It’s clear Jesus really liked being around kids.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them…
Why? Here’s a clue…
…for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14 (literally the kingdom of heaven is of this kind…this is the sort of people who get it)
And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
What is it about kids that makes them more amenable to Kingdom thinking? What quality do they possess that gives them entre to the stuff of God’s reign?
Not their knowledge. They don’t know the bible as much as an adult. Not their experience. They haven’t lived long enough to amass experience. They aren’t theologically savvy for sure.
· these are the things you think you need to walk with God in this world – right? Wrong.
You need what kids possess in abundance - Imagination.
· Kids have imagination – they are able to see things that don’t exist with the naked eye. They believe huge things about themselves and God and the world.
· They are not bound or confined to thinking only literally or materially.
· They are not confined only to the results of our 5 senses. I guess you could say that kids possess a stronger 6th sense than adults.
Big people are hamstrung by the world. We are limited by our hungers and felt needs. Dominated by our anxieties and fears, and our frantic compulsion for comfort.
This environment in which we live does not help:
Suburbia is a flat world in which the edges are clearly defined and the mysterious ocean is rarely explored.....Too much of the good life ends up being toxic. The drive to succeed, and to make one’s children succeed, overpowers the best of intentions to live more reflectively.
The suburbs tend to produce inverse spiritual cripples.
David Goetz, Death by Suburb
We live in a land of spiritual cripples. We can’t embrace the spiritual…we can’t envision things happening around us we can’t see…we can’t imagine God doing things in us, through us and around us.
· As a result we struggle with faith, we have too little courage, we live only for the physical with our day to day lives shackled to this world.
o We refuse to believe.
o We refuse to pray.
We’ve got no imagination.
But we are not alone. There was another generation that struggled with imagination just like us. And there’s a peculiar story that we all know that illustrates that very clearly.
1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Feast was near. 5 When 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?" 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
In this installment of Legacy…the narrative/storyline of the gospels:
Ø John the Baptist is now dead and Jesus withdraws to north shore of Sea of Galilee to get some space.
Ø but that wasn’t to be - crowd was probably not 5000 but closer to 10000
o Crowd curious discovered them, and had heard about them
Jesus decides to turn it into a teaching moment for his followers:
btw: this is the only miracle mentioned in all 4 gospels = crucial, significant
Right away we see a lack of imagination or faith in both Philip and Andrew:
7 Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
8 Another 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?"
10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus 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. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
It goes without saying but – this was a miracle. A lunch for one feeds 10,000.
Ø This is impossible in the known world of the senses. But God transcends that world when he so desires.
14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world."
Ø probably a reference to: (Moses) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. Deuteronomy 18:15
o since Moses provided food in the wilderness so would the new prophet (Moses like deliverer)
Now note what happened next…
15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself…
Jesus runs away. Why?
These people had no imagination, no faith. Their reaction purely physical and temporal. “If this dude can do this…he can run out the Romans and change our lives!”
Ø they wanted someone to rule them, feed them and guarantee their security
Ø they had no comprehension of his spiritual mission, his overall purpose (The Kingdom of God) , and his international scope
Jesus did not want to be political leader, an opportunist or a demagogue
Ø He did not come to lead a political revolt or create a Christian nation.
Ø He had no desire to create a magical soup kitchen.
His kingdom was deeper, wider, was about infusing earth with heaven, healing all the broken places of the world not just one region in the middle east.
So…he vamoosed…stole away…disappeared.
Meanwhile his disciples (provably under Jesus instruction) get in boats and head back west across the lake. (V. 16-21 - we’ll look at that story next week)
…22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Ø the crowd – still hungry for a free lunch and a new king followed them
Jesus response to them is the most important words in this whole section:
26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Ø Jesus in some frustration (I tell you the truth = listen to me!) begins to try to get them to think differently…to increase their imagination…to see beyond the physical to deeper realities
Ø stop thinking of only physical necessities but think about the stuff that lasts and relates to the eternal kind of life … eternity starts now!
Ø I can give this kind of “food” because I have the hand of God on my life
Ø God has not just endorsed me but allowed me to dispense incredible spiritual things…but you just want me whip up some lunch.
Stop hungering for the material. Hunger for the stuff of eternity right now.
Jump down to Vs. 30…
30 So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
Ø this is simply an unbelievable response…these are the people who just ate a miraculous amount of food
It took them less than 24 hours to forget the work of God in their lives. That’s how little faith they had.
Ø so shackled to the present, the felt needs they were incapable of mustering faith. They were selfish, unimaginative spiritual dimwits.
Ø They demanded Jesus dance them a jig…pull another rabbit out of his hat.
Just like you.
And that’s it…Jesus has had enough of the nonsense…and in the verses that follow he launches into a sermon to try to explain what he wants to offer human beings beyond the physical.
He tries dot pull back the veil between the worlds to show the essence of God’s work in human lives.
Ø And as he does it gets real intense and Jesus words grow in passion and controversy
And his big idea is: Stop hungering for the material. Hunger for the stuff of eternity right now.
The stuff of eternity driven life = the greatest gifts of God to people who believe in Jesus:
Deep lasting satisfaction
Enduring relationship with Jesus
1st - Deep lasting satisfaction
35 Then Jesus declared, "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.
· “never” = deep and lasting
· Reading the Power of Habit:
o number of institutions studied results and discovered: those alcoholics who most successfully stayed sober were those who believed in God.
o authors conclusion – it wasn’t God that mattered it was belief itself that made the difference. Really?
What do you think? Do you believe that surrender to and faith in Jesus will give you deep lasting satisfaction?
Stop hungering for the material. Hunger for the stuff of eternity right now - stuff like deep lasting satisfaction.
2nd - Enduring relationship with Jesus
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
· The stuff of eternity includes security. Relational security.
· there is a poem that captures this relational security – honestly it’s kind of a cliché. and overused but still is true:
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
have you not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."
Stop hungering for the material. Hunger for the stuff of eternity right now – stuff like an enduring relationship with Jesus
Jesus final description of the stuff of eternity is: Eternal life
40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Been to a funeral lately? I have. It is in those moments that the “things of earth grow strangely dim.”
· for a few hours and days your mind is released from the material and you wonder about stuff like heaven and eternity.
· like a kind of righteous stupor. And that is OK and natural. It was hard of course but very good and necessary.
Jesus tells this earth bound crowd to stop thinking about lunch and the Roman Empire and politics…think about life and death and resurrection.
Stop hungering for the material. Hunger for the stuff of eternity right now – stuff like eternal life.
We don’t have time to finish the story – maybe next week I can touch on it but suffice it to say that it did not end well. They didn’t get it. He said arguably the most disturbing, and to them most disgusting things in his 3 years of teaching to get their heads out of the material world. Read it later!
Stop hungering for the material. Hunger for the stuff of eternity right now.
What are you hungry for?
Where is your head these days?
On what are you focusing?
Do you have any imagination at all to see beyond the physical world to what God is doing in you and around you?
Without that…without faith… your life will just revolve around your next meal.