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FEEDING THE MULTITUDE, #537

"And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost," JOH 6:10-12.

We should be so thankful that God’s blessings are dispensed according to the riches of His grace, and not according to the poverty of our faith. "Jesus said, Make the men sit down." This was in the face of the unbelief of His disciples. He had said unto Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" He said this to prove him.

Philip said, "Two hundred pennyworth...is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little," JOH 6:7. Then "Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?" JOH 6:8-9. In other words, they wouldn’t feed fifty people; what are we going to use to feed five thousand?

Their faith does not measure up to the manifold riches of God’s grace. If God depended upon our faith for the blessings that we receive, we would live in a waste-howling wilderness and be famished with famine.

Unbelief is infectious. It says in Scripture to purge out the old leaven, for a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. When you have somebody who’s talking negatively in an organization or in a crowd or in an assembly, you often find that his or her negative attitude spreads throughout the crowd. When you have somebody that can speak in a positive way and talk about the wonders of God and how great God’s blessings are, and talk with assurance, then that also spreads.

I remember one time I went to visit my dear, old mother. She was reading in the Great Falls Tribune about different events, and she had calculated in her mind how Russia was going to come and take over our country. She had calculated all these dark shades. I asked her, "Instead of looking at what you think is going to happen, why don’t we look at what is here today? Today, we’re living in freedom. Today we have the gospel preached unto us. Today we have all the necessities of life. If we could count our blessings, what do we have to murmur about?" It was only a matter of minutes before her heart, instead of murmuring and instead of dwelling in unbelief, was lifted up.

Unbelief is infectious. It spreads. We have to nip it in the bud. Christ’s disciples had already seen so many miracles. Our chapter begins, "And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased," JOH 6:2. The disciples had seen these miracles. They had already seen so many miracles, and they are following the pattern of the children of Israel in the wilderness. The children of Israel had seen God’s wonders in the wilderness.

PSA 78:16 says, "He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers." That rock followed them and that rock was Christ, Cf. 1CO 1:5. They had seen these things, yet this did not cure their unbelief. PSA 78:19 says, "Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

These disciples were suffering from that same unbelief. "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Here we are, with a multitude and only five small loaves!" They had seen all the miracles that Jesus had done. They had seen the same miracles that caused this multitude to come together. What was their problem?

This is what you and I have to notice when we have a problem of struggling with unbelief. They had both calculated, but they had both miscalculated: they had their eye fixed upon the difficulties instead of upon Christ. When you and I have our eyes fixed on circumstances then we start calculating according to human rationale, then difficulties become mountains. But when our eyes are fixed upon Christ, our difficulties disappear.

Look away from the circumstances and fix your eye on Christ. When our eyes are fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the circumstances are no longer so insurmountable.

The unchanging goodness of God in His unfailing mercies (despite our backslidings and unbelief) will melt our rebellion into true gospel repentance. When you and I take our eyes off from circumstances and have our eyes fixed upon the Lord we can start counting our blessings and analyzing what the Lord has done. Then we start to see the love of God, then we see His unchanging goodness and His unfailing mercies and this melts our rebellion into true Gospel repentance and it will give us a Godly sorrow over sin.

"Jesus said, Make the men sit down." He had asked Philip, to prove him. Andrew had spoken about the few small loaves, "but what are they among so many?" Jesus commanded, "Make the men sit down." There was no harsh rebuke; there was no chastisement for their unbelief. He did not rail upon them. See how He is so loving and so tender. See the tender heart of the Father and the character of the Father revealing itself in His Son.

PSA 103:12-14 says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." Have you ever thought about when a little child walks or runs astray? The loving heart of a parent retrieves that child. Why? Not out of bitterness, not out of anger, but out of love. They retrieve that child and bring him back in the way.

Even though you and I fail so miserably, even though you and I come so short of His honor and His glory, even as a Father "pitieth his children," the Lord knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. He remembers that we are fallen creatures, and therefore His rebukes and reproofs are in such a loving spirit.

