27 June 2021
Series: Hope Emerges
Book: Mark

Jireh: God Our Provider

Bible Passage: Mark 6:30-44

We often tell God what our needs are and how He needs to meet them. But when looking to God our provider, we often overlook that our ultimate need is Him.

Jireh: God Our Provider

I’m a pretty visionary guy that will confidently cast a vision to do things that sound utterly ridiculous when you start looking at the details, or lack of details, on how it’s going to get done. I have a history of it!

I remember in seminary, as a graduate assistant making $100 a week, I had the idea to put on an all-night youth event in the Basketball Arena at Liberty. I had a vision of 6,000 kids attending a concert with the best Christian bands, Gospel preaching, worship, and all-night events to keep them off the street and out of trouble!  I had no idea how I would pay for it or literally even how to do such an event!  Thank God the Lord sent a guy named Jim Sanders to fund it or it would have been a crazy day when I had hundreds of thousands of dollars of contracts on the table to pay for an event that I only charged $10 a person to attend!  For those bad at math, $10 times 6,000 people are only $60,000!  But God did it.  He supplied the money and over 1,000 people said they gave their lives to Christ that night both in person and on television.  INSP carried it live!  I just believed God supplies our needs when we are doing what He has called us to do so I went for it.  He is Jehovah Jireh which means our provider!

So, when you hear me talking about launching a campus of Venture in Lincolnton, you need to know not a lot has changed for me since I did Exit 97.  We don’t have a spot and we are going to need a serious increase in our annual budget to accomplish it.   I can’t really tell you how much of an increase yet but if a church isn’t willing to let us use their building we will have to purchase or lease something.  So to have a spot in Lincolnton, hire a staff member up there and have a program budget to do ministry in the community you’re talking $100,000 to $150,000 minimum.  Now we have been doing ministry on minimum budgets since I came here.  Our budget is nearly half the budget of the churches in Belmont that are our size.  Ours is 800,000 a year and I know two like-minded churches that are 1.3 million and 1.4 million!  But here’s my point!  Your “great” and “wise” leader (HA!) is still trying to put those numbers together all while aggressively moving forward as if it’s going to happen!  People like Blake Harris have nightmares about people like me!  I mean I ain’t going to lie, on paper, this is a crazy idea!

Now, I’m not saying it’s all spiritual maturity for me for sure, but I am one of those guys who believes if God called you to do something then He will provide it!  He has a name that says so!  He is Jehovah Jireh, God Our Provider!  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan things and use good wisdom; for me, it means getting people around me that have that skill, but it does however mean there is nothing to worry about if it’s what God wants to do so there’s no sense in waiting for everything to line up.  Press on and see what God does!  

Today’s passage is example number one of this truth for many people.  It is a passage where Jesus makes it clear that He is Jehovah Jireh (Our Provider), but, as you will see when we are finished going through it, that statement is not the full picture.  What do I mean?  Well, you need to listen to find out!

There are 4 parts to the story in Mark 6:30-44 that demonstrates Jesus is God our Provider!

In the 1st part of the story, we see Jesus’ concern for the needs of His disciples.

Jesus saw His disciples needed a break from the crowds.  (6:30-33)

30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.

Why did they need a break?

If you were with us the last two weeks you may recall that in Mark 6:7-13 Jesus had sent the Apostles away in groups of two to go preach His truth and do His works!  And 6:13 tells us they did it very successfully.  But remember, they are preaching the teachings of Jesus and doing miracles in His authority, and thus His name.  Therefore they were most certainly generating a following themselves, but overwhelmingly the excitement that spread from them was of the name of Jesus!  So, when they returned to meet Jesus, the crowds massively grew in size and energy.  It’s not just Jesus out there preaching but now it was 6 other teams preaching!  

Imagine a crowd constantly swirling around asking questions and seeking healing to the point you can’t even eat!  The crowd is noisy and dominating space, sound, and attention.  Meanwhile, these disciples are exhausted.  They have traveled light, depended on others for food (so no idea if they got any or not!), and have poured themselves into preaching in towns and healing people; and as such, likely continually dealt with large crowds gathering around them overwhelming them night and day.  They experienced success as well as failures along the way.  But, the point is, these boys were understandably exhausted so Jesus wants to get them away from it all to rest.  So He gets them in a boat and they begin to sail up the shoreline to get to a place where there are no villages or towns, somewhere people are not! But!

33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.

Some scholars believe this huge crowd ran up to 10 miles!  To understand who electric and energized this crowd was! But why?

Why were these people so motivated that they literally ran for miles to keep up with Jesus?  Was it His teachings very likely no.  Was it His miracles partially yes but that wasn’t even the case at this point.  So, what was it?  

