Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s podcast. My name is James and it is brilliant to be thinking about the Bible together this week. I’m normally listening in on the walk home from picking my son up from Nursery but wherever you’re listening in today, if it’s the start or the end, I hope this short thought, Bible reading and worship track bring a big blessing to our day.
As hinted at yesterday there is a shift in the story as we begin to start chapter 14. I picked most of that information up from a brilliant thinker and theologian called Tim Mackie. He does some YouTube videos animating the Bible called ‘the Bible Project’ – just look it up online. If you are a visual learner they are brilliant at painting that bigger picture of the whole book. So Jesus has just finished talking about what the Kingdom of God, this rescue mission to the whole world, looks like. And from today we will begin to see how people are responding to that message. Clearly some people are for it, others do not get it yet and others want to fight it, especially Israel’s religious leaders.
Today we are reading about Jesus feeding a crowd of 5000 men, plus women and children. There is so much that could be said about this story but it would be great to build on the last few days’ podcasts in a specific way. The last few days have been parables and stories of WHAT the Kingdom of God is like, and today gives insight into HOW the kingdom of God operates, HOW it got started and HOW it advances.
Let’s read a short part of the story. Matthew 14 verse 14, 15 and 16.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
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.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
But as the crowds gather, the disciples see that look in Jesus’ eyes. (v14) Jesus had compassion on them. It’s that other kind of hunger, a spiritual hunger. The crowd wanted to be where Jesus was and that really moved him.
So Jesus gives the disciples a challenge: (v.16) “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
Why is Jesus asking the disciples to feed the crowd? It does seem a bit ridiculous and it doesn’t appear to be their responsibility. Jesus has seen the crowd. Jesus probably knows what they’re carrying between them. He knows it’s definitely not enough – so why does he ask?
Because there is a lesson here that reveals something about Jesus and about how his Kingdom operates. God loves to use us. This request is given to reveal our full need for Jesus. Sometimes we just don’t have all the resources or the smartest answers. But God equips those he has called. In the step of faith the disciples find they have all that they needed and more. The Bible reminds us that the one who calls us is faithful and He will do it.
That is how the Kingdom of God comes. God loves to use us. To partner with us. With generous hands, a willing heart & a bit of imagination. Jesus is discipling these young followers to see any and every situation and say, “I don’t have much but how can I help?”
Jesus taught the 12 disciples a vital lesson. It wasn’t just a classroom exercise; 5000+ people actually got a meal that day on the hillside and to God be the glory.
Here is a question for us to take into today: what is Jesus saying to me through this story about my part to play in his work? And where can I exercise my trust muscles today and take a step of faith?
God, thank you for this story. There would have been all sorts of people in that crowd that day, and they were all blessed by God. We pray that in our own way, we can contribute in some way to your Kingdom purposes today. Lead us to acts of kindness and to miracles today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
READING: Matthew 14:1-21
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 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.’
Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a dish the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
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. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed those who were ill.
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 that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’
Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’
‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered.
‘Bring them here to me,’ he said. And he told 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. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.