Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 12 The all sufficient bread of life . Jesus the maker of disciples

. Jesus the maker of disciples




http://mastersdust.com/triadmc-content/uploads/2012/02/DiscipleshipTitle-300x224.jpgJohn 6:5-12 (ESV) 5 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?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “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.”



For the past few weeks we have been looking at this miracle of the feeding of the multitude from various angles. We looked at the miracle and we learnt some lessons about our faith in God and our trust in His provision for us.  But for the last few weeks we focussed our attention on how our Lord works and not just what He did. So in a sense we are observing character traits and methods that our Lord demonstrated and we have asked ourselves questions for our own lives.


The question I want to ask this morning is this: “Are you learning from your Saviour?” Can you see changes that you need to make in your own life from that what you see in Christ’s life in this miracle before us?


We saw in one sermon that Christ took that which was presented to Him in the natural realm and He performed the supernatural with it. Are we willing to bring our five loaves and two fish? Are we willing to entrust our resources to Him on a daily basis or do we want to see the miracle first. Do we believe that little becomes much when you place it in the Master’s hand?


In the next sermon we saw that Christ took the insufficient loaves and insufficient fish, and then He looked up to heaven and He thanked His Father for it and blessed it and then only did He start multiplying it for the people. In it was a very simple lesson for us. Are we grateful for that which we have in our hands? Do we still thank God for the little we have realising that He cares for us? Or have we become disgruntled and our total desire is that God will multiply what we have and then we will give thanks.


Last week we saw that Jesus is a Lord of order. He has the crowds sit down in configurations of 50 and 100 and then He had the disciples distribute the food. The simple lesson we learnt is that the spiritual and order and organization go hand in hand even with our Lord. We saw that there is a tendency with many Christians to disregard order and organization when it comes to spiritual things because that seems unspiritual. On the other hand we saw the danger that we could actually trust in order and organization rather than trusting in God. The balances need to observe and we should be found faithful in order and organization realizing that if He does not bless, no amount of organization would help. The people could have sat in any configuration, but if Jesus did not perform the miracle it would have all been in vain.


Today I want to observe two more aspects of this whole miracle that stands out for me as one point. The one will be what this message is all about and the other will be a closing remark to conclude these observations. I trust that in both of these we will be blessed.

Point 1. Jesus is in the disciple making business.

A proper study of Matthew 28:19 will show you that the disciples were not just commanded to teach all things, but they were commanded to teach people to obey all things. This is something that Christ was teaching His own disciples on a continuous level. They were taught by the Master Teacher. It was not just information downloading but it was application all the way.


A few weeks ago we saw how they actually failed the test of faith, but they were right there with their obedience and the end result was that they grew in their faith. It goes for us as well. As Disciples of Christ we are called to obey, even though we do not have a clue just what the Lord is going to do in our midst. There was no ‘excuse me Lord, just explain to us what you are going to do with whatever we find amongst the crowd, because do you realize what big idiots we are going to look like if we only find five loaves and two fish. We will need a scalpel to cut it up into 15 – 20 000 pieces so that each person could just have a lick. Tell us what you are going to do and then we will obey.’


In this story we have already seen Jesus testing the faith of the disciples and then we saw Him instructing the disciples to find what food there was amongst the crowd and you remember it was Andrew who brought the little boy with His five loaves and two fish. Now if you were to read John only you would think that it was Christ who distributed the bread amongst the crowd but let’s look at the other gospels.


Matthew 14:19-20 (ESV) 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.”


Mark 6:41-43 (ESV) 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.”

Luke 9:16-17 (ESV) 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.”

In this whole miracle we see Jesus involving His disciples. So not only did he test their faith and have them find resources amongst the crowd, but here He allows them to distribute the bread when He could have done that miraculously as well couldn’t He? What is so amazing here in their experience is what you see when you stay with Luke and how He records what Jesus did. Luke 9:12-13 (ESV) 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.”


