Tag Archives: Disciples

The People God Uses To Serve His Church


the-people-god-uses-jpg-001Today in our text Philippians 2:19-30, we see the people God uses to serve His church.

The context helps us understand the environment of the people Paul is writing to.  Paul is calling the Philippian Christians to behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27). Philippi was a Roman colony with a population of 10,000. It was considered a ‘Little Rome’ with allegience to the emperor. Philippi adopted Roman dress and spoke Latin. A Roman citizen took great care not to do anything that would bring shame to his ‘polis’ (city).  A citizen was one in good standing whose conduct brings honor to the political body to whom he belongs.

Paul’s point: If citizens of Philippi were so devoted to a human kingdom how much more should believers be devoted to a heavenly kingdom.

To live as worthy citizens is to live a life consistent with the revealed Word of God. To live a live consistent with the truth that Christians profess to believe, preach, teach and defend. The focus is the Gospel!

  • Live up to who you are!
  • Live up to who you represent!
  • Live up to the message your proclaim!

God is at work building His church. The church is the called-out assembly of New Testament believers. In the building of His Church God calls and uses people – people like you and me, and people like Timothy and Epaphroditus who we will meet in our text today.

What kind of people does God use to serve His church?

THEY ARE BROTHERS & SISTERS – Brother (19,25)

They individually have a relationship with God through saving faith. These were genuine Christians – they had come to recognize that they were a sinner, and they needed someone outside of themselves to deliver them from the guilt, and the power, and condemnation of God that sin brings

Let me illustrate this way: There is an organization called the FreeMasons – you may have heard of them? By joining this secret organization and going through the rites, you can move deeper into the brotherhood. Free Masonary calls “God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe. Such syncretistic worship through prayer, coupled with specific teachings of salvation, is completely at odds with biblical Christianity.”

There is only one way that anyone and everyone can have a relationship with God – believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him for forgiveness! Jesus is the only way to God and no-one will come to heaven apart from coming through Him!

Because they share the same Spiritual Father (God) they have a relationship with one another
This was not a relationship based on physical similarities:  Paul was a Jew, former “Pharisee of Pharisees”, an OT scholar deeply trained in the Law of Moses (Torah) and the Talmud – the instruction book written by Hebrew scholars to guide people to not transgress the Torah. He was a bold, courageous pioneer for the gospel. (Acts 23:6, Phil. 3:5) Timothy was half-Jew. His mother had broken the Jewish culture and OT traditions by marrying a Gentile husband. This man was an unbeliever, he held to the pagan traditions of the day. His son Timothy was not circumcised, which to an orthodox OT believing Jew was a sign of being outside the covenant and condemned. His mother embraced genuine faith in Jesus, and eventually Timothy did as well. (Acts 16:1, 2 Ti. 1:4-5) Epaphroditus – only mentioned here in Philippians. His name is a common Greek name of the day. A Gentile believer in the church at Philippi. (25, 4:8)

The basis of this relationship is the fact that they shared the same nature as one another! The same Spirit of God dwelt inside them. The were obedient to the Father. God is their father, and they God’s children by faith in Christ thus they were brothers with one another! (2:3,7-8)

THEY ARE LABORERS – Co-Worker (25)

Gospel work is hard work! Hard, back-breaking labor! Sweat, attention, service, sacrifice! (Eph. 4:12, 2 Ti. 2:16)

Gospel work requires commitment and the willingness to sacrifice. Why would we give a deep level of effort and commitment to our own agenda, job, but fail to give God the same level of commitment?

Gospel work is shared work! It is not intended to be done by one! We are “laborers together with Christ” (4:2-3). Every member a minister – we all have a calling, not just the teaching pastor! Each of us have been granted gifts by God for the purpose of co-laboring, working together to accomplish God’s purposes.

THEY ARE WARRIORS – Fellow soldier (25)

We are engaged in a spiritual war. Our enemies: World, Flesh, Devil. Our warfare is spiritual not physical – “Stand against the wiles of the devil…” (Eph. 6:10-12)

  • We fight this battle together
  • We have each other’s back
  • We hold each other accountable
  • We hold each other up

THEY ARE PEOPLE OF CHARACTER (22)

Character is shaped by our relationship to Christ. Reputation is what you are supposed to be; Character is what you are. Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is what men think you are. Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; Character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.

Our lives must manifest the transforming power of Christ.

“When church leadership fails morally and are restored to leadership in the church, when members lie, steal, cheat, gossip and fight. When members seem to care little about hypocrisy in their midst, the world is repulsed by the claims to love and serve God.” MacArthur

Character is proved in crisis! Your Character was revealed in how you responded to your last crisis. How did you react when:

  • Your computer crashed and you lost the last 30 min of work
  • Your spouse gets defensive when you share what bothers you.
  • You received a letter or email criticizing you
  • When someone cut in front of you in line or the line stretches out the door and the teller is inattentive.

Timothy was a man of tested character and his character was visible and viewable. Will you do what is right even when everyone else is doing wrong?

THEY ARE CARING (20b-21)

They had genuine concern for others, especially the family of God. This is a care that is not hypocritical. To be genuine means to be real! Sometimes we care and we don’t have an opportunity to do anything, but when we do have opportunity we demonstrate loving care!

This care is a result of caring for what God cares about. The opposite is to be self-serving, seeking their own advancement.  “They do not seek the things of Christ” – Compassion, care.

THEY ARE LIKE-MINDED (20a)

Genuine agreement in the faith. This is the plea that Paul makes to the Philippians throughout the letter – be of one mind. (1:27, 2:2-3; Eph. 4:1-6). Our source of agreement is found in the Word of God as we “strive together for the gospel.”

THEY ARE SERVANTS (7,26)

We serve God by serving one another. This is love in action, the humbling of our selves to serve the least, the underserving. The love that we have for Jesus Christ constrains us to this service. Jesus having loved his own He loved them to the end, arising from supper he took the basin and the towel and washed their feet. This was done as an example that we should do as He has done. They honestly consider others better than themselves and seek to serve them.

