The Gospel of Matthew: Jesus & Miracles (Matthew 14:13-21)
with Travis Aicklen
When Jesus heard about it, he withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this. They followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd, had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When evening came, the disciples approached him and said, This place is deserted and it's already late. Soon the crowd's away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves. They don't need to go away. Jesus told them, You give them something to eat. But we only have five loaves and two fish here, they told him. Bring them here to me, he said. And he commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he bless them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples. And the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone eight and was satisfied. They picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces. Now those who ate were about 5000 men besides women and children. You can be seated. We have come to this miracle on this Sunday and I wanted it to be this way because I knew that our Hour One service has been lifted up to God and then torn in half. We're now in multiple services and we're really praying we did this because we believe God's going to move and we want him to nourish many souls. Yeah. Multiple homes are opening up. Multiple classes are opening up. Multiple teams and projects have kicked off. Multiple people have signed up. And we've done all this in faith. We've done all this in faith believing that that somehow crowds are going to be fed and that somehow the fame of Jesus is going to spread through our community. We're believing that people are going to be cared for because Jesus has touched our meager offerings and multiplied it and made it something that makes a difference, makes an impact that he's going to do something about the massive need that we see around us. He's going to use us to that. So for that. So let's just jump in. Yeah, the feeding of the 5000. You heard this one. I bet you have. Even if you didn't grow up in church. We're really glad you're here. Even if you didn't grow up in church, you're probably like, Yeah, I know where this goes. I know that. I know the punch line. I know what happens here. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they all record this miracle. It's in every gospel account. Why? Why is a great question. Why is it so legendary? Why does it live so vividly in our imaginations? This story? Why is it such a flannel grass favorite? Yeah. I mean, if people were to ask me right now, close your eyes and just picture Jesus, his arm is outstretched. What is he holding? I'd be like a fish. He's probably holding a fish in this hand and a loaf and the other. It lives so vividly in our imagination is, of course, in John's account. We find out that the few fish and the few loaves came from who? A boy. Not exactly a bread winner. Right. And we just think that he was asked. But that's just an assumption. I'm guessing that if the women and children weren't even counted on that day, the disciples probably didn't count on that boy's feelings. I bet that lunch was taken still vividly. We can hear our Sunday school teachers, or we can hear pastors saying, Will you give Jesus your lunch? Will you offer him what you have? I think that this thing lives so vividly in our imaginations because we live this, we live this story every day. We know we're not in charge of the miracle. We're in charge of the surrender. That's all we've got. We know that we're incapable of multiplication, but what we can do as his followers is subtract sin. And we can offer what we have. The seemingly insignificant things that we have. Hoping. Trusting that God's going to do something. That something is going to shift. We right. We live this. This is why this story lives. This is our life. Our tendency, when we've heard a story over and over again is to think we know. And I'll be honest, when I turn to this passage this week, I thought to myself, What's left to say about this? What's left to say? I already know. And I was so met by God in this story. So I just want to ask you to please suspend your pride. Please suspend your thoughts of man. I've been in church a long time, and I've heard 5000 sermons on the feeding of the 5000. I know where this goes, and I'm not going to offer my lunch. So I want to take a look at this morning. When this miracle happens, I think it's significant. I want to take a look at how this miracle happens. I want to take a look at who this miracle is for and then what this miracle means is the timing of this miracle has something to say to us this morning when it happens matters. Starting in verse 13. Now, when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns, and when he went ashore, he saw a great crowd and he had compassion on them and he healed their sick. What did Jesus hear that caused him to want to withdraw what had happened that had caused him to want to be alone? Why was he trying to take off? Well, if you read what comes before this, his cousin, John the Baptist, his partner in ministry from the womb, had been