I will be live-blogging PCRT today through Sunday. The overall topic is the historical Adam. The pre-conference is starting with Rick Phillips doing a devotional on John 6:1-13, the story of the feeding of the 5,000.
Jesus is training the disciples (looking at verses 5-6). It is a primer in ministry. There are four points.
1. The motive for ministry- Note the contrast between the great compassion that Jesus found in the people versus the disciples’ lack of compassion. The disciples in Luke say “send them away.” This is an attitude that many people have towards needy people. We need to be discerning in this. The social gospel has often replaced the real gospel. He takes direct aim at the bad versions of “redeem the culture.” Obviously, we need to have two premises (via John Piper). We need to have the greatest compassion on the those with the greatest need, and we need to focus on the greatest length of need. And the greatest need in both categories is the gospel of salvation by faith. The only true motive for the pastoral ministry is the compassion of Christ for the lost and for the sheep. Being able to pontificate on matters of every subject when people have no choice but to listen to you should not be the motive (ouch! LK). Our motive should not be the joy of digging into the Bible, as beautiful a thing as that is, or the reading of learned books (again, ouch! LK).
2. Our calling in ministry- Note that Bethsaida was the hometown of 3 of the disciples, and so they must have known the resources of that town, and they therefore despaired of providing the food for these people. Then Andrew brings someone to Jesus (which is something that he always does). Our calling is to take what we have and faithfully give it to Jesus- put it in His hands. The little boy gives what he has to Jesus. How much should we give? Everything! As soon as he gives it to Jesus, Jesus starts working. As Pink says, Jesus does not scorn the loaves because they are small and few.
3. God’s provision for us in ministry- We have a divine provision for our ministries in this life. Jesus will go on to say in John 6 that He is the bread of life. The disciples are looking down: where is the food, the money, the resources? Jesus looks upward to God, and thus accesses the infinite riches of God Almighty. George Müller’s example is wonderful in this regard. He did not look down, but always looked up in prayer. We do not have because we do not ask.
4. The boldness of faith we are to exercise in ministry. Verses 11-13 show the disciples beginning to act in faith. The Lord didn’t multiply the loaves and fishes before they started to ministry, but during the time when they were serving. We have no idea of the magnitude of what God will do through us.