Sermon #31 Series: Mark
Title: Satisfaction Found In The Wilderness
Text: Mark 8:1-9
Readings: Office: James Jordan Auditorium: Ron Wood
Subject: The Feeding of the Four Thousand
Date: Sunday Evening - October 19, 1997
Tape # U-16
Once again our Savior is seen here miraculously feeding a hungry multitude in the wilderness. Here he fed four thousand men with just seven loaves of bread and a few pieces of fish. A similar miracle is recorded in Mark 6 and this same miracle was recorded by Matthew in Matthew 15.
The Son of God knew the heart of man. He knew that caviling skeptics would arise in every age who would deny his miraculous works, works which displayed his divinity most clearly. Therefore he repeated this great miracle in a most public manner, before thousands of witnesses. He has fixed it so that the only way you can read the Bible and still go to hell in unbelief is by jumping over walls of stumbling blocks. Yet, men far prefer to explain away the very existence of God by the most ludicrous arguments imaginable, than bow to Divine Revelation, trust a crucified Substitute, and bow to a sovereign Lord.
The title of my message tonight is Satisfaction Found In The Wilderness. Let me call your attention to verse four for just a moment.
I know this - In this wilderness we call life, in this world of sin, sorrow, and suffering, and in the world to come, in that great wilderness called eternity, there is no satisfaction to be found for your immortal soul except that satisfaction which is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.
Let me find nothing satisfying until I find Christ in it. This I know – Nothing can be dissatisfying, no matter how unpleasant and painful it is in itself, if I can see Christ in it. A conscious awareness of his presence sweetens every natural, earthly bitterness. The love-tokens of his favor heightens every joy. The sweet savor of his blessed name is as ointment poured forth, a spikenard very precious, to perfume the lives of all who trust him. May God be pleased to make Christ the satisfaction of your heart and soul and of mine forever. Let us find satisfaction in nothing except…
· His Person.
· His Propitiation.
· His Pardon.
· His Providence.
· His Provision.
· His Presence.
· His Praise.
Now, may God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher as we look once more at one of our great Savior’s great miracles of mercy. May he be pleased to take the things of Christ here recorded and show them unto us.
I. MULTITUDES FOLLOWED OUR MASTER BECAUSE OF THE LOAVES AND FISHES.
“The multitude was very great” (v. 1). They had either seen or heard about his miraculous powers and bountiful provisions. The fact is men and women take up a profession of faith and follow Christ in this world, sometimes for many years, who never know him.
· Some have a historical faith.
· Some have a religious family tradition.
· Some follow a profession of religion for carnal, covetous reasons.
· Many make a profession of faith at a time of emotional crisis.
· But the vast majority of those who profess faith in Christ prove in time that they never knew Christ.
True, saving faith is much, much more than a religious experience, doctrinal position, and form of prayer. True faith essentially involves three things.
· Knowledge - You cannot trust Christ if you do not know who he is and what he has done.
· Assent - We must agree with God’s testimony concerning his Son.
· Commitment - We must bow to the Son of God as our Lord, trusting our souls upon his merit and to his dominion.
II. FALSE PROFESSORS WILL OFTEN ENDURE GREAT HARDSHIPS TO KEEP UP THEIR PROFESSION.
These people underwent a great deal of difficulty in following Christ. They were with him three days, and had nothing to eat. That was hard service.
There were those, probably, who brought some food with them from home. But by this time it was all gone. And they were a long way from home in the wilderness. Yet they continued with Christ, and did not speak of leaving him.
Matthew Henry wrote, “True zeal makes nothing of hardships in the way of duty. They that have a full feast for their souls may be content with slender provision for their bodies.” However, it is not at all unusual for false piety to produce the same outward zeal. Religion without zeal is certainly false. But outward zeal is no true evidence of inward grace. Grace produces love, kindness, compassion, and care. Read on.