murdered. More vividly beheaded by King Herod. And Jesus is is no doubt grieving the loss of who he called the greatest man born of a woman. But I bet because Jesus was human, he's also thinking about the way that John's death foreshadows his own death. Like John Innocent, Jesus will also suffer and die at the hands of political powers of the day. John spoke the truth to power, and those powers put him to death. Jesus would speak the truth to power, and those powers would put him to death. He got in hot water because he had a hot take for the authorities. And no doubt Jesus is grieving the loss of his good friend, and no doubt he's thinking about what lies ahead. When someone close to us dies, of course we grieve their loss. But then we also think about our own lives, don't we? We also think about the days that we have left. I remember early in ministry Mark Condie telling me that he'd rather do a funeral than a wedding. And I remember thinking, you're. You're sick, man. You've been in the game too long. What's wrong with you? You know? And he said to me, No one's listening at a wedding and everyone's listening at a funeral because they're not just thinking about the person they lost. They're thinking about their own lives, what they mean and what it's going to look like for them to finish this race. So Jesus is just desperate for space. He's like in one of those moments where I'm sure he's it's all pressing in it. It's all landing on him. And he has to find a large body of water to get away from the crowd. Remember, he's got no bathroom that he can lock the door in. He's got no closet radius homeless. So he's got to find a boat and a large body of water to get some space. He's set sail. But the crowds, they don't respect the space. And as fast as he can sail, they're tracking him on the shore. And there's I mean, as I read this, I was thinking like I can just feel the frustration here. Imagine you setting sail in. That crowd knows where you're headed and they're moving faster than you are and you're thinking, I'm not going to get the space I so desperately need. You teachers know this feeling. You teachers know this feeling when you really thoughtfully explain the assignment very thoroughly explain the assignment. You sit down because you need some space and the students are to take it from there. Soon as you sit down, you look up and there's three hands in the air and you're like, No, no, I just explained this. And I just I need a second right now. You mother, so, so badly know this. You just need a break. You're going to freak out and you set your child down. And as soon as you set them down, they just start crawling for you and you can't get away. And you're like, No, no, just sleep. You business owners know this when you're hanging on by a thread and the emails and the invoices, they just keep coming and you're thinking, I need a break, I'm going to freak out. And it keeps coming. It keeps coming and it's faster than I am. So on the job, you just stay in the truck or you moms, you just hide in the bathroom and you come out and your kids are like, Mom, have you been crying? And you're like, No, no. And when Jesus arrives at his destination so desperately needing space, he's met by a sea of need. When he comes ashore, he is faced with another ocean of peoples need. And when Jesus arrives, hear this again, because you need to hear this again. When Jesus arrives to a sea of need, desperate, needing space, what is his response? No, no, no, no. Just give me a sec. I just need to catch my breath. Please give me space. Is that his response? No. Is response is compassion. And so when you come to him, is his response ever? No, no, you not you again. Just give me space. We've been over this and over this and over this. When you come to him in your need, is he done with you? Now, I know we all know the right answer, especially on Sunday mornings at church. But I fear that what we really believe about him lies buried underneath a bunch of stuff you've learned to say. Because how often we come to him suggests to us that maybe we see a Jesus who's sick of our need and when he comes to shore, he doesn't want anything to do with us. What he wants is space from you and your issues. So hear it again. He wants you to come to him in your need. Answer this question for me this morning. When you come to him, Jesus is when you come to Him with your needs. Jesus is. I love this because what we see here is a contrast to love of banquets. If you read the passage that precedes this, we read about King Herod's banquet and King Herod's banquet takes place in a royal hall. It's marked by sensuality. It's marked by party favors. It's marked by scheming. It's marked by arrogance. And it's marked by murder. And juxtaposed to that. And the passages that we're studying today. We've got the banquet of Jesus marked by his compassion, his healing, his truth, and a sharing. And it takes place in the wilderness. And for sure, what Matthew is setting up here is who do you want as king? Who are you voting for? You'd be crazy to vote for King. Crazy. Trust me. You want Jesus's Lord. You want Jesus as King. Kings of this earth are