Rediscovering Jesus - Satisfying Thousands — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Rediscovering Jesus – Satisfying Thousands — A Christian Growth Message

A series looking at our Saviour through the book of Mark, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth Podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 28 May 2023Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Thank you, our gracious God, for the great love that you have shown to us. And we pray that you would help us as we read this section of your word to grow in our knowledge and love of you and we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well friends. We’re following the Gospel of Mark. We come this morning to chapter six, the feeding of the 5000.

And this is one situation where your eyes really may glaze over. As you think about the feeding of the 5000 and you think to yourself – Sunday school, five loaves, two fish. What more is there to say? Let’s move on to something else. But I hope as we consider this text, it might be increasingly meaningful for you. It is a highly significant miracle. It’s the only miracle that’s recorded in all four of the Gospels.

And here’s the interesting thing that in the chapters to follow – the end of 6, 7 and 8, Jesus is obviously astounded that his people, that his disciples, don’t really get the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. I’m not saying that you don’t, but it is interesting that this miracle was meant to be so clear that Jesus expected his disciples to get it, and it seems as though they didn’t.

In fact, we’re told in Chapter six verse 50, the disciples didn’t understand it. And in chapter 8 verse 17, he says, Do you still not get it? And the obvious answer that is, “No, we still don’t get it.”

The answers behind the Miracle of Feeding the Five Thousand

And there are at least two things which the disciples don’t get. The first is they don’t really understand his identity. They don’t really see his supremacy.

They have a low view of Jesus as so many today have low views of Jesus and some, of course, no view of Jesus. The second thing which the disciples don’t get which really flows from this, is that they don’t really see his sufficiency. That is, they’re not really satisfied with Jesus.

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They consider him to be moderately good and moderately helpful, but not really adequate.

The people we read have their stomachs filled with the bread, but it looks as though both they and the disciples are dissatisfied in some way with Jesus. But Jesus does this miracle to establish that he is supreme and that you cannot have to hire view of him. It doesn’t matter. Really Watch your view of Jesus. It cannot really be too high.

And the other thing that he does this miracle is to show that he has a sufficiency, not just to meet some immediate needs, but especially to satisfy your soul. Now I don’t know whether you’re good at satisfying other people. I don’t know whether you can satisfy your spouse or whether you can satisfy your friends or your Children or your grandchildren, your neighbours, your parishioners, your small group members.

I think it’s exceptionally difficult thing to really satisfy other people, and we don’t even satisfy ourselves with the work and the play and the extra things that we add in. And here is Jesus, basically standing up and saying I can satisfy your restless soul. We know that unbelievers don’t believe this. We know that many believers don’t really often feel it, and we know that even a preacher can say it without properly experiencing it.

But there are times where the reality of the sufficiency and the supremacy of Jesus breaks in, and we see really what the truth is. One of the examples of This is the old him, Jesus, lover of my soul. Verse two begins other refuge Have I none? And we all would say, Yep, that’s true. And Verse four begins plenty of grace with the is found and we’d all say, Yep, that’s great. But Verse three begins like this. Thou Oh, Christ, aren’t all I want more than all in the I find that seems to me to be a burst of reality coming to see the truth as it really is. Last week, if you were here we saw King Herod in a palatial banquet, choosing against Jesus Christ, choosing for his pleasure and his reputation.

Here we come, as it were, to a very rustic banquet, a big outdoor picnic out in the desert. And the people are being given their opportunity to choose Jesus Christ or not. And if you want to follow, this is on page 996 and we’re going to think of it under two questions this morning. The first one is a very simple and brief question. In fact, it’s probably the the secondary of the two questions, but it’s worth asking, and that is how Jesus Christ sees people.

You can see that in verses 32 34. How does he see people? The answer, of course, is he sees people very accurately. And then the second question, which is the really important question, is How do people see Jesus Christ?

And the answer, of course, is not very accurately. So let’s think about the first question. How does Jesus Christ see people? Chapter six of Mark’s Verse 30 And you’ll see there in that verse that the apostles return from their little mission and there’s no doubt weary and in verse 31 Jesus calls them to come for a little escape and to have what he calls some rest. I don’t want to make too much of this because there are great books that have been written on this whole idea of Let’s get away together.