Our Saviour’s command, "Make the men sit down," was a further test or proving ground: this time it was a test of obedience. Philip had pointed out that if you had "Two hundred pennyworth" of bread, it wouldn’t be enough that they could each take a little. Andrew had pointed out that there were only five loaves, and asked what is that amongst so many? The Lord Jesus said to make the men sit down. Now we have a test of obedience. This obedience of faith is how we overcome our ignorance and shortsightedness.

He said, "Make the men sit down." Think of what a searching test it was! Why would they make the men sit down when there was nothing to feed them? They had nothing in store: they had not the two hundred pennies to go buy the food, and they had nothing there to feed them, yet the Lord Jesus says, "Make the men sit down."

Christ had spoken with power and the obedience of faith came when the Holy Spirit constrained them. The Holy Spirit moves us irresistibly to obey because faith is a gift of God. The obedience of faith is a gift of God, and it is by His constraining power in His Word when He speaks the Word in our souls, that He moves us to obey.

They couldn’t have obeyed by what they saw: they didn’t see any food; they saw a multitude that was hungry, but had nothing to feed them. Yet now we come to a test of the obedience of faith, and this is to make the men sit down. He constrained His disciples to act upon this.

It is by the wonder of God’s grace that "we walk by faith, not by sight," 2CO 5:7. By sight it would have been absolute folly to tell the people to sit down because we are going to feed you when there was nothing there! If they were walking by sight, it would have been total folly. The wonder of God’s grace is that we walk by faith when the eye is fixed upon Christ; when Christ is evidently set before our eyes of faith we walk by faith and not by sight.

1PE 1:8-9 says, "Whom having not seen, ye love [Walking by faith we learn to love Him, though we have not seen Him]; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

The Lord will teach you and I, in a practical sense, under circumstances, which He leads us through to exercise obedience of faith so that we learn to walk by faith and not by sight. By this He strengthens our faith for the salvation of our souls, that we learn to believe in Him whom we have not seen, to rejoice with joy unspeakable, receiving the end, or the purpose, or the intent of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. Thereby we come to the assurance of our faith for the salvation of our souls by the exercise of faith, which He puts into exercise by dealing with us in circumstances whereby we walk by faith and not by sight. This is how He teaches us to know Him whom we have not seen with our eyes.

When God speaks with power unto our souls, God given faith acts upon it. It is not that you and I can come with some power of the mind and make things happen; it is when the power of the Holy Spirit speaks the Word to our soul. What does "with power" mean? Watch a train going down the track and up over a hill: it is power that causes it to move. You have diesel power, electric power, steam power; there are many sources of power, but the power is that within the engine that causes it to move and act. When the Holy Spirit comes with power, and the Word and faith come with power, the result is it moves you to act upon the Word.

Why should believers be baptized? The authority is in the Word of God. When the Holy Spirit speaks the Word with power, we act upon it. We should be baptized simply because Jesus Christ has so commanded. When the authority of His Word comes upon our heart with power, we act upon it. In MAT 28:19-20 the Lord Jesus has commanded us to be baptized. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." This is a command of Jesus Christ; that is why we must be baptized: because we act upon the authority of His Word.

Why should women remain silent in the church? Simply because God has so commanded us in His Word, in 1CO 14:34. We don’t gainsay it; we don’t argue with it. God has commanded it; we obey. Jesus’ disciples failed the test of looking away from the difficulties. They were not looking unto the authority with which they had so often heard their Master speak.

This is what we must learn as we go through the exercise of obedience of faith. If you don’t physically exercise, your health would disappear. Exercising faith is what makes it strong; putting it into use makes it usable. The Lord exercises our faith by bringing us into circumstances where we have to look away from the circumstances and look unto God. By leading us through circumstances, giving us to understand what it is to walk by faith and not by sight, He thereby strengthens our faith to believe in Him whom we have not seen. This becomes the basis of assurance of our faith.

The disciples had seen these different miracles – yet when they were put to the test again, they failed. They were still looking at circumstances. The Apostle said in ROM 1:5 they had "received grace...for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name." We need grace to perform the obedience of faith. You and I, as faith is exercised, as faith is strengthened, and as faith grows, will learn that it is by grace.

