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Jesus, Miracles, and You, Part 1

From the series Jesus Unfiltered - Follow

If God could do a grade-A, supernatural miracle in your life right now, the kind that can’t be explained away by skeptics or scientific reasoning, if God could do that for you - what would it be? A relationship? A health issue? Finances? Have you got it? Chip begins this first message by exploring what the Bible has to say about Jesus, miracles, and you.

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Message Transcript

Well, welcome to Jesus Unfiltered. We’re in a journey through the book of John. And in the first five chapters, we looked at, What does it mean to believe? In chapter 6, there is a big shift. Jesus’ popularity is at its absolute apex.

And in chapter 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, the shift is going to be from, not, “Will you believe in Me,” but, “Will you follow Me?” And one of the big things that is going to turn is a miracle – the feeding of the five thousand – is the only miracle that all four gospel writers write about. It’s the most important miracle of all that He does, save the resurrection.

Let me ask you a very personal question. If God would do a grade-A, supernatural miracle – I don’t mean like a little help – I mean a “break the laws of nature,” intervene in your life personally, that there is no explanation except God supernaturally intervened for you, what miracle would you want Him to do?

It might be a health issue, it might be a relationship, it might be finances. What would you really want Him to do? What is that, maybe, one thing that you would say, Boy, if God did that, then…

Because we are going to learn what it looks like to follow, and we are going to learn that miracles are really important. But they have a very clear purpose. And sometimes we don’t know what the purpose is.

I am going to ask you to do something. We are going to jump right in. If you would open your Bibles to John chapter 6. The passage goes something like this: Miracle number one – feed five thousand. Miracle number two – Jesus walks on the water with His disciples. Major rebuke by Jesus to a large multitude about why they are following Him. And then that is followed by a very long and important message that part of it is really hard to understand.

Notice the context here. John 6, “Sometime after this, Jesus crossed the shore to the Sea of Galilee, that is the Sea of Tiberias. And a great crowd of people followed Him” – why? “because they saw miraculous signs that He performed” – on” - whom? “the sick.”

“Then Jesus went on the hillside and sat down with His disciples. The Jewish Passover feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw the great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for all these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for He already had in mind what He was going to do.

“Philip answered, ‘Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.’ Another of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here’s a little boy with five barley loaves and two, small fish, but how far will they go with so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down,’” there was plenty of grass, “and so they had the men sit down – five thousand.”

The other gospel writers let us know that there are five thousand men, so there are probably somewhere between ten and twenty thousand people, if even a few wives and children are along.

“Jesus then took the loaves, He gave thanks, He distributed to those who were seated. As much as they wanted. And then He did the same with the fish. When they all had enough to eat,” you might underline that in your mind, “He said to His disciples, ‘Gather the pieces of bread that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and they filled twelve basket with pieces of barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.”

Notice, “After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the prophet who is come into the world!’ And Jesus, knowing what they intended to come and by force make Him king, He withdrew into the hills by Himself.”

Now, what He is going to do, literally, imagine this crowd. Maybe fifteen, twenty thousand people. They have seen this miracle. This is the prophet, they are thinking Deuteronomy chapter 18, where Moses said, “God will raise up another prophet like me.” And Moses brought manna in the wilderness; Jesus in the wilderness. They see the parallel.

And they are starting to rush toward Him to make Him king, a political king, the Messiah. And as they are doing that, He says to the disciples, “Okay, pick up all this stuff.” He is going to send them away and then He goes up on a hill to pray.

Notice what happens. “When evening came, the disciples went down to the lake, where they got into the boat, and they set off across for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. And a strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.

“When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat,” miracle number two, “walking on the water, and they were terrified. But Jesus said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ Then they were willing to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”

Context, “The next day the crowd that stayed on the opposite side of the lake realized that only one boat had gone, and that Jesus had not entered that boat with His disciples, but they had all gone away. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. And once the crowd realized neither Jesus, nor His disciples were there, they got into the boats and they went to Capernaum,” notice this, “in search of Jesus.” Miracle, miracle, in search of Jesus.

