Thursday, May 18, 2023

Feeding the Five Thousand, John 6:1-13


Aside from the Resurrection, the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels. (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6).

After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. John 6:1.

After what things? The disciples just returned from an evangelistic campaign. Jesus had sent them out two by two with authority to heal the sick, cast out demons and preach the Good News. The ministry of Christ was at the pinnacle of popularity, with  so many coming and going they  didn’t even have time to eat (Mark 6:30-32, Luke 9:10-17). 

So, they jumped in the boat for a little get away. 

Now, the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias, isn’t a big sea like the Mediterranean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico. It’s a freshwater lake only about fourteen miles north to south, and seven miles wide, east to west. 

Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. John 6:2.

They not only followed, many saw where He was headed and ran ahead to meet Him. Jesus groupies. (Mark 6:33).

Awesome, a great multitude. 

Well, hold that thought.

Our prayer when posting Church signs by the road goes something like this: “Signs shine like free pancake signs to a bus load of football players.” They may draw more of a crowd if we really were giving away free pancakes. 

Jesus did. He had the stuff. 

Because they saw the signs He performed. They were looking for a performer, to satisfy their sweet tooth, their thrill seeking curiosity, not a Savior. Not a Lord. Not Someone to tell them, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.

And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. John 6:3.

This is probably the main thing that triggered the trip across the sea, to this place off the beaten path; so, they could sit and rest. 

You see, besides all the hustle and bustle and crowds, this was after hearing of the death of His cousin, friend, forerunner, John the Baptist. Jesus heard about that and said, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.Matthew 14:12-13, Mark 6:31.

But the groupies…

Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. John 6:4.

To give us a bearing on the timeline, the Lord inserts a glance at the calendar.

This is the second Passover mentioned, thus, we’re somewhere in the middle of Jesus' three-and-a-half-year ministry. 

Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” John 6:5.

Philip was from the area, so he was a good person to ask about where to buy food—a lot of food.

However, the other three gospels tell us that the disciples told Jesus, it was getting late, time to call it a day, send them away, so they can fend for themselves for food and lodging. Matthew 14:15, Mark 6:35-36, Luke 9:12.

However, Jesus was moved with compassion, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. Mark 6:33-34.

The Good Shepherd, sees sheep and thinks, “How can I feed them?”

The wolf sees them and thinks, “How can they feed me?”

Whose eyes do you see through? The wolf or the Shepherd? 

But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. John 6:6

Tests have questions. 

Tests are given for the sake of promotion. 

Learn to say, “This is just a test.” A test I’m going to pass. Because I know the Answer. 

No matter the question. The Answer is, Jesus. 

Remember the Answer, because there will be a test at the end.

Now take it a step further. 

If Jesus is the answer (and He is), how does He function physically on the earth today? 

Through His people.


So, the next time the question “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” bubbles up within you—perhaps, the Answer is, the Jesus in you wants to do something about it.

Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” John 6:7.

Jesus had asked, where can we buy food to feed this crowd?

Philip says, what? Are you kidding? It’ll take over half a year’s wages to feed them.

Jesus didn’t ask how much, He asked, where

But Philip’s a calculator. You know the type. Just give me the facts, I’ll find the solution. Those left brained folks; good with math and mechanics and strategizing and calculations. He didn’t hear the question because he was already figuring out the solution. 

It’s a God given gift to be wired like that. But that strength can also be a weakness when the Answer requires calculating the God factor.  

When God asks a question, or gives an assignment, many times, (not always), there’s no logical answer, and the assignment is impossible. 

So, if you have a brain like Philip’s, just settle in your heart, with God, 2 + 2 doesn’t always equal 4. Or, in this case, 5 (loaves) + 2 (fish) doesn’t equal 7, but this time, it’s way over 5,000.

How should Philip have answered? Where do we find food to feed them? 

One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” John 6:8-9.

The answer didn’t come from any of the local food markets, there was no Walmart Super Center, or grocery store to feed this crowd.

