Take a Risk With Jesus | Wayne Massey
Jesus feeds the five thousand
1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’
10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Jesus walks on the water
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
Do you ever feel out of your depth? That’s how Philip must have felt when Jesus turned to him and asked him where they should go to buy food to feed the crowds – an impossibly huge task. It can happen to us, when Jesus comes crashing into our lives with something he wants us to do, that seems impossible.
Many of us like to be in control, with things nailed down and understood, and we just can’t handle it otherwise. Of course we are not really in control but just trying to keep a lid on things and stop them spilling out. Some of us though are the opposite – we feel completely powerless.
Whether controlling or powerless, as long as we focus on ourselves, we deny the truth of who God is. Jesus says to us all ‘Would you let me be God - let me be in charge?’ When we do, he sets us free. You find you are not responsible for fixing everything and solving every problem; nor are you at the mercy of other people or circumstances. You become power-full. As Paul wrote to Timothy, you become ‘strong in the grace that God gives you.’ But as long as you’re trying to assert control or sinking into powerlessness, you can’t receive that grace. It’s time to repent, and trust God to be in charge.
We can trust Jesus because of who he is and what he is doing. He is God, utterly good, and he loves us so much that he died in our place so that we could be set free. We can leave the outcomes to him, freed from anxiety about how things might turn out. That is easier to do when everything’s going well, but much harder when life gets difficult. Focussing on a short-term perspective, we can miss his long-term plan. But if we let go and turn in trust, giving up our control and our powerlessness, a whole series of outcomes can happen over time that we could not imagine. Some will be perfectly normal, others can be miraculous – but they will be God’s way. Jesus knows best because of who he is and what he’s doing, ie calling a people to himself through the Cross.
The crowds wanted to take control and make Jesus king, but he didn’t let them use him in this way. Nor will he be used as an instrument in your plans, your dreams and programmes. Instead he will invite you into his kingdom to give you new dreams and plans and set you in new programmes, that are first and foremost his for you.
So where do you go from here? Have you already decided the outcome in whatever faces you today, hoping God will bless it, or will you turn to Jesus and let him be king? What is Jesus asking you to do? Will you trust him, hand the outcome to him and let the impossible happen?