Matthew – God’s Purposes
When I was young my parents did many life skills for me. They tied my shoes, showed me how to use a fork but cut my meat, and what clothes to wear in all situations. They taught me that flip flops were not appropriate to wear at all times…so I went barefoot. Yeah, I was that kid.
All joking aside, I had parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts close by that taught me how to do life. I was very fortunate to have all these advisers in my life, although I wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been at the time. As I matured, they began to turn over some of those life skills to me to do myself. “I showed you how to do it, now you do it” was the investment my family made in me. This was how I learned to pass on life skills to my kids and grandkids. This was also how I learned to teach in all kinds of situations, both in public school and in ministry. This became the basic strategy of teaching for me:
Watch me while I do it.
Do it with me.
You do it while I watch you.
Now you do it.
Jesus, the Master Teacher, taught His disciples this method of passing on the knowledge and wisdom for living life according to God’s Word in His ways. Great teachers and parents still use this method today for optimal learning and maturing by those they teach. However, Jesus took his disciples deeper than this method as He taught them the power of God that produces miracles when we trust and obey!
Remember yesterday we learned and realized that Jesus dealt with three distinct people groups as he ministered here on earth: His enemies, the needy multitudes and His disciples. Although, fully human as well as fully God, tired physically, He never stopped teaching, healing, seeking out the lost in order to save them. When he heard the news of John the Baptist, he withdrew from these people groups to be alone. But they followed him.
Jesus often withdrew from the crowds and spent time alone with His disciples (see Matt. 14:13; 15:21, 29; 16:13; 17:1–8). There were several reasons for these withdrawals: the growing hostility of His enemies, the need for physical rest, and the need to prepare His disciples for His future death on the cross. However, we must not think that these withdrawals, or periods of retirement from the crowds, were periods of inactivity. Often the crowds followed Jesus and He was unable to remain alone. He would unselfishly minister to their needs in spite of His own need for rest and solitude.
Jesus and His disciples desperately needed rest (Mark 6:31), yet the needs of the multitudes touched His heart. The word translated “moved with compassion” literally means “to have one’s inner being (viscera) stirred.” It is stronger than sympathy. The word is used twelve times in the Gospels, and eight of these references are to Jesus Christ.
Jesus was “moved with compassion” when He saw the needy multitudes (Matt. 9:36). They were like sheep that had been lacerated from brutal fleecing— torn, exhausted, and wandering. Twice He was “moved with compassion” when He beheld the hungry multitudes without food (Matt. 14:14; 15:32). The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all four gospels (Matt. 14:13–21; Mark 6:35–44; Luke 9:12–17; John 6:4–13). It was definitely a miracle.
Matthew 14, NLT
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
It takes little imagination to picture the embarrassing plight of the disciples. Here were more than five thousand hungry people, and they had nothing to feed them! Certainly the disciples knew that Jesus was powerful enough to meet the need, yet they did not turn to Him for help. Instead, they took inventory of their own food supply (a lad had five barley loaves and two fish) and their limited treasury. When they considered the time (evening) and the place (a desolate place), they came to the conclusion that nothing could be done to solve the problem. Their counsel to the Lord was: “Send them away!”
How like many of God’s people today. For some reason, it is never the right time or place for God to work. Jesus watched His frustrated disciples as they tried to solve the problem, but “He Himself knew what He was intending to do” (John 6:6). He wanted to teach them a lesson in faith and surrender.
You do it. “You do it” became a teachable moment in the lives of Jesus’ disciples with the following steps:
1. Start with what you have. Andrew found a lad who had a small lunch, and he brought the lad to Jesus. Was the boy willing to give up his lunch? Yes, he was! God begins where we are and uses what we have.
2. Give what you have to Jesus. Jesus took the simple lunch, blessed it, and shared it. The miracle of multiplication was in His hands! “Little is much if God is in it.” Jesus broke the bread and gave the pieces to the disciples, and they, in turn, fed the multitudes.
3. Obey what He commands. The disciples had the people sit down as Jesus ordered. They took the broken pieces and distributed them, and discovered that there was plenty for everybody. As His servants, we are “distributors,” not “manufacturers.” If we give what we have to Him, He will bless it and give it back to us for use in feeding others.
4. Conserve the results. There were twelve baskets filled with pieces of bread and fish after the people had eaten all they wanted. But these pieces were carefully collected so that nothing was wasted (Mark 6:43; John 6:12). I wonder how many of the pieces the lad took back home with him? Imagine his mother’s amazement when the boy told her the story!
The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand was actually a sermon in action. Jesus is the Bread of Life, and only He can satisfy the spiritual hunger in man’s heart. The tragedy is, men waste their time and money on “that which is not bread” (Isa. 55:1–7).
People today are making the same mistake. Jesus still has compassion on the hungry multitudes, and He still says to His church: “Give them something to eat.” How easy it is for us to send people away, to make excuses, to plead a lack of resources. Jesus asks that we give Him all that we have and let Him use it as He sees fit. A hungry world is feeding on empty substitutes while we deprive them of the Bread of Life. When we give Christ what we have, we never lose. We always end up with more blessing than when we started. Always. You do it.
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT:
Have you tried to out give the Giver of life? What did you discover?
What happens when we give God all we have?
How does obedience to God lead to miraculous outcomes?
Nothing that we do for God, in Jesus Name, for His glory, honor and praise is wasted.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this lesson on life done well. Thank you for guiding us to Truth and helping us each day to live it. But, we have not arrived. We still need your help, your wisdom, and guidance. Give us courage to do what you have taught us to do. Continue to transform us to be all you want us to be.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.