The result of being this kind of person is you become a source for encouragement and joy to God’s people (28b,29a). The church honors those who serve in this way (29)

Are you this kind of man or woman?  What areas do you need to address this week?

A Model Church For A Modern World


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A Christian is someone who “has been reconciled to God in Christ. A Christian is someone who by virtue of his reconciliation with God, has been reconciled to God’s people.  This is where the great commandment comes in.  A lawyer asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment out of over 600 commands in the Old Testament.   Without hesitation Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind; and the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:34-40)

A church is not a building with a steeple, a church is people.  These are people who have responded to God’s call to be reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus.  A church is a gathering of Christians for the purpose of displaying God’s glory by becoming increasingly like Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:10-11).

“The church is God’s missile of salt and light hurled into the world to proclaim the triumphant message of sins forgiven and lives transformed.” – R. Kent Hughes, Acts

The world craves what God has provided for in the church and offers people a substitute to meet their need.  Each of us crave fellowship and acceptance, so the world offers us the Pub.  We see the mess around us in the world and we long to make a difference so the world offers us the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) to address these social problems.  People crave spiritual connections so the wold offers the Masonic Lodge or Transcendental Meditation or the Horoscope and occult.

In our previous study we saw the first of three truths for our modern world gleaned from the first church at Jerusalem: The Characteristics of a Model Church.

  • The people who make up the church are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (36-41)
  • The people who make up the church are committed to Scripture (42b)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to fellowship (42c)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to being Christ-centered (42d)
  • The people who make up a church are committed to prayer (42e)

In today’s study we want to look at two other truths we glean from this model church in Acts 2:44-47.

THE ATTITUDES OF A MODEL CHURCH (44-47A)

In my younger days I was fascinated with flying and spent a couple years working on attaining a private pilots license.  One of the first things a pilot learns is about how important the attitude of the aircraft is to executing a safe and successful flight.  Attitude simply means the direction you are pointing. In the cockpit there is an instrument called an “attitude indicator” that allows the pilot to see the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the ground.

So what were the attitudes of this model church that allowed them to successfully witness to Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth? (Acts 1:8)

In their relationship with each other they demonstrated LOVE (44-45)

They were unified – They shared the same love, focus and desires with the others in the assembly.

Eph 4.1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

They were selfless – they had all in common, through love they served one another by putting the news of others before their own (Gal. 5:13).

They were giving – Selling personal property to meet genuine needs demonstrated their love toward one another.  We clearly see in verse 46a that they still owned homes 46a, yet they were willing to give up extra in order to meet the needs of those suffering. Day by day demonstrated hospitality to one another. They willing gave to the work of God and the needs of others.

1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

In their relationship with God they demonstrated WORSHIP (46a)

What Is Worship?

“Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call Our Father Which Are in Heaven. “ – A. W. Tozer

“Worship is the believers’ response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, and body – to what God is and says and does… Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.” – W. Weirs

These Christians lived lives of worship. Day by day they met formally in the temple and informally from house to house. Worship for them was not an event that happened once a week for an hour.  They lived in an attitude of worship.

In their relationship with their daily circumstances they demonstrated JOY. (46b-47a)

Remember that it was not a popular thing in that day to be a Christian.  The events of Acts 2 are taking place in Jerusalem just a few short weeks after Pilate and the Chief Priests had crucified Jesus Christ!  To publicly step out and identify with this condemned man was not an easy thing.  Remember that soon after this event a great persecution against Christians broke out across the Empire.  In Roman cities people wishing to do business would be required to have a trading license and to obtain it they must declare Ceasar as their god.  To refuse to do so would mean you were unable to do business and you might arrested and used in the gladiatorial games in the colosseum.

Gladness of heart means to rejoice from a sincere heart.  Sincere here can mean “free from rocks,” in other words there were no stones of selfishness in their heart.

Praising God produces joy. Those who fellowship together to exalt the Lord will have true happiness, while those who seek to glorify themselves  will not have lasting joy (Phil. 2.1-2).

IMPACT OF A MODEL CHURCH (43, 47b)

It was an awe-inspiring church (43)

The fear mentioned here is a holy fear,a reverence that controls you because you know God is near. When Jesus visited the region of Gadara and cast the legion of demons from the possessed man the  people of Gadara feared Jesus and begged him to leave their coasts (Lk. 8.37).

This first church was an awe-inspiring church. They took the church seriously because they recognized God was there! (See Acts 5:13).

The people in Jerusalem were not in awe of their facilities, equipment, sound system, choir or church program, but they were in awe of the supernatural character of the life of this church.

Signs and wonders were designed to draw attention to spiritual truth. (Acts 3.6-9). The ability to perform miracles was not given to all but to the Apostles and their closest associates (Acts. 8.13, Heb 2.3-4). Miracles confirmed Apostles as God’s messengers. Today we determine who speaks for God by comparing their teaching with God’s revelation of Scripture.  To the church in Galatia Paul writes,

Galatians 1.8 … if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel… let him be accursed!

It was an attractive church (47b)

Their duties and their character granted them favor with the people (Gal. 5.22-23).  They were open about their faith so all could see and experience their transformed lives.

Mt 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

They evidenced a Spirit-filled life in their character and personal relationships that was extremely attractive.

It was a growing church (47c)

They were engaged in every-day evangelism. Evangelism flows from the life of a healthy church. People were continually being saved as they observed the daily conduct of these believers.

A Greek Philosopher by the name of Aristides wrote the following report to the King about fifty years or so after the events in the Book of Acts.  It is no wonder that the early church made a powerful impact in their world!

Now the Christians, O King, by going about and seeking have found the truth. For they know and trust in God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who has no fellow. From him they received those commandments which they have engraved on their minds, and which they observe in the hope of the world to come.

For this reason they do not commit adultery or immorality; they do not bear false witness, or embezzle, nor do they covet what is not theirs. They honor father and mother, and do good to those who are their neighbors. Whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols made in the image of man. Whatever they do not wish that others should do to them, they in turn do not do; and they do not eat the food sacrificed to idols.