The answer wasn’t found in the multitude of men, or women…but in one small lad.

 Isn’t that just like our Lord? 

Andrew brought him. Andrew wasn’t even asked. Jesus asked Philip. But Andrew took action. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you don’t care about who gets the credit. 

Andrew, you know Simon Peter’s brother. He’s the guy on the sidelines. Never in the limelight but always in the play. He makes a difference behind the scene by helping others get on the stage. He introduced Peter to Jesus. Later, he introduces a group of Greeks to Jesus (chapter 12). He didn’t write a book, he lived it.  

Andrew’s the guy who’d find a penny, and someone who needed it…or a little lad, and a little lunch. 

The word for lad in the original text implies a small child. Not a teenage boy, but a small boy, perhaps under ten years old. 

He had a small lunch. Five barley loaves and two small fish. Presumably salted and dried as a condiment—picture sardine size fish.

The fish were small. The boy was small. The boy was poor. How do we know? The bread was barley. It was an inferior bread. Called a food fit for beasts.

But none of that matters when the God factor is added. He takes what you give Him, and makes it something wonderful, greater than you could ever imagine.


Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. John 6:10.

Now, this will be a time for Philip and the left brained, mathematical, methodical types to spring into action. Separate, sort and seat the multitude in sections of fifties and hundreds. Mark 6:40.

They had comfortable seats thanks to the much green grass, which tells us this took place in the spring of the year. 

There were five thousand men, not including women and children. Some Bible scholars claim there may have been as many as fifteen-twenty thousand hungry mouths.

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. John 6:11.

Jesus took the loaves and the fish and gave thanks. Imagine, Jesus, the Creator of all things, giving thanks, for something you give Him. 

The word thanks is eucharisteó (yoo-khar-is-teh'-o). From the words “good” and “grace.” Thankful for God’s goodness and grace. 

Whatever you give to God will be blessed by His Goodness and Grace. 

Jesus distributed the little boy’s lunch to his disciples, and the disciples to the people. 

Sitting down in groups might not have made sense a minute ago, but now it makes distributing the food a whole lot easier. 

Obedience brings understanding. 

Did you notice the pattern of God’s divine order here? Jesus gave to His disciples and His disciples gave to the people. The disciples served the people. 

God’s Divine order is to flow through His Church, to the world. Remember, His Church is the people (ekklésia), not the steeple. 

However, His people must not forsake gathering together,  and having “Church.”  His last will and testament, His Revelation, was given to John to give to the Churches. 


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. John 6:12-13

A poor little boy simply gave what he had, and the Lord used it to feed multiplied thousands, and give hope to multiplied billions from that day to this, to you and I here and now, and all who’ve heard the story over the years  

They ate until they were full. With twelve baskets left over. 

There is no lack with God. 

Gather the fragments so nothing is lost. Everything given to Him is valuable. Nothing wasted.  

Mom always used to tell me what her mom told her, “You can’t never out give God.” The grammar might be messed up, but the gospel Truth is solid as a Rock. 

Now, what I’m about to say is different than what I’ve heard from most preachers. They say there were twelve baskets left over, so each disciple got a doggie bag-sket. 

However, I think it all went to pay back the poor boy and his family—with interest and a great big tip. It was his seed after all, so he deserved it. 

The family took the leftovers and turned their lives around. They started a business you may have heard of.

You guessed it.

Poor-boy sandwiches.   

And the rest is HIStory.

God uses the weak things, the ones the world considers unworthy, He uses a Babe in a manger, the despised and rejected barley bread from a poor boy, and He can and will and longs to use you too. 1 Corinthians 1:27.

So, to answer the question Jesus asked, where do we find food to feed them

Do you remember the Answer to the test? 



Lord willing next week we’ll hear Him say:

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger John 6:35.

And then later, at the end of this book, we’ll hear Jesus give Peter the answer three times. 

