Extraordinary Provider

Extraordinary Provider

J.C. Thompson |

In the story of feeding the 5,000, we'll discover what it means to participate in God's work.

Message 2 extraORDINARY Provider
July 3, 2022
J.C. Thompson

A. Introduction (Nehemiah 9:15; Matthew 14:2)

  1. Welcome back to our series entitled extraORDINARY.
  2. To provide context for this story, we see here Herod Antipas explaining to his servants how Jesus is doing the miraculous in Matthew 14.
  3. Matthew 14:2 (CSB) “This is John the Baptist,” he told his servants. “He has been raised from the dead, and that’s why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
  4. Matthew then explains how John the Baptist was murdered in a very public and grotesque way that involved a leader in power not wanting to be embarrassed in front of the guests at his party.
  5. It is interesting that Herod describes Jesus as John the Baptist resurrected for a few reasons: 1) John the Baptist never performed any miracles. He preached repentance and baptized those who believed but did not perform miracles. To believe that a person could be resurrected is also interesting because not everyone believed that someone could be resurrected from the dead.
  6. 2) Herod feels a bit of guilt over what happened and his involvement in it. He did not want to kill John the Baptist but chose his own ego over the man who confronted him over his divorce in order to marry the wife of his half-brother.
  7. Herod did not understand Jesus and the work He was to accomplish.
  8. This miracle is particularly important to Jesus and clarifying who He is because of the unique connection to the miraculous provision of God feeding the Israelites through manna coming from the sky.
  9. Nehemiah 9:15 (CSB) You provided bread from heaven for their hunger; You brought them water from the rock for their thirst ...
  10. This is the only miracle recorded in every gospel. In the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke specifically sets this miracle within the context of John the Baptist’s death and so we see Jesus and His disciples upon hearing this news, moving away from Herod Antipas in order to

B. Participating in God’s work calls for...

1. EMBRACING your LIMITATIONS. (Matthew 14:13-17; Philippians 2:5-8. C/R: Luke 2:52; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

  1. Matthew 14:13–17 (CSB) When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, had compassion on them, and healed their sick.

    When evening came, the disciples approached Him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”

    “They don’t need to go away,” Jesus told them. “You give them something to eat.”

    “But we only have five loaves and two fish here,” they said to Him.
  2. As we discussed, Jesus withdraws or goes away with His disciples privately in order to get away from Herod.
  3. Was Jesus afraid? No! His ministry is not about the miraculous, it is about atonement for sins. His miracles point to this purpose of His ministry. So, He gets away because it is not His time and the stir created by His miracles should not keep Him from accomplishing His purpose of accomplishing the salvation of humanity.
  4. Jesus understanding this gets away with His friends. But instead of arriving into a place of solitude to be with His friends, He is met with crowds.
  5. I think it is important to understand and acknowledge this crowd’s motivation. Why did they follow Jesus in this way?
  6. It could be the spectacle of the miraculous, it could have been their response to His incredible teaching as mentioned at the end of Matthew 13. But it seems that these men and women had not become believers, but instead were continuing to follow Jesus out of some selfish motivation.
  7. Jesus embraced His limitations. By doing this and prioritizing His purpose over what is also good, healing, casting out demons, teaching others the Word of God.
  8. His retreat was to continue to help Him create the room to continue to train and prepare His disciples for what would be His most important work.
  9. Ill. Young People in this room. Now is the time to prioritize what is most important to you. Not after High School, Not after summer vacation, not when I’m older, have a career, or am married, or have children. Now.
  10. Yet instead of being frustrated, Jesus feels compassion for them and healed them all. Praise God that this is how He approaches us when we come to Him even imperfectly!
  11. But Christ’s intentional focus is interrupted and while He had compassion on these people, we do not see the same type of understanding of limitations in the disciples that we see in Christ.
  12. This is the tension that we live within. We are not God, we cannot create something out of nothing. Our human bodies have a sinful nature. And the tension is two extremes. Not understanding that we have a real finiteness to our human existence and the other extreme is that we do not believe that God can do more with our limitations than we can.
  13. The disciples' statement is not a suggestion to Jesus or a what do you think we should do, but the grammar used here indicates a command for Jesus to send away the crowds. Now I think the disciples might be experiencing their own limitations. You ever dealt with hungry people before?
  14. In addition to the concerns of what a crowd of at least 5,000 people might turn into, the disciples themselves are also hungry and it is getting late in a place where people might be in danger when it gets dark. Remember there is zero artificial light here.
  15. So, Jesus stops them in force. Jesus says there is a better way than sending them to a nearby town for food, you feed them.
  16. We see the disciples not understanding what Jesus asked them and seeing their limitations as negative rather than embracing them.
  17. Jesus tries to help the disciples see not their situation and limitations as the only possibility but invites them to participate with God with those limitations. But they are struggling against Jesus.
  18. Then the disciples come back against Jesus. I can feel them being hangry here. “But this is all we have.”
  19. The disciples felt limited by need and supply. They were feeling the needs of those around them and within themselves and their ability to supply what was needed.
  20. Jesus rightly expected them to understand this already. They should have understood that they do not have the same ability to supply things that God does and also should have understood that Christ is both able and willing to do it in their midst. But they don’t.
  21. When you are following God, are you embracing your limitations or fighting against them? Are you using your limitations as an excuse for disobedience to God?

