Sunday, January 07, 2024

“Enough Bread” [Matt's Messages]

“Enough Bread”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
January 7, 2024 :: John 6:1-15 

Jesus often asks trick questions.

One of the reasons why I like to ask trick questions [about things like baptism and prophets] is that Jesus likes to ask trick questions. I get it from Him.

His are better, of course. Sometimes my trick questions aren’t very good at all, and sometimes they backfire.

Jesus’ trick questions never backfire. They always work. They always reveal what Jesus wants them to. They always get people thinking while confounding those who need confounded and helping those who need helped. 

Jesus asks one of His tricky questions in this story. John says that Jesus asked it on purpose to test His disciple Philip. And I think we can learn from that tricky question for our lives today.

Let’s see where it came from.

We’ve reached John chapter 6, and we’re going to be here in John 6 for a few weeks. There’s quite a lot here in this chapter. Two astonishing miracles and then an important explanation of what those miracles mean and then a key a moment of decision.

Today, we’re just going to make through the first big miracle. And it’s one of the biggest miracles Jesus ever did. It shows up in all four of the gospels. It’s the only miracle, except for the resurrection, that shows up in all four gospels. And it was probably the most public of all of Jesus’ miracles. It was seen by the most people all at once, though they might not have all realized that it was happening.

Keagan has already read it to us, and we’ve probably all heard it before many times, but we should still try to put ourselves into the story as it unfolds and not as we know it’s going to turn out. 

We especially should try to put ourselves in the shoes of Jesus’ disciples named Philip and Andrew and John (who would later write it all down).

The location of this story is the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Look with me at John chapter 6, verse 1. “Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near” (vv.1-4).

Do you get the picture in your mind’s eye?

John says that this took place some time later than the events of chapter 5. Chapter 5 was all about the healing at the pool of Bethesda and the mind-blowing things that Jesus taught there about His Father and Himself. 

The leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem want to see Jesus killed because of what He was saying about Himself! So Jesus has gone north again and has been teaching and healing sick people. And He’s been growing in popularity up there.

The crowds are forming and following. He can’t seem to go anywhere without the crowds following Him around. He’s more popular than Taylor Swift.

But John says that the crowds aren’t following Him for the right reasons. It’s not because of Who He is but because of His power. Did you catch that in verse 2? “...a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.”

We’ve seen this kind of dangerous faith before, back in chapter 2 and in chapter 4 where they were focused on the Power of Jesus instead of Person of Jesus.  And now there’s a lot of them. His popularity is mushrooming. And the crowd is getting hungry.

Now, John doesn’t tell us very much about this particular day, but Matthew, Mark, and Luke do. This has been a very long and hard day for Jesus and His disciples. The other gospels tell us that Jesus has just found out that His cousin and forerunner John the Baptist has been killed. And Jesus and His disciples have been on the go so much that they haven’t had a moment to eat. And they have been followed everywhere they go. Like the Beatles in “A Hard’s Days Night.”

Jesus has just pulled His team together on a hillside for a break, probably near the Golan Heights, and it’s the time near the Jewish Passover Feast in Jerusalem, so everybody is excited about the holidays and many are going to head down to Jerusalem to take part in the national festivities.

But the big crowd finds Jesus and heads towards Him. And they are hungry.

And it’s at that moment that Jesus asks His trick question. A question to test, a question to teach, a question to get His disciples thinking and to reveal their hearts. Look at verse 5.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward 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.”

So it’s a trick question. He’s not actually asking Philip to take charge. He’s just seeing what’s in Philip’s mind and heart.

Philip is from Bethsaida which is not very far away. So he probably knows what’s available.

“Phil, where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”

“I don’t know. It’s really far to the nearest Wal-Mart. They’re putting in Dollar General soon, but there’s not enough food in the DG for all of these people!”

There’s a LOT of people. And that’s all that Philip can think of. All he can see is how many hungry people there are coming this way. Look at verse 7.

“Philip answered him, ‘Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’”

He’s got his calculator out. He’s punching in the numbers. “If we had 200 days wages (that’s two hundred denarii), more than half a year’s salary, we still wouldn’t have enough money for every mouth out here to get a bite!”

That’s Philip’s answer to the trick question. How did he do? 

The sermon title for today, by the way, is taken from verse 7, it’s just two words, “Enough Bread.”

And for Philip, that’s a question–“Enough Bread?”

“I don’t see how it’s possible! We can’t do it. We’re going to have to send them all home. They are on their own.”

