John chapter 6, and we'll be reading verses 1 to 15. Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the sea of Galile, that is the sea of Tiberias, and a great crowd of people followed him. Because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish Passover festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, He said to Philip, where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? He asked this only to test him. For he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him.
It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each 1 to have a bite. Another 1 of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up. Here's a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish. But how far will that go among so many? Jesus said, make the people sit down.
There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down. About 5000 men were there. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they'd all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, gather the pieces that are left over, let nothing be wasted.
So they gathered them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces of the 5 barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the sign Jesus perform, they began to say, surely, this is the prophet who's to come into the world. Jesus knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force withdrew again to a mountainside by himself. Tom. Well, good evening, and happy Easter.
He has risen. My name is Tom if we haven't met before, and I'm 1 of the members here. It's a real, real privilege to be able to share God's word with you this evening, but we need God's help, don't we? So let's ask him for it. Having father, we are so thankful that today, we celebrate Christ's victory over death as we've just been singing about and thinking about, that he is risen.
We thank you that you are a speaking god and you speak to us through your words today, but we need your help to listen, and we need your help to see. So, lord Jesus, please by your spirit, give us ears to hear, give us eyes to see who you are and not miss it, We ask in your name, amen. I wanna start this evening by asking you a question. What do you want Jesus to do for you? It's a great question, isn't it?
What do you want Jesus to do for you? I watched the documentary recently that was looking at something called the word of faith movement. You might have heard of it, but if you haven't, It's it's a movement which has turned the gospel into the idea that Jesus wants you to have your best life now. To be happy, healthy, and wealthy. And 1 of the most famous names in this word of faith movement is this guy called Benny Hinn.
You may have heard of him again, but if you haven't, he's this he's an American kind of money making televangelist who packs out stadiums across the world with this message. What do you want teachers to do for you? So is seed of faith, money, reap a harvest of blessing, happiness, health, wealth, name it, and claim it. And you won't be surprised to hear that this message really brings in the crowds I was reading recently that 1 of his but Benny Hinn's most recent miracle crusades, as they called. In India, had over 7000000 people attend 7000000 people.
Come, sow a seed, Give your money, and Jesus will give you your best life now. His ministry generates over a hundred million dollars a year in income. I've worked in in startups for the last 7 or so years, and people talk a lot about billion dollar industries. Oh, yeah. Finzac, billion dollar industry.
Well, Benny Hinn has a billion dollar ministry. And there's actually a name. Does anyone know it? If if you're a business and you're valued at a billion dollars, what you called, Pampers, and looking at you, A unicorn. So you could say Benny Hinn is a unicorn.
Now his his his nephew is a guy called called Kosti. And in the last few years, he's written a book about explaining his experience working for his uncle. And it it's fascinating hearing some of the stories. I wish I could share some of them with you, but we've not got time. But what's really interesting, he says that In all the years working for his uncle's ministry, he never once saw a genuine act of of healing Not to say that God can't heal, but that he himself never witnessed anyone truly be healed yet still.
They'd have millions of people coming in year in, year out. Given their life savings from these people, because they so crave for a better life, for an easier life to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. They are so desperate to believe this message, to believe that it's true. Costi says that the reason this ministry was so successful and is so successful even today is because it played into the exact things that everybody wants. An easier life, and that everybody thinks they need to be healthier, to be wealthier, to be happy?
Well, the gospel is not about money or healing. The gospel is a message to repent and believe and trust in Christ alone as the Savior of your soul. But although the word of faith movements, the this prosperity gospel that I've been speaking about coming to Jesus and for a better life. It's not the gospel of the Bible. But what it is is the crowds of the bible.
So the crowds in John 6 are not all that different from the crowds of people in India flocking see these speakers like Benny Hinn to receive their best lives now. These crowds didn't come to see Jesus in in John sick for who he is, they came for what they could get, what they could gain. These crowds saw him verse 2 as the 1 who could heal the sick. At the blink of an eye, they saw him like a free NHS. They saw him as the 1 who they could they could make king.
He would restore Israel. From from from Roman rule and make the nation great again. The crowds flocked to Jesus for what they could gain. But what was Jesus's response? The passage starts and ends.
With Jesus withdrawing from them. Best 2, and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick, Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. Verse 15, Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force withdrew again to a mountain by himself. The crowds turn up for what they can get from Jesus. But Jesus withdraws from them, that's quite a sobering thought, isn't it?
