Christinaity: believing Jesus can do things or doing the things that Jesus did?

roll bookWhat does it mean to be a Christian?

  • Is it a CROSS in your pocket or around your neck?
  •          Or is it a taking up your cross and following Jesus?
  • Is it your name recorded in a church roll book?
  •          Or the role Christ plays in your life?
  • Is it a decision you made years ago?
  •          Or is it a daily decision to live as Jesus lived?
  • Is it a being in a large congregation gathering around Jesus?
  •          Or does being a Christian mean something like a willingness to give away your lunch?


“Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick”.

  • What does it mean to be a Christian?
  • Is being in crowd around Jesus enough?
  • Is proximity or affiliation with Jesus enough?


John tells us that crowd came to see miracles and to be healed by Jesus. They came with coughs, and diseases. They came blind and lame.  The healthy came wanting to see the signs: to see the best show in town.  They came to see the dazzling lights. Indeed, after the miraculous feeding of the crowd, the crowd seeing Jesus able to feed an army tries to use force to make Jesus an earthly king.  They seek to turn Jesus in their direction. They do not come to Jesus for direction but in direct and use Jesus. The crowd does not come to learn from the Master teacher.


At times we pray like the crowd.  Perhaps, our prayers should be more a striving to align ourselves with Christ more than a seeking to get God to do our bidding.


  • Is being in the crowd this morning enough?
  • Is seeing what Jesus does enough?
  • Can we have a vicarious faith?
  • Or are Christians, people who do what Jesus does?


“Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 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?”


Jesus, perhaps, seeks some solitude and prayer time. Perhaps, the disciples need some quiet time together- some time for Lenten devotion. John tells us as they sit on the mountain side they see the crowd coming towards them.  What is Jesus’ first impulse when the crowd comes towards him? Jesus sees the needs of the crowd.  Jesus is not flattered that so many are coming. Jesus sees the needs and speaks to it to Philip “Where will we get food for all these folks?”


  • What do we do when we see the crowd coming towards us?
  • What do we see when great needs come towards us?
  • What do we do when the darkness draws near?
  • Do we try to hide our light under a basket?
  • Do we clutch our lunch?
  • Do we judge the crowd?
  • Do we say to ourselves and the other disciples: “they should have packed a lunch!”?
  • Do we mutter “they only come for handouts?”
  • Do we dismiss the need reassuring ourselves “they soon will turn on Jesus?”
  • Do we see their need as their problem?
  • Do we have the same impulse as Jesus?


“Jesus asked this only to test Philip, for Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a years wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”


Now, before we judge Philip too harshly, remember that Philip answers Jesus’ surface question. He looks at the need and sees more than they can possibility do.  I have served with Philip on various finance committees. I at times am a lot more like Philip than Jesus.  Philip thinks Jesus is offering a math test… not a spiritual issue.  Philip answers with facts more than faith.  “Even if Chik-fila gives us a believers discount… 5,000 men multiplied by 2.7 woman and children is about 13, 500 people… discounted original sand which value meals with side salads at 4dollars with the discount and that is 54,000 dollars … and how will we get all those lemonades up here anyway?” 


It is funny that the test that Jesus offers is not a math test; it is a deeper test, a needs assessment, a spiritual measure.  Jesus sees the needs not the cost.  Jesus does not offer us a fact based solution, but a spiritual movement.


We began with a question: What does it mean to be a Christian? I want to circle back to that and ask it again….and again.   What does it mean to be a Christian?

  • Is it the cross you wear? Or your taking up the cross every day?
  • Is it a name in the church roll book? Or the role Jesus plays in your day to day living?
  • Is it a “get into heaven free” ticket?
  • Is it a set of beliefs about the afterlife unrelated to this life? Or is it a set of beliefs that changes the way we live in this life?
  • Is it a decision you made some times ago at an altar… or it is the decisions you make today?
  • Is being a Christian a daily decision to follow Jesus?
  • What does it mean to a Christian?
  • Is it being in the crowd around Jesus?
  • Or does it mean we offer our lunch to Jesus to let him share it as he sees fit?
  • Is being a Christian believing Jesus can do things, or doing the things that Jesus did?


This is a lovely story of a boy sharing his lunch. It is a story of an amazing miracle.  It is heartwarming, but let us be careful that the miracle does not overshadow Jesus’ practice.  Let us not miss what Jesus actually did in the sea of warm sentiments we feel for the boy who shared is lunch.  Let us not lose sight of Jesus practice as we get swept up into the miracle.

  • So what IS IT THAT Jesus actually did?
  • Jesus feeds people real food.  That is what Jesus did; Jesus fed 5,000 to 13,500 people!
  • Perhaps, Christians are called to do the same!


