Impossible Becomes Possible~~
Matthew 14:1-21 (Pastor Heo)
John the Baptist Beheaded
14:1-12pp — Mk 6:14-29
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet. 6 On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
14:13-21pp — Mk 6:32-44; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-13 14:13-21Ref — Mt 15:32-38
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.
This is the “Retirement of the King” – when he withdrew and remained in a solitary place.
Several reasons for this:
- Growing hostility of enemies
- Need for physical rest
- Need to prepare his disciples for his death
This withdrawal is not a period of inactivity. There are three groups around Jesus:
- His enemies
- Huge crowds, hungry, needy multitudes
- His disciples
In chapter 14 especially, we can see this.
Two stories (1-12 – about Herod – his enemy; 13-21 – about the crowd – the hungry multitude).
5,000 men at least. How many women and children is unclear.
Herod Antipas = arrested JB (John the Baptist) and put him in prison and wanted to kill him. This Herod was married to his half-brother’s wife. JB had said continuously “This is illegal!” Both Herod and Herodius (his illegal wife) wanted to kill him. Herodius’ daughter danced before the drunk Herod on his birthday and he said, “I’ll give you anything – even up to half my kingdom.” She asked her momma, her momma said, “JB’s head on a dish.” So he did it. Can you imagine this scene?
Later, this Herod thought Jesus was JB rose from the dead. Later, this Herod tried to kill Jesus – so Jesus called him “fox.” And then finally, before his death, he stood before this Herod and Herod asked many questions, but Jesus was silent – he had silenced God. “If you hear God, do not harden your hearts.”
Jesus heard of this and went off by himself. He lived according to a divine time table – he didn’t want to stir up trouble with Herod too early. At that time, the religious leaders allowed JB to be killed because they did nothing to help him. And these same leaders asked Herod to kill Jesus.
Herod and his ancestors were descended from Esau. Many Herods’ in the Bible.
- (Matthew 2 – Herod the Great tried to kill Jesus after he was born – he killed his own sons and wives if they got in his way – he established the “Herod Dynasty”)
- (Acts 12 – Herod Agrippa (grandson of the original) – put Peter in prison and killed James – one of the first disciples (and first martyrs))
- (Acts 25 – Herod Agrippa II tried Paul before he went to Rome.)
How did Jesus respond to his enemies? He withdrew.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Still now, he feeds – all living things. He is the provider and sustainer of all things. Eph. Philippians 4:19 “My God will meet all your needs…” “Jesus is the exact representation of God and sustainer of all things…” Jesus = Jehovah Jireh (God’s Provider).
The time is late (getting dark) – the place is remote (countryside) – there’s no food – there are too many hungry people – there’s the problem.
How do you meet the needs of this vast crowd? Their physical hunger? This story is so important because Jesus wants to give us a very practical lesson. This story is so important it is written in ALL 4 gospels. There’s a little difference in the explanation, but it’s the same, it’s one event.
There are 4 solutions to this problem:
- Disciples said, “Send them home.” (Get rid of the problem – so much like many of us today. Yes, we “know” God is unlimited in his power and ability – but we try to remove the problem. Jesus said, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.” Do you feel sympathy or compassion (stronger) toward people who need your help.)
- Philip (not in Matthew’s gospel) was asked (to test his faith) “Where shall we buy food for them?” Philip said, “8 months (240 days) wages couldn’t buy enough to give ALL these people even a single bite.” (He’s a quick calculator – very often, we also think that MONEY is the answer to every need. But Jesus was asking to test his faith.)
- Andrew (also not here) – found a boy with 5 loaves of bread (maybe rolls) and 2 fish (maybe dry), “But how far will this go among so many?” He wasn’t sure HOW, but we are glad that he found someone to help. This is not the final solution.
- Jesus (true solution) said, “Bring the bread and fish” and he took it and had all the people sit down in groups. He gave thanks to God, blessed the food, gave it to the disciples, and they distributed the bread and fish. Wow! What a miracle! This miracle happened in the LORD’S hands – not in the hands of the disciples.
Jesus can do immeasurably more than we think, want, and pray according to his will and power.
Not only did all the people eat, but there were 12 baskets left over after everyone was totally full!
Practical lessons (3 to put into practice in our daily, faith lives):
1. Learn from Andrew:
There’s a big difference between Philip and Andrew. Philip said, “Mission: Impossible.” Andrew said, “Here’s a little something, I’ll trust Jesus to do the rest.” Among the 12, Andrew was a champion in bringing people TO Jesus (even Greeks, Gentiles). In the early stages, the first thing he did was to find his brother Simon Peter and said, “I found the Messiah!” and Peter became the ROCK of faith, the first pastor of the early church, one of the most powerful preachers of the early church. Among the 12, Andrew was the first personal evangelist.
No one ever knows, says, “What will come out of this for me?” when we bring a person to Jesus. Are you a parent? If you raise your child in the fear of the Lord, nobody knows what things that child will one day do. When we bring somebody to Christ, who knows if he will be doing something even greater than us for Christ. If I bring somebody, they can do something even greater than I if Christ allows and leads.
Andrew provided material for a miracle.
We don’t know what possibilities we are releasing when we bring someone to Christ.
2. Learn from the little boy:
This boy gave to Jesus ALL he had. The amount was not big, but it was everything. At that time, barley bread and dry fish was an ordinary meal for poor people. But this food was ALL to this boy. If not for this fish and bread, could Jesus NOT do what he did? No, he COULD – he COULD even create something out of nothing. He COULD feed all the people at that time.
Is it possible that there is NOBODY who had something to eat besides this small boy? Maybe. But we must know that God loves a cheerful giver. Do not misunderstand. We must not be proud. God can do anything and everything WITHOUT us – without our service, money, sacrifice. Then WHY does he want to use us and what we have? Because God loves us and wants to bless us and wants to give more reward, have closer relationship, fellowship, communication with us – he wants to upgrade our relationship to “partner” in building his kingdom on Earth.
There are many examples of people that God used their small things, or small bodies to conquer nations:
- The staff in Moses’ hand conquered Egypt
- The sling in David’s hand conquered Palestine
- The words in prophet’s mouths conquered nations
- The feet of Paul carried him everywhere to preach
- The ears of John heard his final words and recorded the book of Revelation
What is in your pocket? In your mind? In your life? God wants to use whatever is in your hands or pockets – if handed over to him willingly and cheerfully – the small becomes HUGE, common becomes miraculous, temporary becomes eternal.
3. Learn from Jesus:
Jesus speaks a very practical and powerful sermon. Jesus is the Bread of Life – Bread from Heaven – only he can satisfy our spiritual hunger in our spirits, in our hearts. The tragedy is that today, many people a wasting their lives and time and money on things that are not bread – on things that do not satisfy.
In this story, Jesus said, “YOU give them something to eat.” Today, Jesus still says to his church, his body, “YOU give them something to eat.” It’s actually easy for us to send people away, to make excuses, but Jesus asks us to give ALL that we have and let him use it as he pleases, as he sees fit. When we give all that we have to Christ, we never lose. When you give what you have, you never lose. We will end up with more and more blessings than when we started the first time.
These are the practical lessons given to us by our King, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He is the Only Answer to All Questions.