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Sermon 06 - John 6,1-14

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1.      Our Scripture for today is John 6:1-14 (page )

After this, Jesus crossed over the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miracles as he healed the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up into the hills and sat down with his disciples around him. 4 (It was nearly time for the annual Passover celebration.) 5 Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.


7 Philip replied, “It would take a small fortune to feed them!”


8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”


10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus ordered. So all of them—the men alone numbered five thousand—sat down on the grassy slopes. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and passed them out to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate until they were full. 12 “Now gather the leftovers,” Jesus told his disciples, “so that nothing is wasted.” 13 There were only five barley loaves to start with, but twelve baskets were filled with the pieces of bread the people did not eat!


14When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”

2.      Imagine, if you can, looking out on 5,000 faces blank from hunger.

a.    It's an image that sometimes becomes reality for me on Sundays when I preach past a certain time.

b.    Any speaker will tell you that when the tummies are growling, there's really no use talking any longer.

c.    Jesus was fully aware of this on that hillside; he knew that before he could unveil any more secrets of the kingdom of God, somebody would have to make a run to McDonald's.


a.    5 Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

b.    There was an obvious need outside of that inner circle of Jesus and his disciples and Jesus was going to meet that need.

i)        But his immediate concern was his disciples.

ii)      Here was another teaching moment.

iii)    This was a test to refine the Philip’s faith, not a temptation for evil.

iv)    THEY WERE THE FUTURE OF HIS WORK here on earth when he left after his resurrection and ascension.

c.    But this point they are worn out, tired, and emotionally down.

i)        They had recently returned from a mission’s trip.

ii)      John the Baptist had just been beheaded and this had to be emotionally draining on them.

4.      They needed some R and R and they get in the boat to go across the Sea of Galilee (called Tiberius here.)

a.    But the annual religious holiday of Passover is coming and people are on the move.

b.    Jesus reputation has exploded on the scene.

5.      Other versions of the story tell us that Jesus saw these multitudes and was moved with compassion on them.

a.    Praise God for a compassionate Jesus

b.    Here is a teaching moment for his disciples.

c.    This story tells us how they responded to this ministry opportunity and gives us insight into our own responses sometimes.

6.      LET ME PAUSE AND ASK YOU as an individual and us as a church:

a.    There are people all around us who are spiritually hungry, some physically, some emotionally.

b.    Jesus has given us the command to reach these people.

c.    Do you find yourself saying to yourself:

i)        But I don’t know enough to help someone else.

ii)      I don’t have the right gifts or abilities and I don’t know what my gifts are.

iii)    We are too small as a church with too few resources to make much of an impact.

iv)    Maybe there are a few of you that feel worn out from all that you’re doing and you wonder how you can do any more.

¨      Sometimes that happens in a church.

¨      Ministry/church life can be like that

¨      Mary had a little lamb,

‘Twas given her to keep,

But then it joined the local church,

And died for lack of sleep!

7.      Part of the lesson of this occasion is that GOD CAN DO A LOT WITH A LITTLE, IF HE HAS ALL OF IT.

8.      Look at how the disciples responded.


John 6:1-14

1.      MARK 6:36 – SEND THE AWAY

a.    Get rid of the problem

b.    For some, ignore it, it will go away

c.    Certainly a wrong perspective

2.      PHILIP - :7

a.    So Jesus turned to a local disciple, Philip, who was from nearby Bethsaida, and asked, "Philip where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?"

i)        Put yourself in Philip's place.

ii)      Five thousand hungry hikers were headed toward them, and Jesus told him, "Philip, this is your problem. I appoint you food chairman."

iii)    Philip got that "deer in the headlights" look in his eyes and blurted, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"


i)        Now Philip went on to become a great leader in the early church, yet his hare-brained comment that day is still preserved in Scripture.

ii)      You would think that scribes would have been tempted to edit out some of the embarrassing comments made by the disciples, who had later become the leaders of the early church.

iii)    Sometimes certain cultures rewrite history to portray themselves in a favorable light.