As we come today to this familiar passage So what do you want to use to do for you? John is is very selective. This this book isn't a detailed record of the life of Christ like we get in the other gospels. There's very few miracles and parables in John. And this gospel, This this message that this this miracle is included in all the other gospels, only the resurrection that is is yet.
John includes it. Even though he's selective, he includes it because it contains something in it that is so crucial about who Jesus is and what he came to do. He doesn't want us to miss it like the crowds do. And we've been reminded. Haven't we?
It's been amazing going through John's gospel on a Sunday evening. But we've been reminded why John writes what he writes, and we read it this morning, actually. At the end of the gospel of John, he says that Jesus performed many other signs that aren't recorded in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. And I want us to see in this passage that The crowds come to Jesus because they think they can get an easier life, but he withdraws from them. Because he's not come so that we may have and easier life, but eternal life.
What do you want Jesus to do for you? I think John has proven that question in a few ways in this passage. So we'll split it up into 3 sections as we go through. So firstly, a hopeless situation, secondly, a bountiful provision, and thirdly, a prophet and a king. So firstly, a hopeless situation, we've already seen this great crowd following Jesus because of what they can get from him.
In verse 2, We read that they've seen what he's done by healing the sick and they followed him. So they've grabbed their mates and said, I know a way that we we can get that dodgy back of your sorted. Come on. Come on. Let's go with everyone.
Let's go and see this Jesus fella. There's crowds of people. There's a great crowd of people coming and to add to the excitements. John tells us in verse 4, that the Jewish Passover festival was near. The Jewish Passover celebrated the exodus from Egypt.
The first passover we read about in in Exodus, God rescued the Israelites from the harsh rule and control of Egypt, and set the people of Israel free on a path to the promised land. So the Passover Festival was a time when the Jews would celebrate and remember the deliverance from from Egypt And at this point in history at this point where we where we come in the passage. The Jews were under the harsh rule and control, not of Egypt, but of Rome. So this time, this passover festival time would have been a time where they had reignited aspirations to regain possession of the promised land, to be free from Roman occupation. And there would have been a buzz in the air you know, people being proud of their nation kind of what you see in in in in the news about fourth of July, if you've ever been to America during fourth of July, It's unbearable.
But people are very proud of the nation. Right? And there's this buzz in the air Great crowd full of big aspirations for Israel coming to Jesus, excited about making Israel great again. Imagine the sick, coming for healing, coming those with broken limbs, coming to be healed. And we know verse verse 3, Jesus has withdrawn from them.
He's gone up on a mountainside with his disciples, And next, we're told that in verse 5, when Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, why should we buy bread for these people to eat? It's brilliant, isn't it? These are people who just want to take what they can from Jesus, who he's just withdrawn from. Who will later in this chapter abandon him. And Jesus knows that they will.
Yeah. Look at his compassion. He's willing to feed them. He had every right to tell them to go away to say you only want to come to me for an easier life. In fact, in in the other gospels, you see that the disciples come to you and say, send the people away so they can find something to eat So they can look after themselves so we can be done with them.
But Christ is merciful. And when you read the other gospel accounts, You also realize that this is just after Jesus had heard that John the Baptist had died, had had been killed, had been beheaded, So his his forerunner had had been killed and he's grieving. He's tired This great crowd who he's just withdrawn from is following him, but straight away, he asked this question to Philip. How can we feed them? What a ridiculous question.
Well, when we had the gathering in 20 20, the first time if if you went with us then, first time we could all meet together since since COVID, and we all met for an outdoor service in a field in in Surrey, and you might need to use your imagination here because I know we had some lovely sausage butties, and but imagine there was no food. Imagine there's no food. We didn't have any lunch You didn't have your phone or your wallet or a car or anything that you could use to go and find food. And we're all there. We're all we're all having a great day of teaching and singing and praying together.
Sons beaming down, but people are getting hungry now. Some some of these are starting to rumble and the people are tired. There's a problem. Children need feeding, mouths, there are mouths to feed. And then someone asks you, where should we buy bread for everyone?
Buy bread for everyone. Like, you am a laugh. What do you mean, buy bread for everyone? I'm not I'm not from here. I'm not van der brook.
I don't even know. I don't even know where the shops are. And even if I did, do you know how much it would cost to feed all these people? Why are you asking me? Why why isn't my problem?
It's a totally ridiculous question to ask. And and and that's a sense of what we get here, Jesus asked Philip, where should we buy bread for these people to eat? And so Philip replies, verse 7, Philip answered him. It would take more than a half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each 1 to have a bite. Philip's got his calculator out Do you know how much it would cost to feed all these people?
