Family Bible Study lesson for March 25: Giving my all
March 9 2001 by William (Mac) McElrath , John 6:1-13

Family Bible Study lesson for March 25: Giving my all | Friday, March 9, 2001

Friday, March 9, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for March 25: Giving my all

By William (Mac) McElrath John 6:1-13 Some Bible stories, despite our best efforts to relate them to life today, still seem to be "long ago and far away." By contrast, the Bible story in this lesson tells of something everyone knows by personal experience every normal day: hunger, and how to satisfy it. The story also deals with other things just as fundamental: our need to give, our need to feel useful, and the miracle that happens when we give Jesus our all.

Crowds beside the lake (John 6:1-4) The feeding of the five thousand is the only one of Jesus' miracles narrated in all four Gospels. Only John's Gospel, however, mentions the boy who brought the loaves and fishes.

Great crowds of Passover pilgrims had thronged beside Lake Galilee. The other Gospels tell us that the afternoon shadows were now stretching long, and that the disciples wanted Jesus to send the weary crowds away.

But Jesus wouldn't do it. His concern should be a rebuke to His followers today when we become so busy with spiritual matters that we forget to care for those in physical need.

Tests of faith (John 6:5-10) Why did Jesus ask Philip the question recorded in verse 5? Verse 6 tells us why. As shown on at least one other occasion (see John 14:7-9), Philip seems to have had a matter-of-fact mind. Jesus was testing to find out whether Philip could see beyond immediate worldly realities.

But Philip failed the test. Using his skill in math, he quickly computed that two hundred denarii, a workman's daily wages for about eight months, would scarcely buy each person a taste of bread.

Another disciple, although his thinking was just as earthbound as Philip's, at least did something positive: Somehow, somewhere, Andrew found a boy with a scanty lunch.

Coarse barley loaves were a staple of the very poor. The "two small fish" were too small to make filling for sandwiches; instead, they were salted tidbits to add a bit of tang to the bread, much like chips or pickles at a modern picnic.

Strange to say, that unnamed lad seems to have had more faith than Jesus' disciples did. He willingly yielded to Jesus all he had to eat that day.

Then Jesus tested the faith of the whole crowd. "Have the people sit down," He said (v. 10). A mere snack they could eat standing up; why be seated unless for a full meal?

The crowds passed the test. They sat down on the fresh springtime grass that was sprouting up beside the lake.

Jesus' command to have those hungry people sit down also showed His wise practicality. Timothy Richard, a notable missionary of long ago, found it hard to share food with starving Chinese because they pushed and shoved to the front. One day he read the order Jesus gave just before feeding the five thousand. "That's the secret!" he decided. Sure enough, when he made the Chinese sit down, he could distribute the food more efficiently.

Abundant provision (John 6:11-13) Verse 11 suggests that Jesus probably spoke the traditional Hebrew blessing of the bread: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who causeth bread to come forth from the earth."

Notice that the young boy was not the only one who offered what he had to Jesus that day. Nor was he the only one whose offering was used and multiplied in the divine plan. The disciples also offered their own strength and energy for use in distributing the loaves and fishes.

Notice that the miraculous supply was not a mere sustenance. Everybody ate as much as they wanted to, and there were still leftovers to spare. The "twelve baskets" which were filled (v. 13) may have been wicker lunchboxes often carried by Jewish men and boys. If so, then each disciple had enough for his next meal, besides being satisfied for the present the same as everybody else.

What do you have to give to Jesus?

Material possessions, like the boy with the picnic lunch?

Strength and energy, like the disciples who stood ready to hand out the miraculously multiplied supply of food?

The boy may have thought that what he had to offer was too insignificant to matter. The disciples may have thought that whatever they did, the crowds would still go away hungry.

Both were wrong. Both experienced firsthand the truth of this old saying:

"Give God your life; He can do more with it than you can."

Have you had that firsthand experience?

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3/9/2001 12:00:00 AM by William (Mac) McElrath , John 6:1-13 | with 0 comments
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