StoneBridge Community Church
Revealed - God at Work: "Jesus Gave Them Bread."
Senior Pastor Jon Saur
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  • StoneBridge Community Church
    4832 Cochran St, Simi Valley, CA 93063, USA
    Saturday 5:30 PM, Sunday 12:01 PM

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In Revealed: God at Work we will be looking to the signs that Jesus performs in the Gospel of John. "Signs" are more than just miracles - they point to deeper truths about God's work in the world and what the eternal life that God offers us looks like. Join us, so that you can see God's work in your life more clearly!

The Text In Context

The question Jesus asks Philip is intended to start the disciples thinking about this need long before it is a crisis. Jesus raises the problem in terms that His disciples understand and expect—buying food to feed the crowd. After all, this is what the disciples did while Jesus waited at the well in Samaria (see John 4:8). Jesus' purpose is not to have them solve the problem, but to realize that, humanly speaking, there is no solution.
"Signs" in the Bible

New Testament scholar Marianne Meye Thompson writes about "signs" in the Old Testament and what they signified, so that we can better understand the context of Jesus' "signs." Thompson writes:

The term "'Signs,' often linked with 'wonders,' occurs frequently in the Old Testament to refer to plagues and others acts accompanying God's deliverance of Israel from Egypt. But many other things are also called 'signs': the rainbow; circumcision; the lamb's blood on the doorposts; the Sabbath; the words of God to be bound on one's hand, forehead and doorposts; the birth of a child; the fertility of crops in the land; and heavenly portents. Such things are "signs" because they are indicators of God's work in the world. Whether extraordinary (portents in the heaven) or ordinary (the slaying of the lamb; the circumcision of a baby), these things are 'signs' because they are not ends in themselves; signs function primarily to point to to God's work."
Gospel Accounts of Who Had the Loaves.

While the feeding of the 5,000 is in all four gospels, the gospels share different details about the event. For instance, Mathew, Mark and Luke state that the disciples had the bread and loaves:

Matthew 14:17: "They said to him, 'We only have five loaves here and two fish."

Mark 6:38: "And he said to them, 'How many loaves have you? Go and see.' And when they had found out, they said, "Five and two fish.'"

Luke 9:13: "But he said to them, 'You give them something to eat." They said, 'We have no more than five loaves and two fish - unless we are to go and buy food for the people.'"

Notice that in each of the above accounts, only the disciples are mentioned. John, however, shares this:

John 6:8 - "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 they among so many?'"

Why does John include the "lad" while the other gospels leave him out?
Gospel Accounts of Who Distributed the Bread

In another example, the Gospel writers differ regarding who distributed the bread to the people. Matthew, Mark and Luke say the following:

Matthew 14:19: "... (he) gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds."

Mark 6:41: "... and (he) broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people..."

Luke 9:16: "... and (he) gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd..."

John, however, says this:

John 6:11: "... Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated..."

John depicts Jesus as giving the bread directly to the people, rather than having his disciples hand the bread out.
Manna From Heaven

In Exodus 16, God provides Manna, or bread, from the sky for the Israelites, so that they can survive throughout their journey in the desert. This bread sustained them and reminded the Israelites of their dependence on God. Below is Exodus 16:4-5, where God tells Moses about the Manna.
Quotes on Depending on God:

Here are a couple quotes focused on dependence on God:

“Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavor to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependence, to have our eye on him alone, to mortify a self-dependent and self-righteous disposition." - Jonathan Edwards

"Everything is a gift from God. It is only by recognizing this crucial dependence on the Creator that we will find freedom and peace." - Pope Benedict XVI

1. How do you understand "independence?" How do you hear people around you talk about "independence?"

2. Are there ways in which being "independent" can actually be negative?

3. The way John depicts the feeding of the 5,000, the dependence of the crowd on Jesus is apparent. John then tells us that Jesus discussed the story of when God gave the Israelites Manna from heaven, a time when Israel was utterly dependent on God for survival. In the past and/or present, in what ways have you felt utterly dependent on God?

4. God's work in our lives increases our dependence on God. In what ways is dependence a good thing, something that should be celebrated?

1. Who is someone that you rely on?

2. In what ways do you trust that person?

3. Can you rely on and trust in God in the same way that you rely on and trust in the person you mentioned above?

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