Jesus does this miracle on purpose. Jesus has been teaching. Before, He is over in Jerusalem. The Jewish rulers are giving Him a hard time. He has declared clearly that He is the Messiah. He has taken the disciples off. They went on a little trip over here to Caesarea Philippi and it’s a place where there are all these different gods and false religions and there, Peter, months earlier, very shortly before this event, said, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

So the disciples believed He is the Messiah. Crowds and throngs. Now He gets out of Jerusalem because it’s getting dangerous because they are trying to kill Him, if you remember.

And now He looks out and there are throngs of crowds. And He is a rock star of rock stars. It is crazy. He has gone viral. People are tweeting about Him. He is Facebooked everywhere. Literally, of His day.

And now they are crowding and crowding and they have got this expectation. The King has come. And in their mind, that means He is going to overthrow Rome. We will make Him our king. He will pull down the Romans. He will set up a utopian society. This is their mindset of what they want in a Messiah. He is going to make my life work out now.

Now He is going to talk and He is going to have His disciples understand who He is. And you’ll notice on your notes, there are some different reasons why miracles occur. And I want to just give you these theologically, because God still does miracles, but He does them for a purpose. Miracles are never an end in themselves.

Jesus performed miracles to authenticate His identity. Remember, He claimed He is God? These kind of miracles – healing the sick, raising people from the dead – it authenticated His identity. It authenticated His teaching. He had wild teaching. “The Father and I are one. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father. I am the only way, the truth and the life.” And then He raises someone from the dead or He feeds four thousand over here and five thousand over here.

Miracles also reveal Jesus’ heart. He had this power, but how did He use it? The poor were helped, the lame walked, the blind would see, destitute parents in agony – their little girl has died – and He speaks and raises her from the dead. A widow is going through a town with her only son and he is in a coffin and he has died. And Jesus, moved with compassion, touches the coffin and raises the boy from the dead. These miracles reveal a heart of compassion and concern.

Or He is with His disciples and there is a storm and they are ready to capsize and He speaks to the wind and He speaks to the waves and, whoo. Or there is a demoniac filled with power and no one can restrain him and Jesus speaks His words and, whoo, he is clothed and in his right mind.

Miracles authenticate His identity, His teaching, His heart, and His power. And it did this one last thing. Did you notice in the opening passage? “A great multitude,” they drew crowds. Even today, right? When people hear about something supernatural, everyone flocks to know, Could this really be God?

And so, He has these large crowds, but now what we are going to find is He has been teaching, teaching, teaching, teaching. And if you could study this entire chapter very carefully, there will be grace, truth; grace, truth; grace, truth.

Now what He wants them to understand is not everyone is following Jesus for the right reason, and not everyone really gets what it means to be a follower.

Let’s get a couple of lessons from the miracles. The sign in the feeding of the five thousand is five thousand adults and families are fed. The barley loaves, don’t think of a loaf of bread. Think of a little piece of pancake about this big. The two fish, don’t think of a couple of big ones. They’re a little, this word is maybe a little bit bigger than a sardine. It was probably pickled and dried.

And so, He takes the resources of one tiny, little boy; feeds five thousand plus their families. And then He has the disciples do something that is very important. The word for “basket” here isn’t a small basket. It was a large basket with a top like this and they would often carry it with them.

After He does this miracle, those followers who will change the world are each carrying a basket full of pieces of bread and all of them, hours before, saw these three little pancakes and a couple of little fish.

And they are learning something about Jesus. And it probably didn’t miss their thinking that there were twelve baskets full. If He is the Messiah to Israel and there are twelve tribes and He is the bread of life, He is the source, He is the answer – all these claims are true, not only for them but to fulfill all of God’s promises for the nation of Israel.

Now, I don’t know if you have ever been a leader, but if you are a leader and thousands of people are following you and these are your key twelve men who were going to take it on and they start to take you by force, this is not a healthy situation for your followers.

And so, you send them on ahead. Now, what you need to understand is that the Sea of Tiberius, they call it a sea, it’s not really very big. And there are mountains around it. And when the sun goes down, the cool air and the water often will cause very, very choppy high, strong winds.

These are professional fisherman. And notice it says that they are rowing. And so, their back, if here is the map, right? Here’s north – Capernaum is over here and there is a synagogue where He is going to give a message, over here, Mmmm, it’s about four miles across the lake this way, He has just fed five thousand people, they have been about six or seven hours rowing and they are making no progress.