Look at the magnitude of this event. Christ told them to give to the crowd to eat and the end result after going through this test of faith, finding insufficient resources amongst the crowd, Jesus giving thanks for those insufficient resources and them having to sit the crowd down in groups and in the end they could do exactly what Christ told them to do in the beginning. You see it was not the size of their resources, the size of their abilities or the size of their faith that caused them to put food in the hands of the people. It was the size of their God. It reminds me of the statement: “If you had faith like a mustard seed .....” Even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, it does not reduce the size of God.


Do you see how central obedience is in all of this?  Jesus performs the miracle, Jesus is the provider of all that will be distributed, Jesus had the ability to do this in a different way had He wanted to, yet He uses His disciples to evaluate the need, organize the crowd and to distribute what He is providing.


There are two angles or effects which we see as Jesus ministers to His disciples, and I believe these two areas affect us as well.


1.1 He was teaching them to be servants.


They had the opportunity to serve the multitudes on behalf of their Master.  He was the supplier they were the servants. They had to learn to be faithful in the small things before they could be used in the larger things. They were not just onlookers but were serving their Master in obedience. Jesus was not just concerned with teaching; He was concerned with their obeying as well.


And the Lord still works this way. When Christ says in Matthew 28:19 that we need to be taught to obey all things and not just learn all things, He means it. The aim of God has always been more than information. This is John’s reason for writing as well. John 20:31 (ESV) “31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”


So it is not just about believing, it is about life. And one of the first things we discover about life in Christ is that we are servants. So Christ is working, but He is doing His work in the lives of people and His disciples are used in the distribution of the work of their Master. Paul had a clear understanding of this. We read in 1 Corinthians 3:5-11 (ESV) "5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."


Notice in these verses that Paul is quite clear that it is God, God, God that is at work but we are His fellow workers, servants. And all of the work that we do in the Kingdom is by the grace of God. We see this clearly taught in Romans 15:15-16 (ESV) 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”


Whichever way you want to look at ministry, be it standing in the pulpit and preaching the word of God, or serving one another in very practical ways, all of us are servants by God’s commission. We are like the disciples standing around and waiting for our instructions from Christ and then simply just doing that. Remember the profound words of Mary to the servants in John 2. What did she say? “Whatever He says to you, do it.”


Paul says in Colossians 1:25 (ESV) 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known.” Church family, we are servants of the King, not servants of the church. You are not sparing me work when you take a ministry and execute it responsibly. You are doing it by the grace of God, in obedience to God, for the glory of God and for the extension of the Kingdom of God. 1 Timothy 1:12 (ESV) 12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,”


1.2  He was teaching them to be students.


What a learning school this miracle was? They were learning through this work. He put them into service on this occasion because they would learn lessons through their hands on involvement. He had them not only distribute the bread and fish, but he had them gather up the fragments. I believe that everything that they dealt with on this day was intended for their learning.  They had to face the question of Jesus. Contained in that question “where are we going to find enough bread for these people to eat?” was a moment of learning. Facing the insufficient food brought by the little boy was a moment of learning. We don’t only learn from our master when the baskets are full, but many times we learn more in the times when what we have in our hands is totally inadequate.


There was surely a lesson in the organizing of the crowds, maybe even the lesson that we learnt last week that we must expect order and organization in the midst of the supernatural. What a lesson they learnt in the continuous distribution of the food to the crowd. I wonder what the dialogue was between them and the people. We are not told anything, but I don’t believe that for a moment there were no, wow’s and ooh’s or can I get His autograph. These disciples were handing out to the people the end result of a miracle performed by creator God who kept creating and creating more bread and more fish until all the people were fed.


And then there was this great lesson to be learnt in the gathering up of the fragments.

There is a golden lesson to be learn by all of us, not just by the disciples of Christ on this day and that is that God is not calling us to ministry just for the sake of those whom we will serve; God is calling us to the ministry because it is a part of our development as his people. When we refuse to do what God has called us to do in the way of ministry, not only will we be sinning against others, but also we will be underdeveloped. There are lessons we will never learn sitting on the side-lines.


There is one thing we must remember. He assigns our ministry tasks. These men didn’t just do whatever they wanted in His name; they did what He told them to do. Many times the ministry that God assigns for you is not glamorous, it is not noticed, it is not as rewarding in terms of people commenting on it and thanking you for it. It might be cleaning toilets.


