Jesus the Selfless Servant :: By Sean Gooding

Matthew chapter 14:13-21 (continued)

“ Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.’ Jesus said to them, ‘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.’ He said, ‘Bring them here to Me.’ Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.  Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

Last time we looked at the death of John the Baptist and discussed that when we make stands for the truth that we need to accept the fact that being hurt or killed because of that stand is a reality. We live in a time when Christians are being executed because they refuse to renounce the name of Jesus.

About a year ago we saw that a murderer went into a facility in the USA and asked his victims if they believed in Jesus; if they did, he shot them. John the Baptist was and is one of many martyrs. There will be many more in the next few years from all corners of the world. Jesus told us this sobering truth in Matthew 16:24-25,

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.…’”

In all my years of growing up in the Lord’s churches I did not ever have to fear for my life. But as we move closer and closer to the Lord’s return I look at my children and I wonder what price they will have to pay for the name and cause of Christ? I pray that I will equip my children to live for Jesus so that if the time comes to die for Jesus they will see the worth. Today we will visit one of the most famous of the events in Jesus’ life here on earth. In this feeding of the 5000 we will explore some things that we all know and maybe look at a thing or two to make us all think.

Jesus Can’t Get Away for a Break, Verse 1

One of the things that can get misplaced in the study of the life of Jesus here on earth is his humanity. Jesus was 100 percent man. He ate, he drank, he slept, he sweated, he had to take time for bodily functions and he needed some alone time every now and then.  When Jesus woke up in the morning His hair was messed up just like ours.

He at times needed a shower or a bath, I guess in that day. His feet got dirty as He walked the streets of Jerusalem and His hands would have been calloused like the hands of a working man, say a carpenter. In this case Jesus just needed some alone time by himself to mourn the death of His cousin and so he went off by boat, to find a bit of solitude.

No such rest would come on this day. The people simply found out where He was going and ran to meet Him. These folks came from all the surrounding cities to Jesus. Some of them would have walked very far with their children and wives to see Jesus and to hear His teaching.  Maybe some were looking for healing and help for a loved one.

Whatever the reason they flocked to Jesus and no amount of distance that He put between Him and them seemed to be enough. Jesus drew crowds just about everywhere He went; some were believers and others, the haters, like the Pharisees and Sadducees. Some came to be healed and others to see the show. But in the midst of these people and even amongst the elders of Israel were people who genuinely gave their lives to Jesus and called Him Lord.

 Jesus Had Compassion , Verse14

The true heart of a servant is one who puts aside personal needs to serve other. Jesus set a very high bar in the area of service. He was selfless when it came to the people who came to Him.  This day He was just in need of a few minutes to himself, some peace and quiet, maybe a time to pray and commune with His Father. Rather than striking out and stating His own needs He met their needs with compassion, and this drove Him to help.  We see at the end of the verse that He healed their sick.

I am so guilty of seeking my own needs first in many situations, most often when it comes to my children. I work a secular job as well as pastor a church and sometimes on a Sunday afternoon, I just want to sit and do nothing, watch some football or vegetate and not have to think. But my children need to me to be there to take them somewhere or do something or simply be engaged. But I am selfish and put my needs first, I am not compassionate to them and I am certainly not gracious at times.

Jesus knew that His time on earth was a short stint and so He simply made the most of every waking minute. He gave His all, all the time, and held nothing back. How are we in the area of service? Are we selfless like Jesus or selfish? Are we givers or takers? Do we make time for the ones we say that we love realizing, like Jesus, that the time we have together here is short and precious? We always assume that we will have tomorrow.  There were many who can testify that tomorrow never comes.

Jesus works into evening as we see in verse 15. Now this could have been as early as about 3 pm in the afternoon for us. The evening sacrifice in the Temple for instance was at 3 pm.  So this does not necessarily mean that it was night. To us, evening at least means that the sun is going down. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away into the surrounding villages to buy something to eat and make their own arrangements for food.

This was a futile task as the account clearly states that they were in a desert place. Often we do the prudent thing to avoid doing the right thing. These people had small children with them, there were women as well and they had travelled great distances to see Jesus and to hear him and be healed. This is kind of like when we offer to pray for someone as an excuse not to some anything at all. But Jesus would have none of this instead Jesus gives the command to ‘give them something to eat’ in verse 16.

