Sermon 1218. The Miracle of the Loaves
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"They considered not the miracle of the loaves." Mark 6:52.
Let us, with deep attention, consider the miracle of the loaves lest we fall into the same evil as that which happened tothe disciples in the text. When they saw Jesus walking on the sea, "they were sore amazed in themselves and wondered: forthey considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their heart was hardened." Hard hearts and painful unbeliefs spring upin the waste places where we bury our forgotten mercies. The miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to be considered. Theyare not trifles and they ought not to be passed over as if they were the mere commonplace stories of a daily newspaper. Everythingthat has to do with the Son of God is a fit subject for the deepest study and all His sayings and works should be sought outby them that have pleasure therein.
Neither earth nor Heaven, time nor eternity, yield choicer gems of thought than the achievements of our Lord. Remember, sinceJesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, what He did at one time ought to be well considered, because it isthe index of what He is prepared to do again should the need arise. He would still sooner feed His own sheep by a miraclethan allow them to lack any good thing. His accomplished wonders have not spent His strength-He has the dew of His youth stillupon Him. Our Samson's locks are not shorn! Our Solomon has not lost His wisdom! Our Imman-uel has not ceased to be "God withus."
If the disciples had considered the miracle of the loaves they would have observed that Christ is grand in emergencies. Whenthere were 5,000 people to be fed and no towns and villages near enough to supply them with bread and the people must faintby the way before they could reach the markets, then Christ was ready, full-handed in time of scarcity, prompt to dispenseHis liberality, able to meet the emergency so perfectly that the people must have been very thankful that such an emergencyhad arisen and, no doubt, often wished that they could have been in such a strait, again, if they could have had the Lordnear to bring them out of it.
Had they considered the miracle of the loaves, the disciples would have known that Christ is not only grand in emergencies,but that He displays His power spontaneously, without need of pressing or even prompting. Before anybody else had cared forthe multitude, He began enquiring about the state of the supplies from which the famishing must be fed. He it was who thoughtof the way of feeding them-it was a design invented and originated by Himself. His followers had looked at their little bitof bread and fish and given up the task as hopeless. But Jesus, altogether unembarrassed, and in no perplexity, had alreadyconsidered how He would feed the thousands and make the fainting sing for joy. The Lord of Hosts needed no entreaty to becomethe Host of Hosts of hungry men.
Remembering this, the disciples, in their new distress should have said within themselves, "Now will He display His power.We have scarcely need to cry to Him, for before we call He will answer! And while the emergency is yet pressing upon our mindsHe will hear." But they forgot what He had done on that occasion and, therefore, they fell into distrust as to their new trial.Beloved, is not this a very common fault with us? Do we not too often forget what the Lord has done for us in times past?We sing so rightly-
"His love in time past forbids me to think He'll leave me at last in trouble to sink. Each sweetEbenezerI ha ve in reviewConfirms His good pleasure to help me quite through." But do we not forget those Ebenezers? Do we not very frequently sufferour memory to let His benefits go? Is not depression of spirit occasioned by the fact that we do not well consider the miracleof the loaves or its counterpart which has taken place in our history?
How many times have I sought the Lord in sorest trouble and He has brought me through! What burdens have I carried to Himand found them vanish! What needs has He not supplied? What marvels has He not worked on my behalf? Surely, if I think ofwhat He has done for me, I shall not, unless my heart is hardened, permit myself to be afraid. Cannot many of you say thesame? Are there not oases in your pilgrimage through the desert which, as you look back upon them, are to your grateful memoryvery green and full of sunlight where the Lord revealed Himself to you and worked very mightily for you? Consider, then, themiracle of the loaves as it has transpired in your own life story and be not afraid, whatever your present trouble may be.
At the present time I shall not consider the miracle of the loaves in the form of a sermon, but allow our discourse to takethe shape of a little friendly talk.
