Tan Taylor - Second Testimony - Palmerston Library, Darwin, Australia Special Meeting - September 2, 2007

Hymn 171

Matthew 14:15-18, “And when it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, 'This is a desert place and the time is now past; send the multitude away that they may go into the villages and buy themselves victuals.' But Jesus said unto them, 'They need not depart; give ye them to eat.' And they say unto Him, 'We have here but 5 loaves and 2 fishes.' He said, 'Bring them hither to Me.'” You are all familiar with this story when Jesus fed the multitude, 5 thousand men besides women and children.

If you turn over to Matthew 15, you will find a very similar story. It tells in the next chapter, but this time they’re 4 thousand people and instead of starting off with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes and having 12 baskets left over, they had 7 baskets left over. I sometimes wondered if it was a re-run of the same experience; the same teaching. It appealed to me like this: when we went to school, which seems a long while back to me, when the teacher is explaining a lesson you do your best to learn it. Then you go along a month later and the teacher says, “Today we are doing a revision,” and you hear it all over again. It impressed me a lot of the things Jesus taught and said. He taught them a second time and the reason was because he wanted to make sure that the disciples got the point.

Today, we would like to have a look at some of these lessons that Jesus taught the second time, and try to understand the importance of some of these lessons. On this particular occasion, it was time for the multitude to go home and they were discussing whether to buy food and Jesus said, “They don’t need to go away - you can give them something.” That’s the way the Lord had planned it. There is a need but we should be able to give them something. It tells in the epistles we should be ready to give every man a reason of the hope that is within you. We should be ready to give every man a reason and not put them off. Jesus said, “You don’t have to send them away but give them something.” Sometimes people say, “You can ask the workers.” But isn’t it good if you have an answer ready and share just a little of that; lay the foundation so when the workers do come, they will have an appetite for the right things.

So here we see a multitude of 5 thousand and then 4 thousand; and at the bottom of this is having bread. Many years ago, I had the privilege of a convention in the Philippines and some of the workers told us how the gospel got there. In one of the big cities, a family was there; and their daughter ended up marrying this man and they went and lived way up north. This young professing bride, living way away from anyone, but she did her best in trying to get to convention. But as the years came by, she had several little children and every Sunday morning, she would gather those little children into the room and pray and sing some hymns with the children, and tell them a Bible story. Sometimes, her husband would be there and that was all the fellowship she had. But one day, her husband walked off to work and was singing that hymn, “Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord to me.” Well, she wrote a letter to the elder worker and she told that worker of what she heard and said, “I think it’s time that workers come to Lal-lo.” There was a lady in very difficult circumstances; was isolated but she knew the importance of getting bread for herself.

Do you remember that other story Jesus told in Luke 11:5, "What person who has a friend who comes at midnight and knocks on the door and you have nothing to give him – no bread." You would go to your neighbour and this neighbour might not be very happy; his children are all in bed and asleep. But the word is "importunity," keep begging. To me, that’s a lovely Saturday night story because that’s the situation we are all in Saturday night as next morning when we gather together in fellowship our brethren are going to be looking for bread. We go to our Father in heaven and we just beg Him and beg Him. That’s persistence and that’s real bread to share with our brothers and sisters in this journey of life.

Then there’s another parable Jesus told about bread in Matthew 13:33, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” I never realised there’s a recipe in the Bible for making bread. If we are going to make bread, what are we going to need? 3 measures of meal and we will need some water; and the third thing is leaven. The fourth thing is time – until the whole is leavened. Four simple ingredients to make bread: the 3 measures of meal are like 3 aspects of our life. It’s our whole life. It’s not just grain: it's meal, which is grain that has been crushed and broken. We can’t get bread unless we have been willing for the crushing and the breaking of our will. God has to crush us and break us before we can be bread or have bread. Somebody had the thought that the 3 measures might be our past, our present, and the future. Somebody said, "It’s like our body, soul and spirit." Someone else said, "It might be our home life, our work life, and our meeting life." But it all has to be brought under control. So the first thing is the meal: our whole life. The second is the water to be added.

In the gospel, we often see a parallel to water like the word of God. To have bread, we will need to have the word of God, understand the word of God, read the word of God. So there is the meal which is our life, and the water; and then the leaven which is the spirit. All our past efforts and all the knowledge I have about the word of God will be lifeless like a cake that doesn’t rise. It’s heavy and dead if it hasn’t got the spirit of God. When we are preparing, it’s important we get more than words; so the fourth ingredient is time. These days we live in are filled with fast foods. If you click your fingers, you feel you have got something. Even from little children up, we understand the importance of spending time, getting quiet and ready for Sunday: ready and meditating to get something that will be bread. This matter of having bread and that miracle He did to get bread.

