There Is Much Grass: An Invitation To Community In the Place of Provision

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first fifteen verses of the sixth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the apostle John transitioning from the pool of Bethesda by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem and away from the hatred and persecution of the Jews toward and against Him to something much more different. As you come near and approach this passage which is before us you will find the apostle GM moving away from Jesus’ declaration unto the Jews that His Father works, and therefor He too must work. The apostle John moves and transitions into a completely new walk and arenas of provision in the opening verses of the sixth chapter. In all reality, I am convinced that what we find and what we read in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John must be carefully considered in light of that which we find in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, but also two other distinct passages which are found in the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. As you read the words which are found and contained within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John I would dare say and suggest that the words which are found here must be considered in light of what we find in the third chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, as well as the third chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke. The words which are found within this passage of scripture describe Jesus going up into a mountain, and His disciples urging there with and before Him. What we also find within this passage is a great multitude of people—not necessarily interrupting Jesus’ time with His disciples, but entering in upon it. The opening verses of the sixth chapter of the gospel which the apostle John wrote brings us face to face with the incredible reality of Jesus removing themselves to a place upon a mountain in order that they might perhaps find rest and refreshment for their souls. Undoubtedly Jesus sought to take and bring His disciples unto this particular place in order that they might be removed from the crowd of people and in order that they might spend time engaging with one another in community and fellowship. In all reality, I have to admit that I absolutely love that which is written concerning Jesus and His disciples, for it is more than just disciples walking with and following their Lord and Master. It would be very easy to read the words found within the gospels concerning the disciples walking with and following Jesus and looking at it solely through the lens of that alone.

As I stand here this morning writing the words before you, I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped with and by the fact that what we read concerning the disciples is about more than just a group of men who walked with and followed Jesus. I read the words which are found in the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and I can’t help but look beyond the surface of disciples walking with and following their Lord and Master, and seeing something much bigger and something much greater. If and as you read the words found within the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find a group of men who left and forsook everything in order that they might walk with and follow the One whom they believed to be the Son of God, the Messiah and the Savior Of the world. Reading the four gospels will bring you face to face with a group of men who left, and a domed, let go of and forsook absolutely everything within their lives in order that they might walk with and follow Jesus. With that being said, however, I am convinced that there is something more than simply walking with and following Jesus who was (and still is) the Christ and the Son of the living God. When you read the words which are found in the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find a wonderful and powerful account of the earliest Christian community that existed within and upon the earth. There would be many who when speaking about and speaking concerning Christian community would choose to begin with the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles. There would be countless men and women who when writing and speaking concerning Christian community would choose to begin their study of Christian community with the book of Acts and with the early church. While it is true that there is within the New Testament book of Acts a wonderful and powerful picture of Christian community and fellowship, I am thoroughly convinced that if we are going to truly understand Christian community and fellowship, we must look back even further than the book of Acts, and to the four Osiris written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If you want to know where to begin when thinking about and considering the reality and concept of Christian fellowship and community you must begin with the four gospels which were written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ.

Upon reading the words which are found within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John I can’t help but choose to begin and look at the reality and concept of community before even examining and looking at the reality of provision. There would be those who would like to read such a passage and would like to focus on the provision which is manifested within it as the sole and central theme of the passage. As I sit here this morning and read and consider the words which are found within this passage I can’t help but get the strong sense that before we even look at the reality of provision, we must first begin with the reality of community. In all reality, I would dare say that the provision we read about within this passage of scripture was not just a matter of the divine Son of God taking five loaves of bread and two small fishes, blessing it, breaking it and multiplying it. It would be very easy to read the words which are found within this passage and simply consider it in light of provision and multiplication of loaves of bread and fishes, however, I would dare say and suggest that before we even think about and consider the reality of provision, we must first think about and consider the reality of community. When we read the words which are found in this passage we must recognize and understand that more often than not provision flows forth and flows out of the manifestation of community. As you read the words found within this passage you will notice that it doesn’t begin with the need of the people, nor does it even begin with the miracle and provision of breaking and multiplying the loaves of bread and fishes in order that all the people might eat. What we find at the beginning of this passage is not that of need, but rather than of community and fellowship. At the very beginning and outset of this passage we find a wonderful and powerful example of community and fellowship as Jesus the Christ went up into a mountain and took His disciples with Him. Undoubtedly when Jesus took His disciples up into this mountain with Him He Desiree to have fellowship and community with the disciples, and to remove them from the midst of the crowds and people during those days. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we have before us in this passage of scripture is a wonderful manifestation of community and fellowship that first existed within the realm of Jesus and His disciples. What we find within the opening verses of this chapter is not need and the need for provision within the lives of all those who gathered themselves unto Jesus the Christ and His disciples. The sixth chapter of the new testament gospel of John begins and opens with the reality and concept of community and fellowship which existed within and among the disciples and Jesus the Christ.

