Summary: In feeding the 5000 Jesus demonstrated His concern for the basic needs of man and His need to strengthen His disciples’ faith.
“The Three Faces of Faith”
Pastor V. P. Oliver
John 6: 5-11
The occasion of our text, Jesus feeding 5000 with a few loaves of barley bread and couple pieces of dried fish, was a miracle of such magnitude that it is recorded in all four Gospels. The Apostle John, the writer of this account, tells us that a great multitude had been following Jesus for several days, listening to His teachings and beholding His miracles. Jesus had tried to get away to rest but the needs of the crowd pressed upon Him. Mark’s Gospel says that when He saw the multitudes “He was moved with compassion toward them,” so He began to teach them many things. But because they were in a deserted place and the day had grown late, Jesus became aware of the need to feed this great multitude of people. And my argument today is that Jesus used this occasion of need to demonstrate two major concerns: 1) His concern for the needs of man, and 2) His concern to strengthen His disciples.
His concern for meeting the needs of man included something as basic as physical hunger or a missed meal. We would do well to remember that there is no need that we may have that Jesus does not want to meet. The multitude had been following Him for days and had just made a 9-mile journey, having rushed to keep from losing Him. They were not only hungry and apparently out of food, but they were in mountainous country, where the possibility of purchasing food was nonexistent. In their desperation to find and keep up with Jesus, they had simply forgotten about eating. And in His response to meet the physical needs of the multitude, Jesus used the occasion to teach two great lessons to his disciples: First, He wanted them to understand that He desires to satisfy even the most common need of man. In John 6:5 He asked the question of Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
Secondly, His used this occasion to strengthen His disciples’ faith. Verse 6 tells us that even though He knew what He would do, He asked this question in order to test or prove His disciples, thereby teaching them a tremendous lesson of faith. If the truth be known, the Lord’s disciples were as we are today, full of needs, and their greatest need, was the same as ours, to grow in faith. So I want to talk about faith; specifically, “The Three Faces of Faith.”
1. PESSIMISTIC FAITH
First there is a PESSIMISTIC FAITH. This was the faith that we observe in Philip. Philip had a faith that was despairing and almost hopeless. When Jesus asked Philip where shall we buy food to feed all of these people, Philip’s answer was, “Two hundred pennyworth of bread was not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” In our monetary terms Philip’s response to Jesus was that $40 worth of bread or 8 month’s wages worth of bread would only be enough for each person in this great crowd to eat a small piece of bread. Philip had a PESSIMISTIC FAITH. His faith only saw the multitude. Notice now, he was not faithless, but his faith was PESSIMISTIC. Let’s analyze Philip’s faith. His faith believed in God. His faith believed that Christ was the Son of God. His faith believed that Christ has the power to meet the needs of man. His faith had even witnessed Jesus’past miracles. But when a problem arose, the immediate response of his PESSIMISTIC FAITH was to see the problem, and not the power of God. Philip’s faith did not see the opportunity for the power of God to be demonstrated in conquering the problem or bearing a strong testimony to His name. In the crisis of the problem, PESSIMISTIC FAITH seems to forget about the power of God. A PESSIMISTIC FAITH sees money, human resources, or that which is visibly available, but it fails to see God and His ability. It stresses the hopelessness and impossibility of a situation. Question. Is your faith PESSIMISTIC? A PESSIMISTIC FAITH: