TWELVE BASKETS

Jn.6:12,13 – So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

Everything about this story is amazing; the Lord’s concern for His followers, taking this opportunity to test His disciples, using a little boy for the miracle, and the endless types and shadows of Christ seen in this miracle. This ending of the story is precious. He not only fed everyone until they were satisfied, there were leftovers for each disciple. They had more left over after they fed 5000 than they had before they started. He is more than enough and brings grace upon grace into everything He touches. Here are some comments from Spurgeon on this verse.

“This was that “blessing of the Lord” of which Solomon says that “it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” If you get this blessing on your five loaves and two fishes, you may feed five thousand men with them, besides the women and the children…..Much more than they began with; for it is a law of the Heavenly Kingdom that he who gives to God shall be no loser; his five loaves and two fishes shall turn to twelve baskets full after thousands have eaten, and been satisfied. The more there is of complete consecration to Christ, and his blessed service, the more reward will there be in the world to come; and, possibly, even here.”

This miracle puts on display the blessing that comes upon those who give themselves and their resources to the work of God. I am sure the little boy never forgot the day that Jesus used his lunch to feed the crowds. The disciples never forgot the amazement as fish and bread actually multiplied in their hands. Here is a quote from the Passion Notes on this miracle.

“The miracle took place as the disciples distributed what they had. Each disciple ended up with a basket full of leftovers.”

If you become involved with God’s kingdom work you will not suffer lack. He funds His kingdom, He is just searching for vessels to work through. Give your lunch to him, give your hands to Him. Don’t be surprised when the leftovers are more than what you started with.

PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST

Heb.5:5,6 – So also, Christ was not self-appointed and did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but God called and glorified him! For the Father said to him, “You are my favored Son. Today I have fathered you.” And in another Scripture he says about this new priestly order, “You are a Priest like Melchizedek, a King-Priest forever!”

Everything about the Old Testament was temporary and subject to failure. From the sinful nature of the priests to the backsliding off the kings the Old Testament reeks of human’s inability to walk with God. Our intentions seem good but things just don’t seem to work out. Christ is able to complete the role of eternal mediator and priest because He is both God and man. His humanity allows Him to relate to us and us with Him. His deity gives Him total access to the heavenly realm, after all He has been there with the Father from eternity. Because of the mystery of God becoming man we now have an eternal priest who sits at the throne of power representing us for eternity as a man. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this.

“God the Father appointed him a priest of a higher order than that of Aaron. The priesthood of Aaron was to be but temporary; the priesthood of Christ was to be perpetual: the priesthood of Aaron was to be successive, descending from the fathers to the children; the priesthood of Christ, after the order of Melchisedec, was to be personal, and the high priest immortal as to his office, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, as it is more largely described in the seventh chapter, and will be opened there. Christ is here preferred to Aaron in the holiness of his person. Other priests were to offer up sacrifices, as for the sins of others, so for themselves. But Christ needed not to offer for sins for himself, for he had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his mouth.”

What a powerful mystery, Christ was born on earth as a man without a human Father. He has been begotten from eternity without a mother. He is God and He is man. The greatest of all news, he lives forever to represent me and pray for me before the Father in heaven. I don’t think it can get any better than that.

TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE – STAY IN YOUR LANE!

Ps.95:7 – For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

“Today if you hear His voice” – I remember as a young Christian hearing the other believers talking about hearing from God. That seemed beyond the pale for me, how could anyone have a relationship with such a God. But as I began to grow in the Lord I began to understand this profound mystery. God is speaking, He is always speaking. Only those who have been born again can begin to understand this unthinkable mystery. The Lord was speaking to the children of Israel in Moses’ day, the good news is that He is still speaking. In the Old Covenant the Lord spoke through the prophets, today He is speaking through His beloved, Jesus. The most common way to hear from God is simply reading the Bible. It is alive and the Lord speaks to us loud and clear as we read His book. Here are some comments from Spurgeon on this passage.

“We are his, even as sheep belong to the shepherd, and his hand is our rule, our guidance, our government, our succor, our source of supply. Israel was led through the desert, and we are led through this life by “that great Shepherd of the sheep.” The hand which cleft the sea and brought water from the rock is still with us, working equal wonders. Can we refuse to “worship and bow down” when we clearly see that “this God is our God for ever and ever, and will be our guide, even unto death”? But what is this warning which follows? Alas, it was sorrowfully needed by the Lord’s ancient people, and is not one whir the less required by ourselves. The favored nation grew deaf to their Lord’s command, and proved not to be truly his sheep, of whom it is written, “My sheep hear my voice”: will this turn out to be our character also?”

Do you ever hear from the Lord? When you do, you begin to come out of the natural, trouble ridden world and enter into His promised rest. The key word in this scripture passage is rest. The Lord has accomplished a great victory through His death and resurrection. We are now in His kingdom enjoying His benefits. If you follow closely, investigating the ministry of Jesus, you will find others that ceased from their own works and became seated together with Christ, enjoying the benefits that come with that relationship. The easiest way to experience all of this; just read the book.

“Creating Sacred Spaces”

MERRY MONDAY BY Parris

Matt.6:6 – But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

March 2020 speaks out to me of being put on a forced sabbatical. It’s amazing how much we push ourselves week on and week out with little or no bible reading or mediating. I hope we can reflect on our lives, our country and our planet earth and in that pause you make sure we have created scared spaces. Sacred spaces push us out of the chaos of daily life and into deeper connection with God and each other. Learning to see images of the divine in our daily life is a key into the supernatural.

“I am not ashamed to own that I believe that the whole universe, heaven and earth, air and seas, the divine constitution and history of the holy Scriptures, be full of images of divine things.” – Jonathan Edwards

Brother Lawerence in his books learned to live in his presence. Even while facing a sink full of dishes. He says; “He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”

I’m sure you have heard of a Pinterest board. But in this case we purposely create sacred spaces. Meaning shutting the door and inviting him where you are. Brother Lawrence goes on to say;

“For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth of centre of my soul as much as I can; and while I am so with Him I fear nothing; but the least turning from Him is insupportable.”

Jesus said in that sacred space our Father will come to us and reward us openly. Reward us deeply and satisfy our souls. When we seek the treasure this sacred space becomes boundless and the more we search the greater riches we will find. All around us will always be the virus of the world the voice of this earthly kingdom. But when we shut the door the space created becomes a God space. I feel his presence even now sitting in the church library surrounded by voices of unseen authors shouting to me to fill up the spaces in my life with him.

“It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.” Andrew Murray

The secret place is your portal to the Throne, the place where you taste heaven itself.

BEING DRAWN TO CHRIST BY PLEASURE

Jn.6:43,44 – Jesus responded, “Stop your grumbling! The only way people come to me is by the Father who sent me—he pulls on their hearts to embrace me. And those who are drawn to me, I will certainly raise them up in the last day.”

This could be considered one of those hard sayings of Jesus. It doesn’t even seem to sync with everything modern man esteems so highly. We want credit for everything and this shoots that right in the head. If this is true, salvation is totally dependent on the Lord. This concept of being chosen by God is where Augustine camped out. He had come to the conclusion that man was a prisoner to his pursuit of carnal pleasure. What was the solution? According to Augustine it was a higher pleasure. It is the Lord Himself that awakens us and draws us to the sweetest of all pleasures, the pleasure that is found in Christ alone. Here is Augustine describing this holy pursuit.

“There is a pleasure of the heart to which that bread of heaven is sweet. Moreover, if it was right in the poet to say, “Every man is drawn by his own pleasure,” — not necessity, but pleasure; not obligation, but delight, — how much more boldly ought we to say that a man is drawn to Christ when he delights in the truth, when he delights in blessedness, delights in righteousness, delights in everlasting life, all which Christ is? Or is it the case that, while the senses of the body have their pleasures, the mind is left without pleasures of its own? If the mind has no pleasures of its own, how is it said, “The sons of men shall trust under the cover of Thy wings: they shall be well satisfied with the fullness of Thy house; and Thou shalt give them drink from the river of Thy pleasure. For with Thee is the fountain of life; and in Thy light shall we see light?”

Augustine was preaching from his own experience. He too had known the prison of sinful pleasures. It was the sweetness of sovereign grace that won his affections. So if Jesus is right, no one can come to the Father until this heavenly attraction settles in. Have you tasted the sweetness of amazing grace for yourself or are you still trapped in the the swamp of sinful pleasures? There is only one way out, we are saved by grace alone as we too taste the power of His Sovereign grace.

WHY ARE YOU FOLLOWING JESUS ?

Jn.6:26 – Jesus replied, “Let me make this very clear, you came looking for me because I fed you by a miracle, not because you believe in me.

