Satisfied by Christ
March 10, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Verse: Luke 9:12–9:17
“Satisfied by Christ”
Theme: Jesus Christ is the only place where the souls of men can find satisfaction.
Introduction: During the Great Depression in the 1930’s, there was evidence of great need everywhere. There were soup lines, bread lines, and resources were extremely limited. I was reminded of this as I was standing in line at the Shepherd’s Conference waiting for lunch. Thousands of men stood in line waiting for an “IN-AND-OUT” burger. At one point, one of the managers walked the line to try to see when the end would come. The line continued to curl around corners and buildings. Someone yelled: “Will you have enough?” His response was the raising of the eyebrows, and he replied: “Sure, we’ll have enough!”
In our text today, there was perhaps one of the greatest miracles of creation since Creation Week. It is so significant, that all of the Gospels included it – something not true of any miracle except the one miracle that outstripped even this one – the Resurrection of Christ. The miracle was so great that those who experienced it were moved to attempt to take Him by force to coronate Him as their King – and He had to seclude Himself to avoid their plan [John 6:15]. There is absolutely no resource in view adequate to meet the need of the hungry souls surrounding Jesus on that hillside. With great astonishment, Jesus meets the physical needs of the hungry souls that were looking to Him – an object lesson to us of the magnificent resource that Jesus is to meet the deeper and greater need of our souls plagued by sin. He alone is the place where the needy souls of men can find satisfaction …
I. Our Struggle with the Providence of God – 9:12-13
A. The Problems We Encounter Are Real – v. 12
- The significance of this account cannot be overstated – along with the miracle of the resurrection, this miracle is the only one mentioned in all four Gospels.
- It has been observed that “The Lord ended each phase of His ministry with a feeding. He ended the ministry in Galilee with the feeding of the 5,000. He ended the ministry in the Gentile area with the feeding of the 4,000. And, He ended the Judean ministry before His death with the feeding of His own in the Upper Room.”
- Luke drops us into a moving stream as the Lord had been sought to be alone in prayer and the people had gathered to him in what Luke & Mark call a “desolate place” and Matthew calls it a “secluded place,” (Matthew 14:13), and John calls “on the mountain” (John 6:3).
- This was a great place until “the day was ending, and the twelve came and said to Him, ‘Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.’”
- Their awareness of the problem of having so many people tired and hungry and therefore disgruntled was frightening to them – and they would be the ones having the manage the people.
- This was significant as we are told that the number of the people present was “five thousand men,” meaning that with the number of women and children, the number could have been as high as 15,000 – 20,000 people!
- Their attitudes were in unison – “we need to wrap it up so these people can get out of here before things get ugly!”
- Where are they going to get the resources to handle the mob? This was not a contrived problem but a real one!
- We commonly have problems that surface in our lives that are quite natural and overwhelming that we immediately seek to generate solutions that will make life easier even as these disciples were doing.
B. The Perspectives We Embrace Are “Rational” – v. 13
- However, notice how Jesus responded to their solution – “But He said to them, ‘You give them something to eat!’”
- The grammar in this is emphatic – Literally – “Give to them yourselves to eat!
- His challenge to them clearly calls them to look beyond the superficialities of the situation and consider some greater glory that could be attained through the work of God in the situation.
- Where will they turn for the solution to their problem?
- Even after having seen such miraculous power in Jesus in exercising authority over disease, death, demons, and disaster, they have yet to come to expect Jesus to work in ordinary life to bring Himself glory.
- Their response was totally “rational” – “And they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy foo for all these people.’”
- Of course, this solution was completely unrealistic as they didn’t have the resources – cp. John 6:7 (2/3 of a normal person’s annual salary).
- In essence, they are saying: “The situation is beyond our ability to reasonably do! Your command is too hard! There are 20,000 people who need to be fed and we have barely enough to feed a small child!
- Jesus’ disappointment in their option – to rely on themselves instead of turning to Him for His work of grace … they looked no further than their natural resources, their innate abilities, their material provisions, and their own expectations and found no ability to handle the situation.
- How many times have we been like them – facing real problems with eyes dimmed with rationalism and self-dependence and failing to enjoy His power and glory in our situation?
- When should a person assume that routine solutions ought to be sensibly sought verses looking to God to do something special?
- How comfortable are you telling God what should be done about a problem you have?
- Are you guilty of making excuses for why you cannot do what God clearly commands you to do in His Word? Think of an example of you doing this.
