It Is I

“It Is I!”

2 Samuel 11:1-15                 John 6:1-21


          Often…when I hear any story about David…I am reminded of the story of his encounter with Goliath.  No one else ever faced a creature like Goliath.  He was huge.  He had killed many others.  He was intimidating.

Yet…no one ever attacked a problem with greater vigor than David attacked Goliath.  David responded to Goliath’s threat by telling the giant that he had come in the name of the true God.  As David ran toward the giant he put his hand into his bag…took out a stone…and let it fly.  The stone hit the Philistine right between the eyes…and it was over.

Have you ever wondered?  What was David’s secret?  Where did he get his courage?  How was he able to attack this gigantic problem with such vigor?  The answers can be seen in today’s passage from John.  It is the sufficiency and power that come from God…given to us through Jesus Christ…the one who told the disciples…”It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

John’s story begins with a problem that came from the success of Jesus’ ministry.  The disciples and Jesus drew huge crowds.  They got in a boat…crossed the sea to Bethsaida…hoping to find a time of rest.  The people saw where they were going and followed them.  In Mark’s gospel Jesus was described as having compassion for the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

In their anxiety to follow Jesus the people likely didn’t think to pack a lunch.  They, too, were tired and hungry.  Jesus knew what to do…but he asked the disciples a question…in order to test them and to expand their spiritual understanding.  Jesus wanted the disciples to learn how to gain his power and his sufficiency.

Philip didn’t really answer the Lord’s question.  Instead he responded with some statistics.  He basically said it would take more than eight months’ income to feed the crowd.  He acted like a bean counter.  In fact…other references to Philip suggest that he was one who wanted clear…verifiable… logical… evidence.  Just about every family has a person like this…the same can probably be said for every business and every church.

I wonder what it would have been like if David had needed a calculator and verifiable evidence that he could down Goliath.  His self-talk might have gone like this…”Now, let’s see…ten feet tall times a certain number of pounds per inch.  My goodness…he weighs at least 500 pounds….there’s no way I could do this.  God, you’ve got the wrong guy!”

Like Philip…some of us need to toss our calculators out and become more like David.

Then…Andrew brought the boy with five small barley loaves and two fishes to Jesus.  Andrew’s response seems to be an improvement.  At least he had been out in the crowd looking for resources.  But…he too…was calculating…when he asked how far those few resources would go.  He did not look past the resources he could actually see and touch…to the ultimate resource.

Then the others went to Jesus.  They suggested that the crowds be sent away to fend for themselves.  They felt the people could not possibly be fed with the five loaves and two fishes.  They felt that anyone with common sense…anyone who listened to the loudest critics and skeptics…could see that.  But…there are times in life when common sense…and following the loudest skeptics are very close to stupidity.   The disciples wanted to avoid the problem…ignore it…and let it just go away…or maybe just walk away and let the loud critics fix it.

The disciples had greatly under-estimated the resource they already possessed.  They had seen Jesus change water into wine…seen a nobleman’s son healed from a distance…seen Jesus heal the paralyzed man lying by the pool of Bethseda.  Yet…they couldn’t understand what Jesus could do in this situation.

The disciples had a defective view of Jesus Christ.  That was their problem.  Very often that is the root of our problem.

The solution for the disciples came in a miraculous display of Jesus’ power.  This was the most public of his miracles.  It is recorded in all four Gospels.

After they had sat down…Jesus gave thanks.  The loaves seemed to multiply as the disciples distributed the bread.  Thousands were fed.  There was so much food that there were leftovers to be gathered.  God provides for those with faith who serve him through loving service of others.

This note of interest…the loaves were made of barley…the cheapest of all breads.  In fact…it was a bread that was unpopular because it was the bread that was called for as part of the offering from a woman who had committed the sin of adultery.  Jesus used this food to show his disciples…with him then…and those disciples in the pews this morning…that no matter what they had…even the tiniest thing…if they really gave it to him…he could use it.  A little is a lot when God is in it.  Jesus wanted us to see that truth.

We should admit it.  Sometimes we feel like saying, “Lord, you don’t understand my problem.  If you knew how I feel…I have calculated it all out…I have thought it through…I have consulted the authorities…and there is nothing I can do.”  You see…we find it harder to give God our weaknesses than it is to give God our strengths.

But the Lord says…”Give me whatever you have…including your weaknesses.”  Many people have missed the great miracles that God wanted to give us because we have been unwilling to do that because of our pride…our logic…acceptance of what’s tangible and known.  When you have calculated all of the angles of your difficult situation…just want to run away and hide…here is the solution.

First…realize that God wants to help you.  He wants to pour his grace upon you.  He wanted to help the disciples on the hillside that day…just as he did help the people on the hillside.  From Isaiah 30:18 we receive the promise…”The Lord longs to be gracious to you….”

Next…we have to realize that God is big enough to help.  Nothing much will happen if you don’t.

The Belgian Christian author…Elisabeth Elliott…in her book….World Wide Challenge…beautifully tells us this truth.   She wrote…

“If the only thing you have to offer is a broken heart, you offer a broken heart.  So in a time of grief, the recognition that this is material for sacrifice has been a very great strength for me.  Realizing that nothing I have, nothing I am will be refused on the part of Christ, I simply give it to him as the little boy gave Jesus his five loaves and two fishes—with the same feeling of the disciples when they said, “What is the good of that for such a crowd?

Naturally in almost anything I offer to Christ, my reaction would be, “What is the good of that?”  The point is, the use he makes of it is none of my business; it is his business, it is his blessing.  So this grief, this loss, this suffering, this pain—whatever it is, which at the moment is God’s means of testing my faith and bringing me to the recognition of who he is—that is the thing I can offer.”

What do you have to offer?

Is it more…or less…than five loaves and two fishes?

The size of the offering…or the challenge… doesn’t matter to the one who told the disciples…”It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

You are what matters to the one who says to us today…”It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

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