Matthew 14:13 – 21 The Feeding of the Five Thousand

In contrast to drunken feast of evil ruler Herod Antipas in 14:6-11

One miracle recorded in all four Gospels. “Herod’s party,” Vs “God’s party.”

SON’S SOLITARY Place on hearing this news about John’s (Baptist) death, Jesus withdraws to a solitary place by boat. / We all need time to grieve.

Not interested to see anybody. Leave me alone in my grief.

Jesus in Gethsemane / overwhelmed with distress / quiet of the garden. None but God saw Jesus in his soul-wrestling.

Jesus is followed by people Like bees to the flowers (So much needed Jesus)

Worst possible marketing strategy – go to deserted place to preach / attraction.

He went by ship into a desert place.

  • His apostles had returned from their mission (Luke 9:10);
  • They needed rest, no time even to eat.”
  • Poor Galileans followed Jesus on foot out of cities to deserted place.
  • Poor Galileans were better instructed than the wealthy, wicked prince.
  • In the desert, trusting in him; When Jesus is with us, we are safe.
  • Five thousand men. This did not include the women and children.
  • The total number may have stretched to 10,000 or more, far larger than the populations of most villages surrounding the Sea of Galilee.
  • The Church tradition: West of Capernaum, past the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, above the Heptapegon (“Seven Springs”), at present-day Tabgha.
  • This area was a favorite hideaway for Jesus. pilgrim Egeria (a.d. 383–395):

Edward Payson’s Small Audience

In the Life of Edward Payson it is recorded that, on a stormy Sunday, the famous preacher had but one hearer. Mr. Payson preached his sermon, however, as carefully and as earnestly as though the great building had been thronged with eager listeners. Some months afterwards his solitary auditor called on him.

“I was led to the Savior through that service,” he said. “For whenever you talked about sin and salvation, I glanced around to see to whom you referred, but since there was no one there but me, I had no alternative but to lay every word to my own heart and conscience!”

Jesus reactsCompassion and healing

  • His forgetfulness of self. He had compassion on the multitude.

We must imitate his compassion for the needy and suffering, souls  Spoke about the kingdom of God.

Are we today to busy, to burdened to care and notice the needs of the people around us?

And he healed (ἐθεράπευσεν, ch. 4:23, note) their sick (τοὺς ἀῤῥώστους αὐτῶν).

Or without strength – People who feel they are reaching the end of the road.

Jesus provided for their physical and their spiritual wellbeing

People in the isolated place with Jesus – Are you isolated and have you got Jesus with you?

Human response finds way to provide for our needs by natural means.

The multitude was great / the place was desert / the hour was late;

  • there were no ordinary means of providing for their needs
  • The disciples were burdened with a deep sense of responsibility

Jesus orders disciples / his followers to feed the hungry / starting point

  • are you follower of Jesus / Can you see the needs of others
  • Will you respond to Christ’s call to feed the people

There are too many people in our churches who want to tell how it should be done and too few who are willing to do it.

Human response – We have limited resources they need to be self-sufficient – Send them home.

  •  “In our churches we have all chiefs and no Indians. Everybody wants to be the head of something, chairman of a committee, or in another place of leadership.”

Church needs servers to give out the Bread of Life, Word of God. That’s our business.

Some problems require God’s direct intervention.

  • We sometimes want to solve the problem in a purely natural way.
  • Our expectations of what God can do often are too small;
  • Few towns nearby generally small could not accommodate 5 to 10 thousand people.
  • Most of the day’s bread would be consumed by evening.

We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish (14:17). Bread and dried or pickled fish food suitable for taking on a short journey into the hills.

Bread and fish were basic staples of the Palestinian diet; meat was more expensive and rarely eaten except at feasts.

Bread:  Consecrated bread was continually laid out in the Holy Place of the tabernacle and temple.

  • Jesus Christ called himself the bread of life.

John 6:9 from a young boy / small cakes / sufficient for one person’s afternoon meal.

(John) bread cakes were made of barley, the chief component of the staple food in Israel, especially of the poorer people.

God often begins with what we have. takes what we bring to him and multiplies it (vv. 16-19).

When Moses insisted that he needed a sign to take with him, God asked him what was already in his hand and then transformed it (Ex 4:1-3),

Remember the snake and using what had been merely a shepherd’s rod even to part the sea (Ex 14:16).

