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Matthew 14:13-21

(When Jesus heard it...that John the Baptist had been beheaded)

Before reading the Passage

We come to one of the most unique miracles of our Lord. It is His largest miracle as far as size is concerned. It is also the only miracle, other than our Lord's resurrection, that is found in all four gospels. Only John explains the miracle.

It is the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. In this miracle we will see a lad, his lunch and the Lord.

Read the Passage

I said in the beginning of the message that this is a unique miracle. It is unique in that the Lord Jesus took something from someone else – an unnamed lad – and used it to work a miracle.

I'm reminded of Moses in Exodus 4. God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” Moses said, “A rod.” The rod of Moses became the rod of God and God used that rod to perform many miracles.

Three things I want us to see from this passage:

I. Our Lord's Compassion 14:13-17

Our Lord is only one year away from His crucifixion. He is at the peak of His popularity. Both He and His disciples are bone tired. It was Jesus' intention to get away from the crowd, go to a deserted place and rest for a while.

• Jesus gets into a boat with His disciples, goes the three miles across the sea, and plans to be alone with His disciples. But the crowd saw where He was going. Five thousand men, plus women and children, walk the shores to get to where Jesus was.

• It was three miles by boat across the sea of Galilee but it was a ten mile walk around the shore line to where Jesus was, and when Jesus saw that they had walked all that way, He had compassion on them and began to heal their sick and to teach them.

Now it was mid-afternoon. Night was coming and the people were going to need lodging and food.


• Luke says the day was beginning to wear away; literately, the day was bending down.

• Most of the people had not eaten since early morning and they were hungry.

• Notice 14:15. The disciples came to the Lord and said, “Lord, it's getting late. Send the people away so they can go into the villages (before it gets dark) and buy food for themselves.”

• Jesus responded (verse 16), “They don't need to go away. Y-O-U give them something to eat.”

Everyone in this scene had a viewpoint as to what should be done.

A. Jesus had Compassion 14:14

Everybody sees the crowd differently. Some look at a crowd and see:

- Hands...and think of labor or work force

- Heads...and count them as successes

- Heart...and see hurting, needy people that need help

B. The Disciples Reached a Conclusion 14:15

• “Send them away.” Let them fend for themselves. They're not our problem. “Jesus, send them away from us and from Thee. Let them find help from sources other than you, Lord.”

• “Themselves” is emphatic. “Let them help themselves. They shouldn't expect anything from us. Send them away – anywhere, but don't expect us to lend a hand.”

• This wasn't the first time the disciples told Jesus to send someone away. They said the same about the Syro-Phenician woman whose daughter had a demon...and also about the children who were brought to Jesus. “Send them away!”

• That's the solution to the problem! They tried to rid themselves of the responsibility.

• Notice: “and buy themselves victuals (food).” Let each man be left to his own resources, with no regard to spiritual power from Jesus.

• They said, “send them away” (verse 15); Jesus said, “You give them something to eat”...They said, “Themselves”; Jesus said, “You.”

“Send them away.” I wonder if that's the way the church sees the multitudes.

• Someone said that the church is no longer fishers of men, but keepers of the aquarium.

• We must be fishers of men, for lost folks are not knocking our doors down to get into the church.

• These words were on the walls of one church:

*They will not seek; they must be sought

*They will not come; they must be brought

*They will not learn; they must be taught

In other words, it's our job to get folks here.

C. Phillip Calculated John 6:5-7

A denar: was a day's pay for a common laborer. Two hundred denar would equal working six days a week for eight months.

But he left Jesus out of the calculation.


D. Andrew Confessed John 6:8-9

• Matthew 14:17 adds the word “only.” The lad's lunch contains “only” five loaves and two fish. “That's all we've got!”

• I think Jesus smiled. “Is this really all you have, Andrew? What about me – your Lord and Master? No, these are not all you have. You have me, too. Don't leave me out!”

• “You say you have 'only' five loaves and two fish?” Whatever your “only” is, when you bring all of your “only” to Jesus, it's huge! He can enlarge it beyond our imagination.

• Andrew said, “There is a lad here. He doesn't have much. And what he has isn't the best. It's the food of the poor: Bread made from barley, not wheat; salted-down sardines, not lamb chops.” But what he had was enough when he gave it to Jesus!

• Andrew did good until he added, “But what are they among so many? How far will they go among so many?” He, too, forgot to add Jesus into the problem.

E. The Lad Cooperated

• Somebody said that there were several miracles that day. The first miracle was that the boy had gone all day and still had his lunch. Most boys would have eaten it long ago. The second miracle was getting the lunch from the boy. And the third miracle was getting the crowd to sit down before they had eaten.

• I can hear Andrew ask the lad, “Would you give your lunch to Jesus?” The boy, looking into the face of Jesus, responds, “I would give all that I have to Jesus.” The lad extends his small, weak hand with his lunch in it, to the all-powerful hand of Jesus that created the universe.