One of the most old fashioned classic ones has the incredible title come Ye Apart, which always seems to me to be a strange title. But there it is. Come here part as we as it were, get away with Jesus and spend time with him. But I think it is fair to say that as he looks on his disciples. He greatly loves them, cares for them, wants to look after them and wants to have fellowship with them and wants them more importantly, to have fellowship with him. And all the phrases of this verse are loaded phrases. So when he says literally come privately, it’s I want to have some intimacy. And then we’re going to go to a desert place loaded phrase from the Old Testament, where God does a lot of his work in his people in the desert. And then, thirdly, the phrase rest is the classic word for Sabbath.

So come away and we will have a little Sabbath of refreshment. So he doesn’t see his disciples of slaves to be squeezed. Nor does he see them as machines to be run. He sees them as friends, and he sees them as partners, and he once fellowship with him. But it doesn’t happen because a massive crowd comes running and the whole plan is foiled. If you ask at this point whether Jesus therefore fails, can he not take his disciples away to have a profitable time? I think we would have to say that the end result of this is that he experiences with the disciples more fellowship, more partnership than they would ever have dreamed possible. And he also feeds them, so the end result is extremely deep and profound Now. That’s how Jesus sees his disciples. I think we can just say from those early couple of verses, he looks at them. He’s concerned for them. How does he see the lost and you see this in Verse 32 The crowds come running from everywhere. Somebody has said that the towns around would have had about 2000 people. A bigger town, maybe 3000.

And so, if the final crowd is sort of whatever it is, five plus maybe five, plus maybe two. Who knows 10, 12,000 people. This is a very, very big crowd, and they come running from everywhere and he doesn’t look on them. We remember this, don’t we? He doesn’t look on them as a nuisance. He doesn’t look on them as an interruption.

Verse 34. He has great compassion on them. This word compassion is the word that’s almost always used with Jesus. It means to be deeply and profoundly moved inwardly, and interestingly, it’s the word that’s used when the father of the prodigal son looks on the son returning. The father had great compassion and ran to him, and here it is. It’s being used of Jesus. So as he looks on the crowd and this is more work for him and they’re not really interested in him and his agenda, he nevertheless looks on them with tremendous compassion.

This is very instructive. He doesn’t see them as primarily sick or sad or lonely. He sees them verse 34 as sheep without a shepherd as sheep without a shepherd. Now it is hard to measure how important that phrases we could spend all our time this morning, just on that little phrase sheep without a shepherd because you may think, and it is easy for us to think this way that he looks on them and he says, You need kindness.

You need somebody who will embrace you, who will pick you up, scoop you up and love you. And that’s true. That’s the way Jesus relates to people. But I need to tell you that the word shepherd in the Old Testament was primarily a leader, and Jesus sees these people not so much as needing comfort. Although that may be a secondary, he sees them as needing a leader they need. They need somebody who will be over them to care for them to run their life, to direct their life, to lead it, to take it to a proper destination. And without him.

There is no good leader now because it’s almost impossible for us to think Shepherd leader because we’ve been raised again and again to think shepherd sweet, comforting, kind. I want to try and help you to get this. I’ll just give you a few quick examples if you would stay with me. The first is from the Old Testament, where Moses has been told that he is about to stop his work and his life, and Joshua is about to take over. And this is what Moses prays. Listen to this numbers Chapter 27 he says. May the Lord appoint a man over this community. In other words, says Moses, I’m worried about these people to go out and come in before them think John, Chapter 10, Shepherd, one who will lead them so that the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.

So Moses says if I’ve got to go. Oh, Lord, please raise up somebody who will lead them so that they won’t be sheep without a shepherd or listen to Ezekiel the Prophet. Chapter 30 for God says I will place over them one. Shepherd. This is God’s plan. Under the prophecy of Ezekiel, there is going to come one shepherd.

Finally, of course, this would be Jesus. And then Ezekiel says this. My servant David. Well, David is dead, so it’s going to be a new David. It’s going to be Jesus, and he’s going to tend them and be their shepherd. So you see what Ezekiel says. We’re looking forward to the day where God will put over the people a shepherd who’s a David like a king, or even more clearly, Ezekiel, 37.

