Greg Laurie - Lunch with Jesus
How many of you like to eat? Raise your hand. Ah, nice, you're my people. You're a very gluttonous bunch I might add. How many of you don't really care much about food at all? It's food who cares about food? Nobody is raising their hand. All right, so, hey, I love to eat and you can set a clock by my stomach. I don't have to look at my watch and say, "Is it almost lunchtime"? My stomach tells me. About an hour out, 10 o'clock. I eat at 11 by the way, I'm an early eater. I eat dinner at 5 p.m. I eat breakfast early, early, my stomach says, "It's coming, it's coming. Let's go," you know, and my favorite meal of the day is lunch, followed by breakfast and dinner. But I love to eat. Guess who else loved to eat? Jesus Christ.
When he walked this earth we always are reading in the gospels of him eating with his disciples. Because a meal back in those days was sort of the main event of the day. You would relax, you would take time to enjoy the meal. They didn't have fast food back then. They didn't have, you know, McDavid you need right through in your chariot, order a falafel, something like that. You know, no, they enjoyed a meal, it was a time to talk, it was a time to communicate. Even after Jesus rose again from the dead, one of the first things he does is, he eats a piece of fish. He says, "Here, give me a piece of fish to eat". He was waiting for the disciples by the Sea of Galilee with a fire going and he said, "Bring some of the fish that you have caught". And he cooked it up for them and he said, "Come and have breakfast".
Eating a meal with Jesus, how amazing would that be? And he even use this metaphor of eating to describe his desire to have a relationship with us. He says in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and I knock. If any man will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and dine with him". King James says, "Sup with him". Some translations say, "Have fellowship with him". But the idea is, he wants to have a long, leisurely meal with you, or to put it more directly, he wants a relationship with you. Well, this miracle that we're gonna look at is the only miracle found in all four gospels. It's a story of the feeding of the 5,000.
So with that in mind, let's look at this very familiar and powerful story of the feeding of the 5,000. We're gonna read about 14 verses together, and I'm reading from the New Living Translation. John chapter 6 starting in verse 1. "After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, (also known as the Sea of Tiberius.) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went because they saw the miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill, sat down with his disciples around him. It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration. Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him and turning to Philip, he asked, 'Where can we buy bread to feed all of these people?'"
Verse 6, this is very important, you might underline it, "He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, 'Even if we worked for months, we wouldn't have enough money to feed them.' Then Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke, 'Well, there is a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with such a huge crowd?' Jesus said, 'Tell everyone to sit down.' They all sat down on the grassy slopes. The men alone numbered about five thousand. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God and distributed them to the people. Afterwards, he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, 'Now gather the leftover so nothing is wasted.' So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, 'Surely he is a prophet we have been expecting.'"
We'll stop there. Heard a story about a little boy that was asked, "What is your favorite miracle in the Bible"? The little guy answered, "I like the one where everyone loafs and fishes," So, you know, that's a great way to look at it but... Here's something that is happening before us. Now, Jesus, his ministry is building. Looking back chronologically, you could say he was sort of on a roll. His fame was growing, the crowds were growing. Everyone followed him everywhere to see what he would say or do next, but why were they following him? The answer is clear. Verse 2 of John 6, "A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick". Unfortunately, they were not following him because they understood this is the Messiah, this is the Savior, they were following him because, "Hey, he does amazing stuff, what's he gonna do next"?
They were dazzled, they were entertained, but they were missing the point. They were into the signs, but they weren't looking at where the signs were pointing. These things were written according to John 20 that we might believe. So there was a purpose for these signs. You know, sometimes we want the benefits of the Christian life, but we don't wanna make a commitment. We want the healings, we just don't want the healer. We want the benefits, but we don't want the cure. And Jesus could have dismissed these people 'cause he knew what was going on in the human heart and mind. He could have said, "You know, you guys, you're just a bunch of thrill seekers. You're waiting for me to do my next trick in your estimation. You're not following me for the right reason. And besides, I know all y'all are gonna eventually turn on me. So I'm not gonna feed you today. In fact, I'm gonna eat in front of you".