The second lesson is in Matthew 14:23-24 where it tells that the disciples went out in a boat and there was a storm. They were out there concerned and worried in the night and Jesus came walking to them on the water and Peter went out. He began to walk but saw the waves and began to sink and immediately Jesus reached forth His hand and caught him and it tells they both walked together into the boat. When they got Jesus into the boat, the storm ceased and the waves stopped and there was a calm. The lesson in that is in the storm: it’s so important to have Jesus. We have been hearing about the problems in life and Jesus is the answer: having Jesus in our boat.

Now, there’s a second experience in Matthew 8:24 - it’s a previous storm where it tells of the disciples out on the sea again. But do you know where Jesus was? He was in the boat asleep! They woke Him up, “Lord, carest Thou not that we perish?” Jesus got in control and that’s when the storm stopped. So it’s one thing to have Jesus in our boat, in our life, but it’s an extra to have Him in control. We sing in a hymn, “Is the Master at the helm?” It’s possible for Him to be in the boat but not in control. It’s vitally important for Jesus to be in control.

I noticed in these two storms, Jesus asked them two questions, "Why are you so fearful? Wherefore dost thou doubt?" Similar questions but it seems there were different issues. Why do you have fears? It’s normal and natural for us to have a few fears as we face the future; to be fearful and uncertain. But we don’t need to fear if He is in control. The second time, He said, “Why do you doubt?” Its one thing to be afraid and another to have doubts.

The adversary of our soul uses these two instruments very often. Remember the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent said, “Hast God said ……..” Just sows the seed of doubt and that, in itself, creates a storm because of fear and because of doubt. In thinking of Adam and Eve, at that time, they were tempted with that. It was disobedience really but it caused a storm in that experience. They went out and tried to hide themselves. Well, we know we just can’t hide from God. They were going through a dreadful storm that day because of disobedience.

I was thinking of David and Bathsheba. David went through a really bad storm there because of desires that weren’t under control. He didn’t keep his thumb on his desires. Then there was Jonah’s storm which was more from unwillingness. Later, he said he would pay that which he had vowed. So evidently, he had made some vows to God and obviously it was to go and preach to the people in Nineveh but he was unwilling and there was a storm. He didn’t get over that storm until he submitted to God right there at the bottom of the sea when he repented and said he was willing. I sometimes think about that whale. It says it was a fish but when Matthew wrote about it, he said it was a whale. I feel sorry for that poor old whale because really, he’d swallowed a storm. Right down there inside, he had a storm that was raging and he would have felt as miserable as a whale could feel. Right down there on the bottom of the ocean floor, he was uncomfortable because it wasn’t his storm; it was somebody else’s storm. Isn’t it possible we take on someone else’s storm and we get miserable, too? There’s a lesson from this just to be aware! We need to keep our own feet on the solid rock and not get taken up with the storm as well. God told the whale to swim up to the top and Jonah was coughed up and Jonah went off to do what he said he would do. The wonderful story when Johan went off to Nineveh, to that 120,000 people. It was one of the greatest success stories in the Bible: people that didn’t know their left hand to the right hand; that tasted of God’s mercy that day. So there’s a lesson of how to deal with the storm and the important thing is that Jesus is in our boat and at the helm.

The next one is in Matthew 18:1 and then Matthew 19. Some of the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I suppose they were thinking about how it would be when Jesus was gone and how it was all going to work. “Who is going to be the greatest? Who is going to be number one?" 18:2, “And Jesus called a little child unto Him and set him in the midst of them and said, 'Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'” That unless there’s a change, you won’t even enter into the kingdom of heaven, let alone wonder who is the greatest.

Well, we turn over to chapter 19 and see that Jesus was busy with a lot of people there. Parents had brought their little children to Jesus and He laid His hands on them and blessed them. We just love to see parents bringing their little children to conventions, to fellowship meetings, and even reading Bible stories telling them about the Bible. It’s the responsibility for godly parents to be doing what they can and putting the things of God before their little children. So here were the parents wanting Jesus to put His hands on them. The disciples felt He was busy and had bigger things to see to and tried to put these parents off, but Jesus got to find out and said in verse 14, “Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” That’s what the kingdom of God is made up of. It was a wonderful lesson; a revision lesson; and the importance of being reminded that that is what the kingdom of God is made up of.

Isaiah 65:20, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days nor an old man that hath not filled his days for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” There is a man in the field where we are; and just a few months ago, he turned 99 years old. He is a German man with a big, white beard and we enjoy our visits with him. One of the really nice things about him is he has a lovely, gentle, humble spirit. We feel – there’s a child that’s ninety nine and a half years old. Isaiah was saying, "If you live to be 100 years the important thing is that you die with the spirit of a little child."