Those who oppress them they exhort and make them their friends. They do good to their enemies. Their wives, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest. Their men abstain from all unlawful sexual contact and from impurity, in the hope of recompense that is to come in another world.

As for their bondmen and bondwomen, and their children, if there are any, they persuade them to become Christians; and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction.
They refuse to worship strange gods; and they go their way in all humility and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them. They love one another; the widow’s needs are not ignored, and they rescue the orphaned from the person who does him violence. He who has give to him who has not, ungrudgingly and without boasting. When the Christians find a stranger, they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as a true brother. They do not call brothers those who are bound by blood ties alone, but those who are brethren after the Spirit and in God.

When one of their poor passes away from the world, each provides for his burial according to his ability. If they hear of any of their number who are imprisoned or oppressed for the name of the Messiah, they all provide for his needs, and if it is possible to redeem him, they set him free.
If they find poverty in their midst, and they do not have spare food, they fast two or three days in order that the needy might be supplied with the necessities. They observe scrupulously the commandments of their Messiah, living honestly and soberly as the Lord their God ordered them. Every morning and every hour they praise and thank God for his goodness to them; and for their food and drink they offer thanksgiving.

Such, O King, is the commandment given to the Christians, and such is their conduct.

(Apology of Aristides, Translated by Rendel Harris, 1893)

Are you a Christian? Does Christ live in you?  If Christ lives in you then you are part of the church! He is producing the fruit of His character in you.

If you have been convinced by the Holy Spirit that you need to become a Christian, you can become one right now!  Like these people in Jerusalem you may be saying, “what shall we do?” (37b)

Repent of your sin, and receive Jesus Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior! (38,36)  A person is not saved by praying a prayer, but often the decision to receive Christ is expressed in prayer.  Cry out to Jesus right now, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!”

Download pdf of A Model Church for a Modern World

Mud & Miracles


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I hate Zesco – power cuts. It is evening, the sun has set and you have plans for the evening. Suddenly you hear that dreaded sound: “thunk!” Everything goes dark.  What is your immediate response?  You run for the light – a candle, a torch, or switch on an inverter.  Around our house when Zesco cuts our smaller children are in some other room of the house yelling that they can’t see anything – they have been trapped by the darkness.

There is comfort from just the smallest light! Light is something that we often take for granted – until we lose it.

The setting for our text is the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins the 15th day of the 7th month and lasts for seven days (Lev 23:34). During the feast four large torches where lit in the temple area.  The holy men and elders of Israel danced the night away in the light of the flames. The end of the Feast is drawing near.  It is Sabbath.  Just before those caring for the temple extinguish the torches, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (8:12).

What a dramatic visualization of the difference between light and darkness! Jesus walks through those who were picking up stones in order to stone him for his claim to be God (8:58).  He walks out of the Temple – the light is gone!

In chapter 9 the them of light continues… Jesus passes by and departs Temple Mount. The light goes out into the world those who are in darkness can see.  As Jesus goes out he meets a man who is blind – one who has never seen light.

Jesus stops when he sees the blind man.  He approaches him and ultimately brings him into the light physically by restoring his sight and more importantly into the light spiritually!

How often we hold to our traditions and upbringing instead of embracing the truth that is staring us in the face.  Everyone of us is either like the blind man who receives light or we are like the Pharisees who claimed to have light and continued to live in darkness.

THEIR WRONG ASSUMPTION (1-12)

The disciples assumed that this man’s blindness was a direct punishment for sin (1-2).

Every one of us live by presuppositions and assumptions. These assumptions are based upon our background, life experiences and what we have learned (been taught). The cultural understanding of the disciples was that someone sinned for this man to be born blind. His blindness was just punishment for that sin. It had to be that either the man had sinned while still in the womb, or his parents had sinned thus bringing about his condition.

Because of blindness this man was a beggar, a social outcast.

It was thought that he deserved to suffer for this past sin.

This is the basic idea of some Eastern religions today. There is a lack compassion for the underprivileged (low-caste) because the person suffering is only getting what they deserve in payment from a past life and previous wrong decisions.  If someone dies and has been bad they are reincarnated as a lower caste or if they are really bad they come back as part of the animal kingdom.

Even among Christian people this same idea can be found.  I remember after my motorcycle accident in 1983 being in the hospital with a hundred stitches in my face.  A well-meaning Christian leader in my church came to the hospital to visit.  He asked if there was some sin in my life that was the root cause of my accident.

He was a family embarrassment and burden

If it was because of sin that he was born blind then every time this family was seen in public with him, the question was always being asked, “Who sinned, was it him or his parents?”

The Lord destroys this assumption (3-12)

Jesus corrected their wrong thinking (3).

Some view God as an all-powerful vindictive God who cannot give us too much good, so he zaps us rather frequently to be sure that we keep our place. It is true that all pain, suffering and death is a result of the fall and in that sense it is a result of sin, but affliction is not punishment for a particular sin.

Why is there pain and suffering?

Principle of sowing/reaping: You may be reaping the fruit of what you have sown, but this is not God’s punishment.  For instance a former alcoholic may be suffering with a destroyed liver, this is not a punishment for his sin, it is reaping the effects of sinful choices. Suffering may also be because of the wrong decisions of others.  If a mother is a drug addict, her baby is born with drug dependency and withdrawals.

Punishment is future – God will either mete your eternal punishment upon His Son for your sake or if you refuse that offer, he will lay just punishment upon you.

God overruled the disaster of the child’s blindness so that as a adult he could see the glory of God in the face of Jesus and so that others might see and turn to Christ.  If we exist for the pleasure of God for the glory of God then it follows that whatever situation we find ourselves in ultimately is so that God will be exalted among men & angels & devils.

Jesus clarifies his purpose for coming into the world (4-5).

Jesus came to into the world to bring light.  It is for this reason that He must do the works of God while He has the opportunity.

Jesus compassionately gives the blind man his sight (6-12)

This was compassion because he was helpless to help himself. He had never seen the red and gold and orange hues of an African sunset. He had never seen what his mother looked like, he had felt her kisses and her tears, he had felt the lines of her face, but he had never seen her! He had never been able to move about freely – always had to be led by others or poke his way carefully with a cane.