That's what I would've done. I would've pulled out an In-N-Out burger. "Where did you get that"? "It's from the future". "Can we have one"? "No, it's mine 'cause you're gonna turn on me". No, but Jesus. He cared about the people. In fact, we read that he had a heart of compassion toward them. So there are three primary characters that stand out in this story. Philip, Andrew, and the little boy. We don't know his name but he's a big part of the story. Let's start with Philip. Understand that every one of the disciples had a distinct personality. Just like people you know, they were just like you. There was Peter, brash, outspoken, dominated conversations, said things when things shouldn't be said.
You know someone like that? You invite them over, they're gonna dominate the whole conversation. Nobody gets a word in edgewise or maybe you are that person. The problem is, when you are that person you usually don't know it. Someone else needs to tell you. So if they're that person, kinda nudge 'em and say, "That's you," right. So that was Peter. But then there's James and John. These guys are fiery. You know, people that get all worked up. They love to argue, they love to debate. They're always worked up about something, that's James and John. They're worked up guys. They were passionate guys. You don't get the nicknames, sons of Thunder for nothing. If they were alive today they'd probably be in an outlaw motorcycle gang.
And then there's Philip. Now Philip is more quiet, more perceptive, a deep thinker. And it is worth noting that Jesus turns to Philip with a question, his first test. And by the way, Jesus never asked anyone else for advice ever except on this occasion when he turns to Philip and asks John 6:5, "Turning to Philip, he asked, 'Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?' He was testing Philip for he knew what he was going to do". Seems like a no brainer. Philip could have said, "Well, considering the fact that you've already done all these amazing miracles, starting with turning water into wine, I would think this is pretty easy for you. You could just speak the word and everyone would be fed". But instead, Philip is perplexed and he says, "Well, you know, even if we worked for months we wouldn't have enough money to pay for the food to get to all of these people".
I mean, despite two years at this point of walking personally with Jesus and seeing him do miracle after miracle, Philip is like, "I don't, I don't know what to do with this". And you know, we can criticize Philip but isn't that just like us? Haven't you ever had a moment where you've had doubt in your mind? A crisis hits unexpected problem comes and you freak out. You have a complete meltdown. Wait, has God not been faithful to you up to this point? Has he not met your needs? Has he not taken care of you? Somehow you have a case of spiritual amnesia, you forget everything and you think this is the end. Well that happens all the time. It happened to the disciples. They didn't simply see that God could do something in this set of circumstances. We often forget how faithful God has been.
Here's the problem, we forget what we ought to remember and we remember what we ought to forget. I have a lot of useless information in my brain. I don't even know how some of it got there. I know the words to stupid songs going back 40 years. Some of them songs I wish I never knew. Going back to my childhood. "One, eight, seven, seven cars for kids". Okay, that's just, you've ever heard that song? Make them stop now. Children dressed in pink no more. Or other songs I remember really old jingles. I don't consciously remember. I will now memorize these lyrics but they're in there. And then I forget stuff I should remember. "Oh wait, what was that verse again? How did that go again"?
So we need to be reminded over and over of certain spiritual truths 'cause sometimes we forget things that we've learned. Don't forget God's faithfulness to you. He's been faithful in the past, he'll be faithful in your present, and he'll be faithful to you in your future as well. Now it's Andrew's turn. Philip didn't do too well. If we were grading him I don't know what grade we would give him, it wouldn't be very high, but Andrew chimes in. Interestingly, Jesus doesn't ask Andrew for his opinion but he has one nonetheless. And Andrew is a really interesting guy. He was more of a behind the scenes person. He was a person who liked to connect people to Jesus. His brother was Simon Peter. That meant that he was overshadowed for his whole life because Peter dominated the conversation. Peter was the one that always sort of take control.
Andrew was kind of in the, you know, shadows a little bit. But Andrew had this great gift of pointing others to Christ. And in fact, it was Andrew that brought his brother Peter to Jesus. And here we have Andrew showing up with a little boy and he's really close to the answer but not quite. Well, he says to Jesus, "There is this little kid here. He has five loaves of bread and two little fish". But then he quickly says, "But what good is that for such a huge crowd"? That brings us to the little boy. Who was this little dude anyway? We don't know his name but what an amazing kid he is. Here's all these adults perplexed by this problem and here's a little kid that says, "Well, I've got this. If this could be of any help, I'd like to offer it to you Jesus".