We may have seen the Lord’s deliverance here and there. Yet sometimes in the very next trial our heart and our eyes are again set upon circumstances until the Lord intervenes. He comes again with some portion of His Word, or some servant that comes to remind us to take our eyes off from circumstances and look unto Christ. We find that we need to be reminded of this so often and it is so that we see that we receive it by grace; that it isn’t something that you and I become strong in ourselves. We continue to decrease: we get smaller and smaller and smaller in ourselves.

Obedience of faith is our evidence of the genuineness of the new birth. The Lord exercises our faith and our obedience of faith, so we can have the assurance that He indeed has worked the new birth of the Spirit in our heart. If our faith is weak, and our evidence of grace seems obscured, the obedience of faith is the best remedy. Faith becomes bright through the obedience of faith during the trial through the circumstances He brings us in.

HOS 6:3 says, "Then shall we know, [we gain this knowledge by obedience] if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." He will distill the dew of the Spirit in our soul "if we follow on to know the LORD." The Lord is so pleased with obedience of faith that He gives His reward. What is that? It says, "his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." He will water our souls. He will give us that assurance. He will take away that dimness of our faith because we have put obedience of faith into exercise.

Jesus knows what we would do, but all His blessings come to us through the channel of obedience. It is a mystery of the gospel that I never hear preached and it is so absolutely true, according to the Word of God. The blessings come through the channel of obedience. He so intimately carries out all His purposes of grace through the obedience of faith. You and I come to the assurance of faith through the obedience of faith.

All believers (not a few, not just a certain segment) are characterized as "obedient children" in 1PE 1:14, and all unbelievers are characterized as "children of disobedience" in EPH 2:2. How do you and I distinguish in our hearts whether or not we are the children of God? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil," PRO 8:13. What is in our hearts? Do we cherish sin or do we hate sin? Have we had that renewing of the mind? Has the Spirit given us the renewing of the spirit of our mind? All unbelievers are characterized as "children of disobedience."

"...[H]e humbled himself, and became obedient..." is the most distinguishing feature in the character of our Divine Master, as we see in PHI 2:8. The most distinguishing feature is that "he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Are you and I going to follow in the footsteps of Christ? Are you and I going to be characterized as Christians, as partakers in Christ? In 1PE 1:14 you will see you are characterized as "children of obedience."

"And Jesus said, Make the men sit down," but why "sit down"? First, He said, "Make the men sit down," because God is a God of order. We can see the orderly arrangement they were placed into in MAR 6:39-40, where we see the same miracle spoken of. "And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties."

The Lord is a God of order. You don’t come into a church and hear a man preaching while two or three people are praying out loud; you would have nothing but a state of confusion. The Lord is not the author of confusion. 1CO 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." The Lord is a God of order. He said "Make the men sit down." Prepare for this heavenly blessing in an orderly manner.

"Make the men sit down," but why? There is another reason. This teaches an important principle pertaining to spiritual life. All our activities in the flesh must come to rest. When the Lord is going to feed your soul, He is not going to do it while you are a busybody serving self. Everything of self must come to rest. We must cease from our own work. We must cease from serving from our own strength. We must serve according to the Word of God. Everything of self must come to an end before we will receive the Bread of Life. Most often our strength is to sit still. When the Lord is going to deliver, then He has a purpose in why we have to cease from our own strength.

We see that in ISA 30:7, "For the Egyptians shall help in vain, [in other words, all fleshly help is vain] and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still." If the Lord is going to deliver, He’s not going to use the hand of the Egyptians, or the hand of the flesh, to do it. The Lord wants the honor.

When He says, "Make the men sit down," it teaches us a principle that we also see taught in 1TH 4:11, "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you." The Lord does not need busybodies in other men’s matters. The Lord does not need people that are going to come with some big thrust to help with the flesh. The Lord says to sit down: PSA 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

All too often we become caught up in the rush of our day, then sometimes we are made to "sit down" by sickness or some other means. He might touch us with some set of circumstances that brings us to the end of ourselves as some other means. PSA 23:2 says, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

Here we see that Jesus has told them to sit down upon the green grass. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." He moves irresistibly. What the Lord has in store He brings about in spite of us. He makes us to lie down. How often you and I would be our own worst enemy. We can get into calculating with the flesh and we can get into calculating with human reasoning, but the Lord makes us sit down; He makes us come to the end of ourselves; He makes us lie down in green pastures. When we follow on to know the Lord, then "he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain." Then He waters our soul. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."

