by Steven Chan
14 June 2009
Why do we believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
In John 6:5-14, we read of one incident that caused a large crowd to believe that Jesus was indeed the Prophet who was expected to come into the world as prophesied some 700 years ago in the Old Testament scriptures such as in Deut. 18:18,19: “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” and in Isa. 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
We read of the account in John 6:5-14 of how Jesus was able to feed 5,000 men with 5 barley loaves and two fish:
“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 would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 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?” 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. 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. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (ESV)
That incident revealed some incredible truths for those who were present there – and for us today as well.
God is able to do much more than what we can even imagine. When faced with the seemingly impossible task of feeding the large crowd of 5,000 men, His disciple, Philip, remonstrated, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” – it was not the lack of funds for buying the bread but the fact that there was no place where they can buy that amount of bread as it was time for them to eat. It was practically impossible even though monetary consideration was not raised as an issue. But Philip was to learn what the apostle Paul later wrote in Eph 3:17-21: “that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.” Jesus was able to feed the 5,000 because He possessed the power of God. He wanted them and us to learn that He is able to provide more than just our daily bread. He can give us life eternal (John 20:30-31)
God starts with what we have and when we offer what we have for His service, He will multiply what we have so that we can have sufficient to meet the challenges and needs that we face. Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not simply open up the windows of heaven and rain down the required food for the 5,000 men (Mal. 3:10)? Or, do what God did in the Old Testament when he sent manna from heaven (Deut 8:3) and quails as well (Psa 105:40)? Someone said that God helps those who help themselves – but that statement in not found in the Bible. Nonetheless, it would appear that the sentiment may have been expressed in this account – when the boy offered up all that he had – the 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. With men, such sacrifices may not do much. In fact, Philip in apparent exasperation said: “but what are they for so many?” But in the hands of God, when offered for His service, He can multiply these sacrifices so that there would be abundance. As the words of the hymn expresses it: “Little is much when God is in it” The Bible records the generosity of the Macedonian churches in 2 Cor 8:1-5, 9:
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints– and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us…For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
What do we have in our possession that we can offer up for God’s service? Will we offer up our 5 loaves and 2 fishes to God for His service? Do we feel that it is too little? Do we feel that it is not enough even for our own selves – much less to share with others? Can we let go of what we have so that God can use them to bless us and all those with us?
It is out of our poverty or the paucity of our resources and ability that God’s grace can be magnified as Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 1:8-11: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer…” Towards the end of his letter Paul wrote thus in 2 Cor 12:9,10: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Do we feel that what we have is too little for God to be able to use in His kingdom? Do we feel that we are just a little boy and we do not count for much in the church – and so we keep quiet and do nothing? God is telling us that everyone is important in His kingdom – especially the young ones! Let no man despise thy youth (I Tim 4:12). God can use what you have in a mighty way – remember young David against the giant Goliath?
When we are thankful to God, He is glorified. We must learn to be thankful to God with what we have just as our Lord showed us “when he had given thanks” for the food (John 6:11). The Bible says in Col 3:15: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… and be ye thankful.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.” Being thankful does not come naturally for most of us – especially when we feel that we do not have enough or do not have what we want. But God wants us to be thankful for everything that we have – even if it’s a little. As the Bible says in Phil 4:6-7: “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
Anxiety, grumpiness, grumblings and unthankfulness will not bring us God’s favour or grace – and ought not to characterize the Christian. We have a God who is able to guard us and we ought to have peace from Him. Do we grumble all the time about the things that afflict or pain us? Are we thankful in our disposition?
God is not a minimalist and He does not give us sparingly – as demonstrated in the account: “So also the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11). One would have thought that giving the people bread would be good enough. But God gave them fish as well! And more than that, He gave them “as much as they wanted”. What a tremendous God we are so privileged to serve! Our expectation of what God can do for us needs to be increased. The Bible records in Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?” Matt 25:29: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance” – was addressed to those who used their God-given talents and resources to serve Him. Contrast that with the one who failed to use his talent and did the minimum by hiding his talent (Matt. 25:25). Again in 2 Cor 9:6, “But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
What and how are we sowing? Are we sowing to the flesh (Gal 6:8)? Are sowing to the Spirit? Do we sow with abundance or sparingly? What can we expect to reap in this life and when this life is over?
The account of the feeding of the 5,000 with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish offered up by a selfless boy to be shared among many should teach us to trust God with all that we have and to be thankful at all times, and we can count on God exceeding our expectations in what He can accomplish for us and through us. Jesus said in Luke 18:27: “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” and in Mat 17:20, “And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Surely, this is the Prophet that was to come to the world! So indeed was the testimony of the apostle Peter in Act 3:22-24: “Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days.” Will we listen to what He has said?