February 26, 2011
INTRODUCTION – Jesus’ two-fold deep disappointment – Rejection in his home town; senseless murder of his cousin, forerunner, and only co-worker – John the Baptist (as contrasted to His disciples who were all a project)
Today’s passage begins with how Jesus responded to the news of John’s murder.
Let’s pick it up in Matthew 14:13 “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When he went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said tot hem, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.” Matthew 14:13-21
What I would like to do now is re-cap the specifics in this passage, and then see how it relates to us and the them God has given us for this year I. Jesus’s response to the news (vs. 13) His response was to withdraw from the crowds to cast His burdens upon the Father, and pour out His complaint to Him, and to allow the Father to refill His well. (vs. 13)
Controversy: alone (Matt. 14:13) or disciples with Him (Mark 6:30-32) “….Taking them (the disciples) with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.” (Luke 9:10) Jesus was a master at maximizing moments to re-charge and re-focus.
II. The response of the crowds (vs. 13) The crowds heard and headed for the beach where He would most likely land
III. Jesus’s response to the crowds (vs. 14) When Jesus saw the crowd – his two fold response was: 1. First He felt compassion; 4 different times in the gospel of Matthew we are told that Jesus “felt compassion” either for an individual, a crowd or a city. It was a major driving motivating force in His life and ministry. Thomas Aquinas – probably commenting on this – said, “I would rather feel compassion than know the meaning of it.”
One of the reasons you are there this morning is because at some point in your life Jesus Christ felt compassion for you and invaded your life.
2. He healed their sick – motivated by compassion. Jesus saw the pain and discouragement in their faces that sickness brings and causes. That motivated Him to heal.
(Most likely, He did not wave a magic wand over the whole crowd, but dealt with them one by one). This ministry time went on into the evening.
IV. The disciples solution (vs. 15) – being a very pragmatic and probably tired lot – saw the lateness of the evening – they saw the lack of food – they knew hunger would be building – – and thus they suggested to Jesus that He send them off into the villages to get food for themselves. Do any of you ever give God advice in your prayers?
V. Jesus’s response to the disciples (vs. 16) Jesus saw this very real need as a need the disciples should meet.
VI. The Disciples’ Response to Jesus (vs. 17) Their response “We have here only five loaves and two fish” accent or emphasis on “only” (vs. 17)
VII. Jesus’s Response to their Unbelief and to the need of the crowd (vs.18,19) Jesus says, “Bring them here to Me.” That’s plenty!! (vs. 18) He could have found another way to provide, but He chose to use their minimal inadequate resource to meet the overwhelming need. He then ordered them to sit down; practiced thanksgiving – perhaps for what God can do with a little; began to divide and distribute to disciples who distributed to the crowds. (vs. 19)
VIII. The Result (vs.20,21) They all had plenty to eat. (vs. 20) 12 full baskets left over as a sign for the 12 to remember (vs. 20) Close to ten thousand people perhaps? (vs. 21)
Our theme = “Your Kingdom Come”. We believe Jesus is telling us – He wants His kingdom to come to this region in a powerful, unmistakeable, community transforming way. What will that require? 3 things:
1. We must obey His voice and know His ways. Ours is to obey His voice regardless of how great and overwhelming the need or challenge is, and regardless of the timing of the call, and regardless of our lack of resources to meet the need. We must know how Jesus operates with His disciples: a. He will often press us into situations that we feel are beyond us; but which He knows are not. (vs. 16) b. He will first press us to take responsibility for the need before He reveals/provides resources to meet the need.
2. We must grow in compassion. A compassionate heart that feels people’s pain. a. Jesus, the Pharisees, and compassion. One of Jesus’s main complaints with the Pharisees was they had no compassion. Oh they worked hard; and were extremely devout in certain ways. But they often had a hard heart towards the needy. Remember that evening when Jesus had dinner at Matthew’s house with a bunch of tax collectors and sinners? The Pharisees were infuriated at him.
b. And His charge to them was, “….Go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” Unfortunately they didn’t learn; because Jesus had to again rebuke them – quoting this same passage from Hosea 6:6 again in ch. 12:7
c. Francis Schaeffer – the great Christian apologist of the 20th century said, “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.”
Compassion comes from four major ways: 1. Consistent & fervent intercession for people and cities and needs;
2. Seeing people’s faces;
3. Hearing people’s stories (which Jesus probably did that night at Matthew’s house)
4. Practicing it first with your brothers and sisters in the church – – Phil. 2:1, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Col. 3:12 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”
I have come across believers in my time, who want to save the world, end abortion, solve world hunger, heal the sick, but cannot and will not walk in love, forgiveness, tenderness, acceptance, and compassion with their brothers and sisters.
When Jesus Christ says, “Go and learn what this means..” He really means for us to go and learn to practice this as a lifestyle. And one of the best ways to do it is being a part of a weekly home group where you are around a variety of people that you have not handpicked – that are not necessarily your age – and wherein hopefully – at least one person rubs you the wrong way; is is at least quite different from you.
Compassion is a love muscle that has to be developed; and unless we intentionally, and aggressively seek to develop it – we will remain judgmental, critical, hard hearted, snipoty, easily offended church folk.
3. Continual thanksgiving for the things/resources we do have. The enemy wants us to focus on what we don’t have – usually compared to someone else. Thanksgiving and praise focuses on what God has, and what we have in Him; and what God can do with our little.