ˇ°FACING THE IMPOSSIBLEˇ± By Pastor YAU
Text: John 6:1-14 September 8, 2013.
1) We are just human: Being human comes with many weaknesses. Besides making mistakes in things we do, often times we face situations or things we find it very difficult or impossible for us to handle, much less do them well. Many things in life are way beyond our best ability. Things like losing a job in company down sizing, sudden discovery of a terminal disease, impossible new boss at work, wayward children involved in drugs or legal problems, unfaithful spouse or loss of family in accidental death, the list goes on and on. At that very moment, we not just agree with the idea of impossible, we certainly are in impossible situation. If it is not hopeless, at least it is helpless.
2) There were also human: Many times we are wrong to believe that the fact we are so helpless in our lives because of our sallow or imperfect spiritual quality, the truth is even the most respected giants with almost perfect image of spiritual qualities also faced impossible situation in their lives. Abraham couldn't have a child; Moses asked God to kill him when faced the rebellious Israelis; Elijah also asked God to let him die when he compared to others before him; Paul faced situations he saw certain death with no way out. I can give a few more but why. Facing impossible conditions of life is not a modern day problem we have, it is a problem all human beings have through-out human history, and few, if any, may escape from it.
WHEN WILL THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPEN?
1) After all the good things: ˇ°After all these things.ˇ± (6:1) It happened after all the great things. This story was recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6. All records pointed to great revival in Jesus ministry with miracle after miracle: healing of the sick, revived the son of a high official, (John 4-5) successful preaching trip by the disciples with power of casting out demons, (Luke 9) and multitudes came to believe in Jesus as their Messiah. (John 6:2) They were so busy even didn't have time for meals much less time to rest. (Mark 6:30-32) Then the impossible happened.
2) Expect the unexpected: Many times we believe that bad things don't just happen, there must be roots of hidden evil causes we can't or unwilling to see that bring the impossible. This may be true in some cases but not in all cases. Bad things also happen in a sudden without any symptom, hints or causes, at least it is beyond our life experience. That is why words of wisdom in ancient culture gave us warning: ˇ°Be more vigilant when things are going so well with you.ˇ± Too many people got drunk with the wine of great success to the point they feel they are invincible or everything and everyone is there to serve their purpose, then they suddenly fall flat.
THINGS COULD CHANGE IN A FLASH: (Mark 30-34)
1) It all begins as a great revival: ˇ°When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many thing.ˇ± (Mark 6:34) After a very busy day of preaching, teaching and healing, so busy that they didn't even have time to have a meal, Jesus and his disciples retreated to a quiet place so they might have some time to rest. But when they arrived there, the multitude was there already. Seeing the eagerness for the word of God, Jesus had compassion on them. Without any rest, he began to teach them many things all day long until the sun was set in the late afternoon or evening. In 6:44, the number of men was about 5,000, plus women and children, it could be 8,000 to 10,000. Ten thousand people 2,000 years ago may represent 500,000 today. How many of you have been to a large revival attended by 500,000 people and all were so eager to listen to the word of God? What a heavenly event they had.
2) Then it came the impossible: ˇ°By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. This is a remote place, and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to find food to eat,ˇ± they said. ˇ°But Jesus answered: You give them something to eat.ˇ± (Mk 6:35-37) How in the world could Jesus ask his disciples to find food to feed 5,000 to 8,000 in the middle of nowhere? Didn't he know that might take the total of 8 months of salary of a regular job to do that? Even if they had the money, but where could they buy enough food for 5-8,000 people in a remote place? While they were so excited to see so many people following Jesus, enjoyed to see their eagerness in seeking the truth of God, here it came to impossible task: feed them. Have you ever been to a revival meeting where the hosting church provided food? If you were one of the disciples, could you believe yours what did Jesus had just said: Give them something to eat? How in the world you were going to follow his command? If this isn't the impossible, what else is it?
HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE THE IMPOSSIBLE? How did they do?
1) First the bucket pushers: ˇ°Send the people away so they can go to the villages and buy themselves something to eat.ˇ± (Mark 6:36) This is not the opinion of ordinary people, it is the opinion of ˇ°the disciplesˇ± those who had followed Jesus for sometime. This suggestion represents the mentality of ˇ°not my job.ˇ± Many Christians fall into this category: I am not responsible for problems others created themselves. Yes, they needed food, but why should it become my problem? They should handle their own problems.
2) Then the practical calculator: ˇ°Philip answered him: Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.ˇ± (John 6:7) The subjunctive mood of the Greek word means ˇ°if we have the money,ˇ± we still can't do any good for all these people. Philip must be very good in numbers and food price. He gave a quick answer to a complicated situation: number of people, how much each may need; how much money it takes to buy enough for these people and how much each may have. When he did the calculation, he got discouraged: No way! We can't do this. Many Christians do exactly this way when asked to do something difficult. Their answer is: No way!
3) And the task transferees: ˇ°Another of his disciples, Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, said: Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far would they go among so many?ˇ± (John 6:8) No one knows how would anyone know the small lunch basket of a little boy. What Andrew did was transfer their responsibility of finding food to the lunch that little boy had. What a small and easy way to handle the impossible job. The problem is that small lunch is nothing compare to the tremendous need of the multitude. Looking for help to meet needs is nothing wrong, but trying to transfer our responsibility to others often isn't going to work: You can't do it, they can't do it either. Looking for help from human resource only gets us in a dead alley.
4) Finally Jesus took charge: ˇ°Jesus said to the disciples: Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each. The disciples did so and every body sat down.ˇ± (Luke 9:14-15) Jesus always knows what to do in any and all impossible situation. Remember when he ask Philip to buy food for the people, ˇ°He asked this only to test him, for already had in mind what he was going to do.ˇ± (John 6:6) Too often we forget that Jesus is with us in the face of impossible situation and we got panic. We need to remember God will never lead us to a dead end and leave us there alone. All we need to do is stop trying to be smart on our human solution, but allow Jesus to take charge of the situation.
IN GOD EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE: (John 6:12-14)
1) Nothing is impossible with God: ˇ°When they all had enough to eat, he said to the disciples: Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted. So they gather them and filled 12 baskets.ˇ± (6:12-13) The word in the subtitle were words the angel of the Lord spoke to Mary some 2,000 years ago. They were true then and they are as true today. In life, there will be times we face impossible situations and we are either panic or try to handle them on our own power. The truth is if we will allow Jesus to handle our mountainous problems, the impossible, he will take over and deal with them in his way we may never imagine, and the results will be much better than we may ever expect. Remember Paul said: When we are weak, he is strong. (2 Cor 12:10)
2) All is for the glory of God: ˇ°After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say: This is the prophet who is to come into the world.ˇ± (6:14) Whatever God allows to come to us, and whatever Jesus might help us as we face the impossible, there is only one reason: to bring glory to him through the experience. This would strengthen our faith in the Lord and lead the world to know the real Jesus and his power. Nothing happens in our life to cause us pain and suffering, but to glorify our Lord and Savior.
APPLICATION OF TRUTH: