Jesus Satisfies, Jesus Sustains | Matthew 14:13-21,15:32-39
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 14:13–14:21
Good Morning! We are in a series on the book of Matthew; the Gospel account revealing Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, as the Christ, the Savior – King of God’s people. This series has been titled the Revelation of the King as the section we will be looking at (chapters 14-20). Jesus teaches, Jesus heals, Jesus performs miracles, but above all Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, in all that he does he is revealing Himself to the world. This includes Jesus showing his power and identity through a variety of miracles; walking on water, more healings, and his glory revealed on the top of a mountain. Jesus is king, and as king he has specific instructions on things like divorce, church discipline, sin, discipleship. Jesus is also the savoir of His people, during this series he will consistently point his people to the height of his mission, the cross. Last week we saw the end of the story of John the Baptist, a man Jesus calls the greatest in history, and how his death at the hands of Herod didn’t “accomplish” anything of value. Herod is paranoid and unstable with guilt and shame. The reception of the message of King Jesus calling people to repent is not being well received the religious and social elites. Many of John’s followers have come to join Jesus. It is in an environment of hostility that trust and reliance on Jesus grows. This is right after we see Jesus is rejected in his hometown and the ruler of the region (Herod the Tetreach) believes Jesus seeks vengeance on him for his murder of John the Baptist. Jesus withdraws and the mission and ministry continue to grow.
Today we will look at two very similar, yet distinct, events of Jesus showing his identity as king through the power of miraculous intervention, and the character of deep compassion that will define his kingdom.
Matthew 14:13-21 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. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 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.” 19 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 and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Matthew 15:32-39 32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.
This first feeding is the only other miracle, besides the resurrection of Jesus, which is recorded in all four Gospels. Meaning this act is an important part of revealing God’s Character. Both also serve to reveal Jesus Power. These feedings are completely supernatural in nature. God knows we are prone to doubt and faithlessness and he wants us to have a clear picture of the Son’s ministry. It is conceivable Jesus could fake a singular healing or pretend to raise a dead person to fool a few people. We can hear isolated and individual accounts of sensational events and dismiss them easily. But in these incidents, Jesus is revealing his power and charter to thousands of people. If the fame of Jesus in the region was great it’s about to be greater. Don’t get distracted about where the loaves and fishes came from. John tells us a little boy had a lunch, but Matthew leaves this out. He doesn’t want there to be any doubt about who the hero is or how mighty Jesus work here is. This wasn’t a metaphorical miracle where people saw this boy being generous and they all stopped being selfish and gave what they had been holding and so everyone ate. Our world likes the story of stone soup, everyone was hungry and had very little, but a small boy went house to house and told everyone just give what you have, put it in the pot, and this delicious flavorful soup is made that ended up feeding the whole town. It’s a great story where the community solves its own problem, but that is not what has happed here. The community has a big problem and only one person can effectively address it. Jesus is the King of his people and he is the Son of God in the flesh, is reinforcing his God credentials by performing this miracle. There is attractiveness to the person and work of Jesus.
Desolate Places | Matt 14:13
Following Jesus often takes us to desolate places. These people left cities, left family, and comfort and security and said “I don’t care where I end up I just know I need to be near Jesus.” You can be following Jesus and still be hungry. While there may be various motivations and different degrees of hope and faith there is a singularly purpose these massive crowds gathered. They wanted an encounter and engagement with Jesus. There is literally nothing else in these places to draw people to them. They are so desolate there are no earthly things available to support them, sustain them, and certainly nothing that could give satisfaction. There weren’t even the basics of life. It is in these desolate places Jesus makes a new community. One not defined by geography or race or… But one completely defined by their need for Jesus, desire of Jesus, and their reliance on Jesus. There is a problem with this new community, they hunger, they need. There are 10-12k people in these crowds, the largest villages in the region would have been no more than 3k. They couldn’t begin to handle all the people that we there. If God’s people scattering to the cities hungry, needy, unsatisfied they wouldn’t be a blessing they would be a curse.
God gathers his people, sends them/leads them to desolate places and God feeds his people? Why… to show them their reliance on Him and the depth of His compassion. During the exodus God fed his people daily with manna in a desolate wilderness. God sustains his people.