It is absolutely necessary and imperative that when we read the words which are found within this passage we don’t simply look at and examine it in light of the need of the people, nor even the provision of Jesus the Christ as He took the loaves of bread and small fish, blesses them, broke them and distributed them to the crowds of people which were before Him. That which we find within this passage of scripture is about so much more than simply provision and the multiplication of bread and fish, for what we find within this passage is a wonderful and powerful picture of community and fellowship with and between Jesus and His disciples. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss the truly remarkable reality and manifestation of community and fellowship that is found within this passage. There is not a doubt in my mind that this passage isn’t solely and isn’t simply about provision for the crowds of people which gathered themselves unto Jesus the Christ, but is about community and fellowship. What’s more, is that I would dare say and suggest that this passage is about community and fellowship and an invitation for others to enter into the circle of fellowship and community which we as the disciples of Jesus the Christ experience with Him. That which is found and that which is contained within this passage isn’t simply and isn’t solely about community and fellowship between Jesus and His disciples alone, but is also about that community and fellowship inviting others to enter into that realm and sphere of fellowship and community. If and as you read the words which are found within this passage of scripture you must come face to face with and acknowledge the reality that while this passage is indeed about provision, it is also about community and fellowship. What’s more, is that this passage is about community and fellowship and the invitation of Jesus to others to enter into fellowship and community with Himself and His disciples. I do not believe for one minute that when the great crowds of people gathered before Jesus the Christ and His disciples they all sat in silence as they partook of the loaves of bread and fish. In all reality, I would dare say that there was more that took place on this day than simply partaking of and eating the loaves of bread and the fish among the great crowds of people which were gathered before Jesus and His disciples. There is not a doubt in my mind that as the crowds of people sat down on the grass there before Jesus the Christ and the disciples—not only were they invited to partake in fellowship and community with Jesus and the disciples, but they were also invited to participate in fellowship and community with each other. The invitation for community and fellowship that is found within this passage was about more than just an invitation to partake in fellowship with Jesus and the disciples, but was about partaking in fellowship with one another. I am thoroughly convinced that what we find and what we read in this particular passage of Scripture is about so much more than an invitation to partake in the provision of the eternal Son of God, but about an invitation into fellowship and community—not only an invitation into fellowship and and community with the Son of God and the disciples, but also an invitation into fellowship and community with each other.

I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful reality that there exists within this particular passage of Scripture a powerful picture of an invitation given by Jesus unto the crowds of people which were present on this particular day—not only an invitation to partake in fellowship and community with Jesus the Christ and the disciples, but also an invitation to enter into and engage in fellowship and community one with another. With that being said, however, it is absolutely necessary that we understand and recognize that this passage doesn’t begin with the invitation for the great multitude of people who gathered themselves unto Jesus to enter into and engage themselves with fellowship and community with Jesus the Christ and the disciples. This particular passage begins and opens up with Jesus and the disciples entering into and experiencing fellowship and community one with another, as Jesus took the disciples up into a mountain. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of this chapter you will find that after Jesus had spoken unto the Jews after healing the man at the pool of Bethesda, He went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias, and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased. The apostle John writes and records how Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. The apostle John deliberately and intentionally chooses to open up this passage of Scripture with a picture of Jesus passing over the Sea of Galilee, and a great multitude of people following Him after seeing the miracles which He did on those which were diseased. What is actually quite interesting as you read the words which are found within this passage is the fact that immediately after the apostle John writes of a great multitude following Jesus because of the miracles they saw Him do on the diseased, Jesus went up into a mountain, and there sat with His disciples. Even though there was a great multitude which followed Jesus because they saw the miracles which He performed among those which were diseased, Jesus was able to take His disciples with Him into a mountain where He sat down to enter into and engage in fellowship and community with them. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we read and what we find within this passage of Scripture is a tremendous picture of fellowship and community which existed between Jesus and His disciples, as Jesus took and removed them away from the great multitude of people which followed Him because they saw the miracles which He performed among those who were diseased and sick. The opening verses of this chapter describe a great multitude of people following Jesus because they saw the miracles which He performed among the sick and the diseased, but it quickly transitions to a place where Jesus took His disciples with Him into a mountain where He sat down to enjoy fellowship and community with Him.