There were all sorts of people following the Lord when He was here on earth. There were the lepers looking for cleansing, parents with dying children, frustrated tax collectors, and disillusioned hookers. There was even a random Pharisee tagging along at these unusual gatherings. When Jesus fed everyone with a little boy’s lunch it was as if the covers were suddenly torn off. Apparently a majority of the crowd were looking for a king to give them their best life now. Nothing much has changed in these 2000 years. Here is how Zwingli described the same issue some 500 years ago.

“With these words the Lord reproaches and scolds the crass and carnal condition of the multitude, because although they had seen greater miracles, proofs of divine power, they were so excited by the fullness they experienced at one banquet. And so they show themselves to be more interested in obtaining fodder for the body than food for the soul. Now we see here the fickle opinion of the common people, which changes and fluctuates. We all hear the Word of God, but in different ways; and this becomes evident enough from the fruit we produce. Some hear in order to learn the way to life and salvation, and these are those who rightly seek and rightly hear the Word of God. For Christ was sent by the Father for this reason: to be the salvation of the world. And he bears witness that he is the one through whom believers are saved. He instructed the apostles to preach this, and they did it as we see in Acts 3, 7, and 13. “For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.”

So let me ask that question to you; why are you following Jesus? Have you seen Him as altogether lovely? Is it Christ Himself you are after or if you were honest you may be looking for some modern day king or even a Santa Claus? Jesus told then straight up what He was about. He said, “Unless you eat my body and drink my blood you have no part with Me”. What He was describing is an incredible intimacy that is offered to us in Christ. It’s not about houses, jobs, careers, possessions or even family. It is about Him; it is only about Him. After this day John said the crowds stopped following Him. Sounds like they were in it for the wrong reason.

SOUL’S DESIRES

Jn.6:35 – Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty.

Food is a big deal. If you didn’t realize that before the Covid drama you certainly realize it now. As the saying goes, “You gotta eat”. The miracle that Jesus performed the day before this teaching was one of His greatest. He had fed 5000 families with a little boy’s lunch. This miracle brought up thoughts of the prophet Moses had prophesied about. Seeing this miracle of feeding thousands caused them to think Jesus was apparently their new Moses. Boy, did they have that wrong. Jesus said that the bread in the wilderness came from His Father, not from Moses. And more than that, Jesus claimed to be the bread of God from heaven. The manna and the loaves and fish were just pointing to Him. Here is how Luther describes this scene.

“Out of the mass of powerful words in the holy Scripture there is almost no stronger word that Christ is a bread and meal given by God, and that whoever eats this bread lives forever and becomes content, no longer hungering or thirsting. . . . It is a settled point that here in this chapter the Lord is speaking about spiritual food, for he himself explains it as the hunger and thirst of the soul. The soul wants to live forever, to not be cursed, to have a merciful God, to be able to stand before the wrath and judgment of God, to not be condemned by sin and the law or go to hell. Those are the soul’s desires. It is a spiritual thirst and hunger, for which we need a spiritual meal and drink. And so the Holy Spirit comes and says, “If you do not want to die or be damned, then come to Christ, believe in him and cling to him. Eat this spiritual meal, believe in Christ, that is the most important thing.”

The bread and fish pointed to our greater need; we need the bread from heaven. Just having an abundant supply in this life will never satisfy us and certainly won’t prepare us for the other world. Jesus told them in plain words that day, “Unless you eat My body and drink My blood you have no life in you”. So go ahead and eat this heavenly manna, it is available for everyone. The only qualification is to be hungry for this different kind of bread.

DIFFERENT KIND OF KING

Jn.6:14,15 – All the people were astounded as they saw with their own eyes the incredible miracle Jesus had performed! They began to say among themselves, “He really is the One—the true prophet we’ve been expecting!” So Jesus, knowing that they were about to take him and make him their king by force, quickly left and went up the mountainside alone.

This passage gets right at the heart of why Jesus came and what the kingdom of God actually is. Jesus did come to establish a kingdom but not a kingdom of buildings, wealth, and power or influence. He is and was a king but not the kind of king the crowds were looking for. It seems that the miracle of the fish and the loaves brought the conflict to the surface. The crowd wanted an earthly kingdom. They wanted to get rid of the Romans and have a king that would lead them into a time of prosperity in this life. That is not why Jesus came. He came to die not to conquer armies by force. He came to conquer our hearts through the power of His love. He came to wash away our sins by His sacrificial death. Here is how Erasmus describes this verse.

