There are three different sermons on this page...
Mth 14:13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat
privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed
him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a
large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This
is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds
away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."
16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You
give them something to eat." 17 "We have here
only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. 18
"Bring them here to me," he said. 19 And he
directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves
and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke
the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples
gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were
satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken
pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate
was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
A man had been driving all night and by morning was still far from his destination. He decided to stop at the next city he came to, and park somewhere quiet so he could get an hour or two of sleep. The quiet place he chose happened to be on one of the city's major jogging routes. No sooner had he settled back to snooze when there came a knocking on his window. He looked out and saw a jogger running in place. "Yes?" "Excuse me, sir," the jogger said, "do you have the time?" The man looked at the car clock and answered, "8:15". The jogger said thanks and left. The man settled back again, and was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window and another jogger. "Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?" "8:25!"
The jogger said thanks and left. Now the man could see other joggers passing by and he knew it was only a matter of time before another one disturbed him. To avoid the problem, he got out a pen and paper and put a sign in his window saying, "I do not know the time!" Once again he settled back to sleep. He was just dozing off when there was another knock on the window.
"Sir, sir? It's 8:45!."
or, I don't know if you have had a holiday or are planning to have one? We are in the holiday season. This gives people the chance to escape from the everyday, to do something different, to get away, to recharge their batteries. How would you feel about having your holiday interrupted?
Jesus had just heard that Herod had murdered his relative, John the Baptist. He wanted to get away. Probably to reflect, pray, spend time with God, even grieve. The gospels give us examples of Jesus withdrawing to spend time with God in prayer.
I am very grateful to the Diocese, PCC, and individuals for being able to take time away from Parish life to pray, study, reflect, experience different types of worship, and to minister in Brazil. Many of you will be interested to hear more details. I have written an article which will appear in the September magazine. There will also be a church meeting for those who want to find out more.
As well as being grateful to Penny, William and David, Phil, and other people in our church, I am also grateful to the many people who took services during my absence. Just as the extended study leave was an opportunity for me, it was also an opportunity for you. To experience a variety of preachers and service leaders. To listen what God wanted to say through them. I think, as individuals and a church we need to be asking ourselves what message we can take from the last three months. This is something that I have been and am doing, too.
Though Jesus wanted to escape he didn't succeed. The crowd followed him and he had compassion on them. He could have been strict, and focused on what he felt he needed to do for himself. He could have looked at the crowd and thought that they were being selfish in following him. Wanting to be healed. To be entertained by seeing healings or other miracles, and hearing him speak. He knew that some of them hoped he was the Messiah and that he would lead them to military victory against the Romans
Jesus had compassion, a word linked to love and mercy. The Greek word Splanchnizomai (to have compassion) means literally to be moved in one's bowels. This where they considered the emotions and feelings to reside. Jesus was not remote or coldly calculating and analytical concerning people's needs but was deeply moved by the suffering, confusion, despair, and spiritual lostness of those around Him. Jesus felt pain, experiencing genuine anguish for the suffering of others, whether they were believer or unbeliever, Jew or Gentile, man or woman, young or old, wealthy or poor.
Jesus showed compassion to the crowd. He healed the sick. I am sure that he also taught the crowd about God. He fed them spiritually and physically.
Jesus has shown compassion to us. He heals people today. He teaches people. Through his word, the Bible. Through his people, which includes the ministers he has sent over the last three months to feed you spiritually. Through the ministers I have heard in Holland, Brazil, the O2 arena, and Longmeadow Church. He provides for us physically, too. Food, water, homes, possessions, friends, families...
Everything we have is a gift from God. Especially the gift of eternal life, which is knowing God. Jesus showed God's love, mercy and compassion on the cross. There Jesus provided people with the pardon and the mercy we need to be put right with God. We celebrate and proclaim that in today's Communion service.
We have been considering what happened between Jesus and the crowd. I would also like us to consider what happened between Jesus and his disciples. It was evening and they started to hear a rumbling sound. It got bigger, and bigger and bigger. Was it an earthquake? No, it was people's empty stomachs! Jesus had experienced compassion within his bowels. Now the crowd were experiencing hunger within themselves!