Compassion for the Crowd | Matt 14:14, 15:32
Despite the hostile environment it wasn’t Jesus appointed time to die, Jesus had been retreating for some solitude and safety from Herod’s influence. News got out about his location and people began seeking Jesus. Yet Jesus doesn’t stay in his boat in solitude, with his handpicked circle of disciples, he goes to shore and engages with the gathered crowd. Jesus is actively healing members of the crowd who have come weak and weary because He cares deeply for the people. God knows we need him and he is not unaware or disinterested in our suffering or in our places of desolation. The people are in a desperate situation. This is our spiritual condition without intervention from Jesus, we won’t make it home. He shows compassion.
Exodus 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
Jesus doesn’t say these people got what they deserved, they came out here with no food or plan, what did they think was going to happen. “He didn’t say this is MY vacation, MY weekend, there are people desiring to kill me, I just want to have some peace.” No he is compassionate. In the gospels Jesus compassion is mentioned more than any other character trait or emotion. God’s word is intentional, it reveals Jesus character of compassion it also tells us in Romans 2:4 the purpose of God’s compassion is that it would lead us to repentance. People are around Jesus hoping their lives will change and Jesus is healing them. When Jesus was around people he had compassion for them. The more he was with them the deeper his compassion ran. We who claim to follow Jesus should have a similar heart for one another.
Training Disciples | Matt 14:15-19
Several times in the next few chapters the disciples lack of faith and lack of understanding are going to be highlighted. Jesus is acting to show compassion to his people AND he is training his disciples to trust him and follow him regardless of how difficult the situation is. There is a reason why the accounts of the feedings include such detail about Jesus interaction with the disciples, rather than simply Jesus fed hungry people.
In the first feeding we see the disciples initiating. They are anxious when then don’t know how things are going to resolve. “Hey Jesus it’s late, and umm we are in the middle of nowhere and there are a ton of people that can’t make it home and haven’t eaten.” They see a need and an issue and what is their reaction and suggestion? “We can’t deal with this we’re not equipped. What we have is insufficient to actually effect real change in this situation. We’re overwhelmed. Send them away and let them fend for themselves. The people are hungry they can take care of themselves. Jesus tell the people to leave us alone and find something out there to feed themselves with.” This is nearly a command the way they are saying it. Jesus you’ve got power and authority here is the problem I see and here is the solution I want. Their solution doesn’t include them engaging with needy people at all. Let’s push this problem on to other people who can deal with it. People get helped we don’t have to get messy or work it’s a Win-Win! It never goes well when we try to dictate to God how things should go because our perspective is so limited and we forget how powerful God is.
Jesus tells them, “that is not the gospel, they can’t feed themselves.” Verse 16 Jesus has a better solution then his disciples can even consider. He says… “That doesn’t have to happen. You can feed them…..” “What? (verse 17) don’t you know we have to work with?” Have you seen we have limited staff and budget.” Oh so you don’t have nothing, you just don’t believe I have the ability to take what you have a multiply it to sustain my people.” Jesus wants his disciples to trust him and rely on him more fully particularly when things look hopeless. Come to me with your challenges but don’t assume you know how to best resolve them. Jesus sees the brokenness and need in the crowd and he also sees the brokenness and need in the disciples he’s engaging with. In verse 14:18 Jesus doesn’t tell them what he is going to do he just says give me what you have and watch me work. Trust and obey. Jesus tells the crowds to sit, recline, prepare for a meal. I am going to work in glory so your posture is one of humility.
For the disciples Jesus is answering their challenge. Yes they have to be feed, yes I am both willing and able to do it AND I am going to use you to facilitate it. Jesus blesses the food and as he does he blesses the disciples with a chance to know the people Jesus loves. You’re going to follow me and you’re going to serve my people. Disciples who were so eager to disengage and merely send the needy away are now the intermediate agents of God’s gracious provision. Rather than being overwhelmed by a crowd they now see faces of families, names and stories of individuals as they bring the sustenance of Jesus.
Jesus Satisfies | Matt 14:20, 15:37
What is the result of Jesus miracles? What Jesus provides is more than sufficient, it satisfies and it multiplies.
