Gospel Quest # 4: Christ’s Compassion - Matthew 14,
Matthew 14:14-21 And Jesus went forth, and saw a
great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their
sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This
is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they
may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said
unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say
unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said,
Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on
the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to
heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the
disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and
they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And
they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Introduction: All the miracles are well, miraculous, but the
one we will look at today is truly outstanding, it is the only miracle recorded
in all four Gospels. It is also showed Jesus as the Messiah in the minds of the
people and in the strengthened that belief in the minds of his disciples. It
takes place just after Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was taken and beheaded
by Herod, because he would not back down from telling the truth about sin. (We
need a lot more John the Baptists in pulpits these days.) The ministry of
Christ is usually divided into 3 parts, the year of obscurity, the year of
popularity and the year of opposition. This miracle takes place near the beginning
of the year of popularity.
I wanted to do something different with this sermon. After
we are finished you may want me to never do it again. But indulge me this
morning as we look at this special miracle from a different perspective. I’ve
writing the introduction as a short a fiction based upon the events of Matthew
14, that I pray will put us there and let us see the day Jesus’s compassion was
poured out through a little boy’s lunch, through his eyes.
The Lad and the Loaves.
"Jonathan, here is your food. I'm sorry it's all I can
give you." The mother looked down at her son now almost twelve years old.
Instead of disappointment in his face she saw only excitement.
"That's fine mother. I don't think I'll be able to eat
anything once I see the Nazarene. They say he can do miracles. Do you think I
might get to see a miracle?"
Miriam tried to pretend that she also was excited by the
news that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, but her life had become hard struggle since
her husband had died in a storm while fishing on the Sea of Galilee. The meager
meal of five barley loaves and two small dried fish, she now sent with her son
would mean she would go without for the rest of the day.
"A miracle, Jonathan? Yes, perhaps you will, perhaps
everyone will." she sighed.
"I've got to go, mother, will you be all right by
yourself?” he asked already looking toward the door.
"Yes, go on. Your friend is waiting for you. Hurry,
go." She watched him run off to join his friend and the other families. "Jonathan,
be careful of your basket. It's all you have to eat!" Jonathan looked
around and tucked the basket up under his arm, then spun with a wave to his
mother and raced to catch his friend family. She watched him go and knew it
would not be excited to come home to no food and no hope.
The family Jonathan walked with soon joined others, and
others and others. Those from the village where Jonathan lived were soon joined
by many on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. He had not gone to the
Passover in Jerusalem since his father had died. This was his first trip of any
kind in over a year. His mother seemed so afraid and had shut herself in the
house away from everyone except Jonathan. He wished his mother had come but it was
good to meet new people and hear them talk about the Nazarene.
".... I've seen him heal people." said one man
"It is said, that he can raise the dead!" said a
voice from behind. At that news a little of the day's joy faded. He wondered if
the Nazarene could have saved his father to life, or bring life back into his
mother's sad eyes.
"Look that is the boat of Simon the fisher. Jesus was
in that boat yesterday." Jonathan looked, there, not too far from shore he
could see a triangle shaped sail and a boat with several men in it. They were
headed for a place on the north shore of the lake, not too far from where
Jonathan now was.
"Let's try to see him when he gets out of the
boat," yelled Jonathan to his friend and they set off running along the
shore line to try and beat the fishing boat to the strip of beach where it
As he got closer to the place where the fishing boat would
land he saw that many others were already there. There were thousands of travelers
trying to see Jesus, and from the hills all around the lake more were coming.
How was he going to see a miracle? He wasn’t even able to see Jesus in this
multitude. All he was going to see was the throng of people all trying to do
what he was trying to do.
When he finally got to the lake, the ship was already pulled
up on the shore. Slowly the crowd began to hush as the gentle, yet powerful
words of the teacher fell over them. Jonathan listened but he could not see Jesus,
no one was willing to sit down as they all strained to hear his voice and see his
He heard a bit of the words of Jesus, "Come unto me all
ye that are heavy laden and I will give rest to your souls . . .” but then rest
phrase drifted off on the wind.
