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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:

  1. First, He gave them the example of withdrawing from needless danger. Martyrdom or any other type of suffering that is sought as a form of self-glory is not endured for the sake of the Lord. The disciples also learned the importance of rest and solitude, even when in the midst of serving the Lord. Sometimes, as here, rest cannot be attained in the way or at the time we prefer; but even the Lord in His humanity did not escape the need for rest, solace, and refreshment. The twelve learned the importance of spending time away from work with those with whom one labors. Co-workers need special time together to support one another and to share needs and feelings.
  2. Second, Jesus also confirmed the disciples’ need to show compassion for those in need, even when the needy are fickle and undeserving. The Son of God selflessly met the needs of the multitude that day, although He knew that most of them would soon lose interest in Him and fall away. He taught them that, as important as rest and leisure are, these must sometimes be sacrificed to meet the even more important needs of others. The believer has no inalienable rights to personal freedom and benefits. Everything we have, including our own needs and rights, should be expendable in serving others in Christ’s name (see 1 Cor. 9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”, ESV).
  3. Jesus taught the disciples that, in meeting the physical needs of others, they were also to minister the truth of the kingdom. If all we do is meet people’s physical needs, and leave out their spiritual needs — a personal relationship to Jesus Christ, then all we have done is advocate a “social gospel,” not a “saving Gospel.” Look at Galatians 1:6-9,  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (ESV).
  4. Jesus also taught His disciples to do things in an orderly fashion just as God does. Read 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace . . . (40) “But all things should be done decently and fin order” (ESV). Jesus told His disciples to divide the people into groups of hundreds prior to them understanding why they were doing this. Many New Testament scholars believe the 5 loaves and 2 fish did not begin to multiply until they stared distributing it. Meaning — the miracle Jesus was about to do did not become effective until the disciples obeyed Jesus.
  5. This miracle also shows Jesus’ generosity that allowed every single person to have enough to be satisfied as well as so there would be no waste of food later. 
  6. The ultimate lesson Jesus taught His disciples was they need to learn to trust God with what seems an impossible situation. The Bible says this in Philippians, 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (ESV). And just like the disciples, we tend to look everywhere else but to Jesus.
  7. God does not do miracles for the sake of doing them. For example, God does not heal someone of cancer so they are only healed. God heals or does miracles so that the Gospel is preached, people come to Christ and God gets the glory. It is totally narcissistic and self-centered to make our requests solely about ourselves for only our benefit. In this group Jesus fed, there were probably some who accepted Jesus, but the overwhelming majority remained as unbelievers. This means even seeing and experiencing a miracle is no guarantee of someone coming to Christ.

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):

  1. When facing an impossible situation, get your eyes off the horizontal and on to the vertical. Yes, acknowledge that your situation is impossible. Your marriage problems? Impossible. Your teenager’s rebellion? Impossible. Your employment situation? Impossible. Your medical diagnosis? Impossible. The legal battle you’re going through? Impossible. The financial hardship? Impossible. The battle against temptation and sin? Impossible. Your emotional struggle? Impossible. Our political situation? Impossible. Then look up.
  2. From our limited viewpoint, we can’t see the magnificent opportunities God sees. If we truly trust God, we need to accept this fact: Nothing is impossible with Him. To keep this truth ever present in the midst of your own impossible situations, take a moment to memorize these simple but profound verses:
    • Jeremiah 32:17, "Ah, Lord God! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for You” (ESV).
    • Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?” (ESV).

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

  1. What in your own life do you see is an “impossible?” Why it that?
  2. At Jesus’ request, the disciples brought to Jesus what they had — 5 loaves and 2 fish and He did the impossible. What are you withholding from Jesus that He could take and multiply in ways you cannot imagine to bless others?
  3. What do you think it would be like to have the omnipotent and perfect God personally feed you by His own hand like in our story today?
  4. If you have been in church for many years, what part of your relationship to Christ, are you like the disciples? You read and hear the stories of all that God has done in the Bible, but when it comes to trusting God, you withhold that trust. Why?
  5. God blesses you everyday. How are you showing your appreciation for that in sharing your faith to others? If you don’t do that, why? 
    • Jesus Christ did not die on the cross and come out of the grave so that you would only have a place in heaven. Prior to feeding the people, the Gospels say that Jesus moved through the people healing those who needed it. Would you say your life is more of a “social-gospel” approach — meeting only physical needs or is it a “saving Gospel — you strive to help people come to Christ? 
    • This means that everything we do in church is not just limited to that. For example, we have Sunday School classes and Connect groups, but this is not just to provide Bible study and fellowship. It is to motivate people to share Jesus.
    • We have committees, ministry teams and ministries, but this is not just about having those. They are to be a means to an end — sharing the Gospel. Do you see that and will you help the church an other Christians do that? Why or why not?
    • We have By-laws and Constitutions, but they are not just so we know what we believe and how to operate. They are to help us be better at sharing the Gospel. Do you see that and will you help the church and other Christians  do that? Why or why not?
    • In meeting people’s needs, Jesus also saw that as an opportunity to share Himself as the Messiah and Savior to people. Why is sharing Jesus as Savior more important than Jesus as healer of physical needs?
    • Where is your view right now? Horizontal? Or Vertical” and why? In John 6:36 above, Jesus said to His disciples that they still do not believe He was the Messiah and Savior. Why do you think this was true for them? How is it true for you? You may say, “It is not!” Okay — who is the last person you shared the Gospel with? If Jesus Christ is the “only way, the only truth and the only way,” and if “no one comes to the Father except through Jesus” and if “there is no other name by which people can be saved, except Jesus . . .”, does your life reveal this at your work, your school, while shopping, at home, and etc. Explain.

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!

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