I talked the other day about those who were offended by Jesus. They asked questions that basically said who do you think you are and because of their unbelief Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith and He did not do many miracles. I also talked about remembering the miracles of Jesus and the wonders of the Old Testament. Everything the church has available is right there before us, miracles, signs, wonders, healings and demons cast out and salvation are available to all who would believe. Nowhere does the bible tell us these wonders were only available for a few. But as you can see around you, most in the church have accepted the powerlessness of the church as normal and have accepted the absence of miracles. When you tell people there is something missing, offense rises. satan does not want the church to have power, as he knows what his end will be. Sadly the church has become very content in captivity.
Today I want to look at the disciples who saw the power right before their eyes and still did not get it. The same goes for the church today. God’s power is right before our eyes as seen in scripture yet most do not question why this power is not present today. Even though we do not see power on display, as of yet, that does not mean the church will never have the power as described in scripture. The church appears to not understand what is missing and is without excuse just like the disciples were without excuse for their lack of understanding. We were warned that understanding is crucial. Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; those of high rank will die of hunger and the common people will be parched with thirst.” Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
Everywhere you turn in scripture you can see the power of God at work. Today we are going to be looking at the miraculous feeding of large crowds of people. This was not new as we saw in the Old Testament that Elisha also fed with loaves. 2 Kings 4:42 “A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. 43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.”
Even more amazing than feeding one hundred people, we also see in the New Testament Jesus feeding mass amounts of people. Mark 8:1 “During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance. 4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” You will see in a moment that Jesus had just fed the five thousand so it was odd the disciples would say that. Mark 8:6 “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present.”
Following this amazing wonder, Jesus was talking to His disciples about the Pharisees. Mark 8:14 “The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” 16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Obviously they had bread on their mind but not enough to bring enough. We saw then the unbelief and lack of understanding of the disciples as Jesus starting asking them questions. Today most people in the church do not want to hear they do not have enough faith or understanding but it is true, as most people don’t have enough belief. When I say that you don't have enough faith, I’m am not saying it as the charismatics so often say when healing doesn’t take place that they prayed for. They often say following a failed miracle that you were not healed because you lacked faith. Their problem was the gift of healing wasn’t there in the first place yet they blame the person praying for healing. Aside from that, faith is obviously an issue as Jesus asks this question. Luke 18:8 “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Yes it does come down to our faith but our faith must be in the true gospel not the ones masquerading as truth.
Jesus then begins to ask questions to his disciples. These questions are not just for His disciples but also for anyone who reads them. He says, Mark 8:17 “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. 20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” No they didn't understand just as most in the church fail to understand all the power that God has for His church today. Also the church still must be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees. These two miracles are amazing; they are beyond comprehension which is what a miracle is. With the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus again had compassion and the disciples thought they should all leave. Mark 6:36 “Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” Isn’t that amazing that Jesus told them to give them something to eat yet “they said to him, that would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” No they did not understand the power available in the presence of Jesus. “Then Jesus 41 taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.” This number was even far greater as only the men were counted.
The disciples had forgotten already about this amazing miracle. Now they had seen two miracles yet still did not get it. Even after the first feeding they still asked, “but where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them.” So Jesus asked them the questions about their lack of understanding. It is interesting that chapter seven where Mark talks about Isaiah words, falls between these miraculous feedings. Jesus said Mark 7:6 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” This can also be said to the church today. When you look at the book of Isaiah, Isaiah was sent out to Isaiah 6:9 “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, 12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. 13 And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” So here we are again with the church in desolation due to unbelief but with hope of the remnant. Paul later said to the Jews Acts 28:23 “They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people and say, You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” 27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” [29 After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.] 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” The church today is like the Jews who still refuse to listen. Isaiah 1:2 “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” 4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” This is why the church must repent and turn from their wicked ways.
Isaiah tells us Isaiah 29:11 “For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.” 13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Paul said, 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 2:14 “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”
We see in John that, John 12:37 “even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” We have before us the wonders of God. Don’t be like those who refuse to believe. Don’t be afraid of what people think; stand firm on God’s word.
The good news is there is still hope but we must fear God. Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” We must also seek Him as Psalm 14:2 “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” We were told that Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” Even though this famine is severe, there is hope that the church will see and hear again. Isaiah 29:18 “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down— 21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. 22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob:
We desperately need God to dwell among us again and to clothe us with His power as it was meant to be. Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” When God turns His face back to us, the church will understand all that He has for us and then we too will say Daniel 4:3 “How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation.” Instead of a scroll that no one understands we will once again understand the power available to the church. Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” Acts 29:22 “No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”
As we continue on with this Lenten journey, take the time to gain understanding. Daniel 10:12 “Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” We need to understand that the power of the gospel was to continue. Paul said Romans 15:17 “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”