204. JESUS – IS THERE ANYTHING THAT HE CANNOT DO?
(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 4)
In John 6, it tells us that many people followed Jesus when he went over the sea of Galilee. They were fascinated by the miracles they had seen him work because he had healed those that were diseased.
The scripture goes on to tell us that Jesus went up into a mountain and sat there with his disciples and when he saw the great number of people who had come, he asked Philip a question. He enquired: “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (v. 5).
Jesus therefore highlighted what seemed to be a problem, in that a great number of people had come to see him, they would either be hungry or soon grow hungry and there was nothing in that area where they were that could be purchased for them to eat. He posed the question to Philip, highlighting what seemed to be a great dilemma, yet, the Bible states that “…this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.”(v.6).
I take this to mean, that Jesus asked him what he asked, to see what he would say and how he would respond. For, as God the Son and the Son of God, Jesus already knew what he would do. He already had a solution to the problem before he even raised it. Yet, he wanted to hear what Philip would say.
For, he (Jesus), who was in Philip’s presence was the very BREAD OF LIFE. He was the Creator and Sustainer of the whole earth and so, could solve any problem and quite easily.
Would Philip remember that? Did Philip even realize that? What would he say and would he answer in faith or only see the problem from a natural lens? If he gave a faith answer, it would have been along the lines of: Lord, you are able to do anything and everything. Nothing is too hard for you to do because with man, some things are impossible but with God, ALL THINGS are possible. You are therefore able to work a miracle and feed all of them.
Yet, although Philip had spent time in Jesus’ presence and ought to have known this to be true and therefore, to have given something like this for his answer, he didn’t.
Immediately, seemingly forgetting that he was in the presence of the very BREAD OF LIFE, he thought of a humanistic solution to the problem. Of course, there was no humanistic solution that could be found to this situation and so, in seeming despondency, he replied: “…Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” (vs. 7)
Thinking only in humanistic terms and looking for a purely humanistic, natural solution, Philip therefore concluded, that the problem could not be solved. For, he considered the great number of people there (which the Bible describes as “…a great multitude…”) and he seemingly reasoned that even if there was a place to buy bread for them, Jesus and his disciples did not have the monetary means to feed all of them, nor would suppliers be able to provide enough bread to feed all of them amply. The expense would be so great, that even if they had 200 pennyworth of bread, it would not be sufficient if divided in such a way, that everybody only got a little.
Philip therefore concluded that this problem could not be solved and he was not alone in this thinking.
Another one of Jesus’ disciples, Andrew, also considered the problem and gave his opinion. He too made the same mistake as Philip, forgetting that he was in the very presence of the all-powerful Son of God. He therefore tried to figure out the problem from a purely human perspective, thought of something that might have lent some hope but then he too concluded, that the problem could not be solved.
After all, there were so many people and the resources available to Jesus and his disciples (from a purely human perspective) were too limited by comparison!
Verses 8-9 states: “One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?”
In the face of what seemed to be a completely hopeless situation to those two disciples, Jesus got to work doing what he had planned to do all along. Even before Andrew told him that there was a lad there with five barley loaves and two small fishes, he (Jesus), the all-knowing one, knew! Hence the reason that the scripture stated from the onset, that when he asked Philip the question (even before Andrew had intervened and mentioned what he had mentioned), that “…he himself knew what he would do.” (v. 6).
The fact that that lad came on that day along with the rest of the multitude and with those five barley loaves and two small fishes was therefore no coincidence. He had not a clue when it was being packed, what Jesus was going to to do on that day but Jesus knew and had planned for it.
The Word of God states that he (Jesus), took those very loaves and fishes and worked a miracle, by using what seemed to Andrew’s eyes to be too little and multiplying it, so that it was enough to feed that great multitude. In fact, people were fed to the full and twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barely loaves were left over!
In a similar way, when it comes to God’s children, we may not have much in terms of intelligence, abilities, talents and resources but whatever little we may have, many times, even before we ourselves are aware of it, Jesus has already planned to use it.
Like that boy must have been after Jesus worked his miracle and multiplied the little he had to benefit that multitude, we too are flabbergasted, when we offer what little we have to God with a willing heart and he then takes it (as he had always planned) and multiplies it, so that it can benefit many others.