It was getting late in the afternoon when one of the Rabbi’s
disciple came by and told them that the Master had asked everyone to sit down.
Jonathan didn't know why but the disciple also asked to look at his basket. The
man smiled after looking in and then returned the basket.
Jonathan had been so caught up in trying to hear the teacher
that he had almost forgotten how hungry he was getting. As the crowd sat, he
reached inside the basket for something to eat. He had just picked up one of
the small loaves when someone beside him loudly whispered, "Look there is
the Galilean teacher!" Jonathan dropped the loaf back into the basket and
looked. At first, all he saw was some men standing on a small hill. Then he saw
the one standing in the center, he must be Jesus of Nazareth, the one who could
do miracles, the one who could raise the dead.
Suddenly, he realized that the disciple who had told them to
sit and had looked into his basket was talking to Jesus. He could not hear what
he was saying but he thought . . . they
were pointing in his direction. Now they quit talking and the disciple was walking
back toward him. The man now approached Jonathan and knelt beside him on the
"Son, what is your name?"
"I am Jonathan, sir."
"My name is Andrew; I am a disciple of Jesus of
Nazareth. He has asked us to feed all these people. Yet you seem to be the only
one who has brought any food. Would you come and talk to my Master?"
Jonathan looked around at all the people seated on the
grass. There were thousands and thousands. It would take more to feed these
than his whole village would catch in a entire year! What would his little
basket do for so many? Still he arose and went with Andrew to meet Jesus.
"Rabbi, this is the lad that I told you about. His name
"Jonathan, that is a name of great friendship. Have you
heard the story of King David and his friend named Jonathan?"
"Yes, lord. My father was also named Jonathan and he
used to tell me the story when he would take me out fishing with him."
"Your father is a fisherman? Why is he not with you?"
"Master, my father died last year when a storm came up
on the lake, only my mothers is left at home."
"I am sorry." And as Jesus said that, Jonathan
felt he was telling Him things He already knew.
"Jonathan, did Andrew tell you why I asked you to come
up here and bring your food?"
"Yes, Lord." Jonathan's mouth was dry and his eyes
were fastened to the ground. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and the great
teacher bent down.
"Would you give up your meal to feed all these
"It is not a very big meal, Lord, but I would give it
up . . . to you."
"Why did you come here today?"
"To see you and . . . they say you can do
"Are miracles important to you, Jonathan?"
Jonathan looked into the eyes of Jesus and suddenly felt as
if they were all alone, in all the world there was only Jesus and him.
"They don't seem so important now." He said and
yet he felt that in his heart a miracle was already taking place.
Jesus smiled and Jonathan even thought maybe he winked,
"Keep your eyes on your meal." He said.
Then Jesus took the loaves and said the blessing,
"Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the world, Who causes to come
forth bread from the earth." It was a familiar blessing; Jonathan had
heard his father pray it often in the past. Yet when he heard it now there was
the sound of expectation in it. As though Jesus' prayer was for much more than
just five barley loaves and two dried fish.
Jesus called the other twelve disciples and broke the bread
and fish into twelve small pieces, which he gave to each disciple in a willow
basket to distribute to the crowd. Jonathan could not understand, only twelve
people would get even a small crumb of food. Then he noticed that Jesus was
handing something to him, he took it and found that it was several of the small
loaves of bread and a several fishes. Jonathan's mouth fell open for he knew he
had seen all the food go into the baskets. Yet when he tasted it, he knew it
was from the barley loaves that his mother had made that morning. He looked out
into the crowd to see where the disciples were. He looked as their faces went
from astonishment and surprise to smiles and even laughter. Andrew was passing
his basket and stopped to look back at Jonathan. He reached into his basket and
pulled out two fistfuls of bread and fish. Throughout the crowd the whispers and
talk began, and no one could wait to taste a miracle; the miracle of the loaves
Jonathan ate his miracle meal with tears running down his
cheeks, for while everyone else had only seen one miracle that day, he had found
two and the one that took he felt in his heart was even better than the one he
held in his hands.
Now I want to share a few thought about the passage and then
we’ll conclude the story. I see three times to notice in the account of the lad
and the loaves. There is a Time to Care, A Time to Thank, and A Time Praise.
