Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sometimes, real men need to sit down.

John 6

King James Version (KJV)
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
My pastor preached "little is much with God" out of this section today. It was truly a very good message. However, I must confess that, as he read the scriptures, my mind went a slightly different direction. So, let's take a look. 

The first thing that caught my attention was the fact that it was NIGH Passover. In other words, it was very close to Passover. Without going into a great amount of detail, there was a lot of things that had to be prepared for Passover. 

             A) They had to find just the right lamb (unblemished in any way). This lamb had to be killed and prepared for their table in specific ways using specific herbs. 
            B) The unleavened bread had to be prepared (not a fast process, to say the least). There were also dipping sauces made with bitter herbs that had to be made. 
            C) The list goes on. 

Suffice it to say that to prepare for the Passover was not a microwave process. It could take days to prepare for this special and God-ordained day. 

Yet, what were these masses of people doing to prepare for this high Holy day? Following an itinerant preacher they knew little about because they had heard he was a miracle worker. 

Though this is a good place to start (Jesus did say, "Believe me that I am in the father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works sake." Translation, "believe what I say, but if you have trouble with that, at least believe the miracles.") but this should not be our stopping place.

Many follow Jesus for what he can DO for them. Indeed, to some, he's a spiritual candy machine: press the button (pray) and down drops the delicious treat. Again, Jesus says this is a good starting point. It's weak faith, at best. Those who follow him for what he can do, will soon stop following him because they didn't get the desired result when they pressed the prayer button.  

Back to our story. These people were following Jesus, but disobeying the law of God. Let that sink into your craw a minute. Jesus was (and is) God in the flesh, yet, on this day the masses that followed him were breaking the law because they were not preparing for the God ordained Passover meal. 

There were 5000 men (and who knows how many women and children) there who should have been out looking for that perfect lamb to use. The women should have been preparing the unleavened bread and sauces, getting the clothing ready, etc. Husbands and wives should have been using this as an opportunity to teach their young children about what God did on the first Passover, when he set his people free from Egyptian bondage. Yet, here they all were, following Jesus. 

Jesus, as the author of the law himself, had every right to condemn these people. He could have openly and strongly rebuked these folks. But, he didn't. He had a higher purpose in mind than the Passover formalities- though they were important. After all, he would soon fulfill Passover on a rugged cross. He was after their hearts and minds, not just mere legalities. 

Rather than rebuke or destroy them, he had mercy on them. He notices their predicament. These people need fed. So, knowing full well what he is going to do, he asks his disciples: Where we gonna get bread to feed all these folks? 

His disciples are flabbergasted! Are you kidding me Lord? All these people? Why even if we had close to 8 months of wages (a penny is a days wages in scripture. They had a 6 day work week. Do the math and that's about 33 weeks- or nearly 8 months- of wages), we could never feed this many, Lord.

Phillip had pointed out the lack of supplies to get the job done. Andrew then, showing a little more faith, points out that there's a young boy with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. 5 BARLEY loaves, at that. As my pastor pointed out today, Barley was the poor man's wheat and flower. The poor couldn't afford the good stuff. So, not only do they only have 5 loaves, but it's not very good quality stuff. Not much to work with, to be sure. 

Then Jesus decides this is enough for him (God almighty) to work with. He takes this little bit and feeds the multitudes with an abundance left over to boot. This little boy gave truly all he had, and God blessed it to bless thousands! 

But, there's something else he did first. He ordered the men of the multitude to sit down. Right there, in a field and on the side of a mountian. No comfy chairs. No Air conditioning. Just hard ground with a little grass to soften it slightly. These men should have been out providing the Passover meal for their own families. Instead, they are being told to sit down. In other words:

                          "Get out of my (Jesus) way and let me work! I'll have mercy on you and provide for your needs- even though you are disobeying me by being here in the first place." 

We men are told by God to provide for the needs of our families and help others with theirs. We are told, as preachers, to instruct and feed the flock of God diligently. Pray, work, give until it hurts (our all- not just money). 

But, sometimes, in spite of what we are supposed to be doing, God will find us in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing (or not doing) our best to fulfill the burdens placed on us. Like these folks, we get sidetracked and find ourselves drawn away from what we should be doing. Before we know it, we're in a real fix.

Away from home and totally helpless. We try and hunt in vain for the provision we should give our families (physically and spiritually), to no avail. We are at the end of our rope with nowhere else to go. We will die, if there is no divine intervention. 

But Jesus, as he did for these men, calls to us men and tells us to....SIT DOWN. Take a load off. DO NOTHING. Leave it all to me.

If you find yourself in this predicament, take heart. Whatever your need, trust him to fulfill it. He will! He fed the multitudes full of rebellion and he will care for us and our needs, too.

These men could have thrown their hands up in the air and stopped following Jesus altogether. They could have struck out on their own, dragging their families behind them, in a desperate attempt to do what's right. If they had, they'd have been wrong- and they would've died apart from Jesus. 

We are the God ordained provider for our homes, but HE gives us what we need to give our families. Wisdom, food, shelter, godly instruction, it all comes from God to us. Our job is to do what we are supposed to do and follow Jesus. 

When we find ourselves hogtied by our situation though, our job is to pray and sit. Let him handle the struggle. He will come through in his mercy!