I am convinced that in order to truly understand that which is found within this passage concerning community and fellowship, as well as the reality of an invitation to community and fellowship, we must turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. While it is true that Christian community and fellowship did not begin with the early Church and within the book of Acts, I would dare say that it is necessary to read and consider the words which are found in the second chapter of the book. If and as you read the words which are found within the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, you will come face to face with the awesome and picture and witness of community and fellowship which took place within and among the early church among the disciples and the early converts to Christianity and saints of God. If you begin reading with and from the forty-first verse of the second chapter of the New Testament gook of Acts you will find the following words which were written concerning the early church, and concerning the one-hundred and twenty original disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ which were in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, as well as the three thousand additional souls which were added to that number as a result of the sermon which the apostle Peter preached in the city of Jerusalem on that day. Consider if you will the words which are found within this passage beginning with the forty-first verse of the second chapter:

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions, and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).

What we find within the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is a truly remarkable picture of Christian community and fellowship—and more specifically, the manifestation of Christian community and fellowship which existed in the manifestation of breaking of bread, in the manifestation of having all things in common, and in simply being together with one accord. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the incredible importance of community and fellowship which exists and is found—not only in gathering together, but also in having all things in common, and in the breaking of bread. I do not believe for one minute that it is any coincidence that when we read the words found within this passage that we not only find community and fellowship as evidenced in men and women gathering together and having all things in common, but also in the breaking of bread one with another. I would dare say it is absolutely necessary and imperative to think about and consider the wonderful reality that when the beloved physician Luke chose to write about the fellowship and community of the early church, he chose to describe it in terms of having all things in common, gathering together, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and in the breaking of bread from house to house. I can’t help but also be reminded of a different passage of Scripture found w I think the gospel which the beloved physician Luke wrote concerning a different manifestation of community and fellowship which included the breaking of bread. If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written by the beloved physician Luke you will find him writing about the two men who left the city of Jerusalem and traveled along the road toward Emmaus. If you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse of the final chapter of the New Testament gospel account written by Luke you will find the following words written and recorded by the beloved physician:

“And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were Holden that they should not know Him. And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him. But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had staid: but Him we saw not. Then He said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they drew night unto the village, whither they went: and He made as though He would have gone further. But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24: 13-35).

AND HOW HE WAS KNOWN OF THEM IN THE BREAKING OF BREAD! Please don’t miss that which is found in the final verse of this passage within the New Testament gospel of Luke, for within this passage we not only come face to face with Jesus once more breaking bread in the company of disciples, but we also find it emphatically stated how it was in the breaking of bread that Jesus was known of them. As I sit here this morning thinking about and considering that which is written and found within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that not only do we find within this passage a wonderful and powerful picture of Jesus inviting the great multitude of men and women who gathered themselves unto Him to enter into and engage in fellowship and community, but I also can’t help but think about and consider the wonderful and powerful reality that on this particular day there was an invitation to know Jesus the Christ in the breaking of bread. If you read the words which are written and recorded within this passage you will find that after Jesus had the crowds of men and women sit down in that place, He took the bread as well as the fish, gave thanks, blessed, and broke it, and then handed it to the disciples who would in turn distribute it to the crowds of people which sat before Jesus the Christ. Oh, there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what it was like on this particular day—not only to partake of the loaves of fish and the bread which Jesus had blessed, broken and multiplied before them in their midst, but also as those which were present before Jesus and in the company of His disciples talked and fellowshipped one with another. I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, and I can’t help but find present within it a truly astonishing picture of invitation to community, and not only community with Jesus the Christ and the disciples, but also community and fellowship one with another. As I have already stated, I do not believe that the great crowds of people which were present on this day say there in silence as they partook of the loaves of bread and the fish which Jesus blessed, broke and distributed to the disciples who would in turn give it to the people. I do not believe for one minute that the crowds of people did not sit there without at all interacting with those who were present before and around them. I would dare say and would dare suggest that what we find within this passage of Scripture is a wonderful and powerful picture of Jesus the Christ inviting the great multitude of people to partake of and engage in fellowship with He Himself and the disciples, as well as with one another. We dare not miss out on and lose sight of this wonderful and incredible reality, for there is within this passage of Scripture a wonderful invitation to partake of the bread and the fish, but also to partake in something much greater than loaves of bread and fish. There was on this particular day a wonderful invitation to partake in fellowship and community—not only with Jesus the Christ, and not only with His disciples, but also with the countless others who were gathered together before and unto Jesus on this particular day.

