftovers and ended up with 12 baskets filled with broken pieces of bread and fish.
(Pause) Now that’s a fantastic story isn’t it? And, in fact, it’s so fantastic some people can’t quite believe it.
ILLUS: I remember reading of certain LIBERAL theologians who have speculated that the crowd had actually brought a fair amount of food with them that day… and that they had merely shared what they’d brought. These liberal theologians teach that God hadn’t multiplied the small donation from the child – the food collected afterward was simply what’d been left over from generosity of crowd who’d been moved by the unselfish gift of the young boy.
Now, why would these liberal theologians say that? Was there something in the text that lead them to that conclusion? Well… no.
Both Mark and John leave us with the impression that the disciples had already gone through the crowd looking for anyone who might have had food with them and all they could find was this little boy’s lunch.
But in addition, John’s Gospel goes on to tell us that the next day – the crowd came back. They wanted more food from Jesus! As John 6:26 tells us: Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. These folks were looking for a free lunch.
So then, if the text didn’t justify the teachings of these liberal theologians… why would they try to explain away this great miracle of God?
Well… because they’re pagans. They’re not Christians. They don’t believe in a god that can do anything spectacular. They have to have a god that works within confines and the rules they set up for him. They have their god in a box, and they only let him out every once in a while so they can examine Him and dissect Him and prove how clever they are in explaining away the majesty of God.