I. Come, let us think a little, first, about THE GUESTS who gathered around our Lord when He worked the miracle of the loaves.And we are struck, first, with their great number. Jesus had His feast days, when He kept open house and entertained His guestsin unusual crowds. Twice, especially, He held very remarkable feasts and His banquets were distinguished for the number thatcame to them. Here were 5,000 men and, on another occasion, some 4,000 men, besides women and children-and I should thinkthat is a very large "besides," for the women and children may possibly have outnumbered the men-at least they often do soin our congregations nowadays.
This was feasting on an imperial scale! In the present instance 5,000 gathered together and all were as easily provided foras if there had been but five. Should we not consider this point and argue from it that the Lord Jesus will feed our hungrysouls if we come to Him? Should we not, each one of us, say, then, "If I am a soul needing His love and mercy, surely He canbless me? Are there a great many saved already? Are hundreds pressing to the Savior at this very hour? Then why should I beshut out? He who could feed 5,000 could certainly feed five thousand and one! One, more or less, could make no differenceat so great a feast. No, I am quite certain Jesus can supply me, for He had 12 baskets left after He had fed all the host.Come, my Soul, if you are hungering after Christ, do not stand back as though you would be one too many! The more the merrier!The more that come to His Gospel banquet, the more pleased Jesus is."
Some religionists are in raptures with the text, "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, and few there are that find it."They dwell upon the words, "few there are that find it," with an evident gusto and self-appreciation, something like the oldconservative voter when he denounced household suffrage and gloried in his own monopoly! Such thoughts are not according tothe mind of Christ! He did not say, "I will feed 500 out of these people and the rest may starve." But in the mighty bountyof His heart, the greatness of their number and the direness of their need moved Him to come forward and supply them all!
Had there been 50, they might have gone home as on other occasions, for 50 might possibly have found food in the villages.But the needs of 5,000 required a Divine supply. The greatness of the number of sinners seems both to encourage our Lord toact in mercy and to make it Divinely fit that He should act, for by His knowledge shall He justify many and bring many sonsunto Glory. Let no sinner ever be troubled with the dread that he would be one too many at the banquet of Mercy! Neither lethim fear that he will be an intruder. Christ's banqueting hall was an open field-there were no walls or doors, or personsguarding the entrance-thus free is His feast of Love at this moment. Whoever will, let him come!
We note, next, the strange character of His guests. We do not know what sort of people they were, but this we do know, Hedid not exempt one because of any flaw in his character! They were a nondescript multitude. Little good could be said of themexcept that they had an ear to hear Jesus preach and were especially glad if the sermon was the first course, with loavesand fishes for the second. They were a carnal people and had nothing about them that deserved our Lord's consideration. Butwhen did Jesus Christ wait until men deserved it before He blessed them? When we give alms we think it right to make enquiriesabout the deserving characters of those who apply to us for relief. And I suppose we must do so, or we shall do mischief.
But our heavenly Father sends his rain both upon the just and upon the unjust and, even so, our Lord Jesus Christ feeds thesepeople, though many of them were mere loafers and hangers on. Bad or good, the generous Savior fed them. It could not hurtthem to have a bit of bread and fish to eat. A gift of food which people eat before our eyes is generally safe charity, andso the Master fed them. Let me, then, say to myself, I may be very unworthy and am. And my character may have nothing aboutit to commend it to the Lord Jesus Christ. But why should He not feed me with the food that is neces-
sary for my soul? Has He not come into the world to save sinners? Did He not visit this world as a Physician to heal the sick?Let not my unworthiness keep me back!
Need of merit did not exclude one person from the miracle of the loaves and it need not exclude me, for He bids me come. Unworthyas I am, He invites me freely, repeatedly, earnestly-yes-He commands me to come. Why, then, should I hesitate? If there aremany, I will be one among them. And if they are of all kinds, I may the more freely join them. These guests had one thingin common which, I have no doubt, will be found among us, also-they were all hungry and they were all poor. They could notsupply one single dish for the table. Not one of them had a loaf to contribute nor a fish to give to the Master of the feast.They were all hungry but not one could produce a crust. And the Lord neither asked them to contribute nor repelled them becauseof their poverty.
