THE MIRACLE WE NEED MOST
1. Which one would you choose?
a. My favorite is the calming of the wind and the sea.
b. Perhaps the most astonishing is the raising of Lazarus.
c. But this is the one recorded by all four gospel writers.
i. The Lord initiated the action himself (Jn. 6:6). He made reference to its lesson at least twice later (Mk. 6:52; 8:19). He duplicated its point in another miracle (Mk. 8:1-10).
ii. Obviously, this event has a singular importance.
2. Here is Mark’s description of what happened....(reading of the text)
3. Why is this the miracle we need most?
1. It lets us know that the faith of Christ is for all the circumstances of life.
a. Our faith is for real life, not just for a few segregated “holy moments.”
i. It is not an escape from responsibility.
ii. It’s not merely a means of coping with problems or fears.
iii. Neither is it only a garment of praise to be worn on the sunniest days. Faith in Christ is for all the time!
b. You can see it from the setting for this most meaningful mighty work.
i. The news of the murder of John the Baptizer by Herod had come to Jesus (Matt. 14:13).
ii. The twelve returned from going through the villages proclaiming the kingdom of God and healing the sick (Mk. 6:30).
iii. People, having heard of the signs, were everywhere, and there was a need for a place by themselves, a little time to rest both mind and body (Mk. 6:31, 32).
iv. But the demands of a huge, searching, ever-present crowd would not go away (Mk. 6:34).
v. Even after this miracle there were contrary winds to face and busy routines to meet (Mk. 6:48, 56).
c. Faith is for all of that and more. It is not for some component of life. It is for life.
2. We need this miracle because it presents the understanding and concern of Jesus in a manner few other events can.
a. The claim that he does sympathize and care is one of the New Testament’s most important lines of encouragement (cf. Heb. 4:15).
b. But the truth of that claim is never clearer than in this place.
i. We can see it in his considerate understanding of the apostles (v. 31). He was caring for their well-being both physically and emotionally. He was aware of their need for a rest.
ii. We can see it in his compassionate service to the crowd (v. 34). Despite what he was going through himself, he welcomed them (Lk. 9:11). He saw that they were hapless and hopeless, like sheep without a shepherd, and he was moved by it – enough that he began to teach them.
iii. We can see it in his careful training of the twelve (cf. Jn. 6:5-6). He realized that their confidence in him, and in their ability to do what he might send them to do, needed to be developed. He was “continuing their education.”
c. The Lord of this miracle is not only interested in our whole lives, but also understands us and wants what’s best for us.
3. This is also the miracle we need most because it calls us act out of the same kind of compassion for people around us.
a. The disciples’ thinking about the “sheep without a shepherd” crowd that day was about like what ours might have been if we had been there.
i. They could identify the need well enough: it was a remote place, the hour was late, people were hungry, and there wasn’t enough to go around, v.35.
ii. They just couldn’t see that it was their problem, or that they could or should do anything to help, v. 36.
iii. All their calculations were correct – except for the demands of compassion.
b. The question is whether it is possible to follow a Lord who is moved with compassion without being moved with compassion.
i. And the answer is apparent from the fact that Jesus took them past the “somebody ought to do something” to the “you give them something to eat” of v. 37.
ii. I’m told that the “you” in the construction of his statement is very emphatic: you are the ones to do something about this.
iii. He was working on their thinking. He wanted them to be men who felt for people and who thought first of what they could do to help.
c. The life which is lived in the care of the Christ of this miracle is fueled by compassion. It will teach and help and care.
4. We need this miracle because it assures us that when we do our best in his service with what we have, it will be good enough.
a. The New Testament teaches that the Lord is able to take us and what we have and make it sufficient for the task at hand.
i. 2 Corinthians 9:8 – “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
ii. One writer observed, “The followers of Christ do not have the ability of themselves to meet the spiritual need of people, but when they make available what they have to the Lord, the Lord can take it and multiply it and use them to minister to multitudes.” (J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, 233)
iii. The Lord’s people have to trust him enough to do their best with what they have. He is worthy of that kind of trust.
b. This miracle is that principle acted out.
i. “What do you have?” (Mk. 6:38) and “Bring them here to me” (Matt. 14:18) are the important statements.
ii. The disciples figured that, in their hands, eight months salary for a working man wouldn’t be enough to just begin to help the crowd.
iii. It turned out, though, that in the Lord’s hands, five loaves and two fish were way more than enough!
iv. But the Lord’s way was to give the pieces that he broke to the disciples for them to set before the people, v.41.
c. That’s why this work is called a sign – it proves Jesus’ sufficiency in the midst of deficiency, and his ability to make consecrated inadequacy satisfy the need of the hungry. (Cf. M. C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief, 113)
5. This is the miracle we need most because it demonstrates once and for all that the Lord is the answer to the deepest longings of human beings.
a. It shows Jesus as the supplier of human need.
i. The account says they all ate and were satisfied, v. 42.
ii. The twelve baskets full of broken pieces are mentioned to emphasize this point, v. 43.
iii. One student of the scriptures observed, “In the light of John’s account, which leads on directly to the great discourse about the bread of life, we are left in no doubt as to the meaning of the story. Jesus is not only the Giver of life; He is the Support and Sustainer of it, as indispensable for Christian living as daily bread for the body, the complete satisfaction and nourishment of the believing soul...” (C.E. Graham-Swift, “Mark” in The New Bible Commentary, 865)
b. It should be obvious that the one who could supply the loaves and fishes is infinitely more important than the loaves and the fishes!
i. That’s the point this “enacted parable” makes: we should all seek Christ.
ii. John shows that Jesus wanted the people to learn from this that they should labor for food that endures to eternal life by believing in him (6:26-27, 29).
iii. The implied claim is that none of us are going to find what we are looking for out of life in any other way.
c. In the Lord of this miracle, anyone can find a life in which he knows he is loved, is able to care about others, and finds the fulfillment of knowing that the Lord can use him to make a difference for good. It’s a satisfying life!
6. The record keeps calling attention to the need the apostles had to make the lessons of this miracle a permanent part of their thinking (cf. 6:52; 8:17, 19).
7. But it’s important to notice that as the miracle unfolded, the test of faith was extended to everyone present that day.
a. Think about verse 39....How may they have felt about this?
b. But look at verse 40....This is “the obedience of faith,” the spirit which all of us must have if we are ever to be at home in the Lord.