Reframing Need | John 6:1-15

January 13, 2019 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Reframing Jesus

Topic: Gospel Passage: John 6:1–6:15

Introduction | What is our greatest need?

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel.In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.

What is Need? We are living our lives in want, we have a lack of satisfaction in our circumstances. We see challenges in the world and want them addressed. Then there are aspects of our lives and selves that are less than adequate, and so we start searching. Yet some of us don’t search or are almost too easily satisfied. Maybe we have abundance in an area and it can mask our great deficiency in another aspect of our lives. Perhaps we’ve numbed ourselves to our own needs, or the needs of others, so we don’t experience the discontentment or get to fully recognize the depth of our need, or the nature of it. Partly because of how affluent we are in this world we very regularly confuse need and want. Want is not bad, but need is deeper and necessary for survival. If we’re going to experience a life that is full, joyful, at the bare minimum it needs to be sustainable. We need our needs met, and we need to recognize our need. It is in the recognition of our need(s) that we can begin to search for and yearn properly for what will actually sustain us in our poverty. If you don’t think you have need you will not search for that which will satisfy it. Some of our needs seem so overwhelming we can believe it is impossible to have them met. When come into a place like a church we can think (wrongly) that everyone else must have it together or have what they need so we can believe we’re isolated in our desperation. We think we’re alone. WE look around at what we have or the condition of the world or relationship we’re in and we cannot see a path forward. Sometimes in our need we need to strike out and find what will satisfy, remaining in a place that cannot provide is not a plan for long-term flourishing life. When we search to have our needs (deep heart level, soul level needs) met by the God who made us, who made us dependent, nothing less than a return to where and how He provides will give us life that is sustainable. With Jesus work we are Reframing Need.

PART I | Reframing the Need | John 6:1-7

John 5:1-7|1After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 

This is some significant time after Jesus was in Jerusalem. He has been in active ministry in Galilee working with a population of great need, the poorest area in an impoverished region, under Roman oppression were all wealth was taken away to serve Rome in maintaining oppression.This is the only miracle/sign that is recorded in all four gospel accounts of Jesus life and ministry. It’s important to understand this scene to recognize what we truly need and how Jesus more than meets our needs but fulfills our lives.

We are in great need and that need should drive us to Jesus. In Matthew, we know Jesus is back in Galilee and he’s been healing sick and teaching and the crowds have gathered so large that Jesus jumped in a boat and headed to the other end of the Sea of Galilee. The crowd responded by, running around the lake to find Jesus. The reason they are following Him is because of what they think He can do and what they have experienced. This is a repeated theme of wanting things from Jesus, but not necessarily wanting Jesus. So they know Jesus is nearby but they want the healer, they want the magic man. That said, the reason they are seeking Jesus and what they think He can do is because they see they’re in great need. Jesus has engaged with healing the sick at various levels and here in the poorest place in the world are all these people who know they don’t have anything so they’ll leave what they (don’t) have and follow Jesus.

Where are you sick and need healing? What have you been searching for to help you? What is your need?

There is greater need on the horizon. Jesus has withdrawn to the Golan Heights just up from the Sea, He’s with His disciples but the crowds are unrelenting. There is a great horde of needy people about to descend on the location Jesus and His followers are and it will present great challenges that will have to be addressed. The problem cannot be ignored it cannot be wished away. The impending challenge is so big various solutions have to considered. Jesus and His people will have to engage. Jesus sees the problem first, Jesus see the problem accurately, and calls it out and lets his disciples know about it. Philip, see what’s about to happen? How should we fix it? What I love about this is Jesus is realistic about the problem. Jesus sees and know the need. He knows it’s significant, and He’s calling attention to the need to one disciple.

Philip sees the great need, and has one of his own. In this, you see a big corporate need (a hungry crowd is approaching) AND there is the individual need for Philip’s faith to be built. Jesus engages Philip so He can help address both the corporate and individual needs in what is to come. Philip is a local of the region, he would know they’re out in the midst of a seeming wilderness. Furthermore, Philip knows the great cost it would take to fill this need. Philip is as realistic about the need on the horizon as Jesus is. He says looking at what we see later is 20,000 people that even 8 months of daily wages wouldn’t be enough for everyone to have a taste of bread. This need is beyond insurmountable by any worldly/earthly estimation. Imagine the scene and how intense and overwhelming it would be from the disciples perspectives. Most towns are only a few hundred people. Jerusalem was maybe 30-60k at the time, nothing can meet a need this great. Philip is right to doubt. Jesus calls him out not to test or prove the depth of Philip’s faith (it’s understandably small) like a “gotcha” but rather to display the depth of Jesus ability to provide in the face of great need. In this Jesus work in our lives and the world isn’t faith challenging, it’s faith building.