Am I, then, tonight, an empty sinner, having no good in myself? Do I feel that I could not contribute even one perfect thought,much less one solitary perfect action to the stores of the Redeemer's merit? Nevertheless, He bids me come, and I will come.He is a great Giver. I can only be a receiver and my utter lack of all goodness fits me to receive from Him, since the emptierthe vessel the more it can receive. If I could help Him, there would be no need for Him to work a miracle on my account. Butsince I can bring nothing whatever, I need His miraculous power. As I see Him feeding hungry souls I will join in with therest and partake of the fruit of His compassion. They were a penniless, foodless people and could not help themselves, butthere was One who could help them all-and afford that help with ease! And so, tonight, whatever our hearts' necessities maybe, Jesus is here to enrich us and to do it in a manner which will manifest the boundless Nature of His Love and Grace.
On one of these occasions we read that there were women and children among them. Now, I must confess, myself, I am not partialto very small children coming into the congregation. I am glad to see their mothers and, if they cannot come without bringingtheir infants, I am glad that they should bring them. But they certainly are not an improvement to a congregation, as a rule.Yet here they were-here were women and children-and I suppose that some of the children were very closely connected with thewomen by being carried in their arms, because they are described as, "women and children."
They were all fed and that would stop their crying! They were all supplied, however little they might be. And should not thisbe a great encouragement to me if I am seeking Christ, that if I am no better than a little crying child that might seem tobe a nuisance in God's family, or if I am a person so poor, so ill-clad, that I may seem to myself to be as much out of placein a congregation as a crying babe, yet, nevertheless, the bounties of Divine Grace are as much for me as for others? Jesuswould not have it said that He had no food for the children! He would not have the mothers go home and say, "The big men hadtheir food, but we had only a few bones and broken scraps. And the poor dear children had none at
In Christ's feasts there is no complaining of the widows as in Apostolic days. None are neglected in the general ministrationwhen Jesus presides. Whoever will, may come and partake of the bounties which the King of Heaven has prepared for every hungry,thirsty soul! So much about the guests. May these suggestions be blessed by the Holy Spirit to induce some hungry sinner tojoin with the rest of the company and feast on Free Grace.
II. The next thing we will consider in the miracle of the loaves is THE ORDERLINESS OF THE GUESTS. There were 5,000 but theysat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties. I wonder how they were marshaled so well? Oh, I remember! The Lord of Hostswas there and He knows how to marshal armies! But how was it that they were willing to sit in ranks? People are not alwaysso willing to be ordered about and, when they are hungry, they are often very disobedient. But they sat down as they weretold to do. They sat down in rows so that they were divided with little aisles between them.
The original word used by Mark represents them as divided like beds of flowers, with walks between, so that as a gardenercan go up and down and water all the plants, so the waiters at the feast could conveniently give every man his share of breadand his piece of fish without confusion. They sat down in ranks by fifties and by hundreds. Things do not look so orderlynow, do they, as we see Christ, through His Church, feeding the multitudes? There is a good work going on in the north ofEngland. There is a revival in Scotland. There is an awakening in Ireland and there is a stir in the midland counties. Butdoes it not look very much like a scramble? Do we not seem to tumble over one another instead of doing our work in soldierlyorder?
A good work springs up in one place all of a sudden, while religion is dying out in other quarters. The people are satiatedyonder and are starving only a little way off. We do not get at the masses as a whole, or see the Church progress in all places.Let us not, however, judge too hastily, for Jesus makes His order out of our disorder. We see a piece of the puzzle, but whenthe whole shall be put together and we shall see the end from the beginning, I guarantee you we shall see that Christ's greatfeast of Mercy, with its myriads of guests, has been conducted on a principle of order as mathematically accurate as thatwhich guides the spheres in their courses!