Jesus used a most interesting means to bring light to this blind man: Spit, mud, and a command to “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”  Jesus chose to heal this man at a distance to not draw more attention to Himself.  He would also use this event to confront the Jews with a situation they could not deny.

This was compassion because as he washed the mud out of his eyes the light poured in! He saw green trees and brown skin and blue water – and he was filled with joy! Light and joy flooded over him at the same time! He rushed home to tell everyone and show them what had happened. Imagine the excitement he felt!

When you have experienced pain or suffering there is often greater joy!

Helen Keller was orn June 27, 1880. When she was 19 months old she became ill and lost her sight and hearing.  Ann Sullivan a 20 year old teacher was assigned to help Helen.  She taught Keller to read and write and became a mentor and friend. Keller went on to write 12 books and became an advocate for the handicapped.  Helen Keller wrote this of her situation,

“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who set my spirit free.”

That is what Jesus did for this blind man!

THE CONTROVERSY (13-34)

Blinded by their traditions (13-24)

The Pharisees were blinded by their own self-righteous system!  Making clay on the Sabbath day was sin because it was considered work.  Washing your eyes to remove the mud was also considered work.  This man could not be from God if he both worked and told someone else to work, thus breaking the Sabbath rules set by the Rabbi. (13-17)

They would not believe this man was born blind, so they called his parents. Knowing that they refused to believe that Jesus was Messiah and would take action against anyone making the claim the parents kept their distance from their son (22). The Pharisees demonstrated the classic case of: “my mind’s made up don’t confuse me with the facts.”(18-23)

Again they interrogate the man! “Give glory to God” = admit that you are lying that Jesus healed you (24).  Instead of taking the easy way out, the former blind man brilliantly articulated the obvious, “I was blind, now I see!”

Blinded to the obvious (25-34)

The Pharisees rejected the man’s testimony (25-29). His changed life and seeing eyes were irrefutable argumentation that Jesus is God. Blind eyes seeing was a loud and clear testimony to the Pharisees that Christ is the “I AM” that he claimed to be (8:58).

They rejected his logic – they didn’t require more evidence – neither do you! They only needed to accept what was very clear. (30-34)

They rejected him – the outcast seeing blind man was cast out of the temple that he had never been allowed to enter because of his infirmity. (34)

THE RESPONSE (35-41)

Some will receive the light – spiritual light (35-38)

He responded in faith! He accepted Jesus as His Messiah! (35-37)

True faith results in worship (38) The blind man had light come to his eyes and now broke on his heart. Belief and worship go together. Worship is acts of reverence, praise, adoration and reverence for God. Literally it means: to serve.

Jesus accepted his worship! This would be a direct violation of the 10 commandments. And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Lk.4:8

If Jesus is not God He is either a lunatic for actually believing He was God or the biggest hypocritical liar and fraud ever hoisted upon humanity, or He is actually who He claimed to be the Son of God!

Others will reject the light – spiritual blindness (39-41)

  • They will be judged because they refused the light.
  • They refuse to admit their need.
  • They are in denial, I don’t have a problem, I’m a good person. It will all work out…The issue is seeing your need.
  • They reject spiritual sight (41a).  Some people claim to already “see truth” and reject the light that God is providing. These Jews were religious, they had the OT law and prophets and though there they were seeing things clearly while rejecting the true light sent from God.
  • They are sealing their doom (41b). To remain in your sin is a terrible decision!

There are lessons in this story for each of us:

We all need the miracle that the blind man in chapter 9 received!

  • We, like this man, were all born spiritual blind.
  • Jesus takes the initiative to come to us and to heal us of that blindness.
  • His work is one of Creation, not reformation. Blind eyes don’t need designer sunglasses, they need to be recreated so that they can see!
  • He calls us to be obedient to His commands.

Have you seen the light?

Recognize your need and you will come to the light and be changed by it! Your life changes, your path is clear, your future is bright, your end is certain.  Believe and receive Him!

—————-

Download pdf version of Mud & Miracles

Whose Sons & Daughters Are You?


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The Setting (37)

Jesus’ public ministry was marked by increasing levels of conflict and opposition from the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees.

It was ultimately this conflict which God used to bring to pass his plan eternal plan for Christ—that he would suffer a violent death as the penalty for sin and become the substitute to anyone who comes to him in faith.

The Point of Conflict (38)

“I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (John 8:38)

Jesus is drawing a connection between his actions and his father and between the actions of the Jews and their father.

What does Jesus mean by this?

In Jesus’ time and culture, it was common describe a characteristic of a person by referring to them as the “son of…” someone or something.  Some examples: Judas (the disciple who will later betray Jesus, his master) is called the “son of destruction” (John 17:12).  Joseph (a Christian in the early church) is was nicknamed Barnabas “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).

By using this same idea, Jesus is challenging the stubborn unbelief of the Jews who were refusing to joyfully accept him as their Messiah.

The Spiritual Blindness of the Jews

They were foolishly trusting that their very ancestry made them right before God. “They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” (John 8:39a)

Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation. More importantly, God had made a special covenant to Abraham (symbolized by circumcision), that his descendants would become a great nation and would inherit the land of Israel.

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1–3; see also 15:1–20)

However, God had made this promise to Abraham when he and his wife, Sarah, were childless and beyond child-bearing years. Yet God miraculously allowed Sarah to conceive and bear Isaac, the child of promise. God later tested Abraham’s faith in him again by asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the child of promise. Yet God intervened when it was clear Abraham was going to obey God. As a result of all of this, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation was a hero and was held up as an example of belief in God and faith in his promises.

The Jews in our passage are thinking of all of this and are confident that they have a high standing before God because of their connection to Abraham and their membership in God’s covenant.

Jesus exposes the problem in their heart. He tells them that if they were really children of Abraham, they would be marked by the same faith and belief in God. “Jesus said to them,

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.” (John 8:39–40).

Why is their negative response to Jesus so significant? Because Jesus clearly demonstrated to them that he was the promised Messiah—the one who would come from Abraham’s descendants and be a blessing to all the families of the earth. John the Baptist had earlier warned Israel of the same error:

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” (Matthew 3:8–9).

“Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

“So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Galatians 3:7–9)

He warns that the God is not their heavenly Father since they are rejecting him whom he sent.

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (John 8:42–43)

He shows them that the Devil (Satan) is their real spiritual father because they are doing exactly the same things that Satan does.

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:43–44)

The Jews’ Wrong Perspective of Jesus

They instead imply that Jesus himself was an illegitimate child (8:41) and the accuse him of being possessed by a demon (48).

They refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Jesus makes a number of unmistakable claims to possess the same nature and power as God:

That God the Father is seeking to glorify him “I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.” (John 8:50) “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’” (John 8:54)

That he has the power to give eternal life “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51)

That he is the fulfillment of Abraham’s messianic hopes “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)

That he is eternally self-existent, even from before the time of Abraham (who had been dead for two millennia). “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) The Jews fully understand what he is claiming and unsuccessfully try to stone him (John 8:59).

Our own response to Jesus

Consider your own actions; they testify as to who your spiritual father is.

Turn to God who is able to give you a spiritual new birth by the gospel through the same kind of faith which Abraham had in the promises of God.

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Download the .pdf of Whose Son or Daughter Are You?

The Compassionate Forgiver


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In our text John 8:1-12 we read of a woman caught in an adulterous relationship who is dragged to Christ.  Through this story we see Christ revealed as the Compassionate Forgiver!

We all need to  receive that forgiveness that only He can offer.

In these verses we will discover five attitudes that unlock for us God’s response to man’s sin, and man’s response to Christ!

The attitude of Christ toward the people teaches us that Christ will gladly teach those who desire to learn. (1)

Christ got up early in the morning to go to the temple to teach people who wanted to learn.   All those who want to learn the truth will be instructed by Christ.  If you come to Him with an open heart, Christ will instruct you too!

The attitude of the people to Christ teaches us that Believers show a genuine hunger for more truth despite the world’s opinions. (2)

The people who wanted to learn came to HIm. If we would learn, we must do the same. Blessings await those who desire God.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

We can illustrate the truth this way: You may say that you trust a chair will hold you up, but that faith is not real until you act upon it by actually sitting in the chair. Trust is to put your entire weight upon it!

Matthew 11:28–30  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

To come and sit at the feet of Christ and willingly obey means you have made a choice to trust Him.

Here is an illustration that helps us understand what we are talking about:  In India, when a wild elephant needs to be trained, it is yoked to a bigger trained elephant. The wild elephant learns what is expected because of the yoke. When we enter the yoke with Christ, He will teach us. Our part is to enter the yoke and follow His lead.  He will take the load we are pulling.

The Attitude of the Jews toward Christ teaches us that unbelievers attack the truth when they choose not to trust it. (3-6)

The Pharisees set out to entrap this woman, so that they could trap Jesus.  Their question was a set-up! While Jesus is spending the night on the Mount of Olives praying, the Pharisees are “peeping through keyholes” trying to find someone they could use to trap Jesus!  These religious leaders are not the kind of people you want to rely upon for compassionate forgiveness!

The OT Law demanded stoning as the punishment for an engaged person who is unfaithful with another person before marriage.  The punishment is same for both the man and the woman, but where here the Pharisees do not bring the offending man, only the woman. This punishment wis wha Joseph wanted to avoid when he determined to put Mary away privately (when she was carrying Christ (Matt. 1:19).

It is clear that these religious leaders did not desire justice, they only wanted to see Christ discredited. If Christ refused to affirm the law of Moses, He would be discredited. If He upheld the Law, he would be in direct violation of the law of ruling Roman government (Jn. 18:31).

Under Rabbinic law it was nearly impossible to secure a death penalty in a case of adultery. There had to be witnesses — two or three of them — and these witnesses had to observe, not merely a compromising situation but the very act of adultery. Moreover, in their testimony they had all must agree about every particular.

The reaction these Pharisees had toward Christ is also seen today in the way people reject Christ by reacting against His image in believers.

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

The attitude of Christ toward the Pharisees teaches us that Christ focuses on the heart. (6-9)

According to the OT Law, the witnesses must cast the first stone (Deut. 17:2-7). This response of Christ forced these men to consider their own hearts!  Sinful actions are wrong, but all sins of action come from a heart dominated by sin. That is Christ’s focus here! The accusers were no more righteous than the woman they were accussing.  This did not make her sin less sinful, but it did convict them that they too were guilty!

Matthew 15:18–20 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.

The Attitude of Christ toward the Woman teaches us that Christ offers compassionate forgiveness to those who acknowledge their failure. (10-11)

A man was walking on the road in the dark and a passing car splashed water all over him. When he reached the streetlight he was able to see what a mess he was and knew he could not continue on. He chose instead to go home and change clothes. Next week we will see Christ as the Light of the World. He is the “streetlight”! His light reveals the conditionhearts. Our problem is that we don’t have any other “clothes,” no good nature of our own at “home.”

The woman knew she did not have a solution! The Pharisees on the other hand thought they did. She stayed to get help. They left relying on their own righteousness. She received help, they remained lost in sin.  Which one are you?

“Jesus’ attitude provided both the motivation and the assurance she needed.”

The Attitude of the Woman to Christ teaches us that respectful obedience must characterize our response to Christ’s compassionate forgiveness. (11)

She called Christ “Lord,” the relationship of slave to Master. What He told her to do, she did. “The Son of God refused to press the issue. Her sin was not just set aside; soon Jesus would pay the penalty for both the woman and her accusers.”

“Forgiveness rests upon the Lord’s grace. Salvation does not come from suffering; it comes from grace — from the suffering and death of Jesus on our behalf.”

This same Jesus offers forgiveness today to whose sins equal that of the woman or that of the Pharisees. And not only forgiveness for initial salvation but also for daily sins of anger, disobedience, envy, greed, and the judgmental character shown by the Pharisees which gave birth to this episode.