2. EXPECTING God’s LEADERSHIP. ( Matthew 14:18-20a. C/R: Malachi 3:10; John 17:1) .

  1. Matthew 14:18-19 (CSB) “Bring them here to Me,” He said. Then He commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
  2. Jesus took what was available to the people, their limited resources and does something miraculous.
  3. Jesus did two ordinary things.
  4. John 17:1 (CSB) Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You,
  5. Looking up to heaven was a ordinary way of praying.
  6. He also broke bread.
  7. Acts 2:42 (CSB) They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.
  8. That just meant sharing an ordinary meal.
  9. These would have been normal practices of blessing the food before a meal and giving to those around the table. But He also did something extraORDINARY.
  10. Matthew 14:20a (CSB)Everyone ate and was satisfied.
  11. He provided food for everyone that had gathered there. And everyone was full.
  12. The disciples did not expect Jesus to do anything with all they had. They saw their limitation as the only possibility and because they were limited, it was impossible.
  13. But God sees our limitations and our dependence on Him as an opportunity to make the impossible, possible.
  14. Jesus used what was available. John’s retelling of this story shares two important things for us to see as well.
  15. This food was provided by a small boy. It is widely believed that this was this young boy’s lunch. It was also shown that these were barley loaves. Barley would have been an indicator that this was a poor boy’s lunch.
  16. Don’t miss this. God used a small child, who was poor to feed over 5,000 men. Now some estimate that this crowd could have been as few as 10,000 with women and children and could have been as large as 20,000 people.
  17. Now Jesus did not turn this food into Michelin star restaurant food here. He kept the menu the same, but He provided enough food for everyone there to be satisfied.
  18. This is a miracle. There are some who might teach that this feeding and filling is symbolic. But Jesus would absolutely have the capacity of creating out of nothing as God did in the creation of the World. This is a miracle of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
  19. I want you to notice the important distinction here. Jesus does all the things that are miraculous. He alone multiples this lunch. He blesses, gives instruction, breaks the loaves and hands them to His disciples. He provides the leadership.
  20. His disciples were responsible for logistics.
  21. You also have to remember that this was not the only time that they would have seen a transformational type of miracle. If you remember the miracle at the wedding in Cana, the disciples brought water jars and Jesus did the rest.
  22. Dependence, desperation and need are all terms that we should recognize as synonymous with the faithful Christian, but those words fly in the face of our American Dream upbringing.
  23. We do not depend on our ability to get things done.
  24. If they were truly depending on Christ for everything, they simply could have asked Jesus to also feed everyone instead of sending the people away.
  25. Are you leading in your family, your business, your neighborhood, your goals, out of your own power? Are you dependent on God’s leadership? Do you expect Him to have a say in how you live in those areas of your life?

3. ENJOYING the LEFTOVERS. (Matthew 14:20b-21. C/R: Luke 22:18, Revelation 22:17)

  1. Matthew 14:20–21 (CSB) … They picked up twelve baskets full of leftover pieces. Now those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children .
  2. I love that not only did Jesus provide enough food for everyone to be full, but He provided more than that.
  3. I think knowing that there were 12 baskets would have been an important illustration to the 12 disciples that Jesus was thinking about them and how they view ministry as well. I can just imagine them all carrying one basket of leftovers.
  4. But we struggle sometimes believing that God really blesses in this way sometimes. He promises to provide all we need, but He sometimes gives us more than we need.
  5. God’s storehouses, His supplies are so full and extravagant that even the lunch of a poor boy provides more than enough for a multitude.
  6. What I love too, is that for the disciples who would have carried these baskets, must have been a teaching all on its own. It was not just about the food. It was about their participation with Jesus. What they had is enough when they are involved with Jesus Christ.
  7. Our limitations + God’s leadership = Joyful Satisfaction
  8. This is a spiritual reality. When we bring what we have in faith, God brings what He has. And what He has is more than we could ever ask or imagine.
  9. Jesus is exactly that. He is more than we could ask or imagine.
  10. He not only looks on us with compassion. He provides for us over and over again.
  11. When we forget, when we fail, when we are frustrated and hangry. Jesus gives and gives and gives and gives.
  12. And it is most certainly more than we deserve but it is also more than that.
  13. If you don’t have a family, He provides one.
  14. If you aren’t gifted, He provides the gifts.
  15. If you are not at peace, He provides peace.
  16. He makes you worthy. He gives you a future and an inheritance.
  17. He gives you rest.
  18. Christ is all of that and more. You only need to look to Him.
  19. If you look anywhere else, it will fail you. Look to Christ today.
  20. Are you a person who sees your lack or Christ’s abundance? Can you see the riches of life with God?
  21. Look to Him today and enjoy the life that He offers to you.
  22. Let’s pray.

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