In working this miracle, Jesus was demonstrating, not just to the people but to his disciples, a powerful lesson on that day. He was impressing upon their hearts and their minds that:
- 1. No matter the problem, he ALWAYS had a solution. For with man, some things may be impossible but with God ALL THINGS are possible. Even if at a human, earthly, natural level therefore, there is no solution and a problem cannot be solved, at the spiritual level, where God is at, there is no such thing as an unsolvable problem or too difficult a circumstance;
- 2. He was the Bread of Life. As THE BREAD OF LIFE, THE CREATOR AND SUSTAINER of this world, he (Jesus), operated from a place of limitless resources, no matter the scarcity at the earthly, natural level. He was therefore able to satisfy every soul of mankind, irrespective of the need (whether physical or spiritual). The day after he had worked the above miracle, he stated in John 6:33 and 35: “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world…I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”
- 3. He was not just able to provide a solution to every problem and meet every need but he could also provide exceeding abundantly more and above all than we could ever dream or imagine. Hence the reason that, when Jesus was done, everybody got fed and yet, twelve baskets were left over! He provided more than the multitude needed!
Philip and Andrew had therefore concluded that the problem was too hard to solve because at a natural level, there was no earthly solution but Jesus reminded them whose presence they were in. He was the Lord that operates without lack, from a place of limitless power and resources and the Lord who is able to provide, to the point of there being excess.
Therefore, after Andrew had given his opinion and concluded, like Philip, that the problem was without hope of a solution, undeterred by their lack of faith, the Word of God states:
- “And Jesus said, Make the men 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 to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained OVER and ABOVE unto them that had eaten.” (v 10-12)
This situation reminds me of us and our approach to life. Many times in the life of Christians, we will face a problem or a situation that seems to defy a human solution. No matter what we think of or how we try to change it in our own strength, we can’t. We (and others around us), can’t possibly see how the problem can be solved and due to scarcity or otherwise, many people throw in the towel and conclude that it cannot be done. For, they have seen the problem only from a humanistic level. Like Philip and Andrew, they too make the mistake of walking by sight, when they should be walking by faith. When they should remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord to do, that his burden is easy and his yoke is light and realize that, even where there is really no humanistic solution to the problem, there remains one in heaven, they forget or perhaps they do not truly believe that God is all-powerful, always able to provide despite the seeming scarcity and that whatever he does, he does well.
Some women who have professed Christianity, for example, may look at their situation, their age, the years they have waited for a spouse but that none has yet come and conclude, that due to scarcity and a whole host of other reasons, that it cannot be done, that the problem is without a solution, that it is too late or the problem too difficult, that there aren’t any decent, godly, upright and available men left and that even if they were a few, that it was impossible for them to find them and to be interested in them and to love them and pursue after them, honourably.
Like Philip and Andrew, when Jesus allows the situation to prove these women (because he already knows what he is going to do), they fail miserably by growing impatient, not waiting with a good attitude and resenting God. They limit his power in light of how things look and some even take matters into their own hands or throw their hands in the air, resigning themselves to a life of singleness because they have concluded, that it cannot be done, that there are too few godly men and too many vying women, that too much time has passed and the situation is too difficult, for hope to find a way to pass through.
Yet, Jesus, THE LORD OF HOPE is able to change any situation, at any time. He is able to step in and blow our minds if he wishes, providing not just what some thought was impossible but exceeding abundantly over and above what we ask or think.
Jesus sometimes works on our behalf, even when we, like Philip and Andrew, forget his power or doubt the extent of it. Yet, He especially loves to work his mind-blowing miracles, when his children, in faith, NEVER stop believing that he can work that miracle, to make the seemingly impossible, possible.
Ephesians 3:20 states: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
Now in the case of Jesus, the disciples and the multitude, verse 12 of John 6 reads, “When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”
This is worth noting because it brings me to my next point. When Jesus intervenes in a situation and works his miracle in our lives, he wastes nothing. Everything that we have been through or are still going through, when Jesus is good and ready, he will use EVERYTHING and cause it to redound to his honour and glory. All of our experiences, adversities, valley moments, everything, Jesus is able to use, if we would let him, so that nothing be lost.