¨      However, this definitely is not true in the New Testament.

¨      We discover that the greatest leader, Peter, was a liar and a coward, that the Apostle John had a nasty temper, and this morning we see the Apostle Philip wimp out on that hillside.

iv)    The disciples were flawed, ordinary human beings like you and me.

c.    But that's part of the Christian message and certainly the message of this story John has been lead to write for us.

i)        In fact, this story is so significant that it is the only miracle that is mentioned in all four Gospels.

ii)      And it is very simple - God can do a lot with a little, if he has all of it.

d.   7 Philip replied, “It would take a small fortune to feed them!”

i)        NIV - Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

ii)      Eight moths’ wages” – Lit – 200 denarri

e.    Philip looks at the crowd and says "Lord, I have two words: im...possible. Can't be done."

i)        Say hello to Mr. Pessimist.

ii)      The sheer magnitude of the crisis overwhelms Philip, and he is quick to give up: "Lord it can't be done..."

¨      5,000 – and that’s just the men

¨      how about those hungry teens!

iii)    I’d admit, it's easy to be a pessimist these days.

¨      In addition to our local needs

¨      We have all the problems in the middle east

¨      We have Afghanistan, Iraq

¨      We have possible terrorism in this country, homeland security.

¨      Drive by shootings

¨      Anthrax scares and other chemicals

¨      Increase in substance abuse (drugs & alcohol)

¨      Increase in divorce and domestic violence.

iv)    And it is to this kind of a world God has planted us and has said, “Go into this kind of world

¨      Sometimes it's easy to feel like we're facing a charging elephant, and the only weapon we have is a peashooter.

¨      We are tempted to say, along with Philip, "Lord, there's no hope. We might as well give up..."

f.     It's interesting that Philip defines the problem in terms of financial considerations.

i)        Jesus asks, "Philip, where can we buy food?"

ii)      Philip responds, "Lord we don't have that kind of money."

iii)    ((illus)) Sounds like a marriage, doesn't it? "Honey, what do you say we go to the Bahamas after Christmas?" "We don't have that kind of money."

¨      In the church we have some very well-intentioned people whose first response to any new idea is similar: “How much is it going to cost” – not “Who is it going to reach?”

¨      "Oh, we don't have that kind of money."

¨      ((illus)) Well, I will confess that I am that kind of person's worst nightmare. I got in trouble in a previous church because as leaders we decided to give the Gospel away. That’s when we first starting giving Bibles away. During that time more people came to Christ than in the precious history of the church and our finances were the strongest. Money follows vision and faith.

¨      Where God guides, he provides.

g.    Whether we're geeks or geezers, God works miracles in our lives.

i)        Jesus doesn't accept Philip's hopelessness and say, "Okay, I understand."

ii)      In fact, in the depiction of this miracle in the other gospels, Jesus says to his disciples, "Feed these people."

h.    Jesus always asks more of us than we have to give.

¨      He wants us to love, even when we can find no love in our hearts,

¨      to forgive even when it feels impossible

¨      and to give when we have no idea where it's going to come from.

ii)      In the face of what seems impossible, old doom and gloom Philip melts away.

3.      ANDREW

a.    8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

b.    Andrew, another disciple on the hillside that day, musters a smidgeon of hope: "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish..."

c.    But then Andrew also melts: "How far will they go among so many?"

d.   We might think of Andrew as A REALIST.

i)        Some mike like to call him a guarded optimist.

ii)      ((illus)) A realist is the sort of man who would place the following ad in a North Florida newspaper, "Farmer aged 36 wishes to wed woman about 30 who drives tractor. Please enclose picture of tractor."

iii)    Andrew was practical.

iv)    As you heard, his logic follows the law of supply and demand: "On the demand side Lord, here are 5,000 ravenous people. On the supply side: 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. 5 + 2 does not equal 5,000.

v)      It's simple arithmetic, Lord. It can't be done. We might as well give up."

e.    ((illus)) Ah, but if we alter Andrew's equation just a bit, we get 5 + 2 + X = 5,000

i)        in the ancient writing of the church, X is always the symbol of Christ.

ii)      Friends, have you factored Christ into the equation of your life? If so, you know that you plus Christ are equal to any challenge.