MAR 6:39 says, "And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass." JOH 6:10 says, "Now there was much grass in the place," but Mark adds the word "green." This teaches us how we are commanded to sit down in green pastures of His Word to feed our souls. That is what we see so beautifully in PSA 23:2, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." He brings us where there is rich store and rich abundance, green pastures and still waters.

You can sit down alongside the most beautiful stream of water and still die of hunger. You could sit in the most abundant store of food and still die of thirst, but He supplies both. He supplies both the food and the drink. They are equally co-essential to our existence. He supplies all that is necessary, and He gives us a rich abundant store. He said to sit down where there was much "green grass."

Andrew said in JOH 6:9, "There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?" He was saying that the supply was not sufficient. As we are told to sit down in green pastures, do we limit what the Lord will do for our souls? Are we going to sit down in green pastures and study His Word, but think, "My soul is so dark, I have so many sins, so much to doubt, so that I can’t feed upon the provisions that Jesus has brought?"

Andrew said that here were five loaves, but what would five loaves do for five thousand? Yet Jesus did not scorn the loaves because they were few, nor the fish because they were small. This teaches the same principle taught in 1CO 1:27, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."

The Lord Jesus could well have asked manna to rain from heaven and fed them by a miracle, but the Lord used the means at hand. You and I have the means, and that is His Word. The Lord could speak to your soul from heaven and tell you everything He wants you to know, but He uses the means He has chosen. He wants you and I to sit down in green pastures, in other words, in His Word, and He wants us to feed upon His Word.

He didn’t scorn those five loaves. The Lord uses the little things to move the big things. It says, "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." Let’s look at a few Scriptural illustrations of this. The Lord used the tear of an infant to move the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter. She saw the little babe crying and it touched her heart. What was the terrific effect of those little things? It moved the heart of the king’s daughter and she took him to be her son.

The Lord used the rod of Moses - a small thing, a shepherd’s staff - to work wonders in Egypt. He used a stripling’s sling and a stone to slay a giant. The Lord could have destroyed Goliath, but how did He do it? A young man with big armor and a sword? No, He used a little stripling with a sling and a stone. He used a "little maid" – one that had been taken captive - to bring the mighty Naaman to Elisha.

The Lord used a widow and a handful of meal to sustain the prophet Elijah. He used a little child as an example to humble His disciples, to teach them humility. The Lord uses the little things to confound those things that are great. The Lord used an illustration in MAT 18, showing His disciples while they strove about who was going to be the greatest: He said that except they become as a little child, they cannot enter His kingdom; they couldn’t serve Him. When you have anything about you that seems to exalt flesh then you cannot serve Him, you cannot enter His kingdom. You need to become as a little child. You need to become teachable. You may have such a catalog of wisdom in that little mind of yours that you just don’t have room for any more, but a little child is teachable.

A little child can sit at his father’s table and have not the slightest concern about who is going to pay the electric bill, or the heat, or the taxes, or who is going to make the payments, or who is going to make the provisions. A little child doesn’t even think about that. A little child will sit at the table with such a child-like faith that his father will provide. Unless you become as a little child you cannot enter into His service.

The Lord uses the little things to confound the wise. The Lord used the five loaves to confound the multitude. He fed them all and there was still more, still twelve baskets remaining. He used the five loaves and the two small fishes to feed a great multitude, and He is able to use you. Has that ever entered your mind? You might say, "Not me. This is just I. He could use that person or that person or that person," but can He use you for His glory? You might feel that you are weak and insignificant, and who would listen to you? But the Lord can use you for His glory.

2CO 10:4 says, "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)" Sometimes He can use you even though you haven’t said a word. Do you know how? Your walk of life may speak much louder than the most magnificent philosopher could ever phrase in words. Sometimes the Lord could use your walk of life as the greatest testimony to save a soul. He might use you for His glory. He might even use some small word that you have spoken in season.