Do you remember the story of Naaman; a big man in the Syrian army? But he had leprosy! You know the story, when finally he got to the house where the Lord’s prophet was, he didn’t even come out but told him to go and wash in the river Jordan 7 times. This big man got upset; he thought he would come out and wave his hands, “But he just told me to go and wash in the river. Why? We have bigger and better rivers where I come from?” It was a test on him whether he would be willing to humble himself and become as a little child. But his servants said, “If this man asked you to do something big, you would have gladly done it. Just go down to the river and wash 7 times. Couldn’t you do something simple?” So that proud, very capable man humbled himself and did what he was told to do and washed once, twice, three times – nothing happened! But after the seventh time do you know what it says? “His flesh came like a little child.” Wonderful thing if God can work in us and we could be like a little child; that’s the work God wants to do in our experience.

There’s another lesson that seems like a repeat lesson in John 2. It seems like it was in the early days of Jesus’ ministry and Jesus went into the temple and He found these people there buying and selling doves, sheep, oxen, and banking. It was probably done with good intentions where people could bring their sacrifices and it was done to facilitate them. Perhaps it saved a little bit of the embarrassment or shame of being seen by their neighbours. But really what it meant was that the temple, the holy place of God was being used as a business house. In the New Testament in today’s period, God doesn’t have a physical place for a temple but our hearts, our life is His temple. But the primary place is in our hearts; it’s really what God sees as the primary purpose of our lives; it’s the living relationship with Him. All this matter of life with its trappings, comings and goings are all necessary to a certain extent but they are secondary. It’s human to get busy with our business things; and life gets so important that our service gets pushed into the background. But Jesus here came into the temple and got things straightened up again. But in the last days of His life, they were cutting down the palm trees and calling out “Hosanna. Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” As He got near Jerusalem, He just wept. He understood the opportunity that was passing by; understood the brevity of life, that He would only be with them for another few days, but they didn’t understand. He went into the temple and there they were with their pigeons, their sheep and cattle, buying and selling; and He just turned them over. So our heart is the temple of God, isn’t it? And that’s another reason we have special meetings from time to time - just to be reminded of these very simple, basic things that we sometimes can forget.

Our hearts are the temple of God, and I’ll tell you something I have noticed about the temple. It’s important for the wrong things to be kept out: the oxen, the sheep and the banking. There’s the importance for the right things to be kept in. There’s a story I have noticed in Daniel 5 about Belshazzar the king and his father King Nebuchadnezzar who was very proud, but had started off good. God had to humble him and he was made to eat grass like an ox which was a dreadful humbling experience. At the beginning of this fifth chapter, it tells when the Babylonians took over Jerusalem, Belshazzar made a great feast of his lords. Verse 2, “While he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king and his princes, his wives, and concubines might drink.” Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Jerusalem and had overtaken the temple and got these holy, sacred vessels that belonged to the temple; brought them out and took them back to Babylon. Now his son was king and Belshazzar took these sacred vessels and was having a feast like a royal party and was drinking out of them. God was angry: these sacred vessels that belonged inside the temple were being desecrated outside the temple. That night God just cut off Belshazzar’s life. 5:22, “And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this.” It was not that he didn’t know but he knew always these things. So what do we learn from that? There are things that belong in the temple and things to be kept out of the temple. You can parallel that to the things that belong in this world today. There are things that belong right outside the lives of God’s people and God’s kingdom. There are things that belong that are sacred; they are just for God’s people and we would like to respect that. These are just a few little thoughts I have been enjoying.

You might like to look at the last chapter in John’s gospel and I’m sure it was a wonderful reassurance and confirmation to those disciples to have some of these teachings to learn. I will tell you one of them: when Peter asked about John 21:21, “Peter seeing Him saith to Jesus, 'Lord, and what shall this man do?' Jesus saith unto him, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me.'” Jesus often said in life, “Follow Me.” Now on the other side of the grave, the important lesson is just to follow Jesus. The other important lesson is about love where He asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” Love is the basis of the kingdom: love God with all our heart, our soul, and strength. Love is the basis that confirms our teachings.

Another in John 21 is the spirit of service, when He had those fish and the bread. That night when He took the towel and washed His disciples’ feet – reminding us of service. One more in the last verse of Matthew 28:19-20, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Do you know what He is saying: that this ministry that He established, they were going out to preach. “This same ministry is still the same and I am going to be with you all the time. I want you to teach men and women to observe all things.” I have heard men and women say that this doesn’t apply any longer. But it’s in teaching them to observe all things: they are still applicable today. And Jesus saw that need for us to revise and think over on them again. It’s good to have these fundamental teachings of Jesus and to know that they are still for us today.