Everyone ate! Not some token meal or some Costco sample, they ate and were satisfied. This is grace! The crowd didn’t deserve the provision Jesus gave them but his character is one of compassion and so he doesn’t chastise them for not planning ahead he says I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. For the disciples he wants to ensure they are always pointing people to Him. We don’t have the answers and solutions for people and all of their challenges, but look to Jesus for all we and they need and we simply pass the plate and tell them “here eat and be satisfied.” This is what our king does for us.
If you look to Jesus in all situations you will be satisfied and sustained in this life, not always with steak and rich food but with simply humble fish and bread. Is Jesus enough? Will you allow yourself to be satisfied in Jesus and sustained by Jesus or will you look to something else to fill you up?
Similar | Different
Why would Matthew include two very similar, yet distinct, episodes of Jesus miraculously feeding crowds
In both occasions Jesus satisfies his people and in both there is abundance, yet there are some notable differences. The second feeding Jesus feeds less with more. Hey disciples you should have even more faith in what is going to happen here because there are less people to feed and we’ve got more available to work with. The first feeding seems to focus on Jesus showing his people how dependent they are on him and his supernatural ability to provide. The second seems to be more focused on challenging the disciples on their lack of compassion. First feeding the disciples initiate, the second Jesus initiates and calls them to him. “We’ve been with these people for 3 days. I have compassion on them. If they leave without provision they will faint!” Disciples you’ve been with the crowd, how could you not notice. You’ve either been unaware, overwhelmed, or you are apathetic. It is not enough for us to simply be satisfied with Jesus and not see the need for Jesus in those around us. Things can seem so hopeless we don’t actively engage with them. Jesus says share my heart for the people get involved with the gathering enough that you’re so aware of the issues you are coming to me with them. But Jesus we’ve got limited resources, like really limited. I’ve acted before in amazing ways because of my character of compassion. My character hasn’t changed and the needs of the people haven’t been met yet so there is still work to do.
I believe this second event is recorded as a specific reminder at how amazingly ordinary and consistent God is at showing his people his power and character to meet their needs. Let’s not be too hard on the disciples for showing an apparent a lack of faith in a nearly identical situation. RC Sproul says “I am completely unable to explain why they seemingly could not remember such a vivid display of Jesus’ power.” I think it might be more simple to explain. We easy forget God’s goodness and power and because of that we can easily be discouraged in the face of apparent adversity. Discouraged disciples are those that have forget God’s work in the past, his present provision, and His promises for the future. At what point when Jesus blessed the food and gave it to the disciples to distribute did the light bulb go off and they say “wait, I remember, this is how Jesus works!” Usually for me it’s at point that reminds me how foolish I am when I doubt God’s goodness and His ability to satisfy and sustain.
Jesus Sustains and Sends | Matthew 15:39
As the second account ends, the gathering is dismissed. The gathering wasn’t the mission. The gathering was where the mission was sustained and the people were sent to return to where they dwell. This is significant. Yes these miraculous meals point to the great wedding feast in heaven at the end of the age (Rev 19:7-9)
but that time is not now. Jesus satisfies his people, Jesus sustains his people and Jesus sends his people. In many of the healing miracles, Jesus tells the people he heals not to tell anyone. In this act Jesus doesn’t do that. He knows this crowd is going to go from this place return to their normal lives and tell others of the compassion and the power of King Jesus. Jesus doesn’t send us on mission and into life without provision. Jesus satisfies AND Jesus sustains. He doesn’t desire us to be all excited we know him and then faint and fade as we go down the road. When we see Jesus moving in our lives it should lead us to greater boldness and confidence in Him. Jesus fame grows when his followers are most satisfied him. Even after these miracles, everyone of these people will need to eat again. We will grow faint, weary on the road. Our satisfaction will not last if it is not sustained by Jesus. We come to Jesus not so he’ll give us something else we think we need but because he is our source of satisfaction and sustenance. Jesus is the answer.
John 6:26-29 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
It is in this we see the cross. Jesus body is one body, but he’s also God. His is death in our place for our sin isn’t a one-to-one exchange. The one time work of the cross is miraculously multiplied. His body is beaten and broken so millions and millions of sinners can have the wrath of God satisfied. The tomb is empty so we have the promise of new life with God sustained. We are sent to tell other to, Trust Jesus!
Is 55:1-2 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Lam 3:22-24 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”