“An unusual number of signs thus suggest that the wilderness commotion was aflame with messianic fervor and that the crowd hoped to sweep Jesus up as a guerrilla leader. These clues are confirmed in John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand, where we are told that the people “intended to come and make him king by force” (John 6:15). 1

This leads to the 2nd part of the story where we see Jesus’ concern over the needs of the crowd.

Jesus saw the crowds needed a Shepherd. (6:34)

34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

“he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd

“No animal is as dependent as a sheep. Without someone to guide it, it wanders, is lost, becomes food for wolves, etc. Without someone to graze it, it starves. Jesus knows that the people are like that: their leaders fail to give them reliable guidance. They do not supply their souls with nourishing food. The minds of the would-be guides are too occupied with legalistic niceties about sabbath restrictions, fasts, phylacteries, tassels, etc., to be concerned about souls.” 2

This is a highly energized and motivated group because they want to make Jesus their King, but not in the way you might think.  His popularity and miracles have convinced people that He is a Messiah who has come to destroy the Roman hold on Israel and reestablish the Davidic Throne and influence of their nation.  So they are ecstatic, but ecstatically lost!

The lostness of the crowd is exacerbated by the fact that they are leaderless.  They have leaders in the scribes and Pharisees but these scribes and Pharisees are not leading them to know God!  They were leading them into an indemnity in religious practices and culture.  They were leading them into the drama and hype of politics and nationalism as a people instead of leading them into their greatest identity as God’s people; instead of leading them to their greatest privilege of knowing God!  The result was that they were leading them to literally miss the promised Messiah because they are so stuck on everything that didn’t matter!  

They were lost and didn’t know it!  They were lost and couldn’t be convinced that they were!

“And he began to teach them many things.”

But, for the first time, the crowd sits down and lets Jesus teach them.  You can almost imagine that they were so tired from running to keep up with Jesus’s boat, so tired from clamoring on top of each other to try to get to Jesus, that they have exhausted themselves and can do nothing but sit and listen!

The 3rd part of the story shows us that God’s plan to meet our needs doesn’t always add up!

Jesus casually tells His disciples to meet the crowds’ need for food. (6:35-38)

35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

This is a rational perspective and shouldn’t be criticized.  You would expect people who want to give you good counsel to say this!

“The disciples are swept away by the magnitude of the problem, just as Moses had been when confronted with the need to feed the Israelites in the wilderness (Num 11:13, 22).” 3

“the disciples were at a loss what to do, and this in spite of all the miracles they had already witnessed. And now, though the sun had not yet set, it was already late in the day; that is, the day was already drawing to a close. By means of his miracles and teachings, the Lord so captivated the vast crowds that even now they were not leaving. If they were to depart they must be sent away. So the disciples remind their Teacher of the loneliness of the place and the lateness of the hour.” 4

37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”

Don’t you love Jesus’s reply? This isn’t a big deal at all, you just need to give them something to eat! HA!  

Remember that these disciples are exhausted! That’s why Jesus took them to a desolate place.  Now He’s just casually tossing it out there that He wants them to feed 5,000 men and their families!

John 6:1-15 tells us Phillip is the one who brings up the fact that they only have 200 denarii (denarii being the average pay for a day’s work).  This amount of money still couldn’t buy enough bread to feed this huge crowd!

And listen, even if they went and purchased that much bread, how are they going to get all that bread back!  It wasn’t like they were near anything!   12 guys are just going to hike off to these towns that are miles away and then carry enough bread back for 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children!  How are twelve guys who have no cart or mules even going to get that many loaves of bread back!  Just one loaf per household is 5,000 pieces of bread!  Who knows if these towns even have that much bread available to buy and can you imagine how long it’s going to take to get it if they do!  It’s just an impossible task!

So, Jesus, hearing the sarcasm in their question and likely hearing the bafflement of their hearts replies,

38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”

In John 6:1-15 we find out the “they” here is Andrew, Peter’s brother.  He found a young boy willing to donate his 2 fish and 5 loaves. 

Jesus responds to their rational questioning of his command with another seemingly irrational and aloof suggestion!  Have you ever tried to help somebody solve their problems, but they just can’t seem to even grasp what the problem is?  It’s frustrating!  Jesus’s guidance here sounds ridiculous; so ridiculous that you would understand if the disciples were wondering if He really had gone crazy, or if He was just so tired that He wasn’t thinking straight and as such wasn’t connecting with the reality of the situation.

The 4th part of the story is where Jesus clearly demonstrates He is Jehovah Jireh, God our provider!

