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Here’s the sermon that I preached yesterday at the nursing home (although I abbreviated it). I’ve already preached the full version in my churches.
- Introduction: When was the last time you were hungry—I mean, really hungry? Perhaps you were so involved in something that you didn’t have time to eat. Maybe you even missed a meal or two. Maybe by the time you decided you really needed to eat something, there was no food to be had. Perhaps as your stomach objected to its empty state you wished a restaurant—a café—would appear in front of you. Such a thing happened once. I call it the Wilderness Café.
- The Wilderness Café
- Story: Disciples return from missionary journeys; meanwhile, Jesus hears that John the Baptist has been beheaded—Jesus wants to spend time debriefing his disciples privately, but the crowds press in so much that there is not even time to eat—Jesus and disciples cross Galilee to a deserted area near Bethsaida, but Jerusalem-bound crowds (it was Passover time) follow him—now comes the only miracle recorded in all four gospels aside from the Resurrection
- Side note: Luke 9:10b, 11 (”Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing” [NIV (Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.)].): Jesus welcomed (from ἀποδέχομαι: welcome; receive, accept) the crowd
- He needed time alone with the disciples
- Do we welcome the “crowds” in our lives?
- John 6:5-9 (”5When 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?’ 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’ 8Another 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?’ ” [NIV]): The boy gave what he had
- Again, Andrew is a missionary, but he had doubts
- Preposterous gift—totally inadequate
- Gave it anyway—didn’t keep some back for himself
- We may not think we have anything valuable to give, but we should give what little we have
- Luke 21:1-4 (”1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on’ ” [NIV].): The poor (Greek πενιχρός, late form of πένης: hand-to-mouth existence—must work each day in order to have something to eat the next [Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Mark 12:42].) widow’s offering
- Coins were lepta, the smallest coin then in circulation
- She gave everything—that’s what counts
- John 6:10, 11 (”10Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus 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” [NIV].): Jesus took the boy’s best and made it better
- His gift was inadequate, but Jesus is always adequate
- Our gifts are not measured in what they are, but in what God can make them
- 2 Corinthians 4:7 (”But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” [NIV].): Jars of clay: not particularly attractive, but they show “the all-surpassing power” of God
- “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called”
- John 6:12, 13 (”12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” [NIV].): There was enough left over to share
- Probably many people (including the boy who had given his lunch) took food home to share with those who were not present
- When God works a miracle in our lives, he doesn’t want it to be wasted; he wants us to share it
- “Too often we fail to recognize our personal responsibility for others. It is easy to leave the work of sharing the love of God to the church or the pastor, believing that the ‘professionals’ will do a better job. But the miracle of the bread [The Wilderness Café] teaches us to use what we have, to ‘give them something to eat’ instead of sending people to someone else when they need to know about God’s love. Whenever we are surrounded by people in need, Jesus is there with us. He will multiply our small talents as He did the loaves of bread. What little talents we have will be used in a great way.
“Jesus said, ‘Give and you will receive.’ ” (Jerry D. Thomas, Messiah: A Contemporary Adaptation of the Classic on Jesus Life, The Desire of Ages (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2002) p. 217.)
- Conclusion: Song, “We Are His Hands”
- Next steps
- Make a list of your abilities, large and small. Present the list to God and ask Him to show you how He wants you to use those abilities for Him.
- After praying, find a need in the church that your abilities can fill and fill it, remembering that God will grow your ability.
- Tell a friend about the Wilderness Café and help them to understand how their abilities can be used for God.