Thesis:"Faith" assumes the availability of divine resources.
Introduction:Since Luke 9 begins with a serious test of faith (in regard to The Twelve and Jesus' command to them to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God) and ends with people making excuses for why they will not simply do what Jesus tells them to do, it is my assumption that the point of the chapter is that those who are going to be involved in legitimate ministry are going to have to pass certain "tests" before they can fulfill Jesus' expectations of them.
The record before us is an example of such a "test". As we saw last week, the disciples did not handle the test well in the beginning. Instead of relying upon Jesus' wisdom and power, they took it upon themselves to try to tell Him how to handle the issues at hand. This is the reason for the necessity of such "tests". As long as human beings think they know more about how to live than does the God of Life, they will never "live". Life, at its most basic identity, is participating with God in His character and agenda, and this participation has a very exclusive root: faith.
This means that we must understand what it means to "believe". Our need for understanding is at least partially met by the record of Jesus' feeding of the 5,000, so we will do well to consider the facts as Luke presents them to us.
I. The First Fact.
A. Circumstances had incrementally developed to create a "problem".
B. The Twelve responded to the "problem" in a very pragmatic way that had all of the overtones of a self-sufficient bossiness that revealed just how badly they needed to be transformed by the renewing of their minds.
C. Jesus was unwilling to let that go ... this time.
D. He commanded The Twelve to feed the multitude.
1. Even for Jesus, this was pretty much "over the top".
a. Up to this point, Jesus had done some mighty miracles.
b. But at this point, Jesus insisted that The Twelve begin to act like He did.
2. The command was totally unexpected and completely impossible for men who were still thinking pragmatically out of a self-sufficient bossiness.
3. Jesus' words were a command.
II. The Second Fact.
A. The disciples apparently had gained no insight from their first test (this was not unusual as Mark 8:13-21 clearly shows and Mark 6:52 simply declares).
B. The Twelve responded to the command with objections that were supposed to "prove" that Jesus' "command" was ludicrous.
1. This is nothing more than a retrenchment of the initial failure within these circumstances.
a. When "disciples" simply assume that they are smarter than God, they will go to whatever lengths to validate that assumption when He puts them on the spot (witness the book of Job).
b. Attempting to handle problematic circumstances apart from the gift of divine wisdom is a recipe for failure.
2. The objections were rooted in very pragmatic considerations.
a. Five loaves and two fish will not feed 5,000 grown men.
b. The costs of buying enough food for 5,000 grown men would have been far more than the funds that were on hand.
C. At issue was a most fundamental fact: all "tests" are challenges to "faith" and what "works" for one will work for all.
III. The Third Fact.
A. At issue in every "test" is whether the "tested" have come to grips with what God requires: "faith".
B. This means that we must understand what this requirement actually is.
1. Understanding by elimination.
a. It is not the exercise of the typical self-sufficient bossiness where the only "faith" is fixated upon one's own superior wisdom in contrast to God.
b. It is not a deliberate manipulation of circumstances so that "God is on the spot" (as in men who insist upon violating biblical principles and urge their followers to be "believing").
c. It is not a vacuous word that has no specific content.
2. Understanding by observation.
a. It is a response to circumstances as they develop.
b. It is a response that begins with the assumption of personal ignorance.
c. It is a response that most fundamentally assumes a unity between God and the "believer".
1) This assumption of unity exists within the context of an understanding that the "believer" depends upon God to be the "Supplier of the Ability".
2) This assumption of unity also exists within the context of an understanding that "believers" can only depend upon God to supply for His agenda.
d. It is a response to a specific divine declaration of what it is that He wants within the context of the developing circumstances.
1) It is highly unlikely that any of us will ever hear God tell us to feed 5,000 people on the spur of the moment.
2) The vast majority of what we will hear God tell us will arise directly out of His Word.
e. It is a response that is seriously dependent upon a continuum of legitimate responses.
1) We have fallen victim to two major heresies in regard to "faith".
a) There is a heresy that makes no distinction between "relational reality" and "accomplishment reality" so that people expect accomplishments to flow as naturally as forgiveness (there are no actions that cannot be forgiven, but there are multiple actions that can absolutely kill the accomplishment of a given agenda).
b) There is a heresy that arises out of our "once-saved-always-saved" mentality that consists of the thinking that a single act of faith can carry Life on its shoulders (every single act of faith does bring its own reward but so does every single act of unbelief).
2) The accomplishment of every non-relational agenda is every bit like a completed brick wall where each brick is a required presence and unbelief can torpedo the agenda.
3) God does not "do" what we "expect" if we have not been "expecting" all along the way.
A. Luke's record of the feeding of the 5,000 was a statement about what disciples are supposed to do with God's words: believe them and expect His supply.
B. Luke's record of the feeding of the 5,000 was a statement about Who the disciples were to believe: Jesus, the Bread of Life.