Once we have been submitting to him and his way, no matter what we have been through, as his children, there will come a time when he will give the command, “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” This, to my mind was demonstrated perfectly in Joseph’s life. Everything that he went through, God used for his eventual good and God’s glory. Nothing, absolutely nothing was wasted.
After the multitude had been fed, John 6 lets us know that later that day, Jesus departed and went into a mountain by himself. His disciples on the other hand, went down unto the sea in the evening and went into a ship and headed toward Capernaum.
While in the ship though and at sea, darkness descended, a great wind began to blow and the sea became tumultuous. For the second time that day therefore, a problem arose and this time, Jesus was not physically in their presence! Seemingly therefore, they were alone!
Verses 16 -18 state: “And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.”
What then would be their fate, given that Jesus was not with them physically at the moment? Would he come and how would he find his way to them, so as to help them, if he could? And even if he was there with them, could he help them or were the winds too boisterous and the waves too fierce for him to intervene?
These are questions that we may find ourselves asking in our panic, when faced with a major problem and one with dire consequences. Admittedly, the Bible does not give insight into the thought processes of Jesus’ disciples while they were going through what they were going through but it is clear that they did their best in their strength, to withstand the tumult. For, verse 19 tells us that they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs. Yet, they were still in the middle of the sea and the problem remained unabated!
Once again, Jesus’ disciples were faced with a problem that was of such a nature, that it required a supernatural intervention. There was no earthly solution or intervention to be had! There was nothing that they could do in their own strength to bring about their own deliverance from the situation.
This reminds me of us today. Many times, we face situations that defy human solutions, where we know that only God’s intervention from on high, will bring about a change. I personally can attest to having been in quite a few of these situations and to facing some even today, as I type.
These problems are so enormous, when compared to our frailty, that we know that we cannot solve them in our own strength. Try as we might, row as we may, we still remain in the problem, though exhausted. We know that but for Jesus’ intervention, we will be doomed. Unless he intervenes in our situation, those waves will continue to beat against us.
Yet because God is faithful and Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us, if we are his children, we must believe, that he will come. He may take his time, yes but he will most definitely come. He will intervene in our situation in his own timing and bring a solution as he sees fit, to our problem.
This is exactly what he did with the disciples. As the all-knowing one, he knew, although not physically present with the disciples, that they were facing a situation in that ship in the middle of the sea and in his faithfulness, he came.
Interestingly, he chose to come after they had tried to withstand in their own effort but failed and at a point where, after all that rowing, they must have been exhausted. At the point where they must have been convinced of their powerlessness as mere men, to bring about a solution to this gigantic problem they faced, Jesus decided to put in an appearance.
What did God tell Paul? In 2 Corinthians 12:9 he told him, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”
We serve a God that likes to do this. He loves to showcase the grandeur of HIS STRENGTH, HIS MIGHT and HIS POWER, when we are at our weakest and have no confidence in our flesh. The Lord has a tendency of deciding to put in an appearance, when we have tried and failed, failed and tried, when we are down and out, our faces to the dust, us seeing and being convinced of the pathetic nothingness of ourselves and knowing that but for HIM, there is no solution to be had, not in self-effort or anything that anybody on earth can do for us. We are truly stuck like the Israelites were when they approached the Red Sea and only Jesus has what it takes to move us forward.
Of the disciples’ self-effort and when Jesus arrived on the scene, verse 19 reads: “So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, THEY SEE JESUS walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship…”
It is remarkable to note, that when Jesus came, he was not seen swimming through the sea or fighting against those boisterous waves, so as to make headway. No. He was in no way seeking to resist or fight with the waves of the sea. For, the waves of the sea were not on his level, as the Son of God.
Instead, the scripture states that they saw him walking ON the sea.
Note that this was not a calm sea but a boisterous one which arose due to the wind that was blowing. Yet, Jesus, as THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, was walking ON it. This was yet another demonstration of his Lordship. He is Lord OVER the winds, OVER the sea and OVER everything. This brings to mind Psalm 29:10 that declares, “The Lord sitteth UPON the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.”