II. Our Submission to the Power of God – 9:14-16
A. The Expectancy of Provision from God – vv. 14-15
- We are reminded of the magnitude of this miracle – “For there were about five thousand men”
- In response to their protest in light of the sheer magnitude of their problem, Jesus commands them to look to Him to meet the need by following His instructions – “And He said to His disciples, ‘Have them sit down to eat in groups of about fifty each.’”
- He simply plows forward without the disciples’ expectation – but in a way that stimulates their faith – “I’m about to take care of feeding all of these people with your resources!”
- In order to see what He was going to do, they had to obey and therefore “they did so, and had them all sit down.”
- There was a certain level of faith that was required to participate in this miracle – if someone felt that they rely on themselves, they would have left to get their own food.
- However, anyone who would look to see what Jesus would do would be blessed by the power of God and His provision for them.
- They were now expecting Jesus to do something magnificent.
B. The Exhibition of the Power of God – v. 16
- Jesus didn’t disappoint! As they were being organized into their “small groups,” “He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them …”
- “loaves” [ἄρτους] – refers to barley loaves that amounted to not much more than crackers – it was a lunch for a small lad – cp. John 6:9
- “fish” [ἰχθύς] – describes small dried fish the compliment to the loaves to form what today would be considered a “lunchable!”
- We must not allow ourselves to merely look at this intellectually – this is an awesome miracle of divine creation ex nihilo – making something out of nothing!
- There are varieties of perspectives on how this happened:
Denial of the Miracle:
- Wealthy women came to the rescue and it was embellished to give credit to Jesus
- Jesus broke the bread into tiny crumbs and distributed it – but no one was actually filled
- Jesus hypnotized the crowd into thinking that they had eaten and were full, but nothing really happened.
- It should be understood metaphorically or allegorically – signifying a spiritual lesson alone.
How it was done:
- It multiplied in the hands of the people once a piece of bread was delivered to them;
- It multiplied in the hands of the apostles as they distributed it;
- It multiplied in the hands of the Lord as He broke it, which seems to be the best possibility given that He “… kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.”
- We are told that Jesus was “looking up to heaven, He blessed them …” – a reference to the reliance on the power and glory of God for the miracle that He was about to perform.
- He “broke” [κατακλάω] – the bread, that is, He broke the fish and bread into pieces and then repeatedly were “giving [ἐδίδου] (imperfect, active indicative) it to the disciples to set before the people.”
- This was an amazing display of divine power – could you imagine being in one of the cohorts of 50 (possibly as many of 400 such groups) and thinking that there’ll never be enough for me!
- Yet, the bread kept coming out from the front where Jesus was continually giving it out – the food finally got to the last person in the last group and it was all “… set before the people.”
- Sometimes obedience in the small things enable much great blessings – how is this truth displayed in our text?
- What opportunities do limited resources provide the believer in the midst of problems?
- Consider some of the things that Jesus has done for you that you have considered “normal,” but they are actually powerful evidences of God’s grace and glory?
III. Our Satisfaction with the Provision of God – 9:17
A. The Satisfaction of the Seekers
- Luke tells us that when they received the food, the people who were sitting in companies were fully satisfied – “And they all ate and were satisfied”
- Note that no one was left out – “they all …” knew personal satisfaction of their need in Christ.
- This term “satisfied” [χορτάζω] – refers to being fattened or stuffed.
- The provision of the Lord didn’t merely require that people be considerate and share with those around them.
- The satisfaction that Jesus provided was individually abundant – cp. Romans 9:33b; 10:11.
- The great hunger of the sinner is to be delivered from the impact of their sin – and the only place where they can find satisfaction is by coming to Jesus Christ and find in Him that bread of life that satisfies our hunger.
B. The Satisfaction of the Servants
- But finally, notice the tenderness of Christ to His own disciples – He doesn’t forget about them – “… and the broken pieces which they had let over were picked up, twelve baskets full.”
- We know that they didn’t merely get crumbs – but the baskets were “full.”
- John and Mark let us know that it included not only bread but also fish – cp. Mark 6:43.
- There was clear care taken of the disciples by Christ to enable the laborers to be cared for.
- Sadly, the people failed to comprehend the magnificence of Christ’s accomplishment – despite recognizing that it was a work of God – cp. John 6:14
- We recognize that there is significance in all of this – Jesus Himself offers Himself to us as that place where our souls’ longings are alone satisfied – cp. John 6:41, 48, 51
- Discuss the connection between the neglect of Christ as the Bread of Life and a person who is unsatisfied with Christ?
- Have you ever felt that the provision of God in Christ is not enough … how did you find relief from such a perspective?
- Think about how you are satisfied in Christ and share why this is true with someone.