Positioning Yourself to Receive a Blessing
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Jesus asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 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.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
(John 6:5-13, NIV)
The story of the feeding of the multitude is one of my favorites from God’s Word, and on many levels. I love the fact that Jesus, the Son of God already knew the answer to the question He was asking as to how they would feed so many. Listen folks, God already knows the end of the story before it is even written. He is sovereign; there are no surprises to Him; He has planned for every contingency of our lives. Think about it. If Almighty God, the Master Designer of the Universe since before all time can create and place into position every star, moon and sun, and the orbit of every planet by merely speaking it into existence, then why is it such a challenge to think He would not know something so simple as to how to feed a few thousand people? Why did He ask “how”? For one very good reason: He was constantly teaching and preparing His disciples to become His representatives after He was gone. Remember, the disciples were just getting the hang of following Jesus and what that meant in their lives. They saw Him doing things they never imagined in their wildest dreams, and the feeding of the five thousand men was just one more illustration of the God that Jesus was and is.
Parenthetically, let’s clarify the number, five thousand. The scripture tells us that there were five thousand “men”, not to mention the women and children. It is logical to think that for every man there would be at least one woman as well as numerous children. So, let’s just say there were probably anywhere from fifteen to twenty-five thousand people. Whatever figure makes you comfortable is alright; the point is that there was a very large group of people who came to hear Jesus speak, see Him perform miracles and to be healed. Let’s not forget, there was also just as many people who at the end of the day were hungry and needed to be fed.
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Peter’s brother, Andrew. He’s not mentioned as often or as prominently as some of the other disciples, but in every case he was introducing someone to Jesus (a great example for those of us who profess to love Him), and in this case he was doing the same thing. He brought the little boy with the two little fish and five loaves of bread to Jesus. Can you imagine the joy and excitement for the little lad to be introduced to this man who performs miracles and heals the sick. Can you imagine the jubilation for this little one when he got home and told his mother what he and Jesus had done that day? (That’s another sermon, but oh the joy when we realize what can be accomplished in our lives when we don’t hold too tightly to what we have and just let Jesus take control of it.)
Then Andrew shows his humanity when immediately after the aforementioned introduction asks, “but how far will they go among so many”? “But”, has there ever been such a word that betrays our lack of faith as this? I think not. Every time we move forward in our walk of faith with the Father, looking as though we are giving our all to live for Him and in Him and trusting Him in every facet of that walk, we insert a “but” that causes us to trip and fall backward in that journey. Why do we, knowing that He is all-sufficient for every need in our lives feel the need to insert a “but” that retards our growth in Him? On the other hand, that moment of doubt also gives our loving savior the opportunity to further prove His ability to answer yet another obstacle that we throw up in the pathway to living intimately with Him. And thus it was with Jesus and the feeding of the multitude. He was about to once again show why He should never be doubted, and why the disciples would learn another lesson about the Christ in whose presence they lived.
Now, what did Jesus say next? “Have the people sit down.” He was ready to feed the thousands and meet their physical need for food that will satisfy their longing for sustenance. All these folks were in such a hurry to follow after him in order to hear him teach and heal and perform all kinds of miracles. Even when he traveled by boat, the crowds, knowing where He was going followed after Him because they wanted more and more of the blessings that would surely be theirs’ if they could only be in His presence while He taught and performed miracles. Little did they know of the tremendous blessing that would be available to them if they would but obey and position themselves for what Jesus had in store for them on that particular day. The key to the thought is one word from the previous sentence: available.
How many blessings are indeed available to us when we are in a position to receive it. So, what was it the crowd had to do to avail themselves to the blessing Jesus had for them? What did He say to do? Read it again. “Have the people sit down”. That’s it, that’s all they had to do, sit down. It was just that easy; however, did they all do as they were instructed? I don’t know, no one does, but that’s what Jesus the miracle maker, the one who could turn two fish and five loaves of bread into enough to feed such a large group and still have plenty left over. Sit down and receive your blessing. If you weren’t sitting, you weren’t eating. Do you suppose anyone refused the blessing by refusing to put themselves in the position to receive what the Lord had for them? He wanted to help everyone, and satisfy their physical hunger which was contingent on their willingness to obey Him and put themselves in the position to be blessed, to have their needs met.
How often do we miss the opportunity for the Father to bless our lives, because we won’t put ourselves in the position to receive such a blessing? What prohibits us from receiving such blessings today? There are many and varied reasons I suppose, but the one that causes me to miss out the most is pride. Anything that promotes me to the middle of the conversation is bound to get in the way of the high position I can have in my walk with my Lord. Now, I know this is elementary, but look at the word itself, I mean the spelling of it. P-R-I-D-E. What is the middle letter? “I” of course is that letter, and it is the greatest obstacle to being in position, not only for receiving a blessing, but for living life with Jesus in general. Watch out folks for the sin of pride. What if some of the multitude refused to sit because they did not want the Galilean to tell them what they had to do. All right, but standing won’t get you any fish ‘n chips.
Often, one of the biggest obstacles to being blessed is simply being out of fellowship with Him because of unconfessed sin in a life. Now, sin is a natural result of breathing; it is a consequence of being alive. We are sons of Adam afterall, and that puts us all in a position to sin. Now, even though we may be born-again believers, we are still prone to sin. That does not mean however, that it is not imperative to confess and repent of sin in our lives if we are to walk with God and be in a position to receive the blessings He may want to bestow on us. When we find ourselves why God does not bless our lives as He seems to bless others, perhaps this problem of not confessing the shortcomings in our lives keeps us out of position.
I am a big St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan. I love to watch them play and I really get involved in the game when I get to watch them either at the stadium or on television. I like trying to watch the players and coaches strategize and position each defensive player to be in the best position to catch the ball when it is hit by the batter for the opposing team. If they do as they are suppose to, they are in better position to make the play that prohibits the opposition from scoring. This is a simple analogy of putting ourselves in position to receive the blessings God wants us to have in our lives, but simply put, this is a pretty good parallel of being positioned to receive all the Father has in store for us.
What if the disciples had refused to follow Jesus when He called? What would their lives have been as opposed to what they became through the experience of living with the Master and being instructed by the King of the Kingdom of God? What blessing would Andrew have missed had he been short sighted and not seen the potential (through Jesus) in the small lunch brought by the young boy? And what about that young child? What if he had not been willing to give Jesus all he had? What blessings do we miss when we don’t give every aspect of our lives to Jesus? Who knows the lives that surely were changed because of his experience with the savior that day. And what blessings would have been missed by the thousands if they had refused Jesus’ instructions when He told them to sit and receive the food that had been blessed by the Father? Not only were they satisfied, they were filled and wanted nothing else to eat. Look at the next section. There was so much food left that it had to be gathered into twelve baskets. That’s the way God wants to bless our lives, giving blessing after blessing often beyond what we ask or need if we will but position ourselves to receive.
What a picture of what Jesus wants to do in our lives. Not only does He want to satisfy our needs, He wants to give us even more than we ask. We have only but to do one thing to receive His blessings, and it’s really not very difficult. We merely need to be in a position to receive the blessings that are beyond measure that Abba Father has for us.