Jesus And Never-Ending Needs (Matthew 14)

MOTIVATE

How many love long car rides?

  • Those younger don’t like long car rides because their reduced attention span and instant gratification mindset – “Are we there yet?”
  • Those older don’t like long car rides because their increased need to stop for stretching and bathroom breaks.
  • I’m not sure of the type of people who love long car rides, but confession “I’m that guy.” Sorry.
    • I’m disappointed not taking my daughter to school each morning / missing FUGE trip…
  • Maybe it’s because I’m a father of five children trying to soak up every moment… IDK. But I’ve enjoyed them before from trips with friends, to many trips as a YP on retreats and events.
    Apart from enjoying the scenery of various locations, I enjoy car rides for the opportunity to have conversations with others. Persons can’t wander away and it’s kind of a captive audience.
  • Car ride conversations don’t usually tie together or relate to each other but are instead random thoughts and bits of information passed to one another.
  • Today’s message might feel like a random car ride conversation. Don’t worry, you’re not locked in the car and you can stop to use the bathroom anytime you need 🙂

Matthew 14 logo

EXAMINE           Matthew 14    Never-ending Needs

The Bible passage of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is unique and important because it is included in all four Gospels. Therefore, its message is essential for Christ-followers and the church. In last 10 years I preached on this story four times but never preached it from the Gospel of Matthew, until today.[1]

In this chapter we see several shortfalls of humanity.

Matthew 14:1-11
Power and pride lead to impulsiveness. We must pray beyond changed laws to changed hearts.

Herod the tetrarch (ruler of ¼ part) was one of the sons of King Herod, whom we read earlier in Gospel that orders the murder of all two year old male babies to squash threats to his reign. All the Roman leaders and Herod’s were ruthless and paranoid of threats. It was said, “It is better to be Herod’s hog than son.” Vice and violence were Roman virtues.

Nonetheless, Herod hears reports about Jesus. It shows that news of Jesus was spreading far and wide. Matthew’s Gospel presents a flashback to John with Herod assuming Jesus’s miraculous powers and prophetic teachings were “John the Baptist back from the dead.” Last week’s message addressed this. Jesus identified as the Messiah because of His miracles

  • Blind receive sight
  • Lame walk
  • Leprosy cured
  • Deaf hear
  • Dead raised
  • Good news preached to poor

The consequences of sin are significant: Disease, disabilities, disparity, and death are all severe realities we face in this world. Yet the Gospel’s portray Jesus reversing the curse of sin with His miraculous power. Jesus is more than a doctor or prescribed policy flattening the curve of sin, He is personally flatlining the power of sin. Demons and death have no power over Jesus. And this scares the Roman officials because they want the people to fear and rely on the government and not God. Which brings me to a first statement.

Our greatest need is not a change of Herod’s political positions. We solve problems not with politics but by praying for God to transform hearts. Herod’s heart was closed, yet his conscience was struck by John the Baptizer speaking against his committing adultery with brother’s wife. And while Herod was intrigued by both John and Jesus, it was not enough for repentance. Herod wanted to see Jesus, but elsewhere Jesus responded, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course (Luke 13:32).

There are people who can view Jesus as useful but not beautiful. Politicians have a knack of using religion and God to promote their agenda. However, these same politicians are closed to repentance of sin and radically following Jesus in faith.

John the Baptizer was beheaded for speaking up against immoral government official. But it is better to be a headless prophet than a heartless king.

  • Let us pray for kings and those in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (1Tim 2:2).
  • Let us stand up and speak out for issues that may be unpopular but are aimed at populating heaven. We can promote a lot of agendas in the world – even ones that seem important, but is your soap box important enough that it’s leading others to follow Jesus, or is it pushing them away? I fear one of the reasons church and Christianity has been deemed “non-essential” is because for too long we have been insider focused and our heart for the lost world has grown cold. My church family, this should not be…

 

Matthew 14:12-14, 22-23
Tragedy and grief lead to feeling inundated. We must process heartache with hope.

News of John’s death reaches Jesus – His family member and ministry friend was murdered. Jesus attempted to withdraw, grieve, and refresh but crowds followed. The needs of the people outnumbered Jesus and the disciples.

In a moment, the passage describes Jesus responding to the crowd’s needs, but let us not move too quickly past the tragedy and grief facing Jesus. Even after the miracle Jesus will perform, the crowds will go away leaving Jesus alone to pray (14:22-23).