I remember one time I was visiting with a man I had to be with for about three days. That man was taking God’s name in vain so horribly. I didn’t want to reprove him in a way that would seem as if I had authority over him so I kept begging the Lord to give me a word to speak in season. About fifteen minutes later I found I could answer a question he asked by citing a passage of Scripture. Immediately, he said, "Oh, I’m probably more religious than you are."

I said, "That’s possible. There’s more religion in the world today than there’s ever been since the beginning of time, but there’s still a distinction between you and me. I fear God and you do not." The man responded, "Oh, I don’t fear anybody."

I told him "I’m not talking about slavish fear. I’m talking about a filial fear. I have a holy reverence for God. You know, the fires of hell are going to be kindled with religious people (MAT 7:22-23) but there’ll never be one God-fearing soul in hell." I spent another three days with the man and I never heard another vulgar word out of that man. The Lord gave me a word to speak in season. He opened an opportunity. I had to beseech the Lord to give me a word to speak in season, one that would convince him while I was hearing that horribly profane language. I never heard another profane word in the next three days. Our blessed Lord might have used me for His glory.

"Jesus took the loaves." He could have rained down manna from heaven, but He did not work independently of His means. He used the means at hand. The Lord, in His Providence, does this. He uses us. If you were not well, the Lord could make you well at the speaking of a word – many people call it faith healing, but the Lord uses means.

God's dear children need to take this to heart. God is not limited to means, but He uses them. He used a tree to heal the bitter waters at Marah, (see that in EXO 15:23-25). In healing Hezekiah of his boil, God used a lump of figs, (2KI 20:4-7). He did not just send Isaiah to say, "Be well." He had him put a lump of figs on the boil and he recovered.

We must not neglect our bodies with the fatalistic presumption that the hour of our death is predetermined. We may not fatalistically neglect our body. One time a man told me that he was coughing up blood, so he decided to quit smoking. So he went to the pastor, and his pastor at that point was dying of bronchial cancer from smoking. Do you know what his pastor told him? He told him that to quit smoking would be unbelief. "Your death is determined and if you think you’re going to lengthen your life by quitting smoking, that’s tempting God." I never heard anything so astonishing in my life! That very pastor was dying of bronchial cancer caused by smoking!

We must use means to preserve our health: we must eat healthy foods; we may not feed our body with junk foods; we must take care of our body. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit: we may not defile it. We must care for it because it is God’s temple. We must use whatever modern means God has provided to preserve life.

1TI 5:23 says, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." The apostle is telling Timothy to use what strengthens his body; use what is good for his infirmities. Our text says, "And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down."

The Lord Jesus leaves us a perfect example in all things. 1CO 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." He did not proceed to feed the five thousand without first giving thanks. Do you know what that teaches us, too? We must come before the Lord when we enter the green pastures of His Word and we must, with thanksgiving and prayer, make our needs known unto Him, searching in His Word for the Bread of Life. We must also remember the example He set, that we give thanks whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, that we "do all to the glory of God."

"He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down." Here again the same lesson is taught: God could have enlightened every human soul in an instant with the power of His Spirit, but He has chosen to use means. The Lord has His means whereby He will enlighten the soul. You hear so many people say, "Let’s just get together and have a Bible study." But the Lord has ordained means.

His ordained means are in 1CO 1:21, "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." This means that we are called upon to come under the preached Word.

Many times in my life I would spend a week struggling over a particular matter. I would be praying over it, I would be searching the Word, and I would be hungering and thirsting for the Lord to give me an answer, then I would come into His house, in the house of prayer, and all was made plain. That is when the Lord would remove the veil, because it was His ordained way. The Lord could have given me an answer at home. I had times that the Lord answered prayers while I was driving down the field on a tractor. I’ve had times the Lord has answered prayer while I was walking out in the yard, and while reading in His Word. However, most often it was while I was sitting in the house of prayer that all was made plain, because the Lord has so ordained that by the foolishness of preaching He would save them that believe.

The Lord Jesus Christ used His disciples as His instruments to feed the hungry multitudes. They could have all come by and taken their own, but the Lord ordained that He would use His disciples to feed the multitude. He broke the bread; He put it into the hands of the disciples. The bread multiplied as He gave it to them, and it multiplied as they received it so they all had sufficient and more.