And it may say in your bibles 200 Denari. Donari is the day's work. 200 days more than half a year's wage. And that's just enough for each 1 to have a bite, a nibble, a snack. It's not to feed them.
Philip is asked by Jesus an intentionally impossible question, and he responds in a rational and practical way. And this exchange shows us that there's there's more going on here the meets the eye. We've seen Jesus in throughout John's gospel use the the physical world to point to the spiritual. John 2, he's asked the dearest dearest leaders So he says to them, destroy this temple. And in 3 days, I will raise it up.
It took 46 years to build. John 3, Jesus says to nicodemus, You need to be born again. How do you get back into your mother's womb? John 4, she's asked the smartest woman at the well If you knew who it was, who asked you for a drink, you'd have asked him and he would have given you living water. You don't have a bucket?
The well is too deep. John 5, Jesus asked the paralyzed man. Do you wanna get well? Ah, but I've got no 1 to let me in the pool. John 6, Jesus asked Philip, where should we buy bread for these people.
8 month wages wouldn't even give enough to have a bite. Just as the Jews Nikodemus, Samaritan woman, paralytic man, didn't see Jesus for who he is even his disciple Philip, who had seen in display, his power and glory in miracles, didn't see him for who he is. And so were told in verse 6, he asked this only to test him for your he had already in mind what he was going to do. She's asking Philip not to look at these impossible circumstances, but to look to him to look to him for for provision Jesus is saying come to me. Don't look at your calculator or your insufficient resources.
Look to me. Then verse 8, we read Andrew pipe up. Andrew Simon's Simon Peter's brother spoke up. Here's a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish. How far will they go among so many?
Andrew knows it's nothing. It's it's barely worth mentioning. And that's the point, isn't it? What a ridiculous question. And it's It's it's ludicrous.
It's it's it's impossible. So a hopeless situation But then Jesus says, invest 10, have the people sit down. So secondly, verse 10 to 13, a bountiful provision. We've got this dire situation, there's mouths to feed and own with only a little boy's lunch of fish sandwiches. But they were told, Jesus, as the people sit down, they do, they sit down on the grass, about 5000 men were there This is remarkable because it's not counting women and children.
So it could be 10, 15, Even 20000, some people say, hungry people, it's hard to miss the the vastness of this miracle. Remember, it was only a few months ago, but we when we kicked off the media fast, we had that amazing hug gross didn't we. And the hub was was filled with people. Kids running around. Everyone was excited to kick off the media fast and eat the hog.
And there was about there was about 250 of us then. And I'm not sure about you, but when your table was called and you went out the hub and you turned the corner. And you saw the massive line of people queuing up for this hog? I thought is it gonna be enough food? Of course, there was, and it was brilliant, so everyone ate their fill.
But we had a massive, hard gross, and there was 250 people And I was worried about getting hungry. This is thousands and thousands of people with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish to go around. John tells us that these are barley loaves. Barly cakes. They're they're like wafers.
And it it's base it's the lowest quality of bread. Like, you can't you don't even need yeast to make these. It's basically ground barley and water, it's often it was often given to animals. These aren't, you know, lovely fresh, French baguettes, or sourdough loaves, these are little barley wafers. And it's not too huge salmon to go with it.
This is too little pickled fish, mainly used for flavor. It's it's the food of a poor boy It's the the lowest of the low meal. It's pathetic. It's pathetic. Something so inadequate.
Yet, that is exactly what Christ uses. First 11, Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who are seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. And we may be prone to underappreciate this miracle, maybe because it's familiar to us, or because we can't quite comprehend this scale of it maybe or understand exactly how it happened, but it's an important display of Christ's divinity He is the son of God, and it's actually undisputable think think about it. Thousands of hungry people They're sat down so they can't miss anything, and they eat as much as they want.
Think about how you're hungry, how how you are when you're hungry, how you behave. There's even a word for it, isn't that hungry? Hungry and angry? Angry because you're hungry. It's a marketer's dream, really, isn't it?
You you may have seen these companies advertising 10 minute grocery deliveries, immediate delivery of groceries to your door, know, in less than 10 minutes, I actually saw an advert on the tube that literally just said hangry, question mark, and then the company's logo. Get your food, and then you'll you'll you'll you'll you won't be angry. And we know what we're like when we're hungry. It's pretty difficult to shift that feeling of hunger. You can't pretend that you're full, but as much as they wanted, They were fully satisfied.
