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Sunday, January 27, 2019

[Matt's Messages] “Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus”

“Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 27, 2019 :: Matthew 14:13-21

Matthew is what I call a theological biography of Jesus Christ.

That is the ultimate purpose of the Gospel of Matthew is to reveal to us who Jesus is and lead us to follow Him.

The Gospel of Matthew reveals the true identity of Jesus Christ, and when you know the true identity of Jesus Christ, you are invited and drawn to trust, worship, obey, and follow Him. You become His disciple.

A year ago, the sermon title on this Sunday was “Following Jesus,” and we learned that Jesus calls is calling us to follow Him and to fish for Him, that is to find and make new followers of Jesus. “Follow me,” Jesus said, “And I will make you fishers of men.”

Now, we know that this is not always easy. Last time, we watched how hard it was for John the Baptist to follow Jesus. He was decapitated for following Jesus.

And our Hide the Word verse right now says that we need to be ready to follow Jesus into sacrifice.

Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”

We’re going to learn more about making those sacrifices as 2019 unfolds.

But we keep coming back to the basic question, “Who is Jesus?”

Remember last time we said that in Matthew you have to always keep your eyes on the ball, and in the Gospel of Matthew the ball is the question, “Who is Jesus?”

So, today’s passage is a very short story, a very familiar story of a miracle. Anita just sang about it for us.

We all know this one.

In fact, this story is in all four of the gospels.

Except for the resurrection, this is the only miracle story that is in all four of the gospels.

It is one of the most famous Bible stories that there ever was.

I call it, “Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus.”

And you already know the whole thing.

But keep your eye on the ball.

Who does this story reveal Jesus to be?

What does this story teach us about Who Jesus is?

How should we follow Jesus because we have read Matthew 14:13 through 21?

That’s the question.

Whenever I teach somebody how to study the Bible for themselves, one of the first things I tell them to do is to get out a notebook and put a line down a page and mark out two columns.

And in one of those columns, write down the heading “God” or “Jesus.”

And the other one write down, “Me” or “People.”

And then read a passage of Scripture and write down what you see that passage teaches about God or Jesus in particular and write down what the passage says about people including yourself.

It’s that simple.

And when you put those two things together, you start to see your application to life.

This is especially true when you study the Gospels.

What does this story tell me about Jesus?

Yes, it’s about five loaves and two fishes.

It’s about a big hungry crowd.

It’s about some bewildered disciples.

But it’s ultimately about Jesus.

Today, I’ve five points of things I see here in Matthew’s gospel, that I think he’s trying to reveal to us about Jesus.

All five are things that Jesus regularly does. And they all affect us in significant ways.

#1. HE CARES.

Jesus cares.

Let’s look the setting for this miracle. Matthew chapter 14, verse 13.

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”

Wait a second. What had happened? Do you remember?

Well, it’s not clear.

I have always assumed that what happened was that his cousin John the Baptist had died.

That is what just happened in verses 3 through 12.

And had always assumed that Jesus here was grieving.

And that’s possible.

But, I remembered this week that verses 3 through 12 are a flashback to an earlier time.

So it’s possible that Jesus heard about what was happening in verses 1 and 2 which is that Herod Antipas has gotten wind of Jesus’ ministry and is worried that He is John the Baptist back from the dead.

It’s quite possible that Jesus is pulling back to regroup and pray and maybe move His ministry to a new location as a strategic withdrawal to not escalate things before it was time.

He tries to get away by Himself with His disciples.

But it doesn’t work. Verse 13 again.

“Hearing of this [His withdrawal], the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. [They really want to be with Him.] When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd [He got really annoyed that they showed up when He wanted to be alone! No? He got really irritated that these people were interrupting His plans! No? He didn’t act like you or me? No. (v.14)], he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Jesus cared.

That word for “compassion” is the same one as back in chapter 9.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Unnn. It hurt in His gut.

Jesus cared, and it moved Him to action.

He healed their sick. (Which is amazing all by itself!)

I don’t know about you, but I sure am encouraged to know that Jesus cares.

Because this isn’t an isolated incident with Jesus.

It’s just like Him.

And it’s just like His Father.

Psalm 103 says:

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him...”

