God can give until we are full.

God can give until we are full John 6-1-15temptation


Have an actor play a person that appears to be dying of thirst screaming out ‘water! I need water.’  Finally, after he has gone to most people, another actor gets up and brings a glass of water to the person.  The one dying of thirst says thanks and instead of drinking the water, he pulls out a comb and dips it in the water and combs his hair.

Wow! What happened there?  The young man was dying of thirst; he needed water.  But what did he do…he chose to use the water for what he wanted, a nice hair do, and not for what he needed… to save his life.  Can you imagine what happened soon after he fulfilled his want to have nice hair?  Yes, he would have only been satisfied for a short time.  Very soon he would have become thirsty again.  He chose to use the water for what he wanted, but not for what he needed.

This little play made me realize something; we can always get what we want, but we can never get what we need.  (actor’s name) thought he had satisfied his want.  He got the water he wanted; his hair was straightened…but it wouldn’t have lasted; his want never filled his need.  How often do you find the thrill of the catch, the getting of what we want, very quickly leaves us empty inside?  It isn’t long and we begin to feel a need for something more.  Whatever it is for you, and I perhaps I can put it crudely…money, sex, authority, respect, love, even friendship, no matter how much we get of what we want, it never truly fills our need.

Funny isn’t it!  You would think if we were to satisfy our wants, our needs would be met.  But it is never the case.  We only want all the more to try and fill our need.  It wouldn’t matter how many times (name of actor) dipped his comb in the water to satisfy his want, his actual need…that of thirst, would never be met.  While simplistically put, your life is the same as that man’s pursuit for water; we constantly get what we what, but never get what we need.  Have you ever heard of someone’s life being totally transformed and made complete by something they bought or acquired?

The trick that convinces us we can find a purposeful and fulfilling life by chasing our wants, is as old as the trickster himself; the Devil.  Jesus’ first temptation was exactly this. After spending forty days in the wilderness without food, ‘The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  Jesus could have very quickly satisfied his want.  He could have very easily changed the rock into bread, ate and be filled.  But in doing so, his wants may have been met, but the need…not his, but the need of the whole of humanity, the need for a saviour to redeem us from sin and death, would never be met.

Jesus replies ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’  He knows needs are not met by fulfilling wants; Jesus ain’t going to wet his hair with precious water!  Only God can fill needs.

In the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 Jesus asks Phillip ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’  5000 men, plus women and children…perhaps 12-13,000 people, all gathered before Jesus, and he asks Phillip to solve the need!  Impossibility infers Phillip saying ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’  Phillip could fill his own want with a bit of money, but not the needs of all the people. No human could possibly fulfil the needs of such a large crowd.  Andrew finds a boy with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, but quickly adds ‘but how far will they go among so many?’  He could have met his want, and perhaps the wants of one of two others, but the need of the crowd would have still been unresolved. 

Again, Jesus question to the disciples makes us realize ‘we can always get what we want, but we can never get what we need.’

No earthly means, not human effort, no bakery could fill such a need on the spot.  Only God could fill a need like that.   Only Jesus could satisfy so many people, and he does.  He takes the five loaves and two fish, give thanks to his Father for them, and by a miracle, distributes enough bread and fish that 12 baskets of bread are left. Jesus demonstrates that he has the power, the will, and the ability to fulfil the needs of people.

In a way, Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 points to and uncovers another need.  Our dire need; the dire need of all people…to break the chains of sin, of death and of the devil that keep us locked up in constant fear and uncertainty; the fear that cause us to be angry with God. Why did my life turn out so bad?  Why did my marriage not work?  Why do I feel so low some days?  Why is it that I do everything morally right, yet I don’t feel worthy to go to heaven? These questions stem from the chains that bind us.  They flow out of our deepest need to be free, to be the person God created us to be and to live the life we know God wanted for us.

Sure, we can get all we want, just look at all the brochures, but we can never get what we need.  A rich young ruler, who had acquired all he wanted, came to Jesus and asked ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus response?…’Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were amazed, and said “Who then can be saved?”

Here is our need, the reality ‘not one of us can be saved, no mater how much we want to.’  This is a need where our wants don’t count.  As he did in asking Phillip to feed the 5000, in this story, Jesus asks the man something that is impossible for him.  We can never do enough to get to heaven, because God always expects perfection.  Go home today and read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, where Jesus really gives us the rub!  Its impossible for us to get our need!

Jesus’ answer to our need for salvation is the same as when he fed the 5000 and the same answer he gave to the disciple’s question, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.“  Our need for salvation; the breaking of the chain that binds us in bondage is broken in Jesus death and resurrection.  He paid our dept.  Fulfilled the law that demanded ‘we die for our sin’, by dying in our place.  He rose from the grave to live forever.  In Jesus, death as been overcome and our need met.  The good news is that we are given this victory over sin and death by trusting that Jesus has done this for us. 

Your need for salvation is met and your questions about life are answered in Jesus.  He is the bread given to us to meet our need.  Jesus clearly says this right after feeding the 5000, and I believe what Jesus says here interprets the miracle. ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

We can always get what we want, but we can never get what we need.  But it can be given to us!  And it has.  All our needs are met in Jesus, who now feeds far more than 5000 and is now feeding you; his body…the bread of eternal life .  Amen

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