“Now those who had eaten their fill knew that five loaves, barley loaves at that, and two fish had been found, and they saw how many basketsful were left over. So they began to sound the praises of Jesus, saying, “This is truly the long-expected prophet who was to come into the world.” It is typical of the common people that they are more aware of benefits to belly than to brain. They had seen greater miracles, but they had never rendered him such splendid praise; it was full stomachs that wrung out this language. And now, inexperienced and foolish as they still were, looking for a Messiah to claim an earthly kingdom for them, they schemed together to snatch up Jesus and make him their king, promising themselves goods in abundance, plenty of grain, wealth, freedom and the other comforts of the world if they were lucky enough to have such a king.”

The shocking truth that this message reinforces is this, it is still the same today. The gospel is often viewed as a means to get your best life now, on this earth. Many perceive that the message of the gospel is good news for this life alone. Christ came to redeem us from our sins. The Lord addressed this the following day. He taught about His body and His blood. He came to give us Himself so that we can live. For the next year until the time of the Lord’s death things changed. He had come to be a king, He was about to display exactly what that would look like by His death and resurrection.

FEEDING ON CHRIST

Jn.6:53-58 – TPT – Jesus replied to them, “Listen to this eternal truth: Unless you eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have eternal life. Eternal life comes to the one who eats my body and drinks my blood, and I will raise him up in the last day. For my body is real food for your spirit and my blood is real drink. The one who eats my body and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him. The Father of life sent me, and he is my life. In the same way, the one who feeds upon me, I will become his life. I am not like the bread your ancestors ate and later died. I am the living Bread that comes from heaven. Eat this Bread and you will live forever!”

I often think of the first time I remember seeing communion in a church service. The bread and the drink were in front of the church on the communion table with a white cloth draped over it. I asked my mom what it was and the only answer I got was an elbow in the ribs. It seemed too much like a funeral to my child like mind. Of course it wasn’t until I was born again that I even began to understand what eating His body and drinking His blood was all about. Jesus taught us about living off of Him every day in this passage. The Lord compared Himself to the bread and fish and the manna that the children of Israel lived on for forty years. We are designed by God to live off of this heavenly food; nothing else will do for us. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this passage.

“To eat his flesh is to take into our life by faith all that Jesus did for us by giving his body for us. To drink his blood is to take by faith all that the blood of Jesus has purchased for us. This “eating” and “drinking” is receiving the life, power, and virtue of all that Jesus is to replace all that we were in Adam. Jesus’ blood and body is the Tree of Life, which is offered to everyone who follows him.”

Just as the Lord taught us to drink living water He is teaching us to feed off of Him for our contentment and spiritual nourishment. It is in feeding on Christ daily that we begin to enter in to the joy of our Christian faith. What a great promise, if we eat this heavenly bread we will never be hungry or thirsty even in the difficulties of this life.

Rejoice

Isa.54:1 – Rejoice with singing, you barren one! You who have never given birth, burst into a song of joy and shout, you who have never been in labor! For the deserted wife will have more children than the married one,” says Yahweh.

Often times scripture is talking about more than what you see at first glance. The sower was sowing more than seeds, Joel was prophesying about more than a strong rainy season for Israel, and Isaiah is prophesying about more than a woman’s barren womb. The sower was sowing the word of God, Joel was talking about the last day outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and Isaiah is speaking about spiritual barrenness.

Barrenness comes when our attention is on the things of this world. It could be from the distraction of the other things in life, things like hobbies, career choices, our just plain laziness. On the other hand fruitfulness comes from the touch of God. When we turn our attention and affection toward the Lord worship is the result. Worship prepares our lives for fruitfulness. Isaiah is describing exactly that, he said, “Rejoice with singing, you barren one”. Singing and worship precede the blessing of God. Here is how Brian Simmons describes this passage.

“This verse begins with only two words in Hebrew: barren and rejoice. These are two ends of the emotional spectrum. Nothing brings sorrow like being barren. Yet God promises that even in our greatest sorrow there can be a song of joy. This verse can be viewed as the remedy for spiritual barrenness—the song of triumph and the shout of joy! Spiritual barrenness is broken by the power of worship. Where God’s people are held back in worship, spiritual barrenness soon follows. Our worship has the power to bring new birth (evangelism) into our congregations. Worship is a mighty force to influence the lost and bring new birth.”

Rejoicing before you see your breakthrough is really the Biblical picture of faith. In Romans 4:20 Paul speaking of Abraham said, “But he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and empowered by faith, giving glory to God”. Abraham and Sarah rejoiced in faith before Isaac was conceived. Rejoicing paved the way for God’s fruitfulness to begin. If you feel barren and long for a fruitful season maybe its time to “Rejoice with singing”.