Time to Care
Matthew 14:14-16 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great
multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert
place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into
the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need
not depart; give ye them to eat
When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he
saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he
said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him,
Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of
them may take a little.
The Compassion Of Christ
The reason for the miracle was the love and compassion of
Jesus. The Bible says, “He was moved with compassion toward them.” The word
compassion in the Greek means to be brought to action from the seat of your
emotions, the very core of your feelings. It is used 14 times in the gospel and
almost always in reference to Jesus feeling towards those he was trying to
reach with the Gospel or in His parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal
Compassion was the reason he fed the 5 thousand and later
the 7 thousand, compassion was the reason he healed the sick, gave sight to the
blind, hearing to the deaf and life to the dead. Compassion was why he gave up
the glory of heaven, was born of woman, lived as a man and died as our sacrifice
for sin. Compassion moved Jesus from Heaven to earth, from life to death, and
from the gave to the resurrection.
From early youth we sing Jesus loves me this I know for the
Bible tells me so. As we get older we sing Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like
me. They are all songs about the same love we see in Matthew 14, a love that
was felt as compassion. A compassion that filled thousands of empty stomachs that
day, and has saved billions upon billions of lost souls since that day.
His compassion moved Him and His compassion in us should
move us still today, for there are still lost and empty people needing what
only Jesus can give. His compassion must now be my compassion.
Transition: There was a time to care, and then there was a
time to give thanks.
Time to Thank
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There
is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what
are they among so many?
17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18
He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit
down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up
to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the
disciples to the multitude.
Don’t you find it interesting that Jesus, the creator of the
world and God the Son manifested in the flesh, still prays and gives thanks for
a very plain and simple meal? There was a blessing that was often used by the fathers
and priests of Jesus time when they thanked the Father for a meal. We don’t
know that Jesus used it here but it would be appropriate for this Jewish crowd.
It was the one I put into the story.
"Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the world,
Who causes to come forth bread from the earth."
I can’t help but think that if Jesus took the time to thank
God, the Father for a few barley cakes and dried fish, that there is no excuse
for us not to thank Him for everything that he has given to us.
The giving of Thanks is one of the predominate themes of the
Bible. In the Torah, they were instructed how to give thanksgiving sacrifices
to God and especially in the Psalms thanksgiving is compelled upon the people
of God because Jehovah is their God .
Giving Thanks in the
Ps 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 136:1 Give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Ps 107:22 And let
them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with
Ps 116:17 I will
offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the
Ps 119:62 At midnight
I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Ps 136:2 O give
thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Ps 136:3 O give
thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Ps 136:26 O give
thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Ps 140:13 gives us a
conclusion to the theme of thanksgiving throughout the Psalms. Surely the
righteous shall give thanks unto thy name:
I cannot think of a better reason for us, who have been made
righteous through him, to thank Him. We thank Him because he is our Creator,
Jehovah, King of all the Earth. Thank him for our food, thank him because he is
worthy. Thank Him because ‘surely the righteous shall give thanks unto they
name.” Thank Him because he sent Jesus Christ to save us and teach the true meaning
of thanksgiving. Thank you Lord for Jesus your son, the bread of life come down
Transition: One last time we will see and then conclude our
story. A time to praise.
Time to Praise
20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the
fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21 And they that had eaten
were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the
fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them
together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley
loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men,
when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that
prophet that should come into the world.
Christ’s Person and Power
When they had seen the miracle and understood what had
happened. When that lad gave up his meal to Jesus, when the baskets were
filled, when the people were fed and when they took up the leftovers, one
basket for each of the disciples, when all that was finished the people knew,
“This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.”
The prophet they now realized was Jesus was foretold by
Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy
God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren,
like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; God promised in verse 18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among
their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he
shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
This is one of the first and most important prophesies of
the Messiah. The looked for this prophet in John the Baptist, but he plainly
stated I am not that prophet, now the people knew they had found their Messiah,
the prophesy had been fulfilled in the one who fed them a miraculous meal on
the shores of Galilee.
Their words were a praise to the person and place of Jesus.