Click the link for a pdf download of Compassionate Forgiver

Sources:

Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (p. 608). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts (Vol. 9, p. 91). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, p. 160). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Navigating The Storms of Life


Navigating the Storms of Life.pdf.001 John 6:15-21, (Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-56)

Storms are beautiful and powerful things – when you are watching safely from a distance. It is quite another thing when we find ourselves caught in the middle of one!

As boy I grew up in an area of the United States known as “Tornado Alley.”  More than once I watched a funnel drop out of a distant cloud and begin to destroy everything in its path. When rain storms come here in Zambia everyone runs for shelter. To get caught out in the open during a Zambian thunderstorm means there is a good chance you will get struck by lightening.

Everyone of us will at some point find ourselves going through storms in life. Someone has said, “You are either just entering a storm, in the storm, or have just come out of a storm,” and we know that to be the case!

Storms crash into our lives in various ways: It may be the unexpected death of a loved one or sickness or the loss of a job or a broken relationship with a member of your family – husband/wife/child.

In Scripture we are introduced to people who faced days of deep trial. There is a book in the Old Testament that bears the name of a man who knew something about storms that unexpectedly to our life. His name is Job. In a day Job lost his wealth, his children were all killed, and shortly after he lost his health. His wife suggested that he should forget his faith, curse God and die. His friends showed up to tell him that the storm he was facing had to be a result of his sin!

Jesus just fed 5000 people with a little boy’s lunch. The disciples had been part of this miracle by distributing the food as it was miraculously multiplied! Wow, what a thrilling thing to participate in!

For the disciples feeding of the 5000 was a lesson for them: God is in control of His creation and provides for his creatures. Now the as they headed across the Sea of Galilee they ran into a life-threatening storm: The storm was the exam after the lesson.

Often we are like the disciples! We hear about Jesus and we give mental assent to His claims to be God. We acknowledge that Jesus’ works prove beyond doubt that He is Who He claims to be – the Son of God – yet we do not apply these realities personally!

Regardless of where you are today – heading into a storm, in as storm or just coming out of a storm, here are five truths that will help you navigate through the storms of life.

JESUS SENT THEM OUT INTO THE STORM (15-16, Mt. 14:22)

Jesus knew the storm was coming

The people were planning to come and by force make Jesus King (15). Knowing how great a temptation this would be for His disciples He sent them away across the Sea of Galilee by boat, while He dismissed the multitudes. (Mt. 14:22) Jesus knows knows all things, He knew what the people were planning, and He knew the storm was coming (15)! He had just demonstrated his power as God over Creation by feeding 5000! We cannot doubt that He knew of the coming storm and was completely in control as He sent the disciples into the Sea.

Jesus sent them into the storm!

In obedience the disciples climbed into the boat and headed out onto the Sea of Galilee. Before long they were in the middle of a frightening, life-threatening storm. It is important to recognize that the disciples were in this storm because they were IN the will of God. They were in this situation because they obeyed Christ!

There are two types of storms mentioned in Scripture:

  • Storms of Correction – God disciplines us because of disobedience. Jonah is an example of this. God told Jonah to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. Jonah hated the Assyrians, and instead of obeying God, Jonah purchased a ticket to Tarsus – the exact opposite direction (Jonah 1:1-4). Before long Jonah found himself in a storm that ended when the sailors threw Jonah overboard! After three days in the belly of a great fish, Jonah decided to obey God and preach to Nineveh!
  • Storms of Perfection – There are other storms though… storms that God brings to strengthen our faith and produce spiritual growth in our lives. This is the kind of storms the disciples find themselves in.

Though the disciples were fearful for their life, they were safer IN the storm, IN the will of God, than on shore with the crowd, out of the will of God. Safer in the storm.jpg.001 The disciples looked at their circumstances and felt overwhelmed and afraid! Never judge your security on the basis of our circumstances alone! When you find yourself in a storm because you have obeyed the Lord, remember that He brought you there and He will care for you in the storm!

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

JESUS WAS WATCHING THEM AND PRAYING FOR THEM WHILE THEY WERE IN THE STORM. (15b, Mt. 14:23; Mk. 6:48)

Jesus was watching over them!

Mark 6:48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.

Jesus sees and feels the weight of our burdens and knows what you are going through right now!

Hebrews 4:14-16. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus knows our fears, He sees our needs. When the Hebrews had been in cruel bondage in Egypt for over 400 years, God came to Moses and assured him, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.” (Ex. 3:7)

No matter what storm you are in today, Jesus is involved! He knows, He cares and He is in control of the situation.

Jesus was praying for them!

Matthew 14:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.

Not only was Jesus watching over them every moment they were battling through this storm, but He was also praying for them! The same is true for you in your storm! Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and He is continually beseeching the Father on your behalf!

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25.

JESUS CAME TO THEM IN THE STORM (19)

Jesus came to them at the point when all human hope was gone!

It was the fourth watch of the night – this was somewhere between 3 am and sunrise. This was the time of night when it is the darkest! The disciples were facing the darkest hour, and Jesus came!

Matthew 14:25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.

By this time the disciples had been on the Sea for up to 9 hours. They were completely exhausted! As they strained to row, the wind was against them, blowing them back, again and again.

Matthew 14:24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

They had expended all their efforts, but they were getting nowhere!

Mk. 6:48 – “ straining at rowing”

Jesus came to them in the midst of their storm.

Have you ever just wished that the storm would end? You cry out in weariness but it just seems the storm will go on and on? God’s timing is perfect, He knows what is best and what best will meet our need and fulfill His purposes!

I have often wondered why Jesus walked on the water! Certainly He could have just snapped his fingers and appeared in the boat with them. But instead Jesus walked 3-4 miles on the raging water to get to them. I think Jesus came walking on the water in order to show them that the very thing that they feared was simply a path for Him to come to them.

No matter how dark it becomes, no matter how exhausted your feel, remember this: you will never find yourself in a place where Christ cannot find find you and will not come to you! Someone has well said: “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not sustain you.” Will of God.jpg.001

They were so focused on their problem that they did not recognize Jesus when He came.