So what do we know about this little boy? We know he was poor. And the reason we know that is barley bread was the cheapest of all bread. And in fact, it was held in contempt. It was thought of as food for animals, not people, and he had two small fish. Not big fish, small fish. It's like having Crackers and stale Crackers at that. Crackers and Sardines. Or maybe Spam and Wonder Bread. Now some people love Spam, right? In Hawaii it's kind of a delicacy but Spam, Wonder Bread, Crackers and Sardines, whatever you want to use as an illustration, it wasn't a gourmet lunch. It wasn't a lot. But that little boy gave his lunch as poor as he was to Jesus. The lunch was as insignificant as it could be.
The little boy was as insignificant as he could be. But here's the point of the story, that which was insufficient and insignificant became sufficient and significant when placed in the hands of Jesus. Let me say it again. It's on the screen if you're taking notes. "That which was insufficient from the hands of the insignificant became sufficient and significant when placed in the hands of Jesus". I think sometimes we feel like, "Well, I don't have much to offer. I'm not talented like that person over there. I'm not gifted. I have nothing to bring to the table". You have more than you think, why? Because God can do a lot with the little, okay.
So here's a guitar in the stage. I could walk over, plug that guitar into the amp, turn it up all the way, and hit maybe five chords and you would say, "That guitar is a piece of junk," why? Because I really have no skills playing guitars. But if I were to take that same guitar and place into the hands of Eric Clapton, is one of the greatest guitar players of all time. If he did a few riffs on it, you would say, "I want that guitar". In fact, if he signs it, it will be a collectible. See, it's not about the guitar, it's about who is playing the guitar. And in the same way for us, it's not the magnitude of the gift, it's into whose hands the gift is given. So you say, "Lord, okay, here I am. I don't have a lot to offer, but I do give it to you and I give it all to you. And I ask you to take what I've given and use it for your glory". So I encourage you, bring your loaves and fish to Jesus. Bring your Spam and Wonder Bread. Bring your Crackers and Sardines and watch what God will do.
So back to our story. Here are the people, they have a need. And when you have a need, you need to call on the Lord. Do you have a need right now? Is there something in your life you need from God? The Bible says, "You have not because you ask not". Have you prayed about what you're facing? Don't worry about anything Paul reminds us in Philippians 4, but pray about everything. Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened". Pray about it and know this, God loves to answer your prayers. I think sometimes we think God is kind of, you know, reluctant to answer our prayers. "Really, you again? Come on". Oh no. Jesus said, "Fear not little flock for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom".
I love that. It's his good pleasure. He loves to give you these things. He loves to bless you. Heard a story about a very wise father whose son was going to leave for college and the father said, "Son, I'm gonna pay all of your bills for college. I want you to just study hard and enjoy the process. But I'm just gonna do this, every month I'll give you your check with this condition, you have to come home in person and get your check. I'm not gonna mail it to some address, you come home and I'll write you your check". That son came home every single month, right? So God says to us, "I'm gonna provide for you, but I want you to keep coming to me for it". God doesn't give us everything we want in one big lump sum. "Here's all of your blessings, all of your healings, all of your provision, kaboom". No, he says, "I want you to keep coming to me over and over again so you remember who gave it to you".
Remember in the Lord's prayer, Jesus taught us to pray. "Give us this day our daily bread". So that's the principle here. So Mark gives us a little detail in his version of the feeding of the 5,000 and he tells that Jesus had the people sit down in groups of 50 and a hundred. So it was very organized. And then Mark describes it this way, "Jesus took five loaves and two fish looked up to heaven, asked God's blessing on the food, breaking the loaves into pieces and kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people". It's not like Jesus just extended his hand and there was a mountain of bread, bread. Now here's a mountain of fish, fish. No, he says, "Just fill the baskets. Distribute it". They'd go distribute it. Come back. "Oh, there's more? Yeah, just keep giving it out".