fickle, thirsty, crazy. And Matthew's saying, follow Jesus. Receive Him as King and Lord. How this miracle happens is significant. Read with me from verse 15. Now, when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said this. This is a desolate place and the day is now over. Send the crowds away and send them to the villages to go and buy food for themselves. And Jesus said, Well, they need not go away. You give them something to eat. And they said to him, We we've only got five loaves here and two fish that we stole from a kid. And he said, Bring them here to me. The kid or the fish? The fish and the loaves. And then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass and taking the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven, he said a blessing, and he broke it. So here we have the disciples. And if you didn't pick up on it, here they are clearly upset with the crowd. Jesus is having compassion for the crowd. They are, by the end of the day, like you and me, done with the crowd. And I. I think this is super interesting because they don't even preface what they say to Jesus with the customary Lord. This is so interesting. This is so insulting. These guys, they tell him the time of day. They tell him where he's at. And they tell him what to do. Hey, if you haven't noticed, it's. It's getting to be evening. And Jesus is probably like, if you haven't noticed, I'm. I'm healing leprosy. Of course I know what time of day it is. Of course I know where we're at. And of course, I know what to do. Don't insult me. It's like the disciples come to him and they're like, Hey, it's 455. Probably gonna have to wrap this up here in five. We're in a desolate place. You probably want to send these guys away. And anyway, I'm hungry, right? There are probably somewhere between 20 and 24,000 people there, and they're kind of like, Hey, toy, I'm hungry. One of my biggest pet peeves is my kids are getting a little bit older, but not old enough to drive. And they have thoughts about how I should go some place, you know? And I was I'm like, hey, when you can drive, then you can talk to me about how to drive. Until then, you ride. And this must have been or let's just this is another installment of Thank God I'm not God because this is not Jesus's response. But my response would have been like, Oh yeah, I forgot. The sun was nearly setting. So Jesus says to him, all that I need to go away. You give them something to eat and you is emphasized in the Greek. You know, they don't got to go. You give them something to eat and you can pick up on their subtle sarcasm even to this statement. And it's like, Yeah, well, we'd love to feed them, but here's the deal. Five loaves to fish. So it's like, I don't know, probably can't do it. Jesus. They don't lead with what they should have lead with by now. Which is what are you got up your sleeve. Jesus, they don't lead with well mastered master. Tell us what you're thinking. Or did you have something in mind that we know, not us? This should be the case at this. At this point in the story. You're up to miracles. You've been up to miracles all day. We know our Bibles. We know that mass groups of people have been fed by the hand of God before. Tell us more, Jesus. That's not what we get. We instead get the slightly mocking five plus two doesn't exactly equal 24,000, so send them away. Who is this miracle for? He broke the loaves and he gave them to the disciples. And the disciples gave them to the crowds and they all eight. And we're satisfied. And they took up 12 baskets full of broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about 5000 men. Besides the women and children. Is this miracle for the crowds or is this miracle for the disciples? You better believe that if you're 2000 in line, you have no idea where the fish and loaves came from. This miracle is not for the masses. This miracle is not for the crowds. This miracle is for the disciples. Most definitely for those disciples. And they needed something. There's no word from the crowd if we've been studying Matthew for months and months, and at the end of a miracle, a resurrection, a healing, we always read that the crowd has a reaction. The crowd was amazed. The crowd was threatened. The crowd was afraid. Whatever. There's no mention of the crowd going that Phish was perfectly prepared. That's just how I take it. There's no amazement from the crowd. This is most definitely for the disciples, because Jesus had some lessons He wanted to teach them before He launched them into ministry. The first lesson I think Jesus wants to teach his disciples If you're here and you're a follower of Jesus, here's the lessons this morning from this text. Here's the lessons that mattered for me. The first lesson you've got to learn if you're going to be launched into ministry, if you're going to be his hands and feet, is you have to know his eyes on the sparrow, his eye is on the sparrow. And this is a line from an old hymn that's taken from Scripture, and it's meant to communicate what? That there's nothing too small and there's nothing on spiritual, nothing happens that God doesn't care about. And the Him and the concept