Jesus knows the wilderness they are in. He knows the need of every soul in this multitude. In this story, you’re not Jesus, you’re likely not even Philip who is close to Jesus up on the Hill and can see the mounting problem, you and I are the people in the crowd who are desperate, in great need and with nothing. There is a multitude in the same place of need. This isn’t an individual beggar, this is a community of people united in their great need. They know their need. If you are in wilderness know you are not alone there is a multitude of others in the same place of need. As we go to Jesus we can go with expectation that He is the one we need more than anything, and that he understands the depth of our need more than we do. I don’t care what circumstances you are in or how insurmountable the need individually or corporately is, Jesus knows your wilderness.Jesus knows you’re in wilderness, and Jesus is with you in the wilderness. You need to know you’re in wilderness if you’re ever going to run to Jesus in the midst of it. This crowd is in great need but at least they’re seeking Jesus in it. Jesus has something He is going to show them in their need.

PART II |Reframing Provision |John 6:8-13

John 5:24-29 |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?” 10 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. 11 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. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 

The situation isn’t as dire as previously thought. There is something. There is a kid with five loaves and fishes. Barely loves are the poor people bread, it’s the “wonder bread” of Galilee. There is something, but there isn’t enough present in the gathered crowd to solve the great need of the crowd. The moral isn’t be the little boy who shared his lunchable, this is about Jesus who provides (sometimes with what little we have) to multiply and make things greater than we can imagine based on what we can see. The offering of the boy is a great gesture, but it’s not really the point. The point is the depth of the need, and the work of Jesus to meet us in our need with his abundant provision. Where do you have a need so deep that what is present will not even leave a dent on what your problem is? What is around you in your need that if only there was an abundance of it you would be sustained through the midst of wilderness and poverty? 

In previous accounts, the disciples have a really easy solution to the “everyone needs food” problem.

Matthew 14:15 |Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

They’re really clear. Jesus just send these people on their way. Jesus the big problem will go away if the people do. Let them take care of their own need there isn’t enough here to help them. The place is “desolate”. Now imagine you’re the nearby villages and 20k people start to disperse. The problem of great need is still there. There isn’t enough food in 2 dozen villages to feed everyone. When the world’s answer is to send away, Jesus answer is sit at my feet, wait and watch me work. In Jesus, regardless of you need (spiritual, etc) we aren’t sent from His presence to go figure it out on our own; but are called into in presence for the purpose of receiving His perfect provision.

Grass is greener – You have this detail to remind you it’s spring time, there is a ton of grass in the place so it’s wasn’t the desert. In fact, for this crowd (multitude) of great need, this actually hasn’t been that bad a day, all things considered.Again, in other accounts we know that when this crowd arrived Jesus ended up teaching and spent the better part of the day healing people. It’s spring, there is green grass on a hill over looking a sea, the sun is setting. People that started the day in need of healing had it. People who started their day far from Jesus found him. Even in the midst of a real pressing need, there is an abundance of blessing around them that deserved to be recognized. Sometime things are bad. Sometimes things are really bad, but sometimes things are NOT as bad as we think they are, as dire as they appear, and usually there are significant blessings we’re experiencing even in the midst of a painful season.

It’s believed that Jesus gave a traditional Jewish Prayer of thanksgiving “Blessed be thou, Yahweh our God, king of the world who causes bread to come from the earth.” Jesus with a crowd of people reminds people of their need for a king and for daily provision. We also know Jesus enlisted His disciples in the distribution. This let His people participate in the provision, so they would have their faith built, so they could see Jesus multiplying work, so they could get to see the face of people who are in great need seeing that need met by Jesus. “This meal is from Jesus, blessed by Jesus, eat and enjoy.” They are under Jesus blessing to distribute Jesus blessing to people who need to be blessed by Jesus if they’re to have anything.

Jesus fulfills our need fully- The crowd received both bread but also a nice fish dinner during a moonlit hillside picnic by the sea. Jesus provision to us in our time of need can be more than we even need. It says they had not “the basic # of calories for them to sustain themselves through the night” (honestly, they could have fasted to show their great holiness) but instead they have been given “as much as they wanted”. Jesus provision isn’t a socialist nightmare where everyone got 1/20,000 of 5 loves and 2 fishes evenly distributed (here is a scale for you and a crust for you) It’s also not cold capitalism (go feed yourself) Jesus is our great provision. Jesus is able to meet needs with exceeding abundance because it’s not a Zero-sum game with the Creator of the Universe it’s a game of radical exponential multiplication for the purpose of abundant provision.. They all ate so much people who had fallowed Jesus around the Sea all day (long journey) who were poor to begin with were “full”.In Jesus, we worship a God who moves us from empty and needy to full and satisfied. (not prosperity gospel) No one is hungry in their souls when they are feasting on what Jesus is providing them. But this is a daily provision from Jesus as we are in need of His mercy (for sin), grace (for life), and presence for abundant joy…. daily.