Psalm 116 says:

“The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.”

Psalm 145:

“The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

The Lord cares.

As they say at the PRC, “You matter.”

Not because you are so wonderful, but because God is so wonderful as to have compassion.

You matter to Him.

Do you need to hear that today?

I think a lot of people are hurting right now.

People are overwhelmed.
People are grieving.
People are going through hard things.

What are you going through?

It’s really encouraging to know that the Lord cares.

He sees our plight and is full of compassion.

In this case, they were not just sick, they were growing hungry.

This ministry took some time, and the day was getting long. V.15

“As evening approached, 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 themselves some food.’”

And the disciples were getting worried that they were going to have a massive crowd on their hands with no food.

That’s a recipe for disaster.

They want Jesus to send the crowds off to fend for themselves.

But here’s where Jesus really begins to surprise them. V.16

“Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’”

And the disciples said, “Huh?”

#2. HE TESTS.

Jesus challenges His disciples.

He asks them to do something that they don’t think they can do.

Do you see that?

I think it’s kind of playful, “You give them something to eat.”

I don’t know if He expects them to know how to do that.

But He does expect them to trust Him and turn to Him for it. Right?

I mean, what have they seen Jesus do so far?

Heal the sick, cleanse lepers, forgive sins, cast out demons, even raise people from the dead.

All kinds of stuff.

So if He says, “You can do this,” the proper response is what?

What is the proper answer to this test, “Okay, Jesus. How do we do that? How are you going to do that? Because we do it without you. But okay.”

This is not anomaly for Jesus either.

Jesus does this.

He asks His followers to do things they can’t do, but because He is in their lives, they can.

We call it, “Trust and Obey.”

And that’s the way to be happy in Jesus.

What is Jesus asking you to do these days that is basically impossible? At least, without Him.

Evangelism?

Getting bold and speaking up and telling people the good news?

“You give them something to eat.”

How about forgiveness?

Counting up someone’s sins and offenses against you, and releasing them from that debt.

Can you do that? Probably not on your own.

But is Jesus asking you to?

How about serving? Or giving?

How about getting involved with the PRC?

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and helping abortion vulnerable women.

“You give them something to eat.”

Jesus tests.

And notice that in His tests, Jesus invites us to be a part of the big things that He is doing.

He uses us. He involves us. He puts us to work in His kingdom.

When Jesus tests us, it’s always for our good.

Satan’s tests are temptations. He wants us to fail.

But Jesus asks us to do the impossible in the power that He provides.

He wants us to succeed.

He wants us to trust and obey.

So the disciples scour the crowd, and this is all they can find. Verse 17.

“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’

‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered.”

Matthew doesn’t tell us where they got them.

We know from the other gospels that this was one boy’s lunch. Five probably hand-sized loaves, basically biscuits and a couple of little fish to wash it down with. A little bit of protein.

And here they are in the wilderness.

Did you notice that? Verse 15 said, “A remote place.”

They are basically stranded out in the desert.

Does this setting remind you of anything?

I think we’re supposed to be reminded of Moses in the wilderness, right?

All of Israel there camped in the wilderness, and they are hungry.

And God through Moses feeds them with what? Manna, right?

It’s also like Elisha in 2 Kings chapter 4.

Elisha miraculously fed some hungry people out in the desert, as well.

But all that Jesus has to work with is five loaves and two fish. V.18

“‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. [He’s acting as the host for a great meal.] Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.”

And they all got fed!

The food just kept coming and coming.

Multiplying and multiplying.

#3. HE PROVIDES.

Like Moses in the desert.
Like Elisha.

He feeds them.

He not only has compassion on them, but He provides what they need.

When they need it.

Isn’t it wonderful that our God is a providing God?

Today is our annual reports meeting.

Read Darla Kyler’s treasurer’s report. It’s on page 12 of the annual report.

She starts with this sentence, “God provides.”

And then she lists out some of the amazing ways that God provided for our church in 2018.

And then she ends by saying, “The Lord has reminded me again and again this past year that HE does indeed provide! Jehoveh Jireh!”

Amen.

That’s what was happening here with these five loaves and two fish and Jesus.

Jesus was providing.

Now, I think that calls for a response from us.