Something that seemed so pathetic, a poor boy's fish sandwich in the hands of Jesus fully satisfied. It it's it was once an insignificant pathetic meal, but she has actually fed the crowd with it. So much so that there was enough left over to spare Verse 12, Jesus said gather the pieces that are left over, let nothing be wasted. And there were 12 baskets left over There was more leftover than there was at the beginning. Look at the extravagance the abundance of Christ.
There's no doubt that this was to display the sufficiency of Christ's gospel to satisfy the needs of man. The crowds came to him for what they could get from him. In his great mercy and compassion. He shows them that it's him they most need. We noted earlier about just using the physical realms points of the spiritual, and that's exactly what he'll go on to explain in the rest of this chapter in John 6.
Jesus shows that this miracle of bread is about himself as the bread of God that comes down from heaven. Jesus is the bread of life. And we're invited to taste and see. We must feed on him, on him crucified, and what he achieved by his death or we will die in our sins. And what are we to do?
Come to him. Croud received everything freely. I love that because it shows that we cannot contribute anything to our salvation. To him right, it says nothing in my hand I bring simply to the cross I cling. Our qualification is our readiness to listen, to feel our need of him, to see that we are sinners before a Holy God in need of salvation.
But when we call on Christ's name, when we come to him with our sins, He is the 1 who is ready to forgive, who is mighty to save. He will surely do it and fully satisfy our souls. Isn't this a beautiful picture of salvation? A hopeless situation, but Christ comes as the bountiful provision to feed us, to fill us, to satisfy us. But now we've got some confusion in the camp because we get some stuff about just being a prophet and a king.
And then he withdraws to a mountain by himself. What is going on here? What is going on? So thirdly, verse 14 and 15, a prophet and a king. The people have been fed.
They've eaten as much as they wanted. The leftover pieces have been gathered by the disciples, and the people saw it as a sign. We read verse 14, 15. Surely, this is the prophet who has come into the world. Jesus knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
You might have noticed in the passage that were were pointed to Moses In a few ways, in this chapter, Jesus goes up on a mountain at the start and end of the set of this section. Moses received the law on the mountain. It was passover time. We talked about that earlier, and then you have bread. Moses received the bread from heaven, the manor in the wilderness.
So look what happens here. We've just seen a prophet in the wilderness, miraculously provide bread for the children of Israel. And remember, it's passover time. So the crowds will have will have known the Jewish history as top of mind right now. And they're thinking they've got deja vu.
Have we seen this before? A prophet in the wilderness. Miraculously provide bread for the children of Israel. If you don't know this story, that's what happened the next this. With the manor, the bread from heaven, in the wilderness.
And then Moses told Israel, God will raise up for you, a prophet like me from among you. So so Israel are being told that God will raise up for them, a prophet like Moses from among them. Right? But the then the penny drops. Is Jesus the new Moses?
Moses who was a prophet and fed Israel in the wilderness with bread. That's what that's just what Jesus did. Moses Moses led us out of Egypt. Could this man, this Jesus, be a prophet like Moses and helpers, escape Rome? Surely, this is the prophet who has come into the world.
Well, the bread which fell in the days of Moses could only feed and satisfy the physical hunger of Israel. Jesus, the bread of God came to feed and satisfy the eternal soul by becoming bread for the sins of the world. So he's not merely a new Moses. He is like Moses, but he's so much greater than Moses. Christ is the prophets, but not as they think.
He is the Messiah, the son of God, What he has come to do is not what they're expecting. So verse 15, Jesus, knowing that they intended come and make him king by force withdrew again to a mountain by himself, the kind of kingdom the crowds wanted from Jesus was was earthly. They're looking to overthrow Rome for a political leader They want to make him king, by force. Did you notice that? By force, you will be our king.
They're looking for the kingdom of man. And when Jesus is before pilate, he may have read it this this weekend. Tyler asked him Are you the king of the Jews? Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is from another place.
In other words, yes. I am a king, but not not in the way you think I am. The crowds say he is the prophet to come and they want to make him king by force. Jesus shows that they don't see who he really is. He withdraws from them.
He's going to use his power not to triumph over Rome, not to be their military leader, But to pay the price for their sins, the son of god, the king of kings, The 1 who all things were created through and for emptied himself, became a man to be our bread. He was broken for us. Today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate that that he resurrected. He defeated death. So when we feed on him, and his work, we don't get an easier life.