I can’t help but sit here this morning and think about and consider the awesome and incredible reality that on this day there was of course an invitation to sit down before Jesus in the company and presence of Himself and the disciples, but there was also an invitation that was given to the people to engage themselves in fellowship and community one with another. The passage begins and opens up with Jesus and the disciples in community and fellowship, however, the passage would continue beyond Jesus and the disciples having fellowship and community one with another, and the great multitude of people which were present having community and fellowship one with another. Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to have the great multitude of people sit down on the grass before Him wasn’t simply about His providing provision in and through the loaves of bread and fish, but about inviting them into fellowship and community. What’s more, is that it almost seems as though Jesus was instructing His disciples to invite the great multitude of men and women that gathered together on that day to enter into and engage themselves in fellowship and community. What I so love about what we find and read within this passage is that the apostle John writes concerning that place that “there was much grass in that place.” Please don’t miss and lose sight of that which is found within this simple phrase, for this phrase is about more than just a description of the place where Jesus and His disciples were sitting and gathered together, but it was also about that place where the great multitude of people were gathered together. I can’t help but read the words which the apostle John wrote concerning their being much grass in that place and see it is a wonderful and powerful picture of there being much room and much space in that place for fellowship and community. While on the surface it might not have seemed like there was much in terms of provision—as there were only five loaves of bread and two fish—there was more than enough space and room for fellowship and community. The simple fact that there was much grass in that place suggests the wonderful and awesome reality that there was more than enough room and space in that place for fellowship and community. I have to admit that I absolutely love that which is written within this passage—particularly and especially considering the reality of there being much grass in that place—for it bring us face to face with the awesome reality that there was much room and much space for fellowship and community one with another. There was in that place much grass, which signified and suggested the awesome and incredible reality that there was in that place a great deal of space for fellowship and community one with another. The simple fact that the apostle John sought to include this small and seemingly insignificant detail is actually quite a remarkable and astonishing detail surrounding this passage, for it brings us face to face with the wonderful reality that there was in that place enough room and enough space—not only for provision, but also for fellowship. Oh that we would read the words which are found within this passage and not only come face to face with the fact that there was provision which took place, but that we would read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and consider the awesome and wonderful reality that there was an invitation to fellowship with Jesus the Christ, to fellowship with the disciples, and even fellowship one with another. Oh that we would read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and come face to face with the wonderful reality that there was in this place much grass which speaks to the wonderful reality that there was much room and much space in this place for fellowship and community to take place, as Jesus instructed the disciples to invite the people to sit down on the grass before them. Oh that we would view this passage as being about more than just provision, but also about fellowship and community one with another, as well as with Jesus the Christ and the saints of God.

This passage must take us beyond just the reality of Jesus taking bread and small fish and blessing them, breaking them, and giving them unto the disciples to in turn distribute to the people, and must be carefully considered in light of community and fellowship. This passage begins and opens up with Jesus inviting the disciples themselves to enter into and engage in fellowship and community with Him, but it transitions into a place of inviting a great multitude of others into the place of fellowship and community as well. We dare not, we cannot and we must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for this passage includes within it a wonderful picture of an invitation to partake in provision, as well as an invitation to partake in fellowship and community with each other. It would be very easy to allow ourselves to get caught up solely in the reality of provision which is found within this passage, and yet I am convinced that there is within this passage an even greater truth than simply provision from five loaves of bread and two fish, for there is within this passage a wonderful and powerful invitation to partake in and enjoy fellowship—first fellowship with Jesus the Christ, and secondly fellowship with the disciples and with those before and around us. How absolutely wonderful and amazing it is to think of the fact that on this particular day there was community and fellowship found in the place of hunger and need, and how although many of these men and women might not have known each other, they had in common their hunger, and their being in the presence of Jesus. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this awesome reality, for within this passage and on this particular day we find a people united in their hunger and need in the presence of Jesus the Christ. There is within this passage a wonderful and truly remarkable picture of men and women who are united in the presence of Jesus, and united in the company of the disciples based on their hunger and based on their need. What’s more, is that each and every person who was gathered together on this day ate until they received their fill, thus suggesting and signifying the wonderful reality that each and every individual which was present on this day received equal status and measure in the company and presence of Jesus the Christ. Oh that we would read the words which are found within this passage and that we would come face to face with the tremendous truth that this passage is about more than just provision in the breaking of bread and fish, but also an invitation to fellowship and community with Jesus the Christ, as well as with the disciples and saints of God, and even those whom we might not know, but who are gathered together with us.

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