As the Word is being preached it multiplies. A single verse can employ a complete hour to explain. It multiplies and out of that, which multiplies, sometimes He’ll take a single word or a single issue or a single thought and that will come into a given heart and it will multiply and become a feast of fat things. It becomes a feast in those green pastures beside those still waters. It will multiply in the soul.

I’ve had many a time that I’d be sitting in a church and the Lord would use a passage of Scripture that the pastor would quote. As I followed in my Bible, the Lord would use verses before or after (it wouldn’t even be the verses the pastor used) to bless my soul. But it was still under His ordained way; in the house of prayer and under the preaching of the Word. Then one phrase or one thought would be a blessing that would feed my soul for a week.

This is why the Lord has ordained means. He gave it to His disciples and they gave it to the multitude. He does this today. This is by no means reserved for pastors only. When the Lord puts the food in your hand or feeds your soul it is also your job to speak with your fellow man and to minister to the needs of the saints. It is the duty and privilege of every child of God.

The Apostle reproves the church for failing in this matter, for being slothful. HEB 5:12 says, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, [he didn’t say pastors; he didn’t say the elders of the church; but ‘ye ought to be teachers’] ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

He reproves them because they have been slothful and they have not grown. The result is they should be teaching others, and they still have the need to be taught again. Our Saviour admonishes us to put to good use whatever graces we have received. This is the lesson the Lord is teaching us in LUK 8:18, "Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."

When you do not multiply it, when you do not exercise that which God gives you, it dies. "Take heed...how ye hear." When you hear be careful that you don’t bury your talent in the earth. This does not mean that we can go out and feed God’s people from your own wisdom. We don’t want to overreact on this. We cannot take our own head knowledge and our own intellect to go out and feed the flock with it.

JOH 6:11 says, "Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down." You can only take that which the Lord has fed you with. You can feed the flock of God with that same bread because that’s the bread that multiplies. It is not the bread that you and I think we can put together of our own wisdom, but it’s like the Lord Jesus said to the Apostle Peter in LUK 22:32, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

I can speak for myself in my younger years in this very area. I had a tendency to be too much of a teacher teaching what I knew rather than what I had experienced. The Apostle Peter fell and found he wasn’t as strong as he thought he was. He found out what it meant to curse and swear and deny he ever knew the man. Then after he was converted from being so strong in himself, when he saw someone walking on slippery ground, he could approach that person with a completely different spirit: he could come to that man and say, "I was so big in myself. I was permitted to fall and I brought myself into such shame. Beware. Beware. I see you standing on the same pinnacle." Now he’s talking in a completely different tone.

Jesus took the loaves and He gave thanks and distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples distributed to them that were set down. We may take that which the Lord has given us, and we can let it multiply by sharing it with our fellow man. The disciples must first receive that which they were to distribute. We cannot give out to others that which we have not yet received ourselves. It is only a full vessel that overflows. When the oil flows and our "cup runneth over," the fragrance will fill the room and it will feed others, but it is only a full soul that overflows. "...[A]nd likewise of the fishes as much as they would." This is such a precious lesson! The supply stopped only with the demand. There was no insufficiency in the supply. They had "as much as they would."

Was not this the case also with the poor widow recorded in 2KI 4:6, "And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed." The oil never "stayed" until there was no more room to receive. This is the way it is with the love of God. This is the way it is with the bounty there is in His Word.

If you and I are wondering why the Holy Spirit does not give the Word with unction, it’s because our vessel is still full of self and/or the things of flesh. The Lord empties us from vessel to vessel. Do you know why? As long as we’re still full of self, there’s no room for Christ. He will fill an empty vessel to the overflowing, but if that vessel is still full of ourselves, if we still have all the answers, there’s no room for Christ.

This is grace: as long as there was a single hungry soul the supply never failed, (6:12) "...and likewise of the fishes as much as they would." See the contrast between, "...as much as they would," and Philip’s calculation (6:7), "that every one of them may take a little." They thought that with "Two hundred pennyworth" maybe everyone could get just a taste. Out of this meager supply of five loaves there was sufficient that everyone had "as much as they would."

JOH 6:35 says, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." What blessedness there is in that consolation of the fullness of Christ. "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," JOH 1:16-17. Amen.


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