4.      IDEALIST

a.    So if we're not supposed to be pessimists, and we're not to be realists, is John then saying that to be a Christian is to be an idealist?

b.    Should we go through life looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, believing that everything will be peachy keen if only we think positive?

c.    Must Christians always see the glass as half full and never half empty?

i)        I recently read the following statement in a business publication: "Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem."

ii)      Today America is a nation of burned-out idealists.

iii)    When we see problems we say, "Hey wait, I thought we fixed that last time."

iv)    We've sent billions of dollars in aid to hungry people around the world, so why are they still hungry?

d.   Our idealism has crashed into cynicism. And the crowds still hunger.

5.      YOUNG BOY

a.    Fortunately there is one more person on that hillside: a little boy who is probably about 12 years old.

b.    He's got his own lunch. He's away from his parents...

c.    You know how 12-year-olds love to roam.

i)        Jesus came through his town that morning and this boy left his Nintendo game to follow the master

ii)      Then in the multitude of 5,000 people, where was he?

iii)    Right up front, walking along beside Jesus and his disciples - isn't that just like a 12- year- old boy?

d.   So there this boy is.

i)        He overhears Jesus say, "Philip, we need food."

ii)      But he responds differently than Philip or Andrew.

¨      This boy does not look at the size of the crowd.

¨      The boy does not calculate the impact his gift will have.

¨      He simply hears Jesus say, "Philip, we need food." And he responds, "Food?" "I have food, Mom packed it for me this morning...Jesus, here's my food. Lord, take my food."

¨      And since he was a 12-year-old boy, he was probably the hungriest person in the crowd.

¨      He provided a gift that kept on giving – 5,000 fold.

¨      And it continues to give to us today.


1.      Thank God for those who believe God and give him their all, even thought, by human standards, it is small.

a.    Blessed are those who possess a child-like faith – such are the kingdom of heaven.

2.      ((illus)) I remember as a young person hearing this story and the phrase which the preacher put into this boy’s mouth.

a.    I think it’s right.

b.    “It may be small, but it is all.”

3.      Thank God for those who are willing to trust and obey Jesus like that today.

a.    Your energy, your gift, your dedication will be an investment in the lives of others, not an expense.

4.      ((illus)) I know a pastor who one early morning was walking through the sanctuary of the church he pastors, and he found an offering envelope on the communion table.

a.    He could tell there was something in the envelope.

b.    A note written with pencil said:

c.    Dear God, I hadn't visited in a very long time, but tonight my car seemed to drive me here. For several years I had lost faith, but no longer. I will be around. I need help though. I am in college and life is so confusing. I got diagnosed with MS this summer and my grades are slipping. I truly want to succeed in life. But how? Please accept this as all I have right now. But I will be in, most definitely...

d.   Inside the envelope were stuffed several one dollar bills.

i)        It wasn't a lot,

ii)      Just enough to go down to a local deli and buy five bagels and two fillets of smoked salmon.

iii)    But it was all that person had.

iv)    And God will do a lot with a little if he has it all.

5.      Does God have your life this morning?

a.    Have you placed your life in his hands?

b.    Can you say “It may be small, but it is all.”?

c.    Until you do, you'll never know the difference you can make.

d.   I almost tremble when I think of all God is going to do with such a gift.


Lord we thank you for this story, and for the example set by this young giant of faith. We are grateful that even after every hungry spirit is fed, there are still 12 baskets of leftovers. And we are thankful that you still can make a little go a long way, as we dedicate all we have, and all we are, to you. It may be small, but it is all.

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