The disciples asked Jesus to send the crowd away to nearby villages so they could buy food. This may have been impractical. It could be that their request was a ploy to try to get rid of the crowd because it had been a long day and they were hungry and, perhaps, tired and needed some rest.
Jesus challenges the disciples to act. v16 "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
This miracle occurs in all of the gospels. John's gospel tells us that Jesus spoke to Philip, one of the disciples who came from this area. He would know where the bread shops were! His reply was “Eight months wages would not buy enough for each one to have a bite” John 6.7. We have to remember that there were 5,000 men, so the women and children could easily have quadrupled that number. Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, then came forward with the boy's packed lunch of five rolls and two small fish. (6.8f)
The disciples looked at the problem, rather than the solution. They were like a person standing in front of Niagra Falls, asking where they can get a drink of water!
As we look back on this scene, nearly 2,000 years later, it seems impossible that the idea of Jesus feeding the people miraculously did not enter the disciples' minds! They looked no further than their own resources. They looked at the boy's packed lunch. They looked at the crowd. They looked at the lunch so lovingly and thoughtfully packed by the boys mum that morning. They looked at the crowd again. They felt hopeless, inadequate, powerless. Perhaps they blamed the crowd, thinking that they were foolish to come all that way and to stay so long without bringing any food.
The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles. He had provided gallons of top quality wine from water at the wedding in Cana. He had provided an abundant catch of fish at a time when you don't fish, healed people, provided money from a fish's mouth to pay Peter's tax. It would seem so natural for the disciples to expect Jesus to feed the crowd. LOUD They were face to face with the supreme power in the universe and yet were spiritually blind! They knew it, but they did not know it. Had anyone asked them if Jesus could do such a thing, their answer would have been an unhesitating and unanimous, "Of course He can!" QT But even when prompted by Jesus' question, they saw their own lack instead of His abundant ability. Despite two years of walking with the Lord, hearing Him teach God's truth and seeing Him demonstrate miraculous power, the twelve were too spiritually dull to see the obvious. They were looking only with their human eyes and only at human resources.
LD Even with this story and knowing other examples of Jesus' power, we can fall into the same trap as the disciples. We can focus on what we see as problems and our own inabilities, when our attitude should be that this is an opportunity for God to show his power. QT After all, if we succeed by doing things in our own strength and power, who is going to get the glory and praise? This is a message that runs through the Bible. For example, Gideon. The Lord reduced his army from 32,000 to 300 so that God could get the glory when the Midianites were defeated by the 300 just blowing trumpets and breaking jars, Judges 7.
When I went to Brazil I had no idea what to expect. Apparently the team didn't know what to expect of an older Vicar, too! But God went before me and the other members of the team. He supplied accommodation, transport and food. A supportive church. Fellow team members with differing nationalities, personalities, languages and gifting. He supplied the love, joy and peace we needed to live and minister together. He also supplied a lot of laughter!
A little boy was trying to raise some money by collecting old bottles, going door-to-door in his neighbourhood.
When he came to the home of a woman who was known to be miserable the little boy asked, "Do you have any coke bottles?" "No," she replied with a scowl.
Then he said, "Do you have any old whiskey bottles?" "Young man," the woman replied, "Do I look like the type of person who would have old whiskey bottles?"
The little boy studied her for a moment and then asked, "Well, do you have any old vinegar bottles?"
God doesn't call us to be negative and look at problems but to look to His power. When we look around at the problems in our lives and, perhaps feel helpless, we should look to God.
As we look at our church, wish things could be different, what should we do? Look to God. Don't look at the little, the packed lunch, look to a God who can transform and multiply!
As we look at the news, and are appalled at people's inhumanity and injustice we should? Look to God. Don't moan or despair, pray and trust in God!
Let us remember, too, that God has showed his compassion, love and mercy to us. Let is be truly thankful for his great mercy to us shown in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Let us be aware that, in the power of the Spirit, he calls us to be his agents of compassion, love and mercy in a world that is crying out for these qualities.
Year A - Trinity 11/Proper 13 - Matthew 14:13-21
Mth 14:13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." 16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." 17 "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. 18 "Bring them here to me," he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
In this passage we see the ...
Pity of Jesus.
He healed the sick, verse 14. He fed the hungry, verse 20.