They were not looking for Him, but they should have been! The disciples could only see their circumstances: the raging waves, the howling wind, the water swamping the boat. They were not waiting for Him by faith. They had forgotten that He had sent them “to the other side” (Mt. 14:22). So when Jesus came to them, they did not recognize Him!

“Fear and faith cannot live in the same heart, for fear always blinds the eyes to the presence of the Lord.”

JESUS HAD A PURPOSE FOR THE STORM – THEIR GROWTH (28-31)

He wanted them to recognize what they had been seeing and knew about Him and apply it to their own lives!

He was testing their faith

When Jesus identified Himself, Peter cried out, “if it is really you, command me to come to you on the water!” Jesus said, “Come!” Peter’s request was a demonstration of his affection for Jesus resting on his confident faith in Him. (Mt. 14:28)

Peter took a step of faith when he responded to Christ’s command, and stepped out of the boat (Mt. 14:29)! I can almost hear the other disciples! Peter stop! I mean we all believe in Jesus, but don’t go overboard with this thing! Be reasonable man! You can’t walk on water, no one can. Peter responded in faith and stepped out of the boat – and walked to Jesus! The majority of disciples however clung to the boat!

You see they are like so many of us! The boat meant security for them! BUT JESUS WAS NOT IN THE BOAT!! Many times we are like the eleven, clinging to the boat of:

  • human reasoning – we trust in our own logic and human wisdom.
  • human effort – we think if we just try harder.
  • human comfort – we chose what appears to be the safer and more comfortable route.
  • human achievement – perhaps you are trusting in some religious activity that you faithfully carry out, you feel safe in your achievements for God.
  • human ingenuity – you think you are more clever than most, that somehow at some point you will figure this thing out and all will be well.

Whatever you are trusting in today – apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, this account is challenging us to take the step of obedient faith – get out of the boat! Peter walked with Jesus on top of his circumstances – by faith! (Mt. 14:29).  You are better off out in the storm with Jesus, than “safe” in the boat without Him!

“Faith is not believing in spite of evidence, but believing in spite of consequences!”

  • I Jn. 5:4 – Victory that overcomes – our faith
  • II Co. 5:7 – We walk by faith not by sight
  • Heb 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
  • Eph 1:22, 2:6 – In Christ, God has put all thing under our feet! We live above the circumstances!

Peter took his eyes off the Lord and began to look at his circumstances – the water, the driving rain the howling wind, the waves – and he began to sink (Mt. 14:30,31). Without hesitation Peter cried out to Jesus – his prayer was short and to the point, “Lord save me!” His prayer was immediately answered! Jesus reached down and pulled him up out of the waves and together they walked to the boat to join the other disciples.

Peter’s prayer is one that God always hears and answers! Perhaps today you realize that you are in the dark waters of sin, that your own human efforts have only pushed you further into the problem! All hope of you saving yourself is gone! Cry out like Peter, “Lord, save me!” God always answers that desperate plea! (Mt. 14:31)

He was revealing Himself as the object of their faith. (Mt. 14:33)

The result of Jesus coming into the boat and calming the storm was that the disciples fell down and worshipped Him.

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.

JESUS BROUGHT THEM THROUGH THE STORM (Jn. 6:21, Mt. 14: 32-33)

Matthew 14:32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

When Jesus entered into the boat the storm ceased! There was peace and a strange calm when Jesus entered the boat. The peace that each of us need today begins with being justified by faith! To be justified by faith means that God declares righteous all those who believe in Jesus.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We can have peace even in the midst of the storm because we know God and we understand His purposes for the storm in our life.

Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

As we pass through the storm the Spirit of God pours out the love of God into our hearts & He pours it out abundantly!

Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Peace.001 When Jesus entered the boat they were immediately at their destination (Jn. 6:21). When Jesus came in, they arrived with no further effort of their own. Their own efforts had merely got them further and further into the storm. Where they were powerless He was powerful.

Listen to the testimony of news anchor Dave Benton as he shares the storm of brain cancer that he is facing!  He gladly confesses the trust that He has in Jesus and the peace that he is experiencing in the midst of his storm!

So what do we take away from our study today?

Do you find yourself in a storm this morning? Have you abandoned all hope of being rescued? Have you taken your eyes off Christ and put them on your circumstances? Are you desperately trying to get through your storm by some effort of your own? LOOK TO JESUS IN FAITH! Remember:

  • Jesus sent you out into this storm.
  • Jesus is watching over you and praying for you in this storm.
  • Jesus will come to you in the storm.
  • Jesus wants you to grow as a result of this storm.
  • Jesus will bring you safely through this storm.

Christian Is there some area of your life where you are refusing to take a step of obedient faith? Have you heard His command, yet refuse to get out of the boat? Obey Him today!

Friend, are you are drowning in the dark waters of sin? Will you, like Peter cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Save Me”? If you will call to Him He will reach down and lift you up, cleanse you of your sin and carry you safely through this life and into heaven.

For more information, or counseling for the storm you are passing through email us or in Kitwe ring 0976153466.

Download this study as a pdf here: Navigating the Storms of Life

Christ’s Ministry to the Multitudes


Feeding 5000.jpg.001

We live in a world of people with overwhelming needs. A world filled with people searching for something that helps make sense of it all. How do we respond to those needs around us?

Jesus interacted with all kinds of needy people during His earthly ministry. He could have used His miraculous power to levitate a boat or some other amazing display that would wow the crowds. Instead Jesus performed miracles that demonstrated His compassion for people in need. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He turned water to wine in order to save a wedding host from embarrassment, and in our text today He created food to feed a hungry multitude.

It is of significance that Christ feeding the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Mt. 14, Mk 6, Lk 9, Jn 6).

To keep us focused on why John includes this event in the Book of John, remember his purpose for writing this Gospel: That you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you might have life through Him. (20:31). In Jn 14:11, Jesus said to His disciples, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”

Jesus had received news of John the Baptist’s execution (Mt. 14:12). Jesus and the disciples had been so busy in ministry that they did not even have time to eat, so Jesus wanted His disciples to get away and rest (Mk. 6:31).