Jesus demonstrated that He is the Provider of our needs! (6:39-44)

“The disciples complain about what they lack; Jesus focuses on what they possess. The problem will not be resolved by something beyond them but by something from among them. Jesus sees possibilities where his disciples see only impossibilities, for God can multiply even the smallest gifts if they are made available to him.” (J.R. Edwards) 5

39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

“This gives us some grand insights into participating in God’s program. First, we understand that God wants to use us to bring the Bread of Life to a needy world. He can do perfectly well without us if he chooses to do so. He did not need the little boy’s bread. He did not need to use his disciples to distribute it. He could have done it all ex nihilo and had it float down to the group of fifties and hundreds on pink parachutes. But wonder of wonder, he delights in including us in his work! “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).” 6

“Jesus was in their midst, and around him were the apostles. Jesus lifted his eyes to Heaven and gave the traditional blessing: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the world who brings forth bread from the earth.” This was followed by a 5,000-voiced “Amen.” 7

“The inability of the disciples to understand (6:52) does not prevent their acting on the command of Jesus, which is signified here in their mediating between Jesus and the crowd.” 9

Now you might think that my challenge is going to be, what is that you are not trusting God to provide for your health, finances, family, business, or career?  But I want you to know I’ve set you up.  This passage certainly demonstrates, as so many others do, that Jesus is God our Provider and as such can do anything. He is the provider of our needs.  That doesn’t diminish your hard work to supply your needs and the needs of your family, but basic observation of how the world works can tell you how quickly it can all be gone and be gone for literally nothing you could control. That job you have was provided for by God!  

I’m not taking away from the fact that God does provide for our needs, however, I think we completely miss the point in this passage of what our need actually is.

Challenge:

We often tell God what our needs are and how He needs to meet them. However, in our focus on our very real but temporal needs in this life, we often overlook that our ultimate need is Him.

Are you trusting that He is your ultimate need and that He has fully given Himself to you to meet that need?

These disciples needed rest, and Jesus compassionately wanted to address that. But more than that they needed to see that Jesus is the provider of their needs!  That He is Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider! He provided them some rest on the boat ride, but His miracle provided them the real-life example that He is their need!

The crowds needed food, and Jesus supplied, but again, more than that they needed to see that Jesus was here to meet a need far beyond their need for food or even an earthly KING!  He wanted them to see that He is their ultimate need!

So listen, if you are praying for finances like I’m praying for the finances to launch this Lincolnton campus; I want you to know there is nothing wrong with that and that God loves to hear it!  There is everything right about it as long as we are willing to listen to His reply.  But, as we pray for God to provide for us financially we have to remember our need is not money but rather our need is life – and we have it eternally in Him!

If you are praying for relationships that are broken; maybe with your spouse or your children or a person who used to be your best friend; maybe a neighbor or person at work; we know God wants us to live in unity and He truly loves that prayer!  But you also need to know that your need is not the love and affirmation of others.  You need to know God’s love and affirmation which is only known and experienced in Christ!  When you are filled up with His love you can give it with humility even when it’s not returned.

If you are praying for healing from a terminal disease, or even some other serious health issue, our prayer is obviously that God will heal you!  God loves that prayer!  But healing isn’t our ultimate need!  Eternal life is our need!  These bodies are guaranteed to fail us because we are under a curse from God that promises they will! But in Christ, we have the answer to the need created by the curse!  We have eternal life, so much of it, that graves will not hold us!

If you are praying for forgiveness, praying for a clean conscience, not to forget you’re a sinner, and especially not to justify anything; but you’re praying for forgiveness so you can have freedom.  The freedom to live.  Pray no more!  If you give your life to Jesus, you’ll get all the forgiveness you could ever need, but you have to believe you’ve received in Him, or it won’t matter!

He is what you need and as such, He has given you all that He is!  When we get all of Him, we don’t need anything else.  He, in His person, and not just His actions is JEHOVAH JIREH!

Venture Church
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Footnotes

  1.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (pp. 194–195). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  2.  Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, p. 250). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  3.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 192). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  4.  Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, p. 251). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  5.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 192). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  6.  Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 151). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  7.  Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 151). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  8. We continue to see examples in Mark that Jesus is God and as such, there is nothing too big or too impossible for Jesus to do, He is God!

    “This text has rather obvious parallels with a similar miracle in the Old Testament, which happened when the people of Israel were in the wilderness and became so discontent they wanted to go back to Egypt. God had supernaturally given them bread every day in the form of manna, but they were tired of it; they wanted variety (Num. 11:4–6). They forgot about the yoke that had been on their necks in Egypt. They forgot about the oppression of Pharaoh. They were ready to sell their citizenship in the kingdom of God for leeks, onions, and garlic. Moses appealed to God for help, and God promised that on the very next day He would give the people meat to eat, enough for a whole month, so much meat would come out of their nostrils and become loathsome to them (Vv. 19–20). God did as He promised; He brought massive flocks of quail down on the Israelite camp so that the Israelites had more meat than they could consume (Vv. 31–32). When God works, feeding a multitude is a simple thing.” 8 Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 142). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.