God has laid down, in the book of His everlasting purposes, written by Him of old, everything that shall occur in the greateconomy of His Grace-and from that He never swerves. His purposes ripen at the proper time and His plans are carried out accordingto the wisest method. Providence, which so often looks wild and blustering, is not so by any means-it is working in harmonywith Grace for the salvation of as many as Christ has bought with His most precious blood-and for the accomplishment of thegrand intentions of electing love. The raising up of this minister and of that. The building of this House of Prayer and that.Even the bringing of a certain number of people at one time to listen and the bringing of such-and-such persons rather thanothers-and the moving of the preacher's heart to speak in this way and not in that and to dwell upon that subject and notupon the other-all these things are so ordered that, when the story of the Lord's great Grace Banquet shall be told, we shallsay to ourselves, "It could not have been better. He has done all things well."
While we shall have to admire the grandeur of the works of Grace as seen in the number of the saved, we shall also admirethe orderliness of it in the way in which these saved ones were separated to Jesus by the right means, at the right time andin the right place in such a way as to bring the utmost possible glory to God. I like to think this over sometimes, not thatwe may quiet ourselves when we do not see numbers saved, nor that we may ever grow indifferent to the great multitudes whoremain unconverted, but that we may rest assured that our God is not disappointed-that His plans are not frustrated and that,after all, the Gospel is not preached in vain!
You must not think, dear Brother, because for a little while you have been preaching the Gospel apparently without success,that there will be a deficit somewhere in God's account at the end of the chapter! You must not dream that because in certaincountries the Gospel light burns dimly, God is foiled and defeated! When the book of God's purposes shall be all unfoldedin actual history there will be found no blots, mistakes, or blunders there. He knows the end from the beginning and His purposesshall be fulfilled in every jot and tittle-in nothing shall the Glory of God be marred!
Though Satan may be laughing, now, and every now and then the men of the world may boast against the people of God, it shallnot be so in the close of the affair! It shall be said of the entire matter, "It was a grand banquet of mercy and it was orderedwell. And Christ, the great Head of the house, made a Divine display of His munificent mercy in causing the multitude to tasteof His Grace." Our duty, I believe, is to urge the people to sit down and receive the Word of God. And the duty of the sinneris, especially when he comes to hear the Gospel preached, to sit in the attitude of expectancy, desiring to obtain the blessing.
I like the thought of those people all sitting down, although I wonder some of them did not say, "I shall not sit down. Pooh!Feed me with two fishes and five loaves? I could eat the whole thing! Feed all this multitude that way? I shall not sit down.Preposterous! Ridiculous!" One is surprised that somebody or other did not get up and say, "No, no, no, we are not to be madefools of after this fashion. Show us the table and show us something on it to sit down to, and then we will sit down, butnot before." Let us be always confident that when God inclines the people's hearts to come expecting a blessing and to waitupon Him for it, it is then that the blessing comes.
I could not imagine the 5,000 sitting there waiting to be fed and Christ not feeding them. Could you conceive such a thing?Their sitting down in expectancy laid a sacred compulsion upon the Divine Compassion to which it gladly yielded. Oh, Soul,if you sit down in your hunger before Christ, and say, "Lord, I know You can feed me. By faith I open my mouth wide that Imay eat of Your flesh and drink of Your blood"-then assuredly you shall be fed! Never was such a soul sent empty away. Ifyou believe in Him so as to accept of Him, you have Him! Rejoice in Him! Enough, then, about the order of the feast.
