4th April 2023
Read (Matthew 14v13-21)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
We would do well to remember the glorious reality of Christ - Jesus is true God, true man and without sin. Sometimes we are tempted to dilute the Lord's humanity and imagine Him as some sort of super human hybrid. This is false teaching and we see the true picture of the Lord's manhood in Christ's withdrawal to a desolate place which comes in response to the news of John's execution (v13). The Lord loved John and the Lord mourned John.
Nevertheless, Jesus was not allowed too much time to Himself. The crowds heard of the Lord's location and they went on foot to find Him. When the Lord returned He did not lament that He never got a minute's peace, but instead He had compassion on the crowd and healed their sick (v14). Yet the Lord's work was not finished. Evening had fallen and his disciples came to Jesus with a problem. They found themselves in a desolate place, the crowd was great and the crowd was hungry. The disciples urged Christ "send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves." (v15) to which the Lord replied “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” (v16).
I've heard endless stories about wee grandmothers who could work miracles with very little and supply the needs of copious amounts of visitors, but the disciples had no such ability. The crowd numbered five thousand men and with women and children added to that, the total number may have been as large as twenty thousand souls (v21). In the face of such a large crowd all the disciples could offer was five loaves and two fish (v17).
Can you imagine? Possibly twenty thousand hungry people in the middle of nowhere with tired crying children and nothing to eat. You and I would have been overwhelmed but the God-man told the crowds to sit on the grass before He took the five loaves and two fish, looked to heaven and pronounced a blessing (v19). Jesus gave the food to the disciples and they in turn gave it to the crowds. Miraculously, everyone ate and was satisfied and twelve baskets of leftovers were collected by the disciples (v20).
Perhaps your mind has already noticed the parallels between this incident in a desolate place and the feeding of the twelve tribes in the wilderness? Long before the birth of Christ, God led His people out of Egypt with the goal of taking them to the promised land. That generation failed to enter Israel due to their sinful rebellion but nevertheless the Lord met their physical needs with manna and quail.
In this well known story of the bread and fishes, Jesus met the need of another crowd in another wilderness. Just as bread once descended from heaven to feed the Israelites, Christ is the true bread from heaven who has descended from glory. In Him the church can draw near and be satisfied and in Him there is always an abundance. There is no one who starts with Christ, goes on with Christ and finishes by seeing Christ who is disappointed. He is our meat and our drink. He is our bread and our wine. He is our Saviour.
We meet Jesus in this passage seeking solitude to mourn His friend but once more we realise that "the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1v25). Life is about more than food and the body more than clothes. True life is only found by faith in the Christ who once said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (John 6v35).
This world is fading away and it is obsessed by wealth, glamour and the latest twenty second exploits of fools on TikTok. Christ is the antidote and the alternative as He meets the world's shallowness with His abundant substance. Brothers and sisters, if you are tired, weary and hungry remember the feast that you have in Christ. In this world you will have trouble but one day you will take your place at the wedding supper of the Lamb. Thanks be to God.
Q11 What are God’s works of providence? God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.