This season is producing a plethora amount of motions, but what we often cannot name is the reality that we are grieving.[2] Our world has changed, normalcy looks never to return, connections are distant, and the collective losses are multiplying. We are experiencing the symptoms and stages of grief. Grief does not occur only in death, but in the dying of dreams, desires, and things to which we’re devoted. Some will deny they are grieving but they are only revealing they are not ready to move forward to the next stage.

Jesus was not just 100% God but 100% human. He felt shock and sadness on earth. “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with us…” Heb 4.

Additionally, the passage indirectly relates how we see Jesus processing heartache. While Jesus is grieving and seeking time alone, He is inundated with people and their needs. And, Jesus’s immediate response is to offer compassion to minister to each one. From where does this energy and empathy come? We can only discern it is His abiding prayer with the Father. Jesus operates beyond the surface and from the reservoir of God’s strength. The deep inward abiding with God was able to sustain the heartaches and withdrawals of Jesus’s humanity.

  • We must faithfully fill our spiritual reservoirs or the numerous withdraws will leave us depleted, irritated, and hollow. Apart from personal Bible reading, I would commend Bible Group life.
  • Series on Grief is coming in June.

 

Matthew 14:15-20
Insufficiency leads to dependency. We must depend on the right source.

Jesus and the disciples spent the day with a crowd of people. They were countless conversations, prayer, and Jesus’s healing ministry.  Near the end of the day the disciples wanted to send the crowd away. People were hungry but they didn’t want to leave Jesus. The disciples did not want to be the bearer of bad news, so they told Jesus to send the crowd away.

Think about this for a moment. The same disciples who had been with the Messiah – the One who had proclaimed the kingdom of God and healing all sorts of diseases and afflictions (Mt 4:23-25); the One who proclaimed authority over God’s law (Mt 5-7); the One with healing in His hands and refuge under His wings. Shouldn’t these disciples have expected or requested Jesus to help meet this minor need and provide another miracle? Further, why would the disciples push people away instead of draw them closer to God? Perhaps it is because they allowed their relationship with Jesus to become overly familiar. Perhaps they came to see their relationship with Jesus and ministry with others as mere routine. They overlooked people as those for whom Jesus came. Instead of seeing people they saw problems.

  • When we view our own troubles or the worlds trials, is your first response to pray or to panic?

Thankfully, Jesus knew what to do. Jesus involved the disciples who saw the problem to participate in the solution. While the disciples collected food from the crowd – five loaves of bread and two fish – they still were relying upon their own resources. Their reservoir of faith was apparently empty.

Jesus took what was available and multiplied it into abundance. All the people ate to their full and there were even leftovers; in fact 12 baskets of food, perhaps 1 basket for each disciple to collect as a memory for future faith. Jesus has a way of reminding us little is much when God is in it.

  • Do you view people as problems, especially those you disagree?
  • Do we view people as projects, meeting their surface need to make ourselves feel good but not offering to develop their God-given purpose, and more their spiritual faith?
    • God does not want people dependent on handouts. His miracles had a message, where the provision of food pointed to His sufficiency. Jesus is the “bread of life.” Later, a crowd asks Jesus to produce more miracles, but Jesus says the only miracle they’ll get is the resurrection (Mat 16:1-4). Christianity depends upon the resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus is not resurrected then our faith is futile and wasting time, but if He did then everything is about Him. And that’s the problem with most so called Christians today – they want a God focused on them rather than their life focused on glorifying God.

APPLY/THINK

While this message has been a bit heavy and challenging towards Christians – Jesus wants iron to sharpen iron – we must also recognize the overwhelming compassion Jesus has for people with burdens and brokenness.  The model for Christian believers to minister to the hurts, hang-ups, and hopes of people is the life of Jesus.

But, our love for the world around us only grows according to the awareness of God’s love personally for us.

God’s love is higher than you can reach and deeper than how far you wander.

Psalm 36:5-7
5  Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
6  Your righteousness is like the mountains of God…
7  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

 

God’s love meets us in the dark phases of our life, whether we’ve sinned or been sinned against.

Psalm 18:2-6
2  The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3  I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
4  The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5  the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.
6  In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

God wants us to learn to count to 8.[3] The disciples counted 5 fish + 2 loaves = 7, but they forgot to factor 1 more with Jesus. How many times in our needs do we count to 7 and stop because we haven’t included God? Whatever your need, add God.

– – – – – – – – – –

[1] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2010/09/06/rooted-gospel-evangelism-pt-2-mark-6/ and https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2012/03/30/miracles-luke-91-17/ and https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2017/03/13/signs-wonders-john-6/  and https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2018/02/25/jesus-and-peoples-need/

[2] https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

[3] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching The Word: Matthew 14:13.

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