Now, Andrew (another one of Jesus’ disciples), has been networking. He’s a people-person. Andy’s a connector. And he’s found a little bit of food. Look at verse 8. “Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’”

Not far enough. That’s Andrew’s answer to Jesus’ trick question. 

"There isn’t enough bread. There won’t be enough bread. We can’t do what you are asking.”

Now, we all know what’s going to happen, but they did not. So it’s easy for us to judge their answers harshly. But we all do the same thing, don’t we? Jesus asks us to do something, and we say, “That sounds impossible. Can’t be done.”

What should they have said? How should they have answered when Jesus asked His trick question?

“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”

It might have been good to say, “I don’t know, Jesus, but I’ll bet you do. I can’t get that much bread, but I know you can.”

It’s obvious that they haven’t really learned Who Jesus is yet, right? They are missing an asset as they take stock. Philip didn’t put Jesus into His calculator. 

The One Who turned the water into wine? The wedding guests didn’t know it, but the disciples did.

The One Who has been healing all of these people? Maybe He can do something about the food shortage. You think?

The One Who has said that God is His Father and that “whatever the Father does the Son also does (5:19)” because “Father loves the Son and show heim all He does” (5:20). That might include creating food for and feeding His creatures?

Let me phrase the question a different way and make it an application question for us today. 

When Jesus asks us to do something, where will we find the resources to do it?

When Jesus asks you to do something, where will you find the resources to do it? 

Well, we try to come up with them from all kinds of places, don’t we? We look into our own bank account. We lean on the government. We turn to our family. We roll up our sleeves and trust in our muscles. And, eventually, we get to saying, “I think it’s impossible.” “Can’t be done.” Because we have our eyes fixed on ourselves. And we aren’t counting on Jesus. 

Let me give you some examples. 

What is something that Jesus is asking you to do as we head into the year ‘24? (You don’t have to say “twenty” any more. We don’t think you mean 1924.) What is something that Jesus is asking you to do as we head into this new year?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably have to say it again. Jesus is saying to me, “Don’t worry in ‘24. You don’t have to.” He said it at the Sermon on the Mount. And He said, Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27 NIVO). It doesn’t do any good. 

And I’m like, “But there’s so many things that can go wrong this year. For our family. For our health. For our finances. For our church family. For our nation. This is another probably tumultuous national election year. Are we going to have another 2020?” 

And Jesus says, “Hey Matt, where are you going to get the resources to obey my command to not worry this year?”

And I say, “I don’t know! I don’t think it can be done. I don’t think there will be enough bread.”

But that’s me. You folks don’t have that problem. Let’s do another one.

Jesus is asking us to talk about Him with our unbelieving family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We are called to be bold and do evangelism. Donnie said last week, “I will tell of all your deeds.”

Are you going to do that this year? Are you going to tell people about Jesus and His good news? Where are you going to find the resources to do that?

“I don’t know. I don’t think it can be done. It’s impossible. I don’t think there will be enough bread.”

And Jesus is saying, “Don’t forget about me.”

We have a small missions team that we believe has been called to go visit our missionaries in Malawi on our behalf. It’s going to cost approximately $7500, and we have almost exactly one third of that with 209 days to go. And I hear Jesus asking, “Keith, Steph, Mary Beth, where are you going to get the funds to follow me to Africa in August?”

“He asked this only to test [them], for He already had in mind what He was going to do.”

Here’s the principle: If the Lord requires something, the Lord will provide it Himself.

Now, He uses lots of things to do it, including His people, but He doesn’t just send us out there on our own with nothing but our wits and our works  and our own resources.

He doesn’t just tell us, “Don’t worry.” He says, “I am with you.” Or as Donnie said it last week, “The nearness of God is my good.”

He doesn’t just tell us, “Make disciples of all nations.” He says, “And surely I will be with you to the very end of the age as you accomplish My mission.”

I mentioned the election season. Here’s another command that Jesus has laid on us. “Love your enemies.” “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk. 6:27-28 NIVO). And that includes on social media.

I think a lot of professing Christians come up to that one and they say, “Can’t be done. Impossible. There will definitely not be enough bread for that tall order.”

And Jesus is like, “Have you forgotten about Somebody?”

What is Jesus asking you to do and where will you find the resources to do it?

The answer to this trick question is to trust the One asking the question. Because the resources are in Him. He is the resources. He is the bread! {But that’s later in the chapter.}

Right now, at this point in the story, they have just tiny little bit of bread and a tiny little bit of protein, of fish. Probably salted or pickled as a bit of relish to go with the dry bread.