Jesus Response / He commanded them to sit down;

While he was preaching to them, they were standing, posture of reverence / respect, and readiness to move into action.

God is called “The Lord who provides”

Ge 22:13-14 The name “Yahweh Yireh” (or “Jehovah Jireh”) is from the verb “to see”, and means “The Lord foresees” or “The Lord will see to it”. Lord provides.

The feast in the wilderness.

Teachers not usually responsible for feeding their disciples from own means.

Orderly sitting down and eating: “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

  • order, not confusion.
  • sit in their ranks; (people they knew village acquaintances)

not fight over it to satisfy their hunger

  • wait till his turn came.
  • Lord gives us an example for the regulation of our daily life.

He looked up to heaven,

  • recognize it is our Father in heaven who gives us our daily bread,
  • look to him in for our every need.
  • blessed God, the Giver of everything good;

Lord brake the bread,

  • institution of the Holy Eucharist;
  • he broke bread on the day of his resurrection, and was made known to the two traveling from Emmaus.
  • Jesus making himself known to the people of Israel / Messiah is here.

It was customary for the head of the household to “bless,” or give thanks for, food before a meal.

People were satisfied with what God had provided

  • When God provides expect there to be
    • a miracle / Satisfied fully fed people
    • Understanding what is important and what is trivial in this life
    • Demonstrate God’s care for us.
    • There is nothing that you have that God want’s however he has what we need.

Implications of God’s providential care

Freedom from worry Mathew 6:31-33   don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Generosity Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

Faithfulness Romans 2:4  Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?

And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full [Matt. 14:20].

  • One source reports that traveling Jews carried baskets with them; the twelve baskets may be the disciples’ own.
  • “Fragments” is not a half-eaten sandwich. / never touched.

Westerners don’t understand that many of the world’s population go to bed hungry most nights.

  • Everyone was satisfied / not hungry / when Jesus feeds his people.
  • There was food to spare; twelve baskets full, one basket for each apostle:

Word of God is the living bread. John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Church “Starvation” Banquet

A Canadian church held a “starvation banquet” to help members better understand the plight of the world’s hungry. Each person attending the “banquet” ate only a half cup of chicken noodle soup, a half slice of bread without butter, and a cup of tea without sugar or milk and nothing else between breakfast and supper. They took an offering for missions, using empty rice sacks as collection plates.

Positive responses to miracles

Faith Ex 14:31 .. Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Amazement & Praise and worship  Mt 15:31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

A closer attention paid to the word of God Ac 8:6 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.

God does miracles only when we need them.

Feeding of Israel in the desert with Manna

Manna was never left over / it was to be provided every day, learning to trust and rely on God.

God performed a miracle when he created the world and set its laws in motion, and we are often wise to start with natural means when those are available.

God performs miracles to meet our genuine needs, but he will not perform them for our entertainment.

God is not intimidated by the magnitude of our problem. 

  • We see size of the need & lack of our ability
  • Jesus sees size of our needs / this is no big deal for our God

God may calls us to do things that are impossible for us but not for him.


 Human responses to supernatural provision

  • Some respond in faith and obedience,
  • Others are confirmed in their unbelief and rebellion.

Some people followed Jesus only because they benefited from him!

John 6:26 ASV  Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled.

Personal Example:  Guard against waste,

I was growing up in poverty with single mother feeding 6 hungry children. One of great testimonies I have as a child was that often at the end of the working day one of our friends who was a baker would bring left over from his shop to feed our family. Food was not wasted and hungry mouths were satisfied.

Lessons of the miracle.

1. Try, like Christ, to forget self and to care for others.

2. Trust him always; he will multiply the five loaves if we are following him.

3. Feast with Christ, not Herod; / Better desert with Christ than palace with Evil. Without Christ the gorgeous palace is a desert

4. Recognize the needs of other they need Jesus as much as you do. (Compassion)

5. Follow the instructions given to you (Go to the end of the world)

6. Give them Jesus (Stop using your own ideas and methodology)

7. God will provide and give us more than we need “Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

8. Look to God as your supplier (Even when the solution will look like a miracle to you)

9. Show thankful heart and give praise to God for his work in your life

10. In time of trouble seek solitude to spend time with God / recharge your battery

11. The presence of Christ in gives peace and blessing the wilderness.

13. He knows that we have need of food and clothing / trust in him.



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