Practical Power of Jesus.
He provided food for thousands of people from a boy's packed lunch!
Plenteous provision of Jesus.
There were five thousand men. If you added the women and children there could have been as many as ten to twenty thousand people. It says that they all ate and were satisfied. There was plenty to go round. Actually there was more than enough because they collected 12 large wicker baskets of leftovers. This could have symbolised the 12 tribes of Israel, perhaps indicating that God's mercy is so great that even the left overs are more than enough to provide for his people.
Person of Jesus.
This miracle pointed to who Jesus is, the Messiah. The Messiah was expected to do what Moses did in Exodus 16, to provide food in the wilderness for God's people. They also anticipated heaven being like a banquet, and this may also point to this. Jesus would show people what God is like. He would save God's people from sickness, hunger, sin and death and give them eternal life
Pattern of Jesus.
The disciples had failed to provide anything for the crowd to eat when Jesus said, "You give them something to eat", verse 16.
What would you have done? You didn't have enough money or any nearby caterers to feed these people. Jesus takes what he has and relies upon God. He gives thanks in the way that any Jews of that day would have given thanks for food. He then shares what God provides. The bread multiplying as he broke it and distributed it.
Jesus pattern of dealing with the sick and the hungry by relying upon God would be repeated by the disciples as they healed the sick and fed those who were spiritually hungry.
God has given us so much materially in the West that we have the opportunity to share with others who are starving, or dying because they don't have clean water. When we think of this it puts the credit crunch and higher fuel prices into context.
Perhaps because we have so much materially in the West we are starving spiritually. Ironically it is in the developing world where the church is growing dramatically. We need to be humble enough to seek the pity of Jesus, his compassion is there for us still today. We need to be hungry for the power of Jesus who can transform sinners into saints. We need to have a relationship with the person of Jesus, sent from God to reveal God and put us right with God.
If you wish to be disappointed, look to others. If you wish to be downhearted, look to yourself. If you wish to be encouraged . . . look upon Jesus Christ. Erich Sauer
Today, we are looking at the feeding of the five thousand. This is the only miracle recorded in every one of the four gospels, so it must be very important.
We read , in verse 14, of Jesus showing compassion on the crowd when he healed the sick. Jesus had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded and Jesus went to a solitary place. Perhaps to retreat from Herod and his forces. Perhaps to pray and get his thoughts together. But Jesus lets himself be disturbed to show the love of God in a practical way by feeding the hungry crowd.
Sometimes it can be inconvenient to share the love of God, even to worship him. But life is about priorities. We show what is important to us by how we spend our time, our energy and our money. We can say that family life is important to us but if we do not spend time with our spouse or offspring then it is clearly not as important to us as say, earning money, or socializing, or whatever we do with the rest of our time. So when someone says they don't have time what this really means is that something is not important enough for them to make time. Time spent on earthly pleasures will have limited benefits. But time spent worshipping God, learning from Him, praying to Him and sharing His love will last into eternity.
The disciples came to Jesus telling him to send the crowds away so they could get something to eat, verse 15. Jesus puts the ball back in their court in verse 16 and says to them, 'You give them something to eat'.
We know from the other accounts of this that Jesus and the disciples were near to Bathsaida when he fed the 5,000. This was Philip's home town. Jesus puts pressure on the disciples so that they will think about the situation. The disciples concentrated upon the problem, they only looked at the physical side. 'We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish', they said in verse 17.
When we have a problem how do we try and solve it ? By looking at the physical ? By trying to do it by our own skill and effort ? e.g door knocking in Peterborough, the man didn't need God to help him mend stereo. Didn't realise God had given him the ability and energy to do this !
Jesus intervenes to show the disciples, and us, that we must look to God to supply all our needs. After all everything that we have comes from God, although we often take his provision for granted.
We read of Jesus being both practical and spiritual. Practical in the way that he gets everyone to sit down, and gets the disciples to give out the food and to gather up the left-overs.
Jesus is spiritual in that he looks to God for the provision of more than enough food. Verse 19 says that he looked up to heaven and gave thanks.
I don't know how many of us here give thanks to God at mealtimes ?
A father took his six year own son to church and, after the service the Vicar talked to him and asked the lad if he said his prayers before eating a meal.
