Well, we are going to pick right up where we left off yesterday with the five loaves and two fish. We left off yesterday, where we say Jesus had put both Philip and Andrew in a kind of Star Trek “The Kobayashi Maru.” Jesus had told them to come up with a way to feed these 5,000 men, not counting the women and children. It was probably more like 25,000.
Look at Matthew 15:15-18, “Now when it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” (16) But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (17) They said to Him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” (18) And He said, “Bring them here to Me” (ESV). What irritated Jesus is that instead of stepping out in faith and coming to Jesus saying, “We have no way to feed all these people. It would take a minimum of 6 months wages. We know you are the Messiah and nothing is impossible for You. Would you feed them out of love for them?” That would have made Jesus’ day.
What I have learned in life is that most of us have an elevated opinion about ourselves when we compare ourselves to the disciples. We like to think that if that was us back then, we would have responded differently. We would have stepped out in faith and brought their problem to Jesus. They had already seen Jesus turn water into wine at Cana and met a need in a very embarrassing situation. Jesus did a miracle that provided enough wine for everyone at this wedding.
You can almost hear sadness in Jesus’ voice when He said to His disciples, “Bring them to Me.” Meaning the five loaves and two fishes. Jesus knew His disciples did not have enough money to buy enough food and He wasn’t expecting them to do this from their own resources. It was a test of faith and trust. Would they have enough trust In Jesus to believe He could feed them. And second, did they have enough faith in Jesus He would feed the people.
Now look at what Jesus does here in Matthew 14:19a, “Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass . . .”(ESV). Jesus did this for several reasons. First, the rolling hills that align the shore of the Sea of Galilee served as amplification of sound. People could hear His voice. Second, the people had been standing up to hear and sees Jesus. They were exhausted from both the standing and their hunger. Jesus had the people recline on the grass to be more comfortable so that it would easier to distribute the food. Mark 6:40 gives us this detail: “So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties” (ESV). Mark uses this Greek phrase, [πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ, prasiai prasiai], which literally means “garden bed by garden bed.”
It is my opinion that both the disciples and the people had no idea why they were being seated in groups of hundreds. Jesus then blessed the 5 loaves and 2 fish in a prayer to God and everyone had enough to fill their stomachs, with even 12 baskets full left — one for each doubting disciples. Notice here — unlike modern faith healers — there was no fanfare or show. Jesus prayed a simple prayer and then distributed the food.
John MacArthur says this. Matthew says the people ate until they were “satisfied.” John MacArthur says this:
This is the Greek New Testament word [χορτάζω, chortazo]. It is a word that referred to animals that stayed at their feeding trough until they wanted nothing more to eat. Jesus uses the same term in the Beatitudes when He promises that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness “shall be satisfied”” in Matthew 5:6 — (John MacArthur, The John MacArthur New Testament Commentary, “Matthew,” p. 430).
I can only imagine what it would have been like to have food prepared by a perfect God. It had to been like nothing they had ever eaten in their lives. With 12 baskets left over — one for each disciples — then each disciple could share from his own basket some of their food with Jesus. So, there was not too little food nor too much food. When the people saw Jesus do this, John’s Gospel tells us something that is shocking. Read John 6:15, “Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself” (ESV).
My gut tells me why. They had either witnessed Jesus personally or heard the stories of how He healed people from every kind of sickness, plus He raised a little girl back to life from the dead, He could cast out demons and now, He could feed anyone and everyone. Here’s the why — since Jesus could do all of this— especially feed people — why work in the fields in the hot sun? Why get so stressed about preparing food?
Like so many in the Gospels, they had the wrong perception of the kind of Messiah Jesus was. He was their Messiah, but not the kind they thought. They are thinking an earthly kingdom, but Jesus was thinking a spiritual kingdom. Jesus said this in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not from the world” (ESV).
John MacArthur writes this:
"The great multitude that day was composed of three groups: the twelve disciples, the believing remnant among the multitudes, and the vast majority of unbelievers. In regard to each group we can discern many spiritual lessons. The twelve were established. The twelve disciples were the constant object of Jesus’ concern, instruction, and training. It was upon their shoulders that the establishing of His church would soon fall, and He knew the time of their training for this task was short. From this one incident alone, He taught them a number of important principles and truths" (John MacArthur, The John MacArthur New Testament Commentary, “Matthew,” pp. 431-432). Then he conginues with these points below:
From a purely human point of view, they could see no way around this problem. Jesus was demanding the impossible. John’s account of this miracle fills us in on some insider information. Jesus told them to do what everybody knew was impossible in order to test them, “for He Himself knew what He was intending to do” (John 6:6). Right before the disciples, was the omnipotent God and all they could see was how impotent they were to do anything.
What I love about this miracle is just like in Genesis 1-2, here is God creating something out of very little — what appears to be nothing —to the disciples. Chuck Swindoll gives us some application here on this miracle (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insight New Testament Commentary, “Matthew,” pp. 309-310):
What is troubling to me today, even in church, is the radical and demonic ideas that church and worship has to be about ourselves rather than Jesus Christ and the Gospel. This miracle by Jesus reminds us that Jesus is the only “Bread of Life.” Jesus said this to His disciples in John 6:35-36, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. (36) But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe” (ESV). Notice it says that anyone who comes to Jesus will not be spiritually hungry or thirsty again, just like the people in our story/miracle today ate until they could stuff their stomachs with no more.
Questions To Consider
Scripture To Meditate On: John 8:45, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me” (ESV).
Prayer To Prayer: “Dear Jesus, I do not want to make my prayer requests just about me or someone else. I want my prayer requests to go beyond such self-centered wishes to the a place where I uses them to share the Gospel with others. Jesus, I have some “impossibles” in my life and instead of looking horizontally, I am looking vertically to You. Help me feed people with the truth of You — the Bread of Life — so that as people “come and taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), their spiritual hunger will be met in You. I love You Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”
I love you, Pastor Kelly!