III. And now a little about THEIR FARE. They had bread and fish. Jesus seems to have made that His standing bill of fare wheneverHe spread a banquet-bread and fish. They once gave Him a piece of honeycomb, but He seems always to have given them breadand fish. Bread was enough, was it not? Yes, enough. But not enough for Him to give, for He
loves to supply a little more than enough. He would give a delicacy as well as a staple-there was bread and fish. When JesusChrist makes feasts for souls He gives them a staple-bread, all that they can need, all the necessities for their souls'
Giving a sufficiency He also gives excellency-He gives fish, there shall be savor and delight and peace with God. You shallnot say, "He has given me workhouse fare-He doles out by half-ounces exactly what I need, but He helps me to no sweet morsels,no fat things full of marrow." No, you shall have more than you actually need! You shall find in your dish a secret somethingwhich will sweeten all and many other precious things of which you shall sing, "He satisfies my mouth with good things." Jesusmight have called some of the people close to Him and given them bread and fish, and then have fed the next row with breadonly, but He did not do so.
He gave bread and fish all round-and it is very sweet to think that all souls that come to Christ get the same spiritual food-andif they do not eat in the same measure it is their own fault, not His, for every promise that is in the Word of God is forevery soul that believes in Him, save only where some promises are reserved for spiritual attainments, and then those spiritualattainments are to be sought after and may be reached by all the family.
O, chief of sinners! If you come to Jesus, there is the same love in His heart for you as for the chief of saints! O, leastand weakest, and feeblest of all who believe in Jesus! There is the same Covenant Mercy and Covenant Blessing for you as forPaul or Peter! Bread and fish He gave to all who came to His table, and even so, there is a uniformity of spiritual meat forall His brethren. Jesus is the same precious Christ to all His people. What suitable food it was! Other kinds of food mighthave been either distasteful or indigestible to a considerable number, but bread and fish would surely suit all palates andall conditions.
They might all be satisfied with such light and yet substantial food, and probably they all were so. And here was the beautyof it-they did all eat and were filled. It was the right fare and a most agreeable fare. And there was so much of it thatthough they ate much, as I have no doubt they did, for they were very hungry, for they had been all day listening to sermons-andthat is hungry work-still, for all that, there was enough for them, yes, enough and to spare! Gospel provisions are adaptedto all needs. Gospel provisions are plentiful and are liberally given forth to all who come for them. Gospel provisions aresweet and pleasant to those who participate in them. Gospel provisions will satisfy the most eager appetites.
Come here, you hungry souls, you who have been to Moses and from him obtained nothing but the stony Law! Come and eat thebread of Heaven! Come, poor Sinner, you who have been to the pleasures of sin and found nothing there but the husks that theswine eat. Come to Jesus, and He will fill you to the full with a Divine meat! But we must pass on, having noticed the guests,their order and their fare, to notice the waiters.
IV. THE WAITERS at this feast were the disciples. Not the Apostles, I think, merely, but the disciples-all of them. They eachcame and received a portion and handed it round to the hundreds and the fifties. What a blessed thing it is that Jesus Christhas not taken upon Himself to call all His people, by His Grace, apart from instrumentality. He might have done so if He hadchosen. The blessed Spirit does not stand in any need of us-it is His condescension which leads Him to employ us. He mighthave sent the Bible into the world and the only part we might have been permitted to take in it might have been the printingof it, the giving of it away or the selling of it-and there it might have been left.
But instead He uses the living voice, the living example and the pious persuasions of His own quickened disciples. And whatan honor this is! What a privilege this is! I am sure I should have been very delighted that day to help to pass round thebread and the fish-and would not you? It is one of the greatest pleasures you can have in life to feed a hungry man. If youhave ever done it, you all know that there is a look about his eyes and a joy in the manner of his eating which makes youwhisper to others, "I wish you would come and see him eat." It gives you pleasure to see his pleasure! If he is very hungry,every mouthful is sweet to him, and you feel a sympathy with his gladness as his needs are supplied.
