First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, November 10, 2019)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Trust Jesus When Perplexed by Problems!”
Psalm 23; John 6:1-15
This morning, we continue our study in the gospel of John. Basically, we are looking at the “Seven Signs” or miracles of Jesus, that John selected to include in his gospel. Today, we will be looking at the fourth sign, the feeding of the 5,000 found in John chapter 6.
Aside from the resurrection of Jesus, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. Obviously, the gospel writers considered this a significant miracle. Matthew 14:21 emphasizes the miraculous aspect of this sign by saying, “The number of those who ate was about 5000 men, besides women and children.” Many Bible scholars believe the actual number fed that day could have been 12,000—15,000 people.
This is one of the great miracles of the Bible. I want you to imagine with me the setting of this “Fourth Sign.” It is late. The people have been with Jesus all day. I bet they are tired and hungry. The local Burger King is closed for remodeling. The nearest Chick-fill-A is in Jerusalem, and Pizza Hut doesn’t deliver to the wilderness. The disciples make a very practical suggestion: “Send them away and let them find food.” That’s logical. The suggestion is not made from bad motives. In themselves the disciples had no resources to meet this enormous need. They had no food and no money. What else could they do? They could do nothing!
The story is loaded with many great lessons. As I pondered this sign and what I should say to you this morning, my mind was drawn to a few lessons this great Scripture passage offers.
First: A Stressful Situation
The situation that the disciples of Jesus faced in John chapter 6 was a very challenging one to say the least. It was impossible to feed the few thousands gathered on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They are perplexed. Friends, here is the reality: sooner or later, you will come to the end of your knowledge, your wisdom, your skill, your strength, your eloquence, your creativity, and your personal charm. Life has a way of stripping away our self-sufficiency and showing us how weak we really are. As I said last week, you either in a storm, headed into a storm, or coming out of a storm.
When that happens, you’ll discover what or who you really believe. We will discover what we actually believe when the moment of crisis comes. Charles Spurgeon once said, “To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark – that is FAITH.” There is for sure a stressful situation, but there is also a compassionate Savior.
Second: A Compassionate Savior
What the Bible is saying to us here in John 6 is simple: Jesus is bigger than any problem we face. He was the answer back then. He is still the answer to every problem we face today. In a world filled with darkness and fear, Jesus Christ is the only solution for the troubles that surround.
Our God is a compassionate God. He knows the pain and struggles we face. He understands. He is never too busy, or too distant to care. He knows the grief you feel today, for He felt it too. Psalms 34:18 reminds us that, “He is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Jesus Christ is all-sufficient to meet our overwhelming needs. In Jeremiah 32:17, the Prophet Jeremiah prayed, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
Third: A Faithful Response
John’s account of this miracle tells us that it was Andrew, Peter’s brother, who found the young boy with the five barley loaves and two fish and brought him to Jesus. Jesus asked the disciples to give Him what they had. The little boy whose very smart mom had packed his lunch that day, gave all he had, 5 loaves and 2 fish. It is a faithful response from both Andrew and the little boy. They offered it all up, though it seemed so inadequate.
The disciples must have thought Jesus was crazy to even ask for it. How will He feed thousands of people with so little? This is a huge task with tiny resources. But they still obeyed, they still brought it all to Jesus. And this single obedient act ushered the way for Jesus to perform that amazing miracle story still talked about today. This truth remains, obedience paves the way for great things to happen. He desires our hearts to be fully yielded to Him, and great miracles can occur as a result.
Fourth: A Multiplied GiftJesus blessed the little and multiplied what has been given to Him. Everyone ate. They were all “satisfied,” says John 6:12. They are full and content. That's a lot of mouths to feed on such a small offering of food. But with God, it was enough, it was more than enough. Often times you feel that your resources are not adequate to meet the need. Yet, once we place them in His hands to do what He wishes with them, and in the process, release control to Him. He in turn blesses them and places them back in our hands, multiplied, more powerful than we could have imagined.
This is a faith process, a faith experience. Too often we are overwhelmed with the vastness of the need and give up. Or we belittle our resources to the point that we never release them to God, but selfishly hang on to them because that is all we know and all we have. We are inadequate, we know, but we refuse to let go. Or we insist that God perform the task by Himself, without us participating in the process even in a tiny way.
Friends, let’s trust Jesus when we are perplexed by problems. Jesus, the Bread of Life, meets us and feeds us where we do not think we have enough. The Good Shepherd is ours, or to be more accurate, “we are his. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture” Psalm 100:3. You may be dealing with a stressful situation right now. Remember you got a compassionate and loving Savior. Yes, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. And in the midst of all of this, we, the disciples of Jesus today, are called to agents of hospitality; to step out in faith and deliver. In 2 Corinthians 6:10, Paul says, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” Amen.