One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” (John 6:8-12)
Have you ever seen 20,000 people in one place? I’m sure that a crowd that size, when gathered, could prove to be quite overwhelming. Roughly the size of the population of Ozark, it would be like our entire city gathered together in one concentrated area.
In John 6, Jesus draws a multitude about that size into the middle of nowhere. Verse 10 tells us that there were 5,000 men; and then add women and children! And, what’s more, is that they’re all getting hungry. So forget about having seen 20,000 people! Have you ever had to feed 20,000 empty stomachs?
The Appearance of Impossibility
The wonderful thing is that feeding the multitude is no problem for Jesus. He doesn’t seem to mind at all. Everyone knows the story. Growing up, you heard it in Sunday school all the time. But don’t let your familiarity cloud its extraordinariness. With amazing power, Jesus takes one boy’s lunch–a few loaves and a couple of fish–and makes it everyone’s lunch.
If you look around on a Sunday morning at LifePoint, it may just remind you of those loaves and fish. Things appear to be pretty ordinary around here. No pomp and circumstance. No smoke and mirrors. Just regular folks doing regular things, such as talking, singing, and serving coffee.
And if our physical senses were all we had to go off of, we might be tempted to wonder, if Sunday looks so ordinary, why then, is it so significant? Why does LifePoint make such a big deal about it? That might be a valid question. In fact, it’s not much different from what Andrew asked when he approached Jesus with a hand-full of crackers and sardines: “what are they for so many?” (v. 9). Andrew looked at the crowd and then at the lunch basket, thinking to himself, how could something so ordinary be used for something so seemingly impossible?
How Big Is Your Jesus?
Yet there is a better question. Recently, I heard one pastor ask in a sermon on John 6, “How big is your Jesus?” That’s the real issue, isn’t it? If we want to experience Sunday at LifePoint for all it’s worth, we should be asking, just how big is Jesus to us? If we keep pondering that question sincerely and honestly, God will keep us from growing stale in worship.
The truth is that, much of the time, we settle way too easily. We mark off a little box in our hearts and subtly expect our relationship with God to exist there, making no real impact on us or the world around us. But the Christian life shouldn’t be relegated to the status quo. God has not left that option to us. Even in the most unspectacular circumstances with the world’s most perplexing issues before us, God is calling us to experience the fullness of Christ in extraordinary ways.
But how? Can our run-of-the-mill offerings of worship really make a difference in the world? Is it possible that people’s greatest needs–our own included–can be met within the context of a worshiping community?
The Second Most Impressive Character in the Story
Second to Jesus, the most impressive character in John 6 is the boy who offered his meager lunch, so Jesus could do something remarkable with it to the meet the needs of others. In fact, the young lad manages to stay very obscure. We don’t know where he came from. We don’t know who he is. We don’t know his name. What we do know is that he looked at what he had and saw its potential through what Jesus could do. And that’s our role, too.
As a church, we should master the art of being the second most impressive character in the story. The world should be able to look at us when we gather on Sundays and see an obscure group of people with an extraordinary Savior. Any impressiveness we possess should be derivative from Him, and never contingent upon our ability to dazzle our culture. That’s worldliness. And the world, oddly enough, doesn’t need any more worldliness.
Rather, the world needs more churches who offer what they have, knowing what Jesus can do with it. There’s no limit to what can happen in that kind of community because there is no limit to the power and authority of Jesus. So let’s be that for the world by coming alive to the fullness of Christ each time we gather in Him. We can start this week by revisiting that crucial question: just how big is our Jesus?
Liturgy for Sunday, March 01, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 66:1-2, 5
“Behold Our God the Glorious Three” (new song, no link available)
A Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Benediction: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
You can also follow our playlist for this Sunday on Spotify.