Consider the following 4 scriptures.

1) Somehow the Judgment rooted in doing the things that Jesus did.Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; (Matthew 25:34, 35 NASB)


2) At the first Christian church meeting, the first Christians, record feeding people.  For them the message of salvation penetrates into their daily living.  Peter preached, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. …and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. …all those who believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  …And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:38, 41-47 NASB)


3) The first committee in the church was set up to feed people. Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. (Acts 6:1, 2 NASB)


4) Paul speaks of how to know who is a real widow: indicating that abuses in the feeding ministry occurred even in the early church some 2,000 years ago.  They did not stop the program due to such surface issues! Support widows who are genuinely widows. (1 Timothy 5)  We gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 NIV)

  • What does it mean to be a Christian?
  • Do Christians simply believe that Jesus did certain things, or do Christians do the things that Jesus did?
  • Can we be Christians and not do the things that Jesus did?


We have been talking about feeding, we might talk about other things that Jesus did. Consider your living, your vows this Lenten season. The first five ideas below come from our church membership vow. The other two I just added.  We could add a half dozen more.


1) Prayer… But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)


2) Presence.  On the Sabbath day Jesus went into the synagogue, as was his custom. (Luke 4:16 NIV)


3)  Giving “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down their life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)


4) Serving:  Jesus got up from the meal and wrapped a towel around his waist. He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciplesfeet …  “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one anothers feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:4, 5, 14, 15 NIV)


5) Witness: Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NIV)


6) Forgiving: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:33


7) Justice:   Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers … he taught them, he saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11)

  • What makes us a Christian?
  • When the great needy crowd is coming towards us-what will it mean to be a Christian?
  • Is being a Christian believing Jesus can do things, or doing the things that Jesus did?


“Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peters brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”


There are a variety of disciples. I love Andrew,  a quiet disciple, who always seems to be bringing people to Jesus.  Andrew is out in the crowd, listening to Jesus and listening to the crowd.  Andrew finds this child ready to share his lunch.


Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there).


You have to love this image. Put yourself there on the hillside.  Jesus holds up a single sack lunch to feed thousands of people saying:  “Hey let’s have the blessing!”


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. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:1-15 NIV)

  • Have you ever been terribly hungry…?


I think the hungriest time in my life was between the age 13-19.  When I was in high school I would come home from school, along with my running buddy David. We would sit down at the dining room table with a gallon of milk and two oversized bowls and eat an entire box of cereal.  It was okay, because  I would soon swim for about 2 hours that night burning up about 2500 calories.  Mom would come home and lament the lack of milk.


A boy maybe 12 years old is there with his lunch. He is capable of eating not just his lunch but two more. Do not trivialize or sentimentalize this teenager giving away his lunch. I am guessing that others in the crowd clutched and tucked their lunch bags  and whispered to their children: “don’t worry baby, we have enough to eat”.  This boy chooses to let Jesus maybe cut his apple into 5,000 pieces.


  • Would we choose to slip off the edge of the crowd and guard our food- eating alone?
  • Will we open our lunch?
  • Will we say here it is Jesus, slice my sandwich into 5,000 pieces?
  • Will we judge the crowd or see their need?
  • Will we do the things Christians do or be content to believe that Jesus can do the miraculous?


Let us never underestimate the gift of the child

1)    The lunch was the resource that Jesus used to feed 13,500.

2)    It was a significant sacrifice for the teenage boy.

3)    Did the child want to stand in solidarity with the hungry crowd?

4)    Did the gift serve as a catalyst to the miracle?  Did it open the door to a miracle?


What will you do with your lunch?

  • What does it mean to be a Christian?
  • Is being a Christian believing Jesus can do things, or doing the things that Jesus did?
  • Will we watch and see what Jesus does?
  • Will we believe that Jesus can do things?
  • Or will we do the things that Jesus did?


Consider one final question.  Who was the happiest person on the hillside that day?  I am sure there were those who never worried about having enough to eat.  I am sure there were people who laughed till they cried as Jesus fed 5,000 with a boy’s lunch.  I am sure it was a great party. But who was the happiest person on the hill that day?  It was the boy who shared his lunch.  I imagine he ran home and yelling: “Mom, you will never believe what Jesus did with my lunch!”   There is no greater peace or joy than when we stand in the center of God’s will.  Let us we open our sacks and offer our lunches to Jesus.  Let us not be content to believe what Jesus did, what Jesus can do, or what Jesus one day will do.  Let us do the things that Jesus.

Copyright Paul R. Purdue

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