The question is: “are you faithful, are you obedient and are you willing to follow through for the sake of His glory.”

1.3 He was teaching them to trust.

There is a very important thing when it comes to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and that is to trust Him as your master. John 6:12-13 (ESV) 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.” We started with hungry people, and these disciples were thrown into a learning school and look where it ends. Each one standing with a basket full at the end of the ceremony. Why twelve baskets. There are many symbolic answers given like it was to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. I believe that we read into the text when we do that. I believe at this point all we can say is that there were twelve baskets full because there were twelve disciples who collected the pieces. (There is another feeding of 4000 recorded when they gathered 7 baskets full which confuses this issue, but we will not deal with it today. We are told in that text by many theologians that the 7 baskets represented the gentile cities in that area, so here the leftovers are enough for the 12 tribes, there it is enough for the gentiles, so Jesus is sufficient as the bread of life for all people.) Might be. I am sure the audience did not see it as such.


What these disciples saw though is this. Jesus can do far above what they could think or pray. In an amazing display of God’s abundant grace the leftovers far exceeded the original 5 loaves and two fish.  Are we not taught that in Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Two lessons they needed to learn was that firstly, our God is not limited by our resources and secondly He is not restricted or stingy with His resources. God does not limit what He gives you based upon limited resources on His part, but rather according to His plan for you and His training of you. Do we realize that God does not always work according to His maximum power with us, but He always works according to His ultimate purpose?


On this day Jesus took five loaves and two fish to feed thousands, but you know what, in the days to come the disciples often frequented the market place to get their day’s provision.


If Jesus performed this miracle on a daily basis His ultimate purpose for coming to the earth would have been thwarted and He would have had millions of followers for the wrong reasons. There is a saying that is often attributed to the famous D.L. Moody although it was made by a man by the name of Henry Varley to Moody. He said: “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him."


And so like the little boy we must surrender our resources to Him and like the disciples we must obey Him realizing that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He is testing us and shaping is after His will. But let’s take comfort in this fact. Even though the resources might seem insufficient, and even though our faith is lacking, the purposes of God are not, and our little in the Master’s hand becomes much when it serves the purposes of His glory. On this day, the resources of the little boy met not only his own needs, but it met the needs of the multitude and it was used by the Lord to teach His disciples not only all things, but to obey all things. There was blessing all around, but it started with the obedience of a few.


You might now or in future be an elder, deacon, missionary, worship leader, Sunday school teacher and you will feel like giving up because you feel you lack faith, you lack resources and you lack abilities, so why bother? It is not about any of that. What we are required to do is to dispense the grace of God and to trust Him with the results.

May we be reminded today that our God is not small, our God is not paltry in His resources, our God is not without generosity and our God is not unwilling to use what we will put in His hands?


May we be reminded today that our God is not small, our God is not paltry in His resources, our God is not without generosity and our God is not unwilling to use what we will put in His hands?


You often hear people make the claim that the church is a hospital for spiritually sick people and not a museum for good people. When you think quickly, it sounds like there is an element of truth in it, doesn’t it, because we realise we are not perfect. Sure, we are not perfect, that is why we are in Christ’s discipleship school. But, my friend, the church is the people of God, the redeemed, the healed, the set free, the seeing, the holy in Christ. Spiritual sickness has been conquered on the cross of Calvary, it has been paid for and we are made whole. But because we are born again, we are on a journey, we are maturing. Christ is still making disciples. He is doing it through us.

Ephesians 4:11-17 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.”

So, if you still classify yourself as spiritually sick, I invite you to come to Christ, to eat of Christ, the all sufficient bread of life, to drink of Him the living water, and you will never hunger or thirst again. Then you follow, you trust, you obey, and enjoy what Christ said in John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”


The million dollar question, ‘are we willing to trust and obey?’ You do that, I guarantee you will have life to the full. Do things your own way, on your own terms, and there will always be a dullness, a lethargy and a despondency in your Christianity. But if you trust and obey as a true disciple, you will be blessed.



Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 9 &16 August 2015