What delightful work it must have been to serve out that bread and fish! But O, to preach the Gospel! To preach the Gospelwhen God is blessing it to sinners! I have just finished 21 years of preaching to this congregation and they have been 21years of toil, especially as the sermons have been printed every week. But I would not change the work for any conceivableoccupation, or the happiness of preaching the Gospel for any happiness except that of seeing Jesus face to face! And I reallydo not know that I wish for that till I have done preaching the Gospel, for if souls are to be saved, I would far rather tarryhere to help in it than go to Heaven itself.
Oh, the joy it gives you to see men saved! Have I not seen them, sometimes, in the vestry when I have talked with them andprayed with them, and they have risen from their knees, and said, "I see it, Sir, I understand it now. I never saw it before.I am a saved man, I believe in Jesus, I know He is my Savior." If a man finds joy in having made Â£10,000 in business, he maykeep his joy. I would sooner have the bliss of winning one soul for Christ! There is an intense satisfaction in soul-winning!These are the things George Herbert would have said, that make music in our bosoms when we lie awake at nights. These arethe things that make it sweet to live and even sweet to die, if we may feed poor hungry souls with the bread of Heaven!
Now, I want all of you who love the Lord and have tasted of what He provides, to busy yourselves with supplying others. Iwish we had more young men coming forward to enter into the Christian ministry, that more would devote their strength andtalents to the preaching of the Gospel. But, at the same time, we ought to have more persons busying themselves in the school,more talking about Jesus Christ in their various families, more friends who would open their rooms for Prayer Meetings, morewho would, in some way or other, try to get at the hungry world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Well," says one, "but we must not push too much nor become intrusive." We do not find that any disciple labored under thatfear. No one intrudes on a hungry man if he brings him bread to eat. And if the hungry man should be so unkind as to callit intrusion, I have no doubt that after he has been fed he will be very grieved with himself for having said so and he whomhe reproached will readily accept the apology. Go and intrude yourselves, my Brothers and Sisters, among the hungry, withthe Bread of Heaven! Intrude yourselves between the living and the dead, as Aaron did with his smoking censor! Intrude yourselvesin the valley of dry bones and cry aloud unto them, "Thus says the Lord, you dry bones, live!" Intrude yourselves as Christintruded into a world which despised and rejected Him, to whom, after all, He is the only Savior.
V. We are getting on with our consideration of the miracle, for we have seen the fare and the waiters. Now let us go a stepfarther, namely, to THE BLESSING. There they sit, all hungry, and the waiters are all ready, but our Lord will not proceedtill He has worshipped and rendered thanks. There is something in His glance and gesture-He looked up to Heaven. What didthat mean? "O Father, these loaves and fishes are Yours. You have given them to us. We thank You for them. And now, O Father,the power to make these sufficient for the emergency comes from Heaven. Grant it, we pray You."
Brothers and Sisters, always give that look upward before you begin your work. Say, "Lord, here am I, a poor nobody, tryingto teach others and to bring souls to Christ. For what I am, I thank You, for I am that by Your Grace, but if I am to be useful,You must make me so. Lord, I look up with the hope that You will look down." After our Lord had looked up to Heaven, we findthat He blessed and then He broke the loaves. Jesus must bless our labor or it will be fruitless. He could bless the breadfor Himself, but we must look away from ourselves for the blessing. May Jesus bless you all, and He will, if you look up,and say, "Lord, bless us."
Always do that on Sundays, especially, for those are great settled feasts of the Lord. Ask the Lord to bless what the preacheris going to say and then it will be made profitable to you. After the blessing comes the distribution, but not till then.O, for more looking up to God, for in Him lies our strength! O, for more praying-there can never be too much of that! If westopped every evangelistic service for awhile and ceased from all teaching and preaching in order to spend a season in cryingmightily unto the Lord, it might be the quickest way of doing the Lord's work! Pauses for prayer are not delays! Prayerlesshaste makes ill speed.
