Jesus Provides-March 10, 2013
Scripture: Luke 9:12-25
Late in the afternoon Jesus’ disciples believe they have a problem on their hands. They are not in a town or village but in the countryside. The disciples are concerned about the crowd where they will stay or what they will eat. The disciples urge Jesus to send the crowd away. The disciples were more concerned about the physical than the spiritual. I know most of us don’t want church to over but can you imagine telling Jesus to wrap it up and send the people away.
Jesus tells the disciples to “give them something to eat.” In one way He is saying if you concerned about it, do something about it. The disciples wanted the people to take care of themselves. How many today are like the disciples they’re okay if people come to church at the right time, but when it’s over time to go back to our lives and they go back to theirs. But what if they are hungry, lonely, hurting, or in desperate need of God? Do we identify the surface needs and the suggest that the people take care of themselves. This is also an analogy to what God asks all disciples to do. Give them something to eat. At the end of John’s gospel in a story by the Sea of Galilee Jesus confronts, calls, and restores with the charge to Peter , “feed my sheep.” It is about more than food. It is about what gives life, food provides existence but only Jesus can provide life.
They tell Jesus that they have five loaves and two fish-unless we go and buy food for this crowd, they will not be provided for. The concern turns from a perceived lack of provision to the large cost (financial) that it would take to provide for so many. Later they would learn from Jesus the cost to provide bread for life was a far greater cost than financial, it would cost Jesus His very life.
Jesus teaches demonstrate that all provisions from God. He asks the disciples to put them in groups of 50 and have them sit down, and so so they do as Jesus asks. Jesus will demonstrate that the provisions come from God. Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven he gave thanks and broke them. The Lord also in another way has given provision for salvation in His Son Jesus Christ would give His very body as the bread of life to be broken. Jesus gives thanks and then breaks them. Will we give thanks to God for the provision of broken body of His Son for salvation? Jesus is showing what will soon become of Him. The benefit will be for more than the twelve or 5,000 but for the world that all who would receive Him would receive salvation.
He then gives the responsibility to His disciples to distribute that which was broken to those gathered there. They received and were filled. This same responsibility today falls to the disciples to distribute bread for existence but also the bread of life. Both are more than adequate in for that time and for the future. Many who are concerned with missions may be tempted to take a more socialist stance and provide for existence without providing the bread of life. What a tragedy that we would feed their stomachs and not nourish their souls.
Jesus provides for us here in our daily living, but He also provides His body as the Way for our salvation. We need to thank God each day for that grace, and we should desire as His disciples today to be those who will be stewards of the bread that sustains life, and the bread that gives life. Will we be those that look at the world and see those that are lost and be willing to provide for both. Bring people in to our homes, our hearts, our church, and our lives. Helping them to see each day that life does not begin or end with the next bite of food but with the bread that provides for the deep hunger of souls Jesus Christ. To put it another way there are those starving to death with food all around them, and they don’t know how to get it. It is our responsibility to feed the sheep.
The world is starving to death with hurts, pains, low self-worth, struggles, finances, food, family pain, broken lives, broken families, broken moms and dads, and broken children. They are willing like the prodigal son to eat dirt, or pig-slop or anything this world tries to feed it to cover the hurt and pain of life. Choking down this filth is only making them more desperate as their hunger grows. Pascal once said that there is a God shaped hole or void in our lives that can only be filled by God. We were meant to be His, and it pains us to live in separation from Him, whether we know of the separation or not. It is like a person who has been separated from their family. There is always a sense of seeing the complete picture, of connecting even if momentarily. What if that connection could out last this life. That the very God that whispered us into existence and knit us together in our mother’s womb is calling us to Him to be our great provider.
To have a provider one must acknowledge their need for provision. The provision cost Christ His life. Accepting the provision will cost us something. Whether it is the disciples or us we cannot give people what we do not have. We cannot give out of our emptiness. Jesus asks His disciples about His identity, “who do the crowds say I am?” They list the worlds speculations, John the Baptist; other Elijah; and still other, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.” Even today there is a lot of speculation to the identity of Jesus. He was a good man-but not God, a great moral teacher, my buddy or friend, still other choose to ignore Him altogether as a figment of religious imagination.
The next question is quite telling because it is at the heart of our faith and desire to share the gospel. Jesus then asks, “Who do you say I am?” Let that question just sink in for moment. Peter answers, “The Christ of God.” Another gospel records Peter as saying, “you are the Christ the Son of the living God.” When we consider this question if forms the basis of our faith and how we answer all other question and what we see as our mission.
It is also a question that we cannot dodge it will continue to be ever before us. It is also a question that we must answer daily. “Who do you say that I am,” Jesus asks? Who we truly believe Jesus to be will shape everything else, not just what we do in church life. Jesus made no separation there not church life and other life there is life. Jesus tells them that He must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and on the third day be raised in to life. Jesus tells them more directly who He is and what He came to do.
If we do not believe in our hearts the answer to this question we will not see His provision for our lives on earth or eternity. It will be something we are doing just hoping that it will be true and it then becomes an obligation rather a reality. An obligation that when the things get tough we may choose not to do, ignore, or walk away from. If Jesus if who He says and we really believe that He is God and provides for all or our lives and eternity. That becomes reality, and reality changes lives and shapes how live. To believe that Christ is God’s Son and He is fully adequate will change us and we will desire more to tell others about this great reality of our lives. If we do not believe He is adequate we will not share Him if it is not convenient because we do we do not believe that He can really make any difference. We will not share if it compromises our comfort and in so doing we are trusting what we believe we can provide or some control that we have.
Getting this question off the center of our focus produces a watered down gospel with all the right words and doctrine but with none of the power for daily living. We must answer this question daily because Jesus then tells them, “If anyone would come after men, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” People who do not believe that He is the Son of God and provides in this life and in salvation don’t pick up crosses and walk with them daily.
“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” We are saying ourselves for something that is not eternal. In giving up of our lives here we are not loosing them but investing them in the future of God’s Kingdom continuing to be revealed her on this earth in this day and time.
Those who answer the question of who Jesus is in their heart of hearts and believe Him to be the Christ are transformed not just for eternity but now that all would come to know the Kingdom of God. If we do not believe He is who He said He was we wont trust Him in anything including provisions in daily life or eternity. We will just be hoping that salvation is real rather than living out that reality daily and in so doing making every effort and sacrifice to invest in that Kingdom’s greatness and expansion that the world would have hope. That those among us and those around us may know there is hope for the hurts in life, that families can be mended, hearts can love again, life is possible not just because our needs are met and our stomachs are fed, but that our souls are nourished each day by the reality of Christ and His great salvation.
The question then can be asked another way, will we believe to the point that we are willing to surrender all to Christ and trust Him fully. Trusting Him we will have to surrender our right to ourselves and sometimes our comfort that the provision is adequate for us with an abundance in supply that all the world might know that He lives and provides the way.
Will you surrender all today?
Hymn 275-I Surrender All