A TESTED FAITH
By Lay Pastor Jusuf Wibisono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, April 26, 2020
Generally, to obtain the highest education degree (University level), students have to pass some series of tests starting from the lowest grade: Elementary, Senior Schools and finally University. The same goes with our spiritual lives. Our faith should increase gradually until we reach the level of eternity through some tests that we must undergo.
Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). What kind of sermons do we hear currently via live streaming? John 6 tells about Jesus who fed five thousand people (vv. 1-15), and about His walking on water (vv. 16-21).
These two events in two different situations in John 6 show how Jesus’ disciples went through some tests. Let’s observe deeper of what was really happening, what kind of tests they were facing and what we can learn from that.
JESUS FED FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE (John 6:1-15)
“After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased…. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted….”
The disciples (and us as well) faced a test to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Psalm 62:11-13 affirm that once God speaks we hear two things: His power and loving kindness. We should be eager to hear a sermon that causes faith, instead of following Jesus because of the miracles like what the multitudes did. The Bible provides some models of the right attitude in hearing the word of God:
⊕ There was a nobleman who asked Jesus to come to his house and heal his son who nearly died. Jesus rebuked him for disbelieving before seeing a miracle. Jesus then asked him to go home for He had healed his son. This nobleman heard Jesus’ words (the word of God), believed and went home (did the word of God). Then, miracle happened – his son was healed indeed (John 4:47-53).
⊕ Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening attentively to His words. Then, Martha who was busy serving asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. What did Jesus say? “Mary has chosen that good part” (Luke 10:38-42). Let’s not imitate Martha who worked and grumbled, using her mouth to talk negatively and blame others, even the Lord.
Beware, if we believe only because we have seen miracles, we will become the target of the false christs and false prophets who are also able to perform great signs and wonders to deceive the elect (Matthew 24:23-24).
We need to seriously increase our faith to virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to all people (2 Peter 1:5-7). Obviously, it all starts with faith that comes from hearing the word of God.
The disciples were being tested by their Teacher about how they would feed thousands of people. As an examiner, Jesus had surely had the answer. What were their responses?
Philip had 200 denarii (a blessing), but he didn’t give it to Jesus with an excuse that it wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for all 5,000 men (John 6:7). He underestimated the Lord’s blessing. Couldn’t Jesus perform a miracle as long as he listened to his Teacher’s word? Faith comes from the Lord. It’s not because we are smart, rich, strong, etc., but only by His grace (John 6:65).
Seeing a lad with five barley loaves and two small fish, Andrew commented, “… but what are they among so many?” He belittled the “little food” from a lad. Jesus loves little children for they are innocent and humble (Matthew 18:4). In the Old Testament God used Gideon and 300 men (after undergoing a very selective test out of 32,000 people) who were humble enough to fearlessly face the enemy (Judges 7:5-7).
The Lord uses humble people that are marked with the five loaves → the word of God about the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-19, 23-29) and the two fish → the Holy Spirit, so that there wouldn’t be any man boasting before God’s throne.
Philip and Andrew were corrected, so that they didn’t underestimate the Lord’s blessing and His sacrifice.
Application: Whatever blessings we get (however small/little), we should bring them to the Father with a thankful heart (like what Jesus did before He distributed the five loaves and the two fish), instead of grumbling or underestimating others; this way, miracles will surely take place.
The multitudes were sitting on the grass, watching carefully of what Jesus was doing; as a result, they were made full. Therefore, if we seriously listen to the living Word, He will watch over us (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).
After the lad offered his five loaves and two fish, a miracle took place. Likewise, the word of God is revealed to the small people (Matthew 11:25) who are willing to be rebuked and learn to be gentle and lowly in heart (v. 29), then their burdens will be made light (v. 30).
JESUS WALKED UPON THE WATER (vv. 16-21)
The disciples were given a test to face the raging sea and great wind. They were rowing about 3 or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, approaching their boat. They were afraid, but Jesus said, “It is I; do not be afraid” (v.20).
1 John 4:18 writes, “...Who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Therefore, let’s work on our faith by being willing to be sanctified, so that it will grow to hope that culminate in love. Then, we wouldn’t fear facing whatever situation that might occur.
By walking on water, Jesus proves that He has defeated all problems on earth. The Lord doesn’t promise to keep us away from tests; however, He does promise to provide solutions and guidance to lead us back to the right path towards victory.
Let’s start with little faith by believing in the word of Christ (through Bible reading) and appreciating His sacrifice. This way, the Lord will surely sustain us with physical and spiritual provision, especially in this current situation when we are facing a serious issue relating to health (both physical and spiritual) and economy. God has reminded the Israelites (and us) to obey and be thankful in fear of Him, to live according to the ways He has pointed to, to love and worship Him with all of our hearts and souls, and to hold tight on to His laws for our good (Deuteronomy 10:12-15).
We should choose what is best, that is to love hearing the word of God and doing it, so that we will experience His power and love, and have our lives renewed day by day until the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
This worship video can be listened to at Ibadah Minggu Raya - 26 April 2020 - Pdm. Jusuf Wibisono.