Matthew 14:12-21 How To Be Used By Jesus

by | Nov 8, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. Motivation To Serve

A. Reasons Why Jesus Might Have Avoided Serving

1. It was a time of great sorrow for Jesus
2. Jesus has just been informed of John’s death

a. John was Jesus’ cousin
b. John was also a great prophet, being used of God
c. Jesus has now lost a primary ministry partner, and a beloved relative

3. Jesus was facing growing opposition…that was difficult emotionally, mentally
4. The disciples were just returning from being sent out to minister (Mark 6:30)
5. Jesus and His disciples needed some “down” time to rest & regroup
6. Mark 6:31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile”.
7. Jesus validated the need for rest among those who serve God
8. We are more effective if we will take times of rest and sabbatical refreshment
9. “Rest is necessary for those who labour; and a zealous preacher of the Gospel will as often stand in need of it as a galley slave.” (Adam Clarke)

B. Jesus Was Moved To Serve

1. Jesus sought rest, but the multitude came looking for Him. Many were needy
2. Jesus wasn’t a victim of circumstances, i.e. wrong place at the wrong time, etc.
3. Jesus wasn’t simply moved by the “needs” of the people

a. Jesus didn’t say, “If I don’t do it, no one else will”, etc.
b. Jesus not motivated by guilt, etc.

4. Jesus was moved by compassion
5. Jesus had a genuine love and concern for the people
6. He taught the people Mark 6, Luke 9
7. He healed them…ministered to their physical needs

C. Jesus Is Our Example Regarding Serving Others

1. We, like Jesus, need our “down” times
2. We face loss and opposition.
3. We face spiritual, emotional, mental fatigue
4. We need to time to regroup, be refreshed spiritually
5. When do we step away from “down” time?

a. When we are moved with compassion for people’s needs
b. Other motives to help people might bring relief, but they won’t be pure
c. If our motives are wrong or resentful, our help may be tainted

i. We may serve with a bad attitude, resenting the people
ii. We may help them physically, but hurt them emotionally
iii. They may leave “helped”, but reluctant to return

d. We may serve to achieve self-gratification

i. A pastor who likes to hear himself speak
ii. A children’s teacher who wants thanks/recognition from parents
iii. We may serve b/c we are guilty re. our own sins; trying to atone
iv. May we not be motivated by guilt, responsibility, “if I don’t do it”
v. May we find ourselves moved by genuine love for others
vi. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”

e. How do you know if is O.K. to pull away from “down” time in order to serve others? Answer- When you are motivated by love & compassion
f. If you are lacking in love, ask God to do a new work in you.

II. Evaluating The Situation

A. Noticing People’s Needs

1. Jesus saw the people’s needs. He always sees people’s needs.
2. The disciples saw the people’s needs

i. It is great that they noticed the people’s needs
ii. Many who follow Jesus never notice other’s needs. They are self-focused
iii. Congratulations to the disciples so far
iv. They see the same needs that Jesus sees

B. The Disciples’ Evaluation

1. They knew the people needed to eat. They were anticipating. Good!
2. They developed a plan based upon their own abilities/limitations. Not good!
3. They also may have been worn out, and just wanted to send the people away
4. They suggested to Jesus what He ought to do, based upon their evaluation

i. How easy it is for us to counsel God about how to do things
ii. Romans 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
iii. Our motives can pure…we want to help the people
iv. Our plans fall short: they are based upon our abilities/inabilities/wisdom
v. Today’s multitudes are hungry as well; God wants us to labor w/Him
vi. We forget that God has infinite wisdom and infinite power
vii. May our passion for the multitudes go far beyond our admission of being unable to do the job
viii. Passion for the multitudes will drive you to Jesus to find a way

C. Jesus’ Plan To Help The People

1. Jesus turns the situation back to the disciples…”you feed them”

a. May this be written on every church door and every pulpit
b. May this be written on our hearts: “You give them something to eat”.

2. They know they can’t do the job; they only see two options

a. Send the people home
b. Spend two hundred days’ wages to feed them…an impossibility
c. If the money had been available, they might have thought it extravagant

3. Jesus asks them what resources they have: they have five loaves and two fish

a. What they did have was not only insufficient, it was laughable

4. God often asks His people what they have on hand, or in their hand

a. “Moses, what is that in your hand?” Moses’ shepherd’s rod was later called “The Rod of God”. Used in the miracles against Pharaoh
b. Samson- killed 1000 philistines w/the jawbone of a donkey
c. David killed Goliath with a sling and a rock
d. We look at what is in our hands and we see nothing useful or sufficient

i. 2 Cor. 2:16 And who is sufficient for these things?
ii. 2 Cor. 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God…

e. God looks at what is in our hands, and knows that He if it is surrendered to Him, it is enough to accomplish His plan

5. Jesus directs the disciples to organize the people to be fed

a. He didn’t explain how it would happen
b. The disciples responded in faith
c. Imagine the multitudes: “why are we doing this, what’s happening?”
d. Praise God, the disciples responded in faith
e. They prepared the multitudes to receive God’s abundant blessing

6. They surrendered their resources to the wisdom and plan of Jesus

a. Jesus asked for those resources to be available to Him for His plan
b. W/o that surrendering, the multitudes would have gone hungry
c. When we surrender our resources, we no longer try to control them, we simply make them available to the Lord
d. We tend to surrender our resources, and then take them back and control them, and determine if they are sufficient
e. We often surrender our resources only if we understand how God can use us and our resources.

i. Remember: Jesus didn’t explain how He was going to feed them
ii. He simply asked for what they had, and then directed the disciples to get ready to distribute the blessings to the people

f. Sometimes we will surrender our resources only if we agree with God’s way of doing things
g. God’s people need to realize that:

i. God gives His people a burden to help people. Praise Him for that!
ii. Our resources are insufficient for what the people really need
iii. We are not to depend upon our abilities to help the multitudes
iv. We ought not plan according to our inabilities
v. We ought not limit God b/c of our inabilities
vi. We ought not limit God b/c of our lack of wisdom and knowledge
vii. We ought to make ourselves & everything we have available to God
viii. We ought not coach Him about how to do things
ix. Seek & receive direction about what to do & how to do it
x. Remember: we are the distributors, not the manufacturers
xi. If we limit God…

a. The multitudes won’t get blessed
b. Our sense of helping them will be frustrated
c. We will eventually wear ourselves out and give up
d. We may become pessimistic in our view of helping people
e. We may discourage others from what trusting God
f. We will miss the miraculous ways that God wants to bless the multitudes
g. We won’t be recipients of what is “left over”
h. Those who fill the spiritual needs of others will themselves also be filled