Jesus, not another like him, number eighteen.
I am partial to impactful statements that are motivational, such as ‘Your thinking is the lid for your potential.’1 While a maxim from a leadership book, I believe it is true in most of life--especially as it pertains to God. ‘What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.’2 Truth.
So when you think about God, what comes to your mind, in particular as it pertains to your life? [please stop a moment and consider what you think of him]. How did you get your view of God anyway? The greater our understanding and application of Scripture, the greater and more in depth our view of God because the Scripture reveals so much about him. From Creation in Genesis to the close of the Revelation of future things, we learn of his creative power, his knowledge, his heart, his mighty acts and justice, his desire for relationship with us that knows no bounds, and his plans for all eternity. When we truly grasp the magnitude of all of this, it increases our faith in him. As our faith increases, we turn to him in prayer more regularly, knowing nothing is beyond him and nothing is impossible for God … nothing catches him off guard or surprises him, and he alone holds all things together.
Let me take you back to a hillside above the Sea of Galilee. Oh, you’ve heard this story before, but likely you dismissed it as having little to do with you. But check it out--of the miraculous signs pointing to Jesus as the Messiah, it is one of only two that appears in all four gospels. The other one? The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. So, why is it so significant? Step a little closer please.
This is the rendering from Luke, though I am including a link at the end of this briefing so you can consider the reporting from each of the four gospels3: When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
He replied, “You give them something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. Luke 9.10-17
What had the disciples reported to Jesus? That his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded by Herod. Knowing how he felt, seeing how it had shaken his disciples, he took them up and out of Bethsaida to retreat, to be alone. Picture the emotion in what was happening in this passage: Jesus and his men were shaken mightily by John’s death.
They had barely gotten away when the disciples realize the crowds wanting to get to Jesus had found them, so they ask Jesus to send the people away. But instead of granting their request, Jesus thinks more about those who had come, most of whom had made their way around the lake. They were hungry and they needed something to eat. It is just like Jesus to think of what people need. Jesus /Jesus is driven by compassion.
This time instead of doing the miraculous on his own, he involves the disciples, who are now on the inside track of Jesus taking a little and making it a lot. Interesting. On the job training for what is to come for them.
If you are reading this, you have anywhere from a modest interest in Jesus to a passionate, sold-out love for him… but do you realize his passionate love for you? “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”4
Do you understand that Jesus alone knows your greatest need, including the desires of your heart that you have told no one? Why do you not pray? James said ‘you do not have because you do not ask.’ And sometimes you ask with impure motives.5
Oh, and one more thought. The baskets. Most of those Galileans would have traveled with a basket, provision enough for one day. Jesus met their need when their baskets were empty. Some of us have so much crud stuffed in our baskets--our hearts and minds-- we have a hard time receiving from God. You know, we have things like unresolved pain, grief, bitterness and unforgiveness, fear or worry, doubt and unbelief. Then again some of us use other things to make ourselves feel better and those things keep us from looking to God to meet our needs, to heal our heartache, to calm our fears and so on. We must empty our baskets to fully receive from God.
Don’t you see? You must come with open hands and a pure heart to receive.
God has the power you need, my friend.
What are you waiting for?
God You Are, the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PducS0rwLkM
Invite him in,
1 - 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell
2 - The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer
3 - the feeding of the huge crowd in all four gospels: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14.13-21%3B+Mark+6.31-44%3B+Luke+9.10-17%3B+John+6.1-14&version=NIV
4 - Jeremiah 31.3
5 - James 4.2-3