Barley bread was the poorest of poor meals. And there’s only enough here for a little boy. Philip and Andrew think it can’t be done. There won’t be enough bread.

And Jesus says, “It’s time to eat! Call everybody together and tell them it’s dinner time.” Verse 10.

“Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them.”


Over the holiday, our family got to gather at my parents house in Ohio for one last hurrah before they sell it. My brother’s family came in and all of us were there, and we sat down for one last meal together in “the old homestead.” I’m so glad it worked out for us all to be there.

But imagine if my Mom and Dad didn’t go shopping and didn’t make dinner for us. The fridge was bare. The oven was empty.  And Mom came out with a little Happy Meal. And there’s 15 of us there staring at this little Happy Meal.

There were 5,000 men at this. And that doesn’t count women or children. There could have been 10,000 people? 15,000 people? 20,000 people?

The Bryce Jordan Center has 15,261 seats. Anybody been in there? Imagine the BJC was full, and someone said, “Everybody sit down, we’re going to eat now. We have 5 barley loaves and two small fish. Hope you’re hungry!” That’s this situation.

Look at verse 11. 

“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 had 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 twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (vv.11-13)!

Enough Bread! It’s not a question. It’s a exclamation!

Verse 12 says that they all had enough to eat. In fact, it’s stronger than that, the Greek indicates that they were all full, all satisfied, and then they had leftovers. They had more than enough bread!

A lot of people have wondered if there is symbolism in the twelve baskets, and maybe there is. Maybe it has to do with the twelve tribes of Israel or something.

But I think it’s more simple than that. I think that Jesus made sure there that all twelve of the disciples had to carry around a basket afterwards so that they got the point of the trick question.

“Oh yeah, there’s enough bread here.”

We need to factor Jesus into our calculations.

It’s also the like collecting the manna in the wilderness, and Jesus will have more to say about that as we go further into chapter 6.

But the picture here is abundance. It’s blessing. It’s overflowing bounty. It’s the Kingdom! It’s life in Jesus’ name. Because of Jesus they had more than enough bread. Because Jesus is more than enough.

Like Donnie read last week in Psalm 73, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26 NIVO). And if He’s our portion, then we will always have more than enough, amen?!

Why did Jesus do this miracle?

I think it’s obvious that He did it out of compassion. The other gospels tell us that.  And I think it’s really neat that He did it out of compassion for people who didn’t deserve it, and weren’t even necessarily coming in faith. Remember, this crowd is there for the wrong reason. But that doesn’t stop Jesus from blessing them with dinner. Jesus is so compassionate. He is so gracious and generous.

Some of you may struggle to believe in this miracle. You doubt that miracles ever occur. And this is a big miracle. It is impossible unless all the other stuff about Jesus is true, as well.

But I believe it. I believe this happened. I believe there were eyewitnesses. And that’s why we have it recorded for us in this history book. And I believe that this is Who Jesus is. He’s this compassionate. He’s this gracious. He’s this generous.

And He’s this powerful. He can do this and so much more. This is incredible power. It’s quiet. He still doesn’t wave His arms and say, “Abracadabra.”  He just acts like the Creator He is and makes bread where there was no bread.

And He provides what He requires. I think He did this, not just to be compassionate to His dinner guests, but to show His disciples that He will do for them what He asks them to do. They just have to trust Him. He will provide and provide and provide. Much more than enough. And, therefore, we can do whatever He asks us to do because He will provide whatever we need to do it.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  “I can do everything [He asks me to do, including die a faithful death!] through Him who gives me strength.”

Now, next week, Lord-willing, we’re going to see how the crowds reacted to all of this. It’s really quite humorous and quite sad. But we can see in verse 14 what direction they are headed. 

“After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

It’s not His time, and it’s not His way. He’s going to wait for His time and do it in His way.

Notice who they think He is. “The Prophet.” Remember what we learned about that just a couple weeks ago. They are right! Jesus is the Prophet. He is more than a prophet but He is a prophet, and He is the Prophet that Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18.

But they mistakenly thought that meant that they could, in the heat of a Passover Feast moment, forcee Jesus to become the Messiah King that rescues them from the Romans.

But Jesus is the Messiah, and He is going to rescue His people, but He’s going to start by rescuing them from something much worse than Rome.

He’s going to rescue them from sin.


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30