One thing we ought do because of His provision is NOT murmur.

Right? I mean that was the mistake the Israelites made with the manna.

They complained about the bread from heaven!

And so often we can get to complaining, too.

And worrying about whether or not the Lord will take care of us.

No, we need to trust in His provision.

And we need to thank Him for His provision every day.

How thankful are we?

Doesn’t it feel good to have a meal in your belly?

I know that this sermon is going to get you hungry.

All of this talk about bread and fish.

Well, don’t worry, there’s a meal back there in the Fellowship Hall.

Doesn’t it feel good after you eat?

And it’s always good to thank the people who make the food.

Thank you, Hospitality Team and everybody else who brought something today!

But do we thank the Lord?

Not just a token prayer, but a heartfelt thanksgiving for all that He has given us.

Because it’s more than provision here, isn’t it?

Jesus doesn’t just provide.

#4. HE SATISFIES. V.20

“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”

How many of them ate and were satisfied?

All of ‘em!

You know that word “satisfied” means in the Greek?

It means they were stuffed.

They had all that they wanted.

It was that feeling after Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes.

(Hungry yet?)

They all went to go take a nap on the couch.

Because they were satisfied.

Jesus didn’t just provide here. He went above and beyond and gave them satisfaction.

Many scholars have thought that this miracle points to the kingdom.

This is a picture of, a foretaste of the kingdom to come.

Just like the parables told us about the kingdom, the miracles tell us about the kingdom, too.

What is the kingdom like?

It’s a kingdom of satisfaction because of the King.

The kingdom is a party.

The kingdom is a banquet.

The kingdom is a feast.

And it’s all satisfying. It doesn’t wear out. It doesn’t wind down.

It’s a party that never ends.

It’s full of abundance.

I think that’s why there are so many leftovers here.

Verse 20 says “the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”

It’s not just that Jesus makes something out of nothing.

But that He makes more than necessary because He is overflowing with grace and blessing.

And that’s what the kingdom is and is going to be like.

Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”

So totally satisfying!

Now, in the Gospel of John, the crowd makes the connection between Moses and Jesus. They get that He’s like a new and maybe greater Moses.

But in John, Jesus takes it another step further.

He says that He Himself is like the Manna.

The new and greater Manna.

He is the bread from heaven.

Jesus Himself is the bread of life.

Jesus Himself is the One Who satisfies, not just our bodies but our souls.

He said, “I am the bread of life.”

Do you believe that?

Have you come to trust in Jesus so that He is the satisfaction of your soul?

Nothing else will satisfy.

Everything else will disappoint.

But Jesus will not disappoint.

He will satisfy our souls forever.

#5. HE AMAZES!

There is a reason why all four gospel writers included this miracle when they didn’t all include the rest.

It’s because it’s a stunning miracle.

Nobody else could do this.

Nobody else has ever done anything like it.

It’s miracle that takes the Creator to do.

This shows that Jesus is the Creator.

He makes matter out of nothing.

He takes five loaves and two fish, and He keeps passing it and passing it and passing until how many people are fed? V.21

“The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

We call this the “Feeding of the Five Thousand,” but it was a lot more than that!

It’s at least 10,000.

It could be 20,000 or more!

That’s amazing!

That’s creational power!

That’s the kingdom coming!

And it’s so quiet.

Matthew doesn’t even tell us what it was like or how He did it.

He just gives thanks, “Thank you, Father” and then breaks the loaves, and then starts passing it out.

Until upwards to 30,000 people are fed.

Who does that?

Who is Jesus?

He’s amazing!


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Questions for Group Discussion:

1. Find and read the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in all four of the gospels. What different emphases do the various gospel writers bring out?

2. Why does Pastor Matt call the Gospel of Matthew a “theological biography?” What does that mean? How should that affect how we read it?

3. What five things about Who Jesus is did Pastor Matt point out in today’s message? What difference does each one make for our lives today? (Take some time on this question thinking through each of the five points.)

4. Would you add a sixth or seventh item about Who Jesus is from this short story?

5. In what ways is the Lord calling you to respond and follow Jesus because of studying this story together today? How can our group pray for each other as we apply it to our lives?


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Previous Messages in This Series:

01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude

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