This is how he did it. Listen to this, God gives you what you need when you need it. Not necessarily before and never after, okay. So sometimes you'll look at somebody going through some hardship. You'll say, "Man, I could never do what they're doing". Yeah, you could. If God had you go through that hardship, he would give you the strength you need to deal with it. He's giving you the strength you need to deal with what you are facing right here, right now. That's what he did for us. So in the same way, we need to come to God and offer what we have and let him multiply it. Gifts from God don't come fully developed, you have to start somewhere. You know, you have to cultivate your gift. If you're a musician, you practice, if you're an artist, you practice.
Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved to draw. And for me, my little cartoon world was a place for me to escape to when I was waiting for my mother to be done in some smoke-filled bar. And so you know, my mom was married and divorced seven times and she had a lot of boyfriends in between. So one day she brings home a man who says he's an animator for Disney. I didn't believe him. He says, "No, I'm an animator for Disney". And I said, "Prove it". He pulls out a pencil and he draws a perfect Donald Duck. By the way, Donald Duck is very hard to draw. And I was, "Whoa, wow". And he said, "I'll tell you what Greg, this is a magic pencil". This is a true story. "This is a magic pencil and if you place it under your pillow when you wake up in the morning, you will be able to draw just like me. So go to bed now".
Now as an adult, I look back on that and say, "Uh-uh, I know what that was all about". But I believed him. Sadly, I was 30. Not really, I was 28. But still, no, I was very, very little. I put that pencil under my pillow, I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I woke up the next morning, grabbed the pencil, went over to a piece of paper, I'm gonna draw Donald Duck. It was the same old me 'cause gifts don't come fully developed, you have to cultivate them. That's why Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:6 "Fan into flames the spiritual gift that God has given to you". Now, without question, this became the most popular miracle of Jesus. It's sort of like the people would say, "Hey, water into wine, that's good. Restore restoration of sight, all these things, they're all good but free lunch? Now we're talking".
In fact, we like this so much. We wanna make you our king. Understand that Jewish people are under the control of the Romans. They believe Jesus is a militant messiah, a political savior, someone that's gonna deliver them from the power and tyranny of Rome. So they said, "We want you to be our king right now". Look at John 6 verse 14, "When the people saw Jesus do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, 'He's a prophet we have been expecting.' And when Jesus saw they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself". Forced him to be their king. The whole idea is laughable. See, these people wanted to use God instead of being used by God. They wanted God to do what they wanted him to do. Listen, God wants to use us, but having said that, he will never be used. That's what they were doing.
So let's wrap this up. What are some takeaway truths from this story? There will come times in our lives and we are utterly overwhelmed by our problems, by our challenges, and by our hardships. We will not have the abilities or the resources to respond things that are beyond your control, tests that will come to you in life. These tests are given to determine if you're learning anything as a Christian. Why does God allow us to be tested? James 2 gives us the answer. When he says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow for when your endurance is fully developed, you'll be perfect and complete needing nothing".
As I've said before, trials and tests in the life of the Christian are like God's gym. Your broken down to be built up. So when you go to a gym and you lift weights and you do repetitions, and then you get stronger, and then you lift more weight, and then you in time lift even more weight, you're building your muscle up by first tearing it down. The same is true in the tests of life. "Why am I going through this? I don't see any reason for this". Don't you know God is making you stronger? "Why do I go through these things"? So my endurance may grow. One translation, I believe it's a Philip's translation of that verse I just read from James 2 says, "When trials come into your life, my brothers don't treat them as intruders, but friends".
Could you think of the trial you're going through as a friend instead of an intruder? Could you think of the hardship you're facing as something that God can use? Like when that unexpected bill or expense comes and you wonder, how will I ever pay this? When you have that crisis with your spouse and you wonder, how will we ever get through this? When that perfect child of yours gets themselves into trouble and you wonder, how will we resolve this? When a loved one dies unexpectedly and you wonder, how will I survive this? Know this, God is able to meet whatever comes your way because God is able.