He was the prophet, He was the Messiah, the anointed of God. He would bring the
New Covenant, He would redeem the nation of Israel. Just as he had fed
thousands with only one small meal of loaves and fishes, he would also be their
Do you remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem
we find the story in Luke 19:37-40
And when he was come nigh, even now at
the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began
to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they
had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the
Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the
Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold
their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
Jesus told the Pharisees that the praise given to Him from
the multitude had to be uttered, it could not be silenced and if you should try
even the silent stones of creation would cry out in praise and testimony that
Jesus, the son of God was worthy to be praised.
If we are to truly give thanks this thanksgiving season,
then we must thank Him by praising Jesus. There can be no real thankfulness
until we fully acknowledge the person and place of Jesus. Every year the world
and society try to take the emphasis and the reason for Thanksgiving Day away
from Jesus our Lord, but we, who have experienced a miracle just as powerful
and real as the one that took place on the shores of Galilee that day, must
never forget. Jesus is why we are blessed, Jesus is why we have hope, Jesus is worthy
of my sacrifice of thanksgiving and all the world should know.
Transition: Let’s go back to Jonathan and finish our story.
It was getting late back in Jonathan's village. His mother
was growing more and more worried about her son. For several hours she had
stood in the doorway watching the road Jonathan had left on early that morning.
"Surely they should be home by now." She thought
to herself. She shouldn't have let him go, or at least have gone with him. She
knelt and said a prayer to God that her son would not be lost to her as his
father had been. She had just finished when the sound of laughter and loud talk
could be heard coming down the road. She rose and ran to the door, just as she
opened it, in walked her son. Her arms went around him and held him close,
Jonathan was afraid she was not going to let him breath.
"Where have you been? Are you all right? What took so
"Mother, I must tell you what happened! We found Jesus
and it was wonderful and I talked to him and . . . and . . . I saw a miracle,
"A miracle? What did you see?"
"There were thousands and thousands of people and no
one brought any food. One of His disciples came and asked me to talk to
"You talked to him, Jonathan?
“Yes, He asked me my name and about father and then He took
my bread and fish and used it to feed all those people. You should have seen it,
the bread and fish just kept coming out of the baskets. Everyone was fed!"
The mother smiled and then as Jonathan watched the tears
began to roll down her face. She cried because her son was finally home, she
cried at losing her husband, she cried at her son now growing up, she cried at
his boyish excitement and she cried because in the miracle of her own bread
being made into a feast for a multitude she still must go to bed hungry.
"What's wrong, mother? Why are you sad?"
"It is nothing, my son. It is only tears of happiness
at your return home safe. We must go to bed now."
There was a knock on the door and one of the village men who
had gone with Jonathan called out,
"Jonathan you forgot this when you ran
ahead." Jonathan stepped outside to take something from their neighbor.
His mother could not see what it was. When he stepped back inside, he held a
large basket, big enough to hold a shekel of wheat.
"Thank you." He called back through the door and
set the huge basket down at his mother's feet.
"What is this Jonathan? It is not your basket."
"When all the people had eaten and no one could eat
anymore, the teacher sent his followers back out to pick up the leftovers. They
picked up twelve baskets full, twelve! He told me to take this one home to you.
Somehow it seemed as if he knew you too."
Jonathan pulled back the cloth that covered the top of the
basket and underneath it was filled to with bread and dried fish, enough to
last for weeks.
She looked at the smile on her son's face and she looked again
at the basket, a miracle in her own house and she said, "Jonathan, tell me
more about Jesus."
You know what we all need this thanksgiving? We need our own
miracle, it won’t be like the one in Matt 14 or John 6, but it will be by the
same Savior. The miracle we all need is to be thanking Jesus for saving our
soul. the emptiness of our soul is much greater than any empty belly and our
need for the bread of life and the living water is much greater than a physical
hunger for bread and meat. If you’re heart and soul is empty this morning, come
to the table and find food prepared by Christ himself. Food that will satisfy
the hungry every time. Come and be filled. And if you have accepted the bread
of life and tasted the living water then thank and praise him so that all will
know the real reason for Thanksgiving is Jesus Christ.