Jesus doesn’t do just enough, Jesus does more than enough. Without Jesus there isn’t enough to feed hardly anyone. With Jesus there is an abundance that is greater than the need and satisfaction of everyone.There is so much left they have 12 baskets of bread left (Twelve Tribes, Jesus provides for God’s people)

PART III | Reframing Expectations |John 6:14-15

John 6:14-15 |14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Jesus acts, people receive, people misunderstand. The crowd was so impressed with what they saw and experience in Jesus provision of food they that they completely missed the message. Jesus’ kingdom is like no other, and isn’t exclusively focused on your present earthly circumstances (though He does care and provide for them) Later in v26, Jesus says you’re only following me because you ate and were full. Why we follow and serve Jesus matters.Yes, Jesus is the Prophet the has been promised in the past, but the future He is bringing is different than what the people expected.Jesus gives them enough for today and He lets them know He can provide more than they think possible. Jesus is the one who they should follow. It should lead to trust in the wilderness and be patient, even bold in trial but instead it leads them to…

Try to take Jesus by force and make Him the king they wanted. Just imagine, the pride. We’re weak and needy, Jesus just fed us we’re full and happy, now see how quickly that turns into Jesus use your power to serve us. To have Jesus serve them in their great ambitions to finally be done with the Roman oppression they have been experiencing. The significance of us knowing all this was happening during Passover is because it is like the 4th of July for God’s people. Independence Day, nationalistic zeal at a high point. This is our king because He feeds us, like some central/south American dictator. Jesus will now work the way we want. You have 20k people who have been blessed by Jesus, but part of the reason for 5k men listed is to see you could have quite a guerrilla army of men. We have Jesus providing for our greatest needs but we want him to provide for our deepest wants and desires. How you respond to the power and provision to Jesus in your time of need matters. Sometimes people respond to Jesus work in humility sometimes they think Jesus is some sort of Genie, they can make do their bidding. We can think Jesus power and provision can benefit not just our soul, and our life, but our will. When we being to us Jesus for our own means rather than conforming to His will. Jesus Kingdom has, is, will advance, but not by people trying to coopt Jesus for their immediate desires, but submitting to His will for lasting enduring transformation. His kingdom would triumph not through military conquest, but by him dying and rising from the dead. Jesus therefore responded to the crowd’s intentions by withdrawing to the mountain by Himself.

Similar to this crowd we tend to want God to give power and support to our agenda. We should instead see God’s power as a sign that we should join His. We cannot expect Jesus to work the way and the time that we want. No, we rest and wait knowing with great confidence:

Jesus knows our need. – Do not think for another moment your situation isn’t known and understood.

Jesus is capable and willing to provide for us in our need deepest needs, even when there is nothing (or next to nothing) on hand that suggest our needs being met. 

Jesus will help us be filled and satisfied in our place of wilderness, despite our circumstance.

Jesus has met our greatest need, for life with Him now and forever, even when we are consumed with the present. We are in the middle of this life, and Jesus is with us, but it’s the end of this life and beginning of the next we deeply need assurance in Jesus work in our place:

Jesus is in the middle of ministry. There is a Passover a year before, where Jesus went into the temple to clean house, and it’s a Passover a year later where Jesus will be on another Hill. It’s on that hill when Jesus was called “king of the Jews” by the Romans these peasants want overthrown. On that hill there was one life taken as a more than a sufficient offering for a multitude of people in desperate need of salvation for their sins. The work of Jesus on the cross, like the work on this hill multiples in an abundance in a way exceeding our expectations. Where people receive fullness and satisfaction in Jesus as His disciples go among these crowds and tell people (you’ve been provided for by Jesus in your place of greatest need, life with God alone) He said His body would be broken for us. Where every week we remember that Jesus work in or place is more than enough to sustain our live for another day, but it’s for an eternal life that will give us great hope for more life with Him tomorrow. When we Trust Jesus.

More in Reframing Jesus

February 17, 2019

Reframing The Law | John 7:1-24

January 27, 2019

Reframing Provision | John 6:22-71

January 20, 2019

Reframing Power | John 6:16-21