The boy replied 'No, I don't need to. My mum's a good cook.'
The way that God provides more than enough food for everyone shows the ample provision that God makes for people. Probably everyone of us here today has more than enough for our needs, but not us much as we might want.
If you were to compare our standard of living to places in Southern Africa where people are starving this shows us how rich we really are. This should lead us to be grateful to God. To thank him for providing us with food, shoes, and the other many material and spiritual blessings that he gives us.
When I used to go to tea with my grandmother she used to make us eat all of our food. If we protested she would come out with one of her favourite expressions, 'Waste not, want not.'
Jesus gets the disciples to gather the left-overs in large baskets usually used for putting fish in. This was a Jewish custom at the time. It is a demonstration that we are not to waste what God has given us abundantly. This applies to us as individuals, as a church, as a nation, as citizens of the world. God has provided enough food for all the people in the world, but those of us in the Western World eat most of it. Even though we account for less than a third of the world's population. God has given enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed.
In the past we have given what clothes, shoes, and bedding we do not want to Romania via Joe Smith. When a number of people get together to help this multiplies God's blessings upon others, and shows His love and compassion in a practical way.
This gospel account points to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah or the Christ. The Jewish people were, at this time desperately awaiting their Messiah. The anointed one from God who would deliver them. They expected that God would raise up a prophet like Moses who would repeat the miracle of providing manna or food in the wilderness. Jesus had just done this. The crowd thought that here was the Messiah who has come to deliver them from Roman rule in the same way that Moses delivered the Israelites from the rule of Egypt. They were ready to support Jesus by force. To do things their own way. But this was not God's plan.
God's plan was achieved not by inflicting violence on others, but by having violence inflicted upon Jesus. By Jesus suffering a long, slow, painful death, but also suffering separation from God the Father as he took upon himself the punishment that we deserve for our failure to live life God's way. Jesus has not delivered God's people from the domination of a foreign power. He has freed us from the domination of sin and death. So we know longer follow our own selfish desires, and so we can have a right relationship with God and be free to follow God's will.
The crowd wanted Jesus for their own interests. Healing when someone was ill. Food when they were hungry. Military victory when they were under a foreign power.
I wonder why we follow Jesus ? I guess there is some selfish motive in some way if we are honest.
I wonder how much we receive, and how much we give ? If we are receiving a lot more than we give ?
Jesus said 'It is more blessed to give than receive' ( Acts 20:35 ). If we are not getting blessed maybe we are not giving enough.
Let us not follow the ways of the crowd. Of following Jesus for our own selfish motives. Let us follow the way of Jesus. Of choosing God's way. This is a way of sacrifice.
There are three areas that I feel we need to be more sacrificial in our church life.
Firstly, of using our time, energy, and gifts to serve God more.
God will often increase our faith when we are trusting him and serving him. When we serve him this gives an opportunity to rely upon him and his provision for us. A failure to serve brings pressure to bear upon those who are left ministering, and means that the body of Christ is weakened. Unable to fulfil all the tasks that God calls us to do. If you are not doing anything at the moment can I encourage you to pray that God will show you what he wants you to do. Please feel free to discuss this with me if you would like to help. It doesn't have to be a lot. For example, just visiting someone who is ill on a regular basis would be a help.
So much more could be achieved if we prayed more. Moses won the victory for the Israelites on the praying field and not the battlefield. Whilst he continued to hold up his hands in prayer the Amelakites were/enemy was being defeated. When he grew tired he was supported by Aaron and Hur.
If we are going to win battles for God we need to pray passionately and persistently together. So people will come to Jesus. For Christians to grow spiritually. For Christians to serve sacrificially. For Christians to be holy.
We are unable to meet our share and are have little savings left.
I know that some people's financial situations have changed for the worse. We must remember that God calls us to give a proportion, usually a tenth of our income. So if our income reduces so will our proportion. But, as we saw from the feeding of the five thousand, God calls us to look to Him to provide, and not just ourselves. And when God gives He gives generously, even though we may not often recognize this.
So as we sit here today let us think of who Jesus is. Of what he has done for us and of everything that he gives us. Let us consider also how he is calling each one of us to respond with our service, our prayers, and our money.