VI. Now came the work itself-THE EATING. The disciples distributed the bread and the fish as quickly as they could and thepeople began to eat. They all ate of the provision and they were all filled. Now, what should every soul, here, conclude,but this-if Jesus has provided spiritual meat He has not provided it to be looked at. He has not set it before us that wemay merely hear about it. He has provided it that it might all of it be eaten. What is there for me? Lord, I am hungry, grantme a meal. O, Souls, if you would hear sermons with the view of knowing what there is in them for yourselves-that you mightfeed upon them-what blessed work it would be to preach to you!
But we hold up the Bread of Heaven and descant upon its excellencies, and tell you of its sweetness, and persuade you to tasteand see how good it is-and then we have the unhappiness of seeing you turn your backs both upon it and upon the great Lordof the feast-and you go your way as if you cared neither for Him nor for His bounties! The disciples had
not this sorrow to distress them. None of the multitude refused the Lord's provision. The miracle of the loaves and fisheswould have been a poor, lame business if the crowds had not eaten of the food so wondrously supplied. What? Jesus Christ aSavior and no sinner saved? Christ a Physician and no sick healed! It were a sorry business.
We must have the sinners saved and the sick ones healed, or Jesus is not honored. Ought not this to encourage all of you tolay hold upon Christ because He is set forth on purpose to be laid hold upon? Ought not this to encourage you to feast uponHim because He must have been meant to be fed upon? If you put two canaries in a cage tonight, and in the morning when theywake they see a quantity of seed in a box, what will the birds do? Will they stop and ask what the seeds are there for? No,but they each reason thus-"Here is a little hungry bird and there is some seed. These two things go well together." And straightwaythey eat.
Even thus, if you were in your right senses and had not been perverted by sin, you would say, "Here is a Savior and here isa sinner-these two things go well together. Dear Savior save me, a sinner. Here is a feast of mercy and here is a hungry sinner.What can that feast be for but for the hungry, and I am such. Lord, I will even lay to at this blessed festival of Yours and,unless You come and tell me to be gone, I will feast till I am full." Did you ever know of Jesus say to a sinner, "You haveno right here"? No! But it is written, "Him that comes to Me I will in nowise cast out." No one was upbraided for eating thatday, or for eating too much! Neither will any sinner ever be blamed for taking hold upon Christ, or for taking too heartya hold upon Him!
Come and take Him, O anxious one, and the more fully you can take Him the more will Jesus be pleased! Why flows the riverbut to make glad your fields? Why sparkles the fountain but to quench your thirst? Why shines the sun but for your eyes tobe blessed with his light? As you breathe the air around you because you feel it must have been made for you to breathe, soreceive the full, free salvation of Jesus Christ because it is provided and you are in need of it! No mandate of Heaven existsto shut you out, but every sacred doctrine is an argument why you should come and welcome, and take Jesus freely!
The crowds all ate. None were so obstinate as to decline the free food. Did they receive the bread which perishes? I chargeyou, then, accept gladly the Bread which endures to life eternal!
VII. Now, when they had all eaten there came the CLEANING UP. There must be a cleaning up after every banquet. They went roundand gathered up the fragments that remained and found 12 baskets full. This, as has often been remarked, teaches us economyin everything that we do for God-not economy as to giving to Him-but as to the use of the Lord's money. Break your alabasterboxes and pour out the sacred nard with blessed wastefulness, for that very wastefulness is the sweetness of the gift. Butwhen God entrusts you with any means to use for Him, use those means with discretion.
When we have money given to us for use in God's cause we should be more careful with it than if it were our own. And the samerule applies to other matters. Ministers, when God gives them a good time in their studies and they read the Word and it opensup before them, should keep notes of what comes to them. The wind does not always blow alike, and it is well to grind yourwheat when the mill will work. You should put up your sails and let your boat fly along when you have a good, favoring breeze-andthis may make up for dead calms. Economically put by the fragments that remain after you have fed next Sunday's congregation,that there may be something for hard times when your head aches and you are dull and heavy in pulpit preparations.