• What he offered seemed so little...but little is much when God is in it. Thousands of sermons have been preached on that lad because he was willing to give all he had to Jesus.

• Anything you give to Jesus is a wise investment. God makes the most of our little when our little is the most we can give Him.

II. Out Lord's Command 14:19a

Each Gospel writer adds a detail to our Lord's command:

• John says that there was much grass in the area. Jesus wanted this to be a delightful experience for the multitude.

• Luke says there was to be organization – “set them in groups of fifty's and hundreds.” We are not told this in Scripture, but I think there were twelve groups. There were 5,000 men plus women and children; so, that would mean each disciple would serve six to seven hundred people each if the total number were eight to ten thousand.

• Notice that Jesus always works through His people. He could have fed the people all by Himself, but he wanted participation from His disciples. So it was with other miracles; when He turned water into wine, He involved the servants; Lazarus from the dead, He said, “you roll away the stone.”

• Matthew said that He commanded the people to sit down on the grass. Can you imagine the


mass confusion if Jesus had just piled the food up and shouted, “Come and get it!”

• In Mark, the word for green grass is garden beds. In their multicolored robes they looked like blooming garden beds among the grass.

III. Our Lord's Creation 14:19-21

Four things Jesus did with that lad's lunch:

A. He Took It 14:19

• A moment ago the lunch belonged to the lad; now, it belonged to the Lord!

• There are five things the lad could have done with his lunch:

1. He could have eaten it himself, but no miracle would have taken place and others would not

have been blessed.

2. He could have sold his lunch; again, no miracle and only two or three would have gotten a


3. He could have eaten part of it and sold the rest.

4. He could have hidden it and come back later for it.

5. He could have given it to Jesus; that's what he did. Not part of it all of it. Everything he

had, he gave to Jesus!

That's what Jesus is waiting for from us. He never asks us to give Him what we do not have, but He does demand us to give Him all we are and have if we want to be a part of what He wants to do in the lives of those around us.

B. He Blessed It 14:19

• As people waited and watched quietly, Jesus stood and lifted His eyes toward heaven and prayed. Every eye must have focused on Him, and every ear tuned to listen to His voice.

• The crowd overheard Him speaking to His Father, thanking God for meeting the physical needs of the people.

• How embarrassing it would have been to thank God for the food for the multitude if it had remained only five loaves and two fish.

• Why did Jesus bless it? In blessing it, something was put into it that was not there before.

• When the boy transferred his lunch to Jesus, it was transformed by Jesus!

• By the way, I'm glad to see that Jesus was not ashamed to bless the lunch before all those people.

• An old farmer came to town...over-all's and all. He went to a restaurant to eat and when his meal came he bowed his head and thanked God for the food. Some young men saw it and thought they would have some fun with the old farmer. One of them said, “Old man, does everybody on the farm give thanks before they eat?” He said, “everybody but the hogs.”

• When Jesus blessed the lunch, don't you think He asked the Father to bless the boy too?


I think Jesus also thanked the boy for giving Him what was needed for the miracle.

C. He Broke It

• We, like the lunch, often need to be broken before we are useable to God. Broken of our pride...our haughty spirit...our stubborn will.

• J. Sidlow Baster, the great preacher and author, said in the early years of his ministry he was proud of his degrees and abilities. He went through a period where God was not blessing his ministry. He went before God and asked God why He was not blessing his ministry. God answered, “Sid, I use sparrows; not peacocks.”

D. He Used It 14:19

• Before the disciples could give the food to the people, they had to first get the food from the hands of Jesus. If we are going to give to others we must first receive from Him.

• Then the disciples had the responsibility of sharing with others what Jesus had given them.

• Everyone was not only fed, but filled also...not only filled but thrilled! The word “filled” means “gorged.”

• I can see Andrew holding a full basket in his hands; when he offered the bread and fish to someone who said, with a mouth full already, “No thanks! I couldn't eat one more bite!” Someone else said “I don't know when I've had so much to eat!”

• What if the disciples had not shared after Christ broke the bread and only stuffed themselves? What if the Bread of Life comes to feed us and we don't share? How many would go hungry spiritually?

- I think the lad was standing there with a grin on his face, thumbs in his suspenders and

rocking back on his heels.

- Imagine the wonderful joy and contentment that boy felt when he saw what Jesus did with his

lunch. There is no way he could have imagined what would come from his simple offering.

Likewise, you and I cannot imagine what will come from our lives being surrendered to the

will and purpose of God.

- What if the little boy had not given Jesus his lunch that day? He was to be a blessing or a

curse by what he did with his all.

• When he gave Jesus his lunch, he may have thought that he would not see it again. He did see it again and much more. The same is true in our lives.

• When the boy got home I wonder if he didn't say, “Mom, you should have seen it. The more I gave Him...He just made more and more out of it. I wonder if it would be that way with every -

thing I give Him?” You know the answer, don't you?

Want to see a miracle? Give Him all that you are!