Feeding 5000.001

They got into a small sailing vessel to travel up the Sea of Galilee (1). The crowds who had been following Him, seeing His miracles and receiving healing followed him, running along the roads that bordered the Sea (2).

So what can we learn from Jesus’ ministry to the multitudes?

JESUS WAS MOTIVATED BY COMPASSION (2-7)

The genuine cause for concern

Jesus looked up and saw the people coming toward Him, and He saw past the inconvenience of ruined holiday plans – He saw their need (5).

1. They were lost, like sheep without a shepherd (Mk. 6:34). Like sheep who didn’t know where to go wandering aimlessly with no direction in life.

Mark 6:32 – And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.

2. They were sick. Jesus in compassion healed the sick among them and reminds us that spiritually all men are sick in “trespasses and sin”. That spiritual sickness was why Jesus came in the first place.

Matthew 14:14 – And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

Isaiah 53:5 – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

3. They were ignorant of truth. So many people today are without truth. They are lost and wandering, grasping for answers to the stresses and complexities of life.

Mk 6:34 -“He began to teach them many things.”

Jesus was moved with compassion for these people (Mk. 6:32). Compassion is a visceral inner response that comes from “the seat of emotion” and moves us to intervene, to show care and concern. Compassion is “Your hurt in my heart.”

The circumstance they were in were serious.

1. It was a deserted place. This world is like that. It is an empty, unable to offer real satisfaction. Apart from Christ there is no satisfaction.

Mark 6:32 – So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

2. They lacked their basic needs. They had nothing, they were not able to meet their own need.

Mark 6:35 – Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”

Because they had nothing the disciples reasoned that the crowd needed to go somewhere else to find satisfaction for their need. There is no indication that they once though about Christ or His ability to meet the need!

People today are seeking to meet their own deep need through all kinds of means alcohol, sex, drugs, money, education, fame, power – the list can go on.

3. The hour was late (Mk. 6:35) – The disciples concluded that the longer the people continued with Jesus the more hopeless their situation was becoming.

The human solution to the problem was no solution at all.

1. Get rid of the problem (Mk. 6:35-36)

2. Raise enough money to buy food (Jn. 6:9)

Their solutions were ones of unbelief (6:7). Philip spoke of providing “little” in the presence of the infinite power of God. He was occupied with the circumstances, the size of the crowd, the lack of resources, and the lateness of the hour. The situation is impossible! 

But Christ had the situation already under control – “He already know what he would do.” (6)

There is an important lesson for us here: The trying circumstance you may be facing right now are not chance or accident but arranged by the hand of a loving God. It is through these circumstances that God will show you His greatness and His glory. He already has the problem solved.

Getting God’s perspective is everything! How often we look through our circumstances at God. He seems so small and distant! The disciples are about to learn that when you look at your circumstances through Christ, the impossibilities suddenly look very small.

JESUS REQUIRES WILLING SURRENDER (8-9)

The lad gave what he had (9)

The quiet hero in this story is the little nameless boy who gladly offered Jesus what He had (Mk. 6:38). Barley loaves was the food of the very poor! This little guy didn’t have much, but what he had he was happy to give to Jesus.

The lad gave all he had

Jesus accepted the loaves and fish (11). Our gifts may be small, our talents may be few, but in His hands they will be made sufficient to accomplish His purposes. Even 200 days wages worth of man’s wisdom and effort was insufficient without Him (7)!
God enjoys uses “little things.” He used David’s little sling to defeat the giant Goliath. God used the little tear of a baby to move the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and prepare a leader for His people. God used Moses’ rod to work great miracles to deliver His people. God used jar of oil to supply a widow’s needs. The list could go on… Here is the point! God uses those the world considers foolish and weak and insignificant to fulfill His purposes:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 

The lad gave willingly

He was willing to give what he had and trust Jesus! This quiet, simple, willing act is a great encouragement and challenge to us! Most of us have so much more to give compared to this young boy. What are we doing with our time, our talents our resources? Are we willingly and gladly and freely giving them up to Jesus?

Feeding 5000.002

THROUGH JESUS THE NEED IS ABUNDANTLY MET (10-14)

The command (10)

The command to sit down didn’t make sense to the disciples. What was the use of having a hungry multitude sit down when there was nothing to feed them with?

  • Why must Adam & Eve not eat the fruit? Because God commanded them not to!
  • Why should Noah build a boat on dry land? Because God told him to!
  • Why should a Christian be baptized? Because God commands it!
  • Why should Christians be faithful to church? Because God says!
  • Why should husbands love wives? Because we are disobedient to God if we refuse!

The carrying out of God’s purposes toward us are linked to our obedience to His commands.

As the disciples responded in obedience their faith was enlightened and every want of the multitude was supplied!

The provision (11-12)

Christ’s provision was suitable – all could eat (11b). It was satisfying, they “were filled” (12a) and it was sufficient – “as much as they would (11c).

If they went away hungry it was not Christ’s fault (13). There were twelve baskets of food left over.

In the atonement of Jesus the Son of God there is overwhelming provision for all. If you are not saved it is not because there is not enough for you! Believe and receive Jesus today!

And this is exactly where John is going in chapter 6! What began with a creation miracle of bread turns into a discussion where Jesus offers the multitudes Himself as spiritual bread.

The distributors (11)

In his book “On Being A Servant of God” Warren Wiersbe reminds us that the disciples were distributors not manufacturers. Christ created the food, the disciples were responsible to give out the food and Jesus received all the glory.

These disciples were from different backgrounds, had very different personalities but the hungry multitude was fed by each one of them. It pleases Christ to use human instruments to accomplish His tasks! We are laborers together with God (1 Cor. 3:9).

So what can we take away from this passage?  

In this miracle we see the compassion of Christ, using the willing surrender of the boy to meet the need of the multitude!

This miracle teaches us at least four important lessons:

  • To have compassion
  • To look on problems as opportunities for God to work
  • To give all we have
  • To trust Him to meet the need

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life for a perishing world! He must be passed on by His disciples. The multitudes who are in sin do not need to leave hungry! In Christ there is sufficient for all!

Download the pdf version of Christ’s Ministry To The Multitudes.