While visiting a missionary friend in Guatemala in 1997, Jesus challenged my thinking. Have you ever had Jesus shift your thinking?! He specializes in molding our reasoning to mirror that of heaven—not of earth—if we allow Him to.
Carolyn and I had been through a challenging season in our lives. Just a couple of years prior to this mission’s trip to Guatemala, we returned discouraged from the mission field in Haiti. Life and ministry hadn’t gone the way “we planned.” While on this trip, I went out for a prayer walk one morning, I had some “concerns” to share with Jesus. Sometimes our prayer meetings are more like pity parties—His grace and patience with us is truly amazing!
My questions for Jesus went something like this, “Lord, I thought you said we would minister to the nations, helping to train disciples and future leaders of the Church? Why Lord, when we were in Haiti, were finances such an issue for us?” Our questioning of God is often veiled frustration and criticism. Fortunately, He is longsuffering.
At the leading of Jesus, Carolyn and I walked away from engineering careers and good salaries to serve the Lord in full-time ministry, beginning in Haiti. Our time in Haiti was consumed with prayer and worry about our finances. We had very little resources and struggled to cover expenses—something we had never gone through before as engineers.
It was a beautiful Guatemalan morning to prayer walk. The temperature was perfect, the sky was bright blue, and beautiful flowering plants and bushes lined the streets. It was peaceful and serene. Sadly, I wasn’t seeing much beauty in my surroundings that day. I was frustrated and stressed over the circumstances which unfolded in Haiti and continued after our return to the states. By the way, I was also in denial of any personal responsibility for our situation, I shifted the blame to others and God. Despite my agitation and negative thinking, Jesus began to reveal His thoughts about the situation to me.
He gave me a dramatic vision of Himself and the world. I saw the Lord, very large, miles high in stature, standing on the earth in North America. He looked relaxed and at peace. He said to me, “Follow Me!” He then took three big strides and was across the Atlantic Ocean, standing in Europe, then He moved with another step and was in Africa, and then He took another step and was in Asia. He then said to me, “Bob, with Me, going to the nations is easy. Just follow Me, trust, and obey as I lead!” This visionary encounter with the Lord “reset me.”
I began to realize something after this experience, “Jesus is enough!” He never asked me to “save” the world, He simply asked me to follow Him. He promises to meet every need in life and ministry. To know and live in Jesus is everything, the greatest treasure!
Prayer may not be answered in the manner or timing that we would like, but He promises to provide for those who love and obey Him. You see, Jesus is enough—period! He patiently works with us to transform our thinking to understand this truth and reality. His desire is that we would then simply follow and obey Him when He leads us to nations or around the corner to pray for a friend or neighbor.
Let’s examine this truth closer in Mark 6:30-44 with Mark’s account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
Right after Mark’s account of the death of John the Baptist, the 12 disciples return from their apostolic mission, telling Jesus everything that has occurred. They used the authority (exousía) He imparted to them and freed others!
Testimony builds faith in hearers for God to move again! Share with others what the Lord is doing—the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy! Rev 19:10
Know this: the apostolic commission given to the Church has never been rescinded—Jesus expects His followers to heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, and care for the needy.
There is such a large multitude of people, Jesus and the disciples couldn’t even eat! Jesus takes the disciples to a desert or wilderness place to rest—but the crowds run ahead of them to receive from Jesus again. But Jesus has compassion on them and begins to teach the people (in Matthews gospel we read Jesus “heals the people”—Matt. 14:14), I believe Jesus both taught and healed them.
Well, so much for the retreat! We read that Jesus, when He saw the people, He had compassion on them and began to minister to them. The Greek verb Mark uses for compassion implies “a deeply felt, gut reaction.” Jesus sees the people “like sheep without a shepherd.” Israel has been without Godly leaders, now Jesus, the great shepherd, demonstrates God’s heart.
Sheep without a shepherd are likely to scatter when a predator comes. God sends leaders and shepherds into our midst to guide, direct, and to protect—must follow!
On my mom’s side of the family, they are mid-western farmers. I grew up around farms and livestock. Sheep are perhaps the most “nervous” of any livestock. They need pens, or “boundaries,” and a farmer or shepherd that can lead them safely and help watch over them. Predators, such as coyotes and wolves, prey on sheep and other livestock. Alert shepherds help keep them safe.
Peter gives a good warning to those who follow Jesus, “Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Pet. 5:8-9 CEB) Sheep need shepherds to help stay alert and safe from predators. When sheep stray from the flock, refusing to follow the leading of healthy shepherds, they can easily become prey for the enemy of our souls.
The feeding of the 5,000 men, approximately 20,000 people with women and children. This miracle is the only story, recorded in all four gospels (Matt. 14:14-21; Luke 9:11-17; John 6:5-13), is one of the most memorable of Jesus ministry.
A lengthy conversation unfolds with the disciples and Jesus, wherein the disciples recommend to Jesus to send the people into the surrounding villages to buy food. Have you ever tried to recommend to Jesus what He should do?
Perhaps you find yourself in a desert place, and your human reasoning sees only lack. I have a question for you, “Is Jesus Enough?” Only a faith anchored in Jesus can answer “yes” with conviction!
The disciples, like many of us, overlooked a principle revealed in the OT: In the desert or wilderness, God provided superabundantly for the children of Israel—God fed the people with manna (Exodus 16), the “bread from heaven,” (Ps. 78:24-25).
By letting the people of Israel experience hunger and then providing for their physical needs, God also reveals that He will satisfy their spiritual hunger, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth …” Deut. 8:3
The disciples forgot that our sufficiency is in God, trusting His word and promises. You see, Jesus is Enough! Their present situation prevented them from applying the all-sufficiency of God!
Think about what they were saying, “Jesus, let the sheep fend for themselves, they can do better apart from you!” CHURCH, stay close to Jesus, He is Enough!
“But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:37
Jesus knows exactly what He is about to do, and He is now attempting to awaken their faith in a situation that is beyond their resources. Your resources aren’t enough to accomplish what God has called you to! But in Jesus, you have all that you need, you must learn to live out of this divine reality with Christ, He is enough!
Jesus is also inviting the disciples to participate in His divine work of supernatural provision. Sadly, their response is negative and full of unbelief: “But they said to him, “Should we go off and buy bread worth almost eight months’ pay and give it to them to eat?” (Vs. 37b CEB) Eight months of wages to buy enough food Jesus—we don’t have that much!
Unbelief sees the lack in every situation and limits God!
The disciples aren’t the first ones to question or complain to God. We read in the OT of Israel and Moses complaining too, Moses says to the Lord, “Where am I to get meat for all these people?” (Num. 11:13)
The people say amongst themselves and to God, “They spoke against God!
“Can God set a dinner table in the wilderness?” they asked. (Ps. 78:19 CEB)
Can God? How God are you going to do this?!
Jesus doesn’t answer their negativity, but asks them a question: “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” Response: Five loaves and two fish.
Jesus begins the miracle by starting with what they have. He isn’t going to do the miracle out of thin air, but rather, he takes what they are able to give and miraculously multiples.
This principle applies to all disciples—Jesus uses what you can give—He does the rest! Jesus is Enough!
Since my encounter with the Lord in Guatemala, I’ve discovered multiple times how by simply following Him brings the provision and dramatic ministry results. Whether making missions trips, buying church property, or building a new sanctuary during a difficult recession, I’ve learned that Jesus is enough—just love Him, follow Him and obey Him!
Jesus prepares for the miracle by doing a couple of things.
First, He directs the people to sit in ranks (groups) of 50 and 100 on the grass, then He blesses the bread and gives it to the disciples to distribute. Why groups? For starters, it’s easier to distribute the food and count the leftovers. But it also reminds the reader of the 12 tribes of Israel camped in the wilderness (Exod. 18:21-25). Remember, God is not opposed to structure; new wine needs a wineskin! Leaders and organization needed in our churches to facilitate God’s miracles and moves of the Spirit (Eph. 4:11-13)!
The Greek for ranks or groups implies guests reclining at a dinner party!
Jesus is hosting a banquet in the desert! They held a widespread belief that when the Messiah came, He would host a great banquet for Israel. The green grass is not a haphazard detail, but a reference to spring (Passover) and “green pastures” the Shepherd leads His people to. (Ps. 23:2;5)
The Greek verb used for “gave” is in a form that means “continuing action.” In other words, Jesus kept giving the disciples food, and it continued to multiply, feeding 20,000!
I believe, had the disciples acted in faith on Jesus’ word to “give them something to eat,” God would have worked the miracle through their hands!
Think about this truth, you may be the conduit for God to work a miracle, but you must believe you can give others “something to eat” with what you have—the Lord will do the rest!
All ate and were satisfied, just like when the children of Israel were fed manna in the desert!
12 wicker baskets of leftovers, God’s exclamation mark on the miracle! 12 baskets for the 12 apostles or 12 tribes—Jesus is enough! All present knew the implication! When Jesus is enough, thousands are fed, the hopeless are revived, and the impossible becomes probable!
God’s math operates differently than our math. With God, one person can chase a thousand, but two can chase ten thousand (Deut. 32:30 and Jos. 23:10). That is exponential in nature—a force multiplier in military terms. God told Gideon to send thousands of warriors home in order that God could defeat an army with three hundred men.
God says, “Give and it shall be given”—His ways defy our human reasoning and His ability to “force multiply” situations is limitless.
Jesus is the author and perfecter of your faith (Heb. 12:2). As you learn to keep your focus upon Jesus, God’s faith develops in your spirit.
The moment you take your eyes off Jesus, you lose sight of the primary goal of your faith. He is the goal, your destination and the reason you do what you do. Follow Him!
Faith is an expectant anticipation of the reality of the promise before the manifestation. Faith acts upon God’s revealed truth with an assurance of the answer.
“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].” (Heb. 11:1 AMPCE)
Jesus’ words, “You give them something to eat,” is a word to all who follow Him.
You are part of His apostolic church, commissioned to go, to heal, to free, and to help the poor. Jesus is enough—period!
Don’t be like the disciples, who were confronted by an urgent need, a situation beyond their ability, and tell Jesus, “Lord how are we to do this?”
Jesus wants you to take what you have been given—time, treasure, and talents—and trust Him to multiply to meet the need. You can’t, but God can… simply trust Him!
For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church sermon, “Book of Mark: Is Jesus Enough?”Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2017