Our Resources Are Low,  Verse 17

In the John 6 account of the same event, we find that Peter offers that 200 denarii would not be enough to feed these many people. In doing a bit of research about the denarii on the website we find that one denarii was a day’s wages for a common labourer. So Peter was telling Jesus and us that about 2/3 of a year’s wage would not be enough to feed these many people.

I want us to consider the irony of this situation. Jesus had just spent a large part of the day healing people of various diseases, by this time the disciples had seen Jesus turn water to wine, cast out demons and do all manner of miracles and here they were stumped by how to feed a large group of people. This is how we are with the Lord very often, we repeat passages like Psalm 23 with fervor and we cry and feel all tingly inside but when the time comes to exercise true faith we cower behind rational explanations

Even when they brought the young man to Jesus with the few fish and the few loaves they were not looking for a miracle, they were still looking for a way out. Their words were not words of faith, “what are they among so many” and in Matthew we see them say they “only” have these few resources. They still wanted out of taking responsibility for these people. Jesus would have none of that. We must take responsibility for the people that Jesus puts in our path.

The New Testament church must take responsibility for the masses of people around us who stand by and complain of a lack of resources is not the right way. Apparently we can sing, He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine and I know He really cares for me” and not really mean it.  It is nice song but do we actually believe it?

Will God take care of you? Did He take care of about 2,000,000 people in the wilderness journey that we read about in Exodus? Did He not feed, water, clothe, and yes, He even shod every single one of them.  Read Exodus 8: 3-4:

“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.”

God allowed the Israelites to be in tough situations that made them turn to God. The purpose was to realize that God is our Sustainer and our Provider.  He is the one, not our money, our jobs, our pensions, our retirement plans, our inheritances and certainly not the government run lotteries. God and God alone is our Provider. Here the disciples were about the get schooled by Jesus about His ability to provide.

He fed more than 15,000 people from five loaves of bread and 2 small fishes. It is not the size of the problem that we should look at, it is the size of our God. Some of us sing about a big God but in all practicality we treat Him as a small God. I will admit that I had to learn to trust my BIG GOD the hard way. God blessed me with a family; we have three children, and my income did not go up very much if at all.

In some cases it went down, I was working and we tithed and tried to give what we could.  But we had to depend on God to help us and He did in miraculous ways. He revealed that He is the same God who took care of the Jews in the wilderness; He takes care of my family. God continues to expand our faith by bringing us to places where we have to forgo human reasoning and simply let God be God.

Give All You Can Cheerfully and Faithfully, Verse 18

In John 6: 9 we see that Andrew finds a young lad with some food, some fish and a few loaves of bread. Jesus took them, blessed them and distributed to the people around him.  He gave to the disciples and they fed the people. Notice that Jesus made the disciples feed the people, He did the supplying but they took the food to the people. This was truly a miracle in that Jesus met the needs of the people with great power and authority.

He not only provided for them needs of the 15,000 or so people there He actually provided more than was needed. In verse 20 we find that 12 baskets were filled with the leftovers. After taking a look at a few commentaries it would seem that these where the kind of personal baskets that the Jews would take with them on journeys, not large containers but enough to have a bit of food in it.

I do not know if the number 12 was significant but there were 12 Apostles and in John 6:12 we are told that they gathered the food that none would be lost. Food is precious to poor people; they made sure that every edible bit was saved. In our time today we take food and its abundance for granted. But one of the judgments that God sends on a nation that rejects Him and His ways is food shortages.

Just over the past four years the average food price has risen about 30% and a recent article on Fox News mentioned that prices will raise another 2-4% next year. The countries of North America have been blessed for many generations with food abundance, we should not take these blessings for granted, and the same God who gives, can take away.

This young lad had a story to tell for the rest of his life. A story of wonder and amazement and that star of it was Jesus. I wonder how many we will see in heaven simply because this young man spoke about the wonders and power of Jesus.

What about you?

What is your story?

Whenever I think of this I am reminded of the apostle Paul; he told the story of his conversion over and over again. In Acts 26:12-18 and in Acts 22: 6-11 we find Paul simply telling others what Jesus did for him.

What has Jesus done for you?

What miracle has He blessed you with?

Are you silent?

Your silence will simply cheat you out of great blessings. Make no mistake, God will be praised. You and I should count it as a privilege and a duty when we consider all that God has done for us.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His loving kindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary” (Psalm 107:1-2).