Jesus is up on the hill and He sees them, notice, He sees and He cares. And they are in a struggle. Notice the lesson of the five thousand is that if we bring our limited resources to Jesus, He has the power and desire to meet our need. That’s what it means to be a follower.

It’s not just intellectually believe. Here is the lesson: If you bring your limited resources, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough courage, I don’t have enough money, I don’t know how to address this situation, I don’t have the resources to be the kind of parent You want me to be, I don’t know how to live this way as a single person, if you bring your limited resources to Jesus, He has the power and the desire to help you.

Being a follower isn’t just eating the bread or the fish or Him doing things for you. It’s bringing your needs to Him. He wants to help you. It’s an engagement; it’s a life journey.

Notice the response is they try to make Him king. In the next section, the sign is Jesus walks on the water and you’ll know from the other gospels that Peter actually says, “If it’s really You, ask me to come,” and Peter walks and he does well until he begins to look at circumstances and waves and he begins to sink.

And then immediately, Jesus gets in the boat and you have one of those Star Trek moments, right? He gets in the boat and, whoo, immediately they are there. Now, what do you think He’s…why is He preparing them?

There are going to be eleven of these twelve men, they are going to blaze a trail that is so counter-cultural, that will be so difficult; they will go through such suffering. Every, single one of them will be martyred and will not waver for their faith, because they understand who He really is.

The conviction of following someone is you can’t follow them unless you can trust them. And you can only trust people who you can believe their word, they have the power to do what they say they can do, and you can only trust them if you really know they care about you.

And Jesus sees their struggle. And Jesus walked on the water purposefully to let them know that whatever comes into your world and your life, I want you to know, even the very powers of nature are not a limitation for Me.

And so here is the lesson from miracle number two, if we invite Jesus into the storms of our lives, He will rescue us.

Now, let me give you some perspective here. I have anointed people with oil with elders, I have prayed for many people and buried them two weeks later. So there is no claim, there are no special powers or anything. All I know is that at certain times, God intervenes in supernatural ways to authenticate His identity to us, to reaffirm His teaching for us, to give us faith and encouragement for His heart of compassion, and that we could remember He has power.

And then in the circumstances of life, that He sees our struggle and He wants us to cry out to Him and have a relationship with Him that is not about what we can get from Him or what He can do for us, but to understand He is God. Invite Him into your struggle. Invite Him into the storm of your life.

There is going to be a big shift here. The response of the disciples, first, they are terrified and then they are overwhelmed, right? When was the last time you were terrified of who God really is? Not because you were afraid of Him like He would hurt you, but terrified just by how powerful, how unapproachable light, how holy, how magnificent.

See, I think somehow Jesus is stuck in our minds as meek and mild and has a pale complexion and isn’t the kind of person if you had a big job to do, you wouldn’t want Him to help you because He’s pretty weak and He probably can’t pick up anything and He’s probably really sweet and just hangs out with women and little kids.

Really, He’s a little flannel graph or like the pictures, into the Christian bookstore Jesus. That’s not the Jesus of the Bible! The Jesus of the Bible is strong, He is powerful, He is supernatural, He cares, He loves, He is for you.

I’d like to just stop right now. I would like you to just stop and think of what is the biggest storm in your life or someone you love, okay? Think of someone you know that you love, they have got cancer. Think of someone you love and their marriage is not going well. Think of someone you love who has a child who is just far from God. Think of someone you love who is single or divorced or in the midst of deep, personal pain or depressed. Have you got them? Have you got it in your mind right now?

Ask God. Maybe that person is you. Ask Him to come into the storm of that person’s life, or you, right now. Oh, God, You are not a God of a book of thousands of years ago. Lord, you are with us where we move and live and have our being. You are personal and You are intimate. Lord, You take all of our tears and You put them in a bottle. Your heart grieves for us. You long for us to come and pour out our heart and share our needs and our hurts. You long to enter in and help.

And so we ask, in the name and the power of Jesus Himself, our holy Father, that You would do miraculous things, that You would intervene, that You would give grace, that You would give courage, that You would restore relationships, that You would even choose to heal bodies. And we would commit in advance that we will give You credit and honor and glory.