 Do you love Me?  Feed My sheep. John 21:15-17

Monday, May 15, 2023

A Hero’s Final Words, Joshua 23-24


A Hero’s Final Words, Joshua 23-24

זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִֽים׃

zā·qên bā bay·yā·mîm

I’m old, in the sunset, of my days


Joshua 23:1-2. Senior Citizen

The nation gathers. All eyes are on you. All ears tuned to hear you. You scan the crowd. Some you know, most you don’t—but they’re all family, in one way or another. This is your last speech. What do you say? What do you want them to remember? How do you want to be remembered?   

Joshua is a national hero; the one God chose to lead Israel into the Promise Land. His very name mirrors Jesus.

Here’s what he chose for his final speech.

Joshua opens by stating the obvious; zā·qên bā bay·yā·mîm. I’m old, in the sunset, of my days.

You may remember back in Joshua 13:1, we were already told Joshua was old. So now, he must be really old. Bible scholars say there’s a several year gap between chapter 22 and 23; perhaps 15-20 years. We’ll see in a moment that Joshua is one hundred and ten years old.


Joshua 23:3-5. To God be the glory

Then, he points to God, not himself. Look what the Lord has done. Remember Him. You stand here, at peace, with an inheritance from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, God blessed, you Israel (and America) just as He promised you, and will continue to, as long as you…

Joshua 23:6-10.  No Compromise

He gives God the glory and then tells them to keep, do, hold fast to the foundation, The Law of Moses, the first five books, the Pentateuch; their constitution. Written in part by the finger of God. (Ten Commandments), and the rest written by Moses, inspired by their founding Father, God.  

In a way, the US Constitution was similar. Many of our founding fathers had a close relationship with the Father, and a deep reverence for His Word. They openly acknowledged assistance from Providence, and even claimed the US Constitution was a miracle.

George Washington said, it’s impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.

John Adams advised, “We recognize no Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus.”

Andrew Jackson said, that Book, the Bible is the rock on which our republic rests.

Ab Lincoln stated, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man, all the Good, from the Savior of the world, is communicated to us through this Book. 

Ulysses S Grant said, to hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties. 

Woodrow Wilson advised that a man has deprived himself of the best there is in the world who has deprived himself of the Bible.

“Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” Ronald Reagan.


Joshua 23:11 Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God.

In a sentence, Joshua sums up this chapter. Love is a verb. If you love God, you will obey Him. Simple as that. Not easy. But simple. 

Jesus says it like this: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40.

If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments. John 14:15. 


Joshua 23:12-16. Take heed or else!

Take careful heed, or else, if you don’t, just as the good things came upon you, so shall harmful things overtake you until they destroy you and you shall perish from the good land the Lord has given you. 

When you turn from the Godly ways that made you great, to the ways of those God destroyed—you will receive their fate.

Joshua explains that their greatest threat is not from without—but within. 

It won’t be long until moral corruption will destroy them. Instead of, being the head and not the tail,above only and not beneath, a lender and not a borrower, the land of the free, home of the brave, becomes a land in freefall, a nation forced to raise the debt ceiling or default. A people led by those with debased minds and no moral compass. Crime and chaos the norm. What was once foundational undisputed absolute Truth, is questioned. 

It doesn’t take long. Just in my lifetime we’ve witnessed:

1962: Supreme Court ends school prayer. The prayer that was so offensive: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers and our nation.”

1963. Supreme Court ends Bible reading in school.

National debt, was half of GDP (Gross domestic product) —but from that year to this debt rose, until surpassing GDP in 2015. In the car world that’s called, being, upside down. Apt description of our nation’s financial situation.

1973: Supreme Court codified slaughtering babies

1980: The Ten Commandments no longer allowed in any state or federal building.

1992: The Supreme Court ruled that a graduation prayer violated the “Establishment Clause” of the Constitution. The prayer: “O God, we are grateful for the learning which we have celebrated on this joyous commencement … we give thanks to You, Lord, for keeping us alive, sustaining us and allowing us to reach this special, happy occasion.