This is the prophet, he says. My servant David will be king over them, and they will have one shepherd. My servant David will be king over them, and they will have one shepherd. When you get the king, you’ve got the shepherd. When you’ve got the real shepherd, you’ve got a king. And it’s interesting in Luke’s gospel. When Luke is telling this account of the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus looks out on the crowd and he has compassion on them. Do you know what he starts to talk to them about? He starts to talk to them about the kingdom because he wants them to have a king because the king that they have in the present is not a good king, and he wants them to have himself now. I think this is very instructive for us because the Lord Jesus looks out on the last.

And we, if you like me, may have the inability to look with any compassion, we might look out on a crowd and think, Well, what a rowdy crowd.

What a silly crowd. What a foolish crowd, What a wicked crowd, What a threatening crowd And Jesus looks out on this group, and he is full of compassion because he wishes that they had a leader, a shepherd.

He sees them as helpless, and he feels deeply for them.

I’ve told you many times before, but when John Chapman, the great evangelist who died some years ago, was present at the launch of a biography written about John Chapman, you know he was asked to say a few words, and you would expect John Chapman to step up and say, You know, it’s lovely Thank you all for being here. I’m very honoured to have a book written about me, and I really want to thank the person who wrote it and you know, I hope you enjoy it and thanks very much, But he didn’t. He got up to the microphone and he preached at us by turning some 23 sort of upside down. And he said, basically forgetting the book launch, He said, I don’t want you to forget the people who are lost because he said they don’t have a shepherd and therefore they lack everything and they won’t be rested in green pastures and they won’t have the still waters and they won’t be led in paths of righteousness. And when they get to the valley, there’ll be nobody to go down safely with them and see them up to the other side. And there’ll be no house in the future.

It’s very powerful, and it was an echo. I think of this compassion that we see people as the Bible tells us to see people, and we must ask the Lord to help us.

So this compassion Verse 34 causes Jesus to teach them. He wants them to know that there is a king. He doesn’t just if I might say this kindly, he doesn’t just hug them and kiss them and leave it at that, he informs them.

Well, Matthew tells us that Jesus healed and fed. Mark tells us that Jesus taught and fed. Luke tells us that Jesus taught and healed and fed, and John tells us that he fed and then taught.

So put all that together, and we can safely say that Jesus was primarily concerned for the long term, eternal spiritual welfare of the people. But he didn’t fail to look after some temporal needs.

And if it is therefore right for us to ask this first question, how does Jesus see people? The answer in these early verses of Mark six that we’re looking at this morning is that he sees his own people as friends wanting fellowship, and he sees the lost as helpless needing relationship.

And that’s what we must take from these verses. He seeks our fellowship as believers, and he looks to the unbeliever with the offer of relationship. And again I want to say, as I turned this to a little prayer in my preparation, that the Lord would help me and help you to appreciate the compassion that he has for us. He knows what we’re going through. He knows what we’ve been through. He knows what we need.

Well, what may we appreciate this compassion that he has for us? And may we also experience more of the compassion that he has for lost people. I certainly need that. My heart is very hard. This is something we might turn to prayer.

So that’s the first. How does Jesus see people? And now the second is how do people see Jesus Christ? And the sad reality is that people don’t see Jesus Christ very accurately, and they don’t see him very appreciative, Lee. But sometimes it dawns on people, and they are bursting with appreciation and gratitude.

And during the week I was reading the testimony of a man called Barry McGuire. And I wonder if anybody is old enough to remember a song called The Eve of Destruction during any of you remember that out in the sixties and the seventies. Well, Bob Dylan said of Barry McGuire that he was the greatest folk rock singer on the planet. There’s high praise and Barry McGuire in this testimony, he said that he was just spiralling downwards with drink and drugs and girls and rock and roll. And one day, he said, he was around at somebody’s house and he was just reaching for the classic cigarette smoke. And he said sitting on the table was a little book called Good News for Modern Man. Remember that little version of the New Testament? And he said to himself, while I’m a modern man, So he opened it up and he started to read the New Testament and to cut a long story short. He was converted now, when he was converted, he described his conversion like this, he said, I’ve lost 16 of my friends who have died because of their drug overdoses and various stupidities, and he said, Here am I.

I’m on death row and I looked down on the ground. This is the way he describes his testimony. I looked down on the ground and I see a little piece of paper and it says your crimes have been paid Jesus Christ and then Barry. Barry McGuire says this. He says, I am a high school dropout, but I’m not a complete fool.