are really powerful because this is not what we believe. Most of us believe that there are certain circumstances and scenarios that are candidates for a miracle. This qualifies for God to intervene in this. And there are other things in our lives and things that we've done that just simply aren't spiritual enough or do not qualify for a miracle. And we don't bring those things. There's significant and spiritual things that you can bring before God, and then there's earthy and spiritual things that you they just aren't even eligible. Think about this. The disciples don't even bother asking Jesus if He's got something up his sleeve because they don't think Jesus does dinner. Jesus does disease. Jesus does death. Jesus does forgiveness. Jesus does storms. Jesus does demons. Jesus doesn't do dinner. Send them away. They don't even bother to ask. This is earthy. This is on spiritual. And Jesus's eyes on the sparrow. He cares about empty stomachs as well. And this is us. You're deciding right now that Jesus does or doesn't care about certain things. You're deciding what's in and out, what's spiritual, what's on spiritual. And of course, he cares about the spiritual things, but the the little things like what we're having for dinner or the physical needs we have in our body. Jesus can't be bothered with those things, right? I grew up in a house with a mom who prayed for everything. I hated it. Mom, I need a red pen for this assignment. I can't find a red pen anywhere in our house. Let's. Let's pray. Well, pray. We'll ask God for a red pen, Mom. That that is not eligible for a miracle. Rather than pray. Mom, why you clean out that junk drawer? Because it's gnarly. There's so much in it that even if there was a red pen in it, and so she would pray. Lord, we come before you asking for her red pen. You know, my eyes are not closed. I am not agreeing with her in prayer. This is ridiculous. And then what happens? What happens when mom spray red pen, you know? And I'm like, hey, you know, we're back to school shopping, Mom. They don't have the vans in my size. Let's pray. No, let's not. Like Jesus wore sandals. He can't be bothered about vans. We're going to pray. Sure enough, the guy comes out from the back. Well, there was one pair left, you know, when it comes to prayer. Here's the thing that I think is so powerful and important. Ask for the really big things and ask for really small things. I find people who have a healthy prayer life have not stopped asking for really big things that are completely out of their control and really small things, trivial things. And you may sit back and judge the person praying for a parking spot, but I can tell you that that person's talking to God way more than you are as you sit there and try to qualify and try to figure out what he wants to hear about. Talk to him about anything and everything. Pray for really big stuff like an awakening in our nation. And don't stop and then pray for really, really small, specific stuff because his eyes on the sparrow and he cares about it all. And the disciples needed to know that I care about their bellies to. The second thing that these guys needed to learn is that they lead from their needs. That's how this works. You don't lead from your abundance. You lead from your need. This is how this goes in my life and in yours. We don't have enough. We're not enough. God meets us in our not enough ness. And this overflows to those around us. That's how this goes. Some of you are sick. Jesus is going to heal you. And then when he heals you, you're going to have this great gift of faith to pray for others and to see healing flow through your life for others. You're going to bring your marriage to him and in your need. He's going to meet your needs, in your marriage, and then through you he's going to use you to multiply that effect, and you need to have faith for that. He's not just going to heal what's happening in your life. He's going to meet you and your need. And then from what he's given you in that place, he's going to give you something to give away. You lead from your need. You bring your need before him. He meets you and it overflows to those around you. So we learn in this, this really important thing. Hear it, hear it, hear it. Jesus is in charge of the miracle, but you're in charge of the surrender. You bring what you have to him. The last lesson that these guys needed to learn in order to be launched into ministry is this Jesus is teaching these guys how to count to eight. So they count what they have. One, two, three, four, five loaves, one, two fish, and then that's it. That's the end of the story. But Jesus could touch the same loaves and touch the same fish. But he didn't stop at seven. He factored in the Lord of all creation. So he just kept counting. And you need to know that if you're going to serve Jesus, you can't just be in touch with what you can touch and you can't just have what you can see. You. You have to understand how to factor him in and how to keep counting when you've come to the end of what you can see and what you can touch. That's what ministry is. I was at a volleyball game the other day. A man came