There’s a lot of gloom and doom in the news these days. If we listen too much, unbiblical fear may begin to govern our actions because we’re only putting our trust in what we see.
Imagine for a moment that you are the Apostle Philip. You and your fellow disciples are sitting around Jesus on a mountainside and you’re all watching a large crowd make their way up toward you. You’re tired from rigorous days of ministry. And you’re hungry. This crowd’s arrival probably means a meal is not in your near future. You’re trying not to resent them.
Then from behind you Jesus says, “Philip, where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?”
You think, He can’t be serious. Buy—for the whole crowd? There are thousands of them! Hasn’t Judas given Jesus a financial update lately on this little non-profit? We’re not sure how we’re going to feed ourselves for more than a few days. Not to mention the fact that there’s no bread market for miles.
You reply, “Rabbi, two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
Andrew thought he’d be a smart aleck: “Here’s a boy who has five barley loaves and two fish, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough!” You laugh with a few others.
Jesus smiles at the boy. Then he gets up and walks over to him, tousles his hair, and inspects the meal. He asks, “May I have this?” The boy hands him his lunch. Jesus nods toward the crowd and says, “Have the people sit down.” Andrew looks at you as if to say, “I was just joking.” You shrug and get up to obey your rabbi. You sure hope he has food to eat that you know nothing about.
Two hours later you set a basket load of bread fragments down on the grass, straighten your back, and try to get your mind wrapped around what just happened. There are more leftovers in your basket than there were loaves to begin with. One boy’s lunch became more than enough for everyone. They didn’t teach you this math in school. Apparently five loaves plus Jesus equals 30,000 loaves, or something like that.
The implications of this are huge. If Jesus has this kind of power, your worries are over.
* * *
The message contained in this story is so important that Jesus made sure all four gospel writers included it in their narratives. And here it is in the words of the Apostle Paul:
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.
(2 Corinthians 9:8)
Jesus doesn’t mean for this to be just a lofty ideal. He intends for us to believe this and make our decisions based on it. He means it when he says “do not be anxious about your life” (Matthew 6:25).
It’s so important to Jesus that we believe this that he purposefully designs the course of our lives so that we face all kinds of uncertainty, and some seemingly impossible situations. These experiences transform us into windows through which we and others can see the glorious, all-sufficient grace of God and put our hope more fully in him. His grace shines especially brightly when he demonstrates that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
The story of the feeding of the 5,000 encourages us to be fearless givers. An economic recession can be a moment when the abounding grace of God can be put on display in a way that isn’t seen as clearly in prosperity. It can call us to confront our fears and false hopes and preach to ourselves that God’s wealth is as bottomless and boundless as it was when the future appeared more certain.
That’s why our featured sermon this month is “Enough for Us.” John Piper walks us through 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 and reminds us of God’s promise and power to provide for happy givers. This message is available online for free along with hundreds of others because of God’s provision for us through the generous financial support of donors. If God puts it on your heart, we would love to have you join us in extending this outreach to others,
When Jesus performed this wonder, he was giving Philip, the disciples, the boy, the crowd, and us a crucial lesson in kingdom supply-side economics. Namely, that God will supply every need of ours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). If we really believe this, our worries are over.
Pressing into this promise with you,