Similarly, in our lives, no matter what we face, how difficult or impossible things look, no matter how many waves may be pressing upon us and how exhausted we feel (and I know this feeling), it is good to remember that Jesus is MIGHTIER than our storm. The tumultous sea of our life experiences, tiring as they may make us sometimes feel are no match for Him. For, He is STRONGER than the waves that beat against us and he is ABOVE and LARGER than whatever the situation may be. He indwells us and in his Word he has let us know that GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN US THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD (John 4:4). When he comes to help us, even as he did with the disciples, he will come majestically. He will be coming walking ON our problems, not fighting through them. For there is no problem that is greater than Him. Our situation, whatever it may be is beneath him. He is ABOVE and sitteth King, forever.
Finally, when Jesus came, the disciples were initially afraid when they saw someone walking on the water and coming in their direction but Jesus assuaged their fears, telling them, “It is I; be not afraid.” (v. 20)
Verse 21 states, “Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”
Did you get that? Go back and read the line above.
The verse says that AS SOON AS JESUS ENTERED THE SHIP, THE SHIP WAS MIRACULOUSLY AT THE LAND! In other words, according to the account given by John, Jesus entered the ship in the middle of the wind and the boisterous waves and as soon as he entered, he and his disciples were no longer in the middle of the sea but at the shore.
Jesus therefore miraculously moved them IMMEDIATELY from that problem area (in the middle of the sea), to the land, as only he, the true and living Son of God, could do.
He often does the same for his children. His power demonstrated here, has not changed. One day, we could be in the heart of all sorts of tumults, waves and storms and the next, Jesus could suddenly choose to deliver us, to help us, to heal us, so that the problems that proudly raged against us, (much like the stubborn Egyptians who tried to cling to the Israelites when God had purposed for them to move forward), we will see them, no more!
Dear Sister in the Lord, one minute you could be single, no man having appeared on the horizon for years and years and the next, Jesus could suddenly provide, so quickly and in such an unexpected manner, that it leaves you flabbergasted.
In one moment, you could be barren, having been married for quite some time and no children being forthcoming and Jesus could just decide to move on your behalf and bring conception to your womb or heal your spouse so that you can conceive, if the problem lies with him.
Jesus may take his time to come but sometimes, when he decides to show up and show off, he does it so quickly, that, not only are bystanders shocked to the point of speechlessness but so are we!
You may be single now, lonely now, childless now, penniless now, barren now but God could move to deliver you from your situation, AT ANY POINT that he decides to do so and miraculously! The cattle on the hills belong to him remember? The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein, remember? The heaven is his throne, and the earth is his footstool, remember?
In Psalm 50:10-12, God declares through the Psalmist:
- “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”
In Psalm 24:1-2, it declares: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”
Isaiah 66:1 also states, “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”.
As the God that owns the world and everything in it and who possesses limitless power, He can therefore change your season and IMMEDIATELY. He is the God that is able to put the solitary into families. He can cause a barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children. He can deliver you from your medical woes, your financial woes, your career woes and any kind of woe that you may be dealing with. If he wills it (and sometimes he doesn’t), he can and he will bring you out of your problem, even as he did with the disciples.
He miraculously removed them from the middle of the sea where there was a tempest and relocated them IMMEDIATELY to the shore, where there was a calm. Of this Lord who specializes in the miracle-working business and in whom the power of deliverance from all our problems lie, the Word of God states:
- “The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! HE raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. HE maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalm 113:4-9)
- “GOD setteth the solitary in families: HE bringeth out those which are bound with chains…” (Psalm 68:6)
- “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom HE hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and HE delivered them out of their distresses. And HE led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
- Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For HE satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness….Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For HE hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder…HE sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions…
- They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For HE commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
- They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and ARE AT THEIR WIT’S END. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and HE bringeth them out of their distresses. HE maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so HE bringeth them unto their desired haven…
- HE turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there HE maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. HE blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease…Yet setteth HE the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock…
- Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” (Psalm 107)
(Written on 11th December, 2021)