up to me and started having a conversation with me and Tiff asked, You know who? Who's that guy? And I said, Remember, we were in Morro Bay, we were eating at dockside, and some guy came up to us and said, I listen to the podcast every week. And then we left. And he had paid our bill at dockside, remember that guy? And she was like, Yeah, I remember that guy. I said, That's that guy, you know? And what it did was remind me of how frustrated I was on that day, because when you've got seven people in your family, it's like a goal of mine to go out to eat and for it to be affordable. So everyone splits everything. You know, you don't get your own. It's like, No, we're going to get that one big thing of clam chowder. We're going to divide it up and you're going to float as many of those free saltines in your clam chowder as you can. So this is how I did the order. I mean, based on what I knew was in my account, I placed the order. Then I figured out that my account was not paying for dinner and I wished I would have ordered based on his account. And I was thinking I would have had lobster. But we don't order based on our account. That's not what this is. This can't be like bass, drums, guitar keyboard equals seven. No, there has to be the like plus Jesus, the one who meets us, who promises to be present when we praise Him. There has to be that we don't place orders based on our resources and what we can do. We count to eight and we factor in what he has as the Lord of all creation, what this miracle means, and we'll respond. This miracle does not mean that God, I don't know. You know, I. You tempted to leave here and go well through God, we can do great things. That is not the point of this story. All things are possible for those who believe maybe that is true. It's not the point of this story. Remember, Matthew is writing predominantly to a Jewish audience, right? Think back to the Old Testament with me. Think back to divine food provisions, heaven dropping bread. Can anyone remember a story where crowds are fed cause the manna story? It's Israel. They're in the wilderness and God feeds them with bread from heaven. This is a really important story to understand what this miracle means and what Jesus is saying as he performs this miracle. There is another less known Old Testament food provisions story that comes from Second Kings for and it's the story of the Prophet Elijah feeding 100 men with 20 loaves and a bunch of things coincide with that story that they would have known and what happens on this day. The first is that there was a crowd. The second was that a man brings the prophet an insufficient amount of food, 20 loaves. And then Elijah says, Great, that's all we need. And then a man says, Hey, Elijah, do the math. 20 loaves, 100 dudes. That's not all we need. And then Elijah answers, Let God do the math. You do what you're told. Snap. He does it. Lastly, they all eat and they have some left. So what's happening here? What's the meaning of this miracle? What is Matthew saying as he records it? One greater than Moses is here. That's what he's saying. The bringer of the New Covenant is here. One greater than Elijah is here. The great miracle worker of the Old Testament. Remember Elijah? One greater than Elijah is here. Behold, Jesus, God's anointed one, God's Messiah is here. See the one who didn't just come to give bread? See the one who came to be bread? That is the point of this story, not Jesus who's come to give bread. Jesus who is come to be bread. In John six, he said, I am the bread of life. I'm it. I'm the one greater than Moses, greater than Elijah. I am the bread that came down from heaven. And as he broke bread that day, shared it with the crowd, it foreshadows his body being broken to meet mass need Jesus not just giving bread but being bread. He was broken so that we could be eternally satisfied. Would you stand with me? Worship team? Would you come as you come to the table? Would you remember Jesus, the bread of life? Would you remember his body broken so that we could be whole, his body broken, so that we could be eternally satisfied? Would you him in as you come to the table? Don't salt God by counting to seven as you come to this table, by adding up what you've done and what you haven't done. That's not the point of this. As you come to the table, you factor in number eight, you don't count. So I know I know some of you are facing mass things in your family and you and you've counted to seven in your family. You've counted to seven at work, you've counted to seven with your kids. You've counted to seven with your addiction. You've counted to seven with your mental health. As you come to this table, count to eight. Factor in what Jesus can do when we surrender what we have and receive Him as the bread of life who can eternally satisfy as you come to the table, make your way back to your seat because we're going to finish declaring who he is together as a body. Come Come with your areas of need, the places that you've counted to seven and factor him in. Factor what he's done, factor what he's capable of, factor his resources into your areas of limit into your areas of lack.