III. OUR ALL GLORIOUS CHRIST IS A SAVIOR FULL OF COMPASSION FOR NEEDY SOULS.
Our Savior has a compassion for those who are in need. As a man, he was the most caring of men. Yet, he has a special, particular concern for those that are reduced to need because of their zeal and devotion to him. He said, I have compassion on the multitude.
Those who the proud Pharisees looked upon with disdain, the Son of God looked upon with pity and tenderness. We ought to do the same. Our Lord knew that the vast majority of those before him were hypocrites. Yet, he was moved with compassion toward them. He felt tenderly toward them. Thus, by example, he teaches us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us.
I fear that kind of religion that makes people hard, callous, unkind, and uncaring. Whatever it is, it is not the religion of Christ.
Yet, we must never fail to observe that our Lord’s primary concern here and in all things is for his elect among the mixed multitude. While he is merciful to all, his mercy is designed for his elect. Paul tells us that he is the Savior of all men, but that he is specially, particularly, and distinctly the Savior of his elect. With that in mind, he said, They have been with me three days, and have nothing to eat.
Our Master will see that we lack nothing by following him. Whatever losses we incur, whatever hardships we endure, whatever sacrifices we are compelled to make because of our faith in, love for, and devotion to him will be taken care of, nothing in this world and in the world to come.
The Lord Jesus said, “If I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way.” He knows and considers our frame. If we seek to glorify him, we shall be fed by him. He considered that many of these men came from afar, and were a long way from home. He therefore would not send them home fasting. It is not his way to send those away empty who look to him for bread.
IV. Now, let’s look at verse 4 again and see how that THE STRENGTH OF GOD’S ALL-SUFFICIENCY AND GRACE IS MADE PERFECT IN OUR WEAKNESS.
That is what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9. And that is what we see here in verse 4.
Our unbelief and sin is often the black backdrop against which the diamonds of our Lord’s mercy, love, and grace shine forth most brilliantly. Our unfaithfulness makes his faithfulness all the more radiant.
I do not suggest for a moment, “Let us sin that grace may abound.” But I am saying that our unbelief and sin, the sins and unbelief of God’s elect, are graciously overruled by our great and glorious Savior to make his grace shine forth most brightly in us forever.
The disciples could not imagine how so many men should be satisfied with bread here in the wilderness, though they had seen it before. That therefore which they considered impossible, must have appeared all the more glorious when it was done.
V. OUR LORD USUALLY INTERVENES AT THE TIME OF UTMOST EXTREMITY.
Christ’s time to act for the relief of his people, is, when things are brought to the last extremity. Christ made provision for these men when they were at the point of fainting (v. 3). When they were utterly reduced to absolute dependence upon him, he stepped in for their salvation.
That is always the time when mercy comes, when we are at our wits end…
· He steps in to save.
· He steps in to deliver us from trouble.
VI. OUR SAVIOR’S STOREHOUSE OF GRACE IS INEXHAUSTIBLE.
He performed virtually the same miracle twice with a specific purpose in mind. He wanted to show that he is ever gracious and infinitely bountiful in grace and power. He is still the same today. His throne is a throne of grace. He invites us to come, as often as we have need, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Notice this, too. In the first miracle, he took five loaves and two small fish and used them to feed five thousand men. Here he takes seven loaves and a few small pieces of fish to feed four thousand. Why? I think he intends for us to understand three things specifically.
· It is our responsibility to use everything God puts in our hands for the work he gives us opportunity to for the souls of men and the glory of his name.
· If the work we are doing is God’s it matters not whether we appear to have much or little. It is all the same to him. What we have is utterly insignificant. Our greatest assets and abilities are just as insignificant in the work of God’s kingdom as our greatest needs and liabilities.
· With our great God and Savior nothing is impossible.
VII. IN OUR FATHER’S HOUSE THEE IS BREAD ENOUGH AND TO SPARE.
There is a fulness in Christ, which he communicates to all who come to him, so that from it we receive, and grace for grace (John. 1:16). Those who live upon Christ shall always have bread enough and to spare and should never fear being brought to need.