Over the years I have unashamedly taken building supplies, food, clothes, electronic goods etc, out of rubbish bins.
So, when the Lord started to speak about the baskets of left-overs from Jesus’ miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes, 12 baskets from the 5,000 and 7 baskets from the 4,000, I thought I was safe.
Especially when I was led to the story of the rich man and his barns, someone I thought was totally different from me (Luke 12:13-21 ESV).
But as things matured, I was left with a dreadful sense of hypocrisy and deep evil in my heart. I was convicted of sin, even if uncondemned (Rom 5:1 ESV).
My personal testimony aside, the spiritual destiny of Australia hinges on whether a substantial portion of the Christian community can make the transition from being barn people to basket people.
If Dave Hodgson (Kingdom Investors) has a vision for seeing Australia transformed from a “goat nation” into a “sheep nation” (Matt 25 ESV), and Christ can turn water into wine (John 2 ESV), then it must be supernaturally possible for a barn mindset to become a basket mentality.
The Feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus to appear in all four Gospels. It is a clear sign that Jesus is the prophesied King (John 6:14 ESV) and symbolic of the banquet over which he will preside at the End of the age (Isa 25:6-8 ESV).
The “crowds” Jesus feeds (Matt 14:13 ESV) are poor people whose normal fare is fish and bread, vastly contrasted with the lavish feasting at the birthday party of Herod just earlier in the Gospels (Mark 6:21 ESV).
The Roman satirist Juvenal mocked the Jews’ baskets as signs of their poverty, but the scriptures emphasise such lowly baskets were “filled” after “all ate and were satisfied” (Matt 14:20-21 ESV).
Where the manna in the wilderness had no leftovers, as the bread of life (John 6:35 ESV) Jesus provides more than enough for the needy hungering for his Word (Mark 6:34 ESV).
Each of the 12 disciples receives a basket full of food at the feeding of the 5,000, signifying that nothing will be lacking in God’s provision for his people. And the 7 baskets remaining at the feeding of the 4,000 symbolises the fulness of supply; 7 being the complete number.
Jesus is the perfect host in whose presence there can be no lack.
As a missionary speaker testified decades ago, “Jesus always worked on the principle of abundance.”
This is Christ’s promise, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38 ESV).
Do you believe this?
Since the disciples knew these things why did Jesus later have to rebuke them for their anxiety about forgetting to bring bread in the boat? “O you of little faith…” (Matt 16:8 ESV).
Why did he have to remind them of the baskets of left overs God supplied lovingly for their personal consumption?
Asking for bread from the Father with Jesus present they would never have received a stone (Matt 7:9 ESV).
The common mental plague of anxiety is a sure sign of forgetting God’s provision (Matt 6:25-34 ESV).
Why do we forget God’s faithfulness?
Peter, who heard Christ’s rebuke, tracks spiritual amnesia back to our “having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (2 Pet 1:9 ESV).
This conversion-baptism language implies we can forget our initial coming to Christ was all of grace and nothing of our own power.
If baskets are all about selflessness, barns are all about self-fulness.
The “rich fool” in Jesus’ parable is the ideal retiree, the man who has “done well for himself” in life.
His story is just that, his story with no room for God.
“I…do/will” appears 6 times in 3 sentences.
His laying up for himself treasures on earth (Matt 6:19 ESV) is his condemnation.
In scripture the definition of a fool is the man who says in his heart, “‘There is no God’” (Ps 53:1 ESV).
This isn’t our Western theoretical atheism, it simply means “Since God doesn’t do anything, I’ll have to do it for myself.”
Such folk may “count themselves blessed” (Ps 49:18 ESV), but in failing to serve the needy they will never hear, “‘Come…blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt 25:34 ESV).
These foolish souls shall be taken in judgement because they are “Not rich towards God” (Luke 12:20-21 ESV).
Those who are rich towards themselves and those who are rich towards God are as distinguishable to natural eyes as sheep and goats. If you adopt a “cruise lifestyle” or lives in gated security away from “the crowds” you cannot look like Jesus, or the apostles, who served the masses before themselves.
“Pure religion…. rich towards God” mean living life towards the orphan and the widow.
Even the spiritually dullest person can tell if believers are working towards a lifestyle here on earth or one in heaven.
If we lived like Jesus, there could be no Marie Kondo craze; but accumulating excess is the foundation of a society left largely unchallenged by a compromised Church.
Am I living a life “rich towards God”?
If God stopped providing for you tomorrow what would change for you? When the disciples left their workplace in following the call of Jesus, they entered a space in life where they possessed “no visible means of support” – no status, vocation, honour in the eyes of the world.
This was a space of serving the Lord through serving others that made room for baskets of divine supply.
A barn lifestyle radically robs the affluent Church of space for God’s supernatural action. The barn mentality lays up for the future without any need to radically trust the Lord will come through. Empty baskets are containers for the glory of God but the self-fullness of stocked up barns blocks revival.
Our part-time pastor, who teaches “generous giving” as the biblical standard (2 Cor 9:7 ESV), has calculated that even if our whole congregation were on the aged pension and just tithed, we could afford a full-time minister.
Why does he even need to think about such things?
Why is there a chronic felt need for compulsory tithing mini-sermons in Pentecostal churches?
A culture of barns instead of baskets is the answer.
Emptiness directed towards God is our great need, an emptiness that only Christ can fill.
Wasn’t this our aching disposition when we first came to Jesus?
Yet somehow, instead of strengthening our emptiness in the way of the cross the Church teaches us to live less risky lives than our first step of faith.
But I must not finish there as if this were the “church’s” problem.
Whilst away on holiday last week I felt compelled to confess something to Donna.
I emptied out before her my bathroom bag with its multiple little soaps, combs and shampoos, accumulated over the years from various motels.
All legal, but a sign of a mindset of spiritual poverty and deprivation that speaks of barns and denies living by faith on the edge of the kingdom’s ongoing supernatural supply.
The Spirit graced me with a deep sense of conviction of sin that I am eviller than I ever imagined.
It was embarrassing and humiliating, but it was Jesus!
Could such a move of the Spirit sweep through our churches?
If goats can become sheep and water become wine, then it is supernaturally possible.
If Jesus is with us in the boat, then we have all we need
MESSAGE DELIVERED: Date 1st February, 2019 Location: Unknown
Author: Dr. John Yates
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