Previous · Home · Next

Lord’s Day 46, 2009


I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Hymn XXI.
Gibeon    Joshua x. 6.
by John Newton (1725–1807)

img

When Joshua, by God’s command,
Invaded Canaan’s guilty land;
Gibeon, unlike the nations round,
Submission made and mercy found.

Their stubborn neighbors who enrag’d,
United war against them wag’d,
By Joshua soon were overthrown,
For Gibeon’s cause was now his own.

He, from whose arm they ruin fear’d,
Their leader and ally appear’d
An emblem of the Saviour’s grace,
To those who humbly seek his face.

The men of Gibeon wore disguise,
And gain’d their peace by framing lies;
For Joshua had no pow’r to spare,
If he had known from whence they were.

But Jesus invitations sends,
Treating with rebels as his friends;
And holds the promise forth in view,
To all who for his mercy sue.

Too long his goodness I disdain’d,
Yet went at last and peace obtain’d;
But soon the noise of war I heard,
And former friends in arms appear’d.

Weak in myself for help I cry’d,
Lord, I am press’d on ev’ry side;
The cause is thine, they fight with me,
But ev’ry blow is aim’d at thee.

With speed to my relief he came,
And put my enemies to shame;
Thus sav’d by grace I live to sing,
The love and triumphs of my King.

—from Olney Hymns. Book I: On select Passages of Scripture.

imgThe Gospel According to John

Christ feeds 5,000
Mt 14:13–21; Mk 6:31–44; Lk 9:11–17

6 After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias). A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ”There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12 When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