I take that and I put it in my coat. And he said, I discovered when I take the pardon of Jesus Christ that there is no more prison cell. There is no electric chair waiting for me. I am free.

So then my friends come to me and say, Why would you want to be a Christian? You know what price have you paid to be a Christian? And he says, I feel like an Eskimo who’s won lotto and move to Miami.

He said, I’ve got rid of my whale skin coat. Is that a burden? No, I was glad to get rid of it. And then he says, I’ve also got rid of the fame, the fortune, the girls, the drugs, the drink and all the things that were leaching my life.

And then one of his friends said to him, I think Jesus Christ has become your crutch and he said, No, Jesus Christ is the bones in my leg. I’ve thrown the crutch away.

Now that’s a person I think, capturing something of what it means to see Jesus Christ to realise his supremacy and his sufficiency. It’s a little burst of enthusiasm, and it’s the sort of thing which could have come by observing this feeding of the 5000. But the disciples don’t get it. You see Verse 35 they come up to Jesus. Jesus has given his teaching, and they say to Jesus, you know, now is the time to send everybody home. It’s getting late. You’ve given your talk is a very nice talk. It’s a lovely talk, but now these people are hungry.

So let’s be practical. You can’t do anything about that and notice how Jesus teaches them the human impossibility of looking after this crowd and notice how Jesus teaches them that this is going to be a miracle, he says to them Verse 37. Give them something to it and that throws the disciples completely back on their inadequacy. And they say, How could we possibly feed this crowd? It would need eight months wages.

Well, I was thinking about what this means. Eight months wages. It’s very hard in a group like this to think about what eight months wages would be like, You know, for some people, it would be 40,000. For some people, it would be 200,000.

Think of my salary. It would be something like 400,000.

Um, so you know, how do you actually measure this? It’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money. And here is Jesus facing the disciples with the fact that they have nothing except five loaves and two fish. So now we know that there needs to be a miracle, and the language of the miracle is all very, very special and precious. We read in verse 39:40 that Jesus first of all, does what Moses did, which is to get the crowd in the wilderness to sit in groups of 50 and 100. So this is very much an echo of Moses. Okay, Did Moses get people organised? I will get people organised. And then he does what David’s shepherd does. You notice he makes them sit down in green grass. Just a little detail there which were not meant to miss.

So he is sounding like the successor of Moses, and he’s sounding like the secret of David and then he does what neither Moses nor David could do. He actually produces the food because in the Old Testament, Moses was a great beggar.

Faced with the crowd, he could do nothing but beg God. David was a great beggar. Faced with his troops on a hungry day, he couldn’t do nothing but to beg people for food. But he was Jesus. He’s not a beggar, he’s a provider.

He basically takes the tiny amount and he says Grace, and then he basically turns this next to nothing into something very wonderful. The Bible doesn’t sensationalise how the miracle works. It’s very brief. It all takes place in half a verse 41. The Bible doesn’t elaborate on what it looked like, although it must have been incredible to have filmed it. You know, was Jesus basically, uh, multiplying bread as he took little pieces and putting stacks into baskets? Or was he giving them a little bit? And then, as the disciples distributed it, masses was being given. In other words, did Jesus do the miracle himself with the bread and the fish? Or did he do it through the disciples, giving away the bread and the fish well we don’t know. It just doesn’t tell us. But we know it was a miracle.

And the disciples should have known that it was a miracle and they should have known who was behind it. So many people have tried to explain away this miracle.

But the apostles knew first that was impossible. And then at the end, you’ve got these 12 baskets. If I might say this reverently, everybody at the end of this particular banquet was stuffed. They were absolutely stuffed. If you’ve got 12 baskets and let’s say 10,000 people sitting outside and you can’t get rid of 12 baskets of food, you know people are full.

My father in law used to be an expert at taking the last 10 pieces of cake around a party in persuading people who already had seven pieces to take the eighth piece. And it would have been a little like this here, wouldn’t it? With these baskets. Come on. Surely some of you young people could just take two more fists. No, we’re finished. We’re full.

And why would you record this if actually it was not a miracle. And all that had happened was that this little boy bodies lunch out, and then everybody else said, Oh, that reminds us. We brought our lunch out as well, which is what some people have said. Ridiculous. Ridiculous. No, this is the son of God who has created the universe from nothing now, creating a feast from next to nothing and feeding somewhere between, we would guess 10 and 15,000 people. How do the people see Jesus as a result?

And I want to say to you that this miracle festival teachers again. You cannot see Jesus too highly. He leaves Moses behind. He leaves David behind. This is God. He does what Moses could never do. He does what David could never dream of doing. He just simply gives thanks. And then he provides What God in the Old Testament, dear Jesus in the New Testament does.

And so this leader, who Moses has been praying for, has obviously arrived. And this shepherd, who David was pointing to has obviously arrived.

I was talking to a man this week, and he was telling me that he wants to get married to a non Christian girl. He’s a Christian, wants to get married to a non Christian girl We talked a little bit about that and then as if to make things a little bit easier, he said this to me, he said. And he’s a very, very last man. He said this to me. He said she does believe in Jesus Christ.

She just doesn’t think he’s the way she thinks he’s away. And little did he know, as he said that that it was really proof positive that she had not yet seen who Jesus Christ is. You cannot cannot see Jesus Christ properly and say he’s away as soon as you see him properly. He’s the way there’s no other way. You might as well look up at the sun in the sky and say, You know, I like the sun but we don’t need it now we’ll get by with Jupiter or Venus No, no. We need the sun to live and we need the Son to have eternal life.

Jesus Christ is absolutely essential, and I think therefore we will see that Jesus Christ is slightly shocked and disappointed in the weeks to come that his disciples have not properly got it because the lesson is so clear.

Could an ordinary man. Feed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Impossible. Jesus Christ did feed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Therefore, he’s not an ordinary man. He is God come into his world now on this subject of satisfaction because 42 says that the people ate and were satisfied. And we know from John’s gospel that Jesus does want to teach from this miracle that he is the bread of life and that he can give bread for your soul.

He can satisfy your soul. I do want to urge you in the light of this very familiar miracle, to nevertheless keep thinking about it. Because the more you think about the miracle, the more you see that Jesus Christ has the compassion to do it.

And he has the capability to do it. And he has the the control over the whole of resources. And he is crucial to the miracle. And he is central to the miracle. If you take him out, all you’ve got is hungry people and helpless disciples.

We must see that this miracle that has taken place makes Jesus clearly supreme and sufficient. And I hope you’ll think about this, uh, further beyond this particular hour together. I hope that you will think about this miracle and that it will control your faith and you’ll say to yourself, This is who I belong to, somebody who is so supreme and so sufficient. That’s who I belong to.

And then I hope that you will allow this miracle to govern your troubles and you’ll say to yourself, This is who I belong to. And he is aware of my situation and he does have the ability to meet my situation.

And so I’m going to trust him. I’m going to trust him. And then I hope that you will see this miracle and allow it to control your future. Because this is a kind of a preview of a very great banquet which is coming the great Messianic feast of the future, where God’s people from all the corners of the earth will gather at a table, so to speak with Jesus Central and we will honour him as he really deserves. And he will satisfy us beyond belief that is coming as surely as he keeps his promises.

Now I think it is possible you see that even today and this week I will be tempted to think that Jesus is not all that supreme. And I’ll say those people who don’t have Jesus, they’re really they’re fine, they’re fine, but they’re not fine.

And I’ll say I privileged to know Jesus moderately important. But no, no, no, it’s supremely important.

So we will be wrong if we have low views of Jesus and we may be also tempted to think that Jesus is not that sufficient and that when their service is over and I go into a little bit of a slump, that I should probably reinforce and supplement Jesus because he’s not going to be adequate for me with some secret remedies and that will be wrong as well.

He is supreme and he is sufficient and therefore we must learn from Mark six to trust him.

Let’s Pray

Gracious God, thank you for giving to us this window into the beauty and the greatness of the Lord Jesus. We see him to be supreme son of God in the world full of compassion, full of power. We ask that you would help us to trust him.

We also see his compassion for the lost and his desire that people have a king and a leader and a shepherd. And we pray that you would renew our compassion for lost people, that we would love them and that you would use us in some remarkable way to point people to him.

We ask that you would hear our prayer and renew our faith and also our faithfulness, and we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.