We get eternal life. This is the Messiah, the son of God. It's him Not his gifts that our soul needs, it's himself who is our food, and how he becomes food for our salvation. Is by laying down his life. So back to our question earlier, what do you want Jesus to do for you?
Jesus didn't come to be a prophet and a king on on our own terms to meet our desires to have an easier life to be happy, to be healthy, to be wealthy. He withdraws he withdraws from that idea. The idea of coming to satisfy their the the crowds and our earthly desires to make their and our lives a bit better is exactly the kind of ideology that Jesus withdraws from. JC Ryle was the first bishop of Liverpool And I've loved reading some of his work over the last 6 months with with some brothers. And he says he says this, which I absolutely love.
He says. Happy are those who know something by experience of spiritual hunger. Everyone is aware of an inner hunger and inner longing for more. Only when we realized that it's a spiritual hunger, can we be blessed? And that's the start of of true Christianity to to understand that we are guilty, empty, needy sinners, And our deepest longing is to know our creator And so we hunger.
The reason we hunger is because our sin has separated us from our creator, from knowing God, because he is holy and we are not. And until we know that in that sense, we are hungry, we will never be filled The relentless pursuit of an easy life of the good life, happiness, health, wealth, They're all just distractions from reality of where we stand before our creator And the the greatest of all mistakes is to try to find relief in any other way than simply coming to Christ. The person of Jesus Christ. The lord Jesus Christ. The bread that feeds us.
The manner from heaven who came and is broken for us. So when we feed on him, the person of Jesus And on his death and resurrection, we have life. We have eternal life. This Jesus is amazing. So what do you want him to do for you?
To wrap up, if you if you're not a believer this this evening. I hope you can see that we though we may want to to be happy, and healthy and wealthy in this life, these are all temporary distractions from the deepest longings of our souls to know God's It's only through coming to Christ and feeding on his work that we can have life for those who come to him from for what they can gain, an easier life he'll withdraw. If we try to have Jesus as our lord on our on our terms, he will not have us. But for those who come to him for who he is and for what he came to do, he will never cast out. Christ is willing and ready to save, come to him.
If you have come to the bread of life, if you know him as savior, 3 quick points of application, Firstly, look to Jesus. Jesus asked Philip, where should we buy bread? And that was to test him. Philip failed the test of faith. He doesn't see Christ for who he is, and instead, despairs in his situation.
He totally misses the points and looks for a practical solution It's completely off the mark. Sound familiar? When our faith is tested, maybe the Lord is caught causing us to to rely on him, to look to him, to come by faith for who he is, So can I encourage you to look to him? Don't delay? What a friend we have in him?
Secondly, bring your fish sandwiches Look at this little boy. Though he's he's not got much. It's it's nothing. It's it's pathetic. Christ uses it and he's pleased to use it for his glory.
Sometimes we think who are we? What could I possibly do of any value for the lord? May feel that What we have to serve is totally insignificant, but Christ uses our humble efforts You know, maybe you've tried to point someone to Christ, and you reflect on the conversation, and you think that was a fish sandwich and a half. But however feeble our efforts are, when put in the hands of the savior, he uses them and is glorified through them. So being encouraged to be like this little boy, put what you have in the lord's hands and watch him work.
And that's the third point. It's Christ who does the work. Look at the disciples. Christ multiplies the food. They distribute it faithfully.
Are many are fed? Only the true bread of life is sufficient to feed the world, and we must distribute the news faithfully. That's what we're called to do. Christ does the work. We share it.
I don't know about you, but I find that reassuring. God is suffering, salvation belongs to him. All we do is dispute the good news. He does the rest. Praise God for that.
So what do you want Jesus to do for you? These crowds see him as prophets and king on their terms. They come to him for what they can get. They miss it and he withdraws. But when we see Jesus for who he is, the Messiah, the son of God, and we repent of our sins and believing him, he will fully satisfy us.
We don't get an easier life. We get eternal life. Let's pray. Heavenly father, we are are blown away by this Jesus. Thank you.
Spirit for showing us the Messiah, the son of God, who would empty himself and become sin for us. We pray we would come to him. We wouldn't delay. To come to the bread of life and be fully satisfied. Father, we ask that you would increase our love for you, that we may bring what we have though insignificant and pathetic it may feel, we would bring it in service of you in in the lord's hands knowing that it is Christ, not us, who does the work.
In his name, we pray, amen.