2013 DOMA repealed by Biden. Defense of marriage act, defined marriage as one man and one woman. 

2015: The Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. That’s an out-of-control wildfire growing every day. Now, gender fluidity, identity, stupidity. This fire of iniquity cannot be quenched; it’s final destination—the lake of fire. 

2021: In Biden’s first year occupying the oval office, he failed to even mention God during the National Day of Prayer declaration. That was the first time in American history, since it was established in 1952 by Harry S Truman.

About two weeks ago I held up my Bible and said to our lovely little Church family, something like this: “Make sure you have hard copies of the Bible, and books on the Bible, because just like—” I snapped my fingers, “—electronic data can be erased.” I explained that there’s coming a day when sound Bible teaching will be erased, it’ll be considered, “hate speech.”

I had no idea what was next.

Yesterday I held up my Bible again, and talked about how we were in our third day of what appeared to be a systematic sponging from facebook, of every link to where our Bible Studies are posted.

As this is written it continues.

Each day we receive notices about the posts being deleted. Each post has one thing in common—they link to a simple little blog I’ve been writing for 14 years. The notice states “Your post goes against our Community Standards” (I wonder: Commun-ity—as in—Commun-ism?).

When warning the Church about the coming day where antichrist algorithms would systematically sponge all trace of sound Bible teaching…I never dreamed we’d see an object lesson so soon.

The last words of our Lord before ascending into heaven were a command to be His the uttermost parts of the earth. 

Since Facebook has become the town square of the world, it seems appropriate that Christians should echo God’s Voice, by clicking "share" every time we see a post that magnifies our Lord. 

Who know, perhaps the algorithms will see "Jesus" trending and join us in spreading the Good news to the uttermost.

Overcome evil with Good. Romans 12:21.

When a nation turns from God, it’s demise is imminent. Unless God delivers America, we’re doomed for destruction. 


And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32



Joshua 24:1-13. HIStory

Shechem is between Mount Ebal and Gerizim. Remember in chapter eight they paused from battle and worshipped, announcing the blessings and cursings.

Now, it’s the Lord’s turn to speak. “Thus says the Lord…”

And what does He talk about?


Remembering HIStory solidifies the foundation.  

Psalm 11:3 states: If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Jesus paints the picture like this:

Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24-27.


Joshua 24:14-16. As for me and my house

This is the most famous part of Joshua. You may have that verse hanging on your wall.

We all must choose who we’ll serve. But the choice must be made individually. No one can make it for you.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15.

Speaking of serving, did you notice something else? 

When the Lord repeats a word, it’s not because He can’t think of another; it’s to get our attention. 

Serve is repeated…seven times in those few verses. It’s repeated a total of sixteen times in Joshua 24; more than any other chapter in the Bible.  


Joshua 24:16-21. Total Commitment

They repeat things God did for them, for them, for them. All eyes were on them. Not Him. Denoting a shallow, selfish, commitment. Of course, we’ll serve Him, as long as He’s taking such good care of us. 

So, Joshua reminds them you cannot have it both ways, you cannot serve Him and others. He is a jealous God. Jesus says it like this: 

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24.


Joshua 24:22-25. Put it in writing

Serving God is a total and serious commitment. This cannot be taken lightly, or flippantly. Salvation didn’t come cheap, and it isn’t cheap to keep. Take up your cross—Jesus said—and follow Me. It isn’t a simply bought fire insurance policy against hell. No empty words. Joshua made (cut) a covenant. They put the agreement in writing as a legal binding statute and ordinance. 


Joshua 24:26-28. Can I get a witness

Joshua adds his writings to the Books of Moses, and the Book of Joshua is born for us to read today.

As common with Joshua, he sets up a stone as a memorial and witness.


Joshua 24:29-33. The servant

Joshua servant of the Lord, died. No fanfare. No shining tribute. Just the simple words, “servant of the Lord.”

Lord, may we all be remembered with such humble honor.


Joseph's bones are buried. 

Eleazar the priest, dies. 


Joshua’s final words and legacy:

His Passion: Love the Lord your God. 

His Commission: Choose this day who you will serve.

His Example: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.