But I think the beauty of it was this, that after they had all been fed there was something left. Did I hear a heavy heartcomplain-"I hear of a great revival and a great blessing, but I was not there. I was just gone out of the town when that blessingcame. Woe's me, I am too late." Ah, there is plenty left. No penitent sinner is too late! Sometimes friends come in at theend of a meal and there is nothing left beyond the bare bones. But here is quite enough for you. Here are 12 baskets fullto the brim! You are not too late! Come and welcome! Peter, bring some of that bread and fish. You have a whole basketful,hand it out. Let this poor, latecomer have his portion. What if the revival did miss you, and what if the Sabbath sermon didnot bless you, though it blessed so many? Nevertheless, come along, there is something left.
And there is this to be remarked, too, that there was something left for the waiters. The 5,000 did all eat, but there were12 Apostles who managed the distribution, and they have a basketful each to themselves. That was more than they had when theybegan! They had each a basketful. Many a time we, who are the waiters upon you in the Gospel feast, do not get so much asyou do. I have sometimes, on Sunday, likened myself to a butcher who is selling his meat. This person
comes for a joint, and that customer carries away a round of beef, while a third has a sirloin. Thus I have dealt out themeat of the Gospel while I have been very hungry, myself.
There seemed to be nothing for me but the chopper and the block. Is it not so occasionally with you teachers in your classes?Have you not found it so, you preachers in the street? You tread out the corn but are as starved as muzzled oxen. It shallnot always be so. Go on feeding the people and you shall sit down afterwards-a great basketful will remain for you at theend. I remember a good story of one of our young Brothers from the College. He preached one Sunday afternoon what he thoughtto himself was a dull, powerless sermon. He was going away very much discouraged when an aged minister said to him, "My dearBrother, there are two tokens that God can give you of your being called, and they are such as He gave to Gideon.
"He can make the fleece wet while all the barn floor around is dry, or he can reverse the token, and He can make all the groundwet while the fleece is dry. Now, which token would you like to have?" "Oh, Sir," said the young man, "I see what you aredriving at. If I could but hope that all the people were wet, this afternoon, I would not mind being dry myself." We may wellchoose, my Brothers, to be dry fleeces if all our hearers are wet with the dew of Heaven! I like the sign best to come asa wet fleece and a wet barn floor, too, and when the Lord gives that, it is a favor, indeed! Such was the Divine generosityin this case. He gave the food for the 5,000, and the 12 basketfuls for those who waited on them, so that not a grumbler wentaway, nor a latecomer had to say, "There was none for me," nor a waiter missed his share!
Now, Brethren, cannot you believe that if 50,000 men had come trooping up that hill just then-if every blade of grass on thatmountain had suddenly turned into a man. And if from among the brake, the heather, the bushes and the stones a great multitudesuch as that which shall gather on the Judgment Day, had all started up on a sudden, and they had all come and sat round theSavior, He would have still stood there and multiplied the loaves and the fishes right away and continued giving to His disciplestill every one was filled?
I am sure that if all London should come to Jesus, they would find enough in Him for them! If all my fellow countrymen, yes,and all the human race that dwell upon the face of the earth, should be moved to come crowding around the Savior, there wouldbe no fear of exhausting His power to save! We should not even have to hesitate for a moment, but just stand and preach theGospel to every creature, still using, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the same cry, "He that believes and is baptized shallbe saved!"
Come, then, weary, hungry Sinner! You have nothing to do but to take Christ! You have not to bake the bread, or broil thefish! The bread and fish are broken, blessed and ready. Open your mouth and enjoy the food! Faith to receive what Christ providesis all that is needed. Lord grant it! Take salvation freely. Freely Jesus gives it to you. Take it and God bless you! Andif you have never had Christ before, and you get Him tonight, you will have a happy future, after the sort that we read ofin the Bible, when, "they began to be merry." Come, for all things are ready! Turn not away! God bless you, for Christ's sake.Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Mark6:30-56. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-488, 500, 504.