The Mountains Around Jerusalem

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Mountain of Heavenly Resource

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." Then His disciples said to Him, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?" Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few little fish." So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left. Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And He sent away the multitude, got into the boat, and came to the region of Magdala. (Matthew 15:29-39).

Here is a scene of great need; the extent and the range of the need is quite definitely and deliberately stressed repeatedly. It is "the multitudes", "great multitudes" which are in view. The need is brought out in great fulness, and over against it there is this disclosure of Christ's concern and desire that that need should be fully, wholly met, and strangely, this occasion is in the mountain. There was another occasion when He fed the multitude, as we saw already in the earlier chapter. Here it is said to be in relation to the mountain, indicative again of this principle that it is heavenly fulness which is in view. This, figuratively, is the mountain of heavenly or spiritual fulness, out of which the need, however great, vast, or deep, can be fully met. Let me reverse that and put it in this way, that heavenly fulness demands a heavenly position. "In this mountain will the Lord of hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined" (Isa. 25:6). "In this mountain...". When you look to identify that mountain, you find it refers to Zion, and then you find that it indicates the heavenly Zion of Hebrews 12. "Ye are come unto mount Zion" (v. 22). It is a heavenly, not an earthly Zion, which is really in view prophetically there, and it again embodies this law that a heavenly position is essential to heavenly fulness. This operates in two connections.

Resource for Need

First of all, as to the disciples. If we are those who are, in heart at least, and some in very practical ways, taking responsibility in the things of the Lord, called unto that service, that ministry, of meeting spiritual need, it will depend entirely upon our spiritual position as to how much resource we have with which to meet the need.

If we are working with the mentality of an earthly kingdom for God, if our conceptions of the work of God are all just down here in relation to this earth, and we are pursuing the work of God along the line that this world employs for pursuing its interests and ends, having just a temporal conception of the things of God, we shall be left to find the resources. That is the history of Christian work, that if you have a merely temporal, earthly conception of the work of God down here, establishing something here, getting a name for the work of God here, God just leaves you to find your own resources to carry it on, so you will have to be travelling about all over the place trying to get people to support it. The Lord is not taking responsibility for it; He is leaving it to you. But when we get into His own heavenly conception of things we see that in this dispensation God is not seeking to build something on this earth of a permanent character, but is taking something out of the nations to be linked with His Son in heaven, a people out of the nations for His Name, something that is taken out and linked with Him in heaven in a spiritual way. While here in body, its life is drawn from above, all its relationships are heavenly, and you come into the realm of spiritual fulness, and God looks after that; there is plenty.

That is a very practical thing indeed, and it represents the great, vast difference, between your wearing yourself out in trying to find the means to carry on the work of God, and the Lord carrying you on on an altogether supernatural basis of resource. Some of us know that difference in our own history between the time, the years, when we were having to find the straw for the bricks, the resources for building what we were trying to build, and it was exhausting work. It meant reading all the latest books and keeping in touch with all the latest ideas and working hard to find sermons and addresses and the wherewithal to meet the demand. How often we were just at the end of all resources, but then the revelation of God's heavenly intention came and a transition took place, from which time forward there has been no lack. It is just the river flowing in fulness all the time; a very practical difference.

You must really know what it means to have your life hid with Christ in God, where Christ is, in order to have all the heavenly resources at your command for a heavenly realm of life and ministry. As you know, in the Gospels things are only hinted at, suggested and illustrated. When you come over to the latter part of the New Testament, you see it just working out all the time. There is abundance, plenty of food available. The need is vast, there is no doubt about it. People are saying everywhere that they are in a state of spiritual starvation - quite unnecessarily. The supplies are adequate and even more to meet the level of the demand, as indicated here. In chapter 14 there were twelve baskets left over; here it is seven baskets. You will notice in your margin that different words are used for 'baskets'. The words indicate that the seven baskets were larger than the twelve baskets. But there are seven baskets here, and that is the number of spiritual fulness, and there is always a margin in heaven. You never exhaust heaven, and you never can keep even with heaven. Heaven will always be ahead of you. If you have a life in union with the Lord above, He is always well ahead of the greatest need. You never can catch up with heaven's resources. This is one more emphasis upon the heavenly position necessary to know heavenly resources.

Resource for Service

Again, as in each previous instance, there is a foreshadowing of things. On both occasions the disciples were proved to be altogether inadequate to the situation. It is remarkable that two occasions like this should occur, and that on the second they should not have learned the lesson of the first. They had seen the five thousand fed, and then when it comes to four thousand - beside women and children, they raise the old question, 'How can it be done?' They project their doubts into it; they are altogether unequal to this situation, they do not see from whence the need could be supplied. The Lord does marvellous things, and a little time elapses and another big situation arises, and we are just as much in doubt as we were. It was overwhelming then, but somehow or other it has lost its power with us now, and we are just questioning again as to what is going to happen, what is going to be the issue; that is the old earthly life. And so these men were proved repeatedly to be unequal to the situation, not seeing or knowing how the thing could be dealt with and the need be met.

Get them on the other side of the Cross; the other side of Pentecost, and are they questioning this matter? No, they are equal to the situation now. What they find now is, not that the need is too great, but the capacity of the people too small to receive what they have to give. 'We have many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them.' So far as the disciples are concerned, they have come to know by the Holy Spirit heavenly union with the Lord and that meant that they can be equal to the situation, however great. Let us take that to ourselves. That is true as to the multitude, as to the need. Well, here again, the same thing applies: the servants for their service, the crowds for their need. It is all in heaven, it is all available; there is sufficient resource, and more than sufficient, for the greatest need that could be brought to the Lord, provided you get away from earthly limitations; provided the Cross cuts clean in between your earthly relationships to bring you into union with your Lord in heaven.

In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks' wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely - free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statement included.