imgThese verses describe one of our Lord’s most remarkable miracles. Of all the great works that He did, none was done so publicly as this, and before so many witnesses. Of all the miracles related in the Gospels, this is the only one which all the four Gospel-writers alike record. This fact alone (like the four times repeated account of the crucifixion and resurrection) is enough to show that it is a miracle demanding special attention.
   We have, for one thing, in this miracle, a lesson about Christ’s almighty power. We see our Lord feeding five thousand men with “five barley loaves and two small fishes.” We see clear proof that a miraculous event took place in the “twelve baskets of fragments” that remained after all had eaten. Creative power was manifestly exercised. Food was called into existence that did not exist before. In healing the sick, and raising the dead, something was amended or restored that had already existed. In feeding five thousand men with five loaves, something must have been created which before had no existence.
   These verses describe one of our Lord's most remarkable miracles. Of all the great works that He did, none was done so publicly as this, and before so many witnesses. Of all the miracles related in the Gospels, this is the only one which all the four Gospel-writers alike record. This fact alone (like the four times repeated account of the crucifixion and resurrection) is enough to show that it is a miracle demanding special attention.
   We have, for one thing, in this miracle, a lesson about Christ's almighty power. We see our Lord feeding five thousand men with "five barley loaves and two small fish." We see clear proof that a miraculous event took place in the "twelve baskets of fragments" that remained after all had eaten. Creative power was manifestly exercised. Food was called into existence that did not exist before. In healing the sick, and raising the dead, something was amended or restored that had already existed. In feeding five thousand men with five loaves, something must have been created which before had no existence.
   Such a history as this ought to be specially instructive and encouraging to all who endeavour to do good to souls. It shows us the Lord Jesus "able to save to the uttermost." He is One who has all power over dead hearts. Not only can He mend that which is broken,—build up that which is ruined,—heal that which is sick,—strengthen that which is weak. He can do even greater things than these. He can call into being that which was not before, and call it out of nothing. We must never despair of any one being saved. So long as there is life there is hope. Reason and sense may say that some poor sinner is too hardened, or too old to be converted. Faith will reply,—"Our Master can create as well as renew. With a Savior who, by His Spirit, can create a new heart, nothing is impossible."
   We have, for another thing, in this miracle, a lesson about the office of ministers. We see the apostles receiving the bread from our Lord's hands, after He had blessed it, and distributing it to the multitude. It was not their hands that made it increase and multiply, but their Master's. It was His almighty power that provided an unfailing supply. It was their work to receive humbly, and distribute faithfully.
   Now here is a lively emblem of the work which a true minister of the New Testament is meant to do. He is not a mediator between God and man. He has no power to put away sin, or impart grace. His whole business is to receive the bread of life which his Master provides, and to distribute it among the souls among whom he labours. He cannot make men value the bread, or receive it. He cannot make it soul-saving, or life-giving, to any one. This is not his work. For this he is not responsible. His whole business is to be a faithful distributor of the food which his Divine Master has provided; and that done, his office is discharged.
   We have, lastly, in this miracle, a lesson about the sufficiency of the Gospel for the needs of all mankind. We see the Lord Jesus supplying the hunger of a huge multitude of five thousand men. The provision seemed, at first sight, utterly inadequate for the occasion. To satisfy so many craving mouths with such scanty fare, in such a wilderness, seemed impossible. But the event showed that there was enough and to spare. There was not one who could complain that he was not filled.
   There can be no doubt that this was meant to teach the adequacy of Christ's Gospel to supply the necessities of the whole world. Weak, and feeble, and foolish as it may seem to man, the simple story of the Cross is enough for all the children of Adam in every part of the globe. The tidings of Christ's death for sinners, and the atonement made by that death, is able to meet the hearts and satisfy the consciences of all nations, and peoples, and kindreds, and tongues. Carried by faithful messengers, it feeds and supplies all ranks and classes. "The preaching of the cross is to those who perish foolishness, but to us who are saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor. 1:18.) Five barley loaves and two small fishes seemed scanty provision for a hungry crowd. But blessed by Christ, and distributed by His disciples, they were more than sufficient.
   Let us never doubt for a moment, that the preaching of Christ crucified,—the old story of His blood, and righteousness, and substitution,—is enough for all the spiritual necessities of all mankind. It is not worn out. It is not obsolete. It has not lost its power. We need nothing new,—nothing more broad and kind,—nothing more intellectual,—nothing more effectual. We need nothing but the true bread of life, distributed faithfully among starving souls. Let men sneer or ridicule as they will. Nothing else can do good in this sinful world. No other teaching can fill hungry consciences, and give them peace. We are all in a wilderness. We must feed on Christ crucified, and the atonement made by His death, or we shall die in our sins.
   Such a history as this ought to be specially instructive and encouraging to all who endeavour to do good to souls. It shows us the Lord Jesus “able to save to the uttermost.” He is One who has all power over dead hearts. Not only can He mend that which is broken,—build up that which is ruined,—heal that which is sick,—strengthen that which is weak. He can do even greater things than these. He can call into being that which was not before, and call it out of nothing. We must never despair of any one being saved. So long as there is life there is hope. Reason and sense may say that some poor sinner is too hardened, or too old to be converted. Faith will reply,—“Our Master can create as well as renew. With a Savior who, by His Spirit, can create a new heart, nothing is impossible.”
   We have, for another thing, in this miracle, a lesson about the office of ministers. We see the apostles receiving the bread from our Lord’s hands, after He had blessed it, and distributing it to the multitude. It was not their hands that made it increase and multiply, but their Master’s. It was His almighty power that provided an unfailing supply. It was their work to receive humbly, and distribute faithfully.
   Now here is a lively emblem of the work which a true minister of the New Testament is meant to do. He is not a mediator between God and man. He has no power to put away sin, or impart grace. His whole business is to receive the bread of life which his Master provides, and to distribute it among the souls among whom he labours. He cannot make men value the bread, or receive it. He cannot make it soul-saving, or life-giving, to any one. This is not his work. For this he is not responsible. His whole business is to be a faithful distributor of the food which his Divine Master has provided; and that done, his office is discharged.
   We have, lastly, in this miracle, a lesson about the sufficiency of the Gospel for the needs of all mankind. We see the Lord Jesus supplying the hunger of a huge multitude of five thousand men. The provision seemed, at first sight, utterly inadequate for the occasion. To satisfy so many craving mouths with such scanty fare, in such a wilderness, seemed impossible. But the event showed that there was enough and to spare. There was not one who could complain that he was not filled.
   There can be no doubt that this was meant to teach the adequacy of Christ’s Gospel to supply the necessities of the whole world. Weak, and feeble, and foolish as it may seem to man, the simple story of the Cross is enough for all the children of Adam in every part of the globe. The tidings of Christ’s death for sinners, and the atonement made by that death, is able to meet the hearts and satisfy the consciences of all nations, and peoples, and kindreds, and tongues. Carried by faithful messengers, it feeds and supplies all ranks and classes. “The preaching of the cross is to those who perish foolishness, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. i. 18.) Five barley loaves and two small fishes seemed scanty provision for a hungry crowd. But blessed by Christ, and distributed by His disciples, they were more than sufficient.
   Let us never doubt for a moment, that the preaching of Christ crucified,—the old story of His blood, and righteousness, and substitution,—is enough for all the spiritual necessities of all mankind. It is not worn out. It is not obsolete. It has not lost its power. We want nothing new,—nothing more broad and kind,—nothing more intellectual,—nothing more efficacious. We want nothing but the true bread of life, distributed faithfully among starving souls. Let men sneer or ridicule as they will. Nothing else can do good in this sinful world. No other teaching can fill hungry consciences, and give them peace. We are all in a wilderness. We must feed on Christ crucified, and the atonement made by His death, or we shall die in our sins.

—J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Baker Books, 2007) [Westminster (PB) | Amazon (HC)], 3:324–327.

A
udio Sermons
Albert Mohler
Alistair Begg
Bret Capranica
David Legge
David Strain
John MacArthur
John Piper
Mark Loughridge
Mark Dever
Michael Beasley
Paul Lamey
Paul W Martin
Phil Johnson
Phillip M Way
RC Sproul
Steve Weaver
Thabiti Abyabwile

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.



TrackBack URL: http://www.thirstytheologian.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1201
Share this post: Twitter Buffer Facebook Email Print
Posted  in: Expository Thoughts on the Gospels · J C Ryle · John Newton · Lord’s Day · Olney Hymns
Link · 0 Comments · 0 TrackBacks
← Previous · Home · Next →




RSS Twitter Facebook Kindle

img


Feedback



Post a comment

Comments are being held for moderation. Please be patient, and your comment will be published as expeditiously as possible.