Session #101 Who Me? Yes You!
Scripture Matthew 14:13-21
Summary Clearly, the feeding miracle of Matthew 14:13-21 declares Jesus as the Messiah. But what does it mean for us who are disciples and kingdom subjects? Who me? Yes you! Henson draws seven kingdom principles to guide all who are moving purposefully on kingdom assignments.
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21
Most Christians are certainly familiar with the account of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Beyond just another demonstration of his love and power, this account, which is recorded across all four gospels, shows Jesus to be the awaited Messiah that was prophesied about in the Old Testament, being the example for His disciples to follow after.
Jesus Our Messiah
Jesus wanted to show Himself as the ultimate fulfilment of God in the person of the Messiah. In this account where he fed a multitude, we see stark symbolic parallels with what God did through His anointed people in the Old Testament.
Jesus started the new Israel
The twelve baskets full of bread that was leftover after feeding the multitude (Matthew 14:20) is symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel that began through Jacob (Genesis 49:1-28). While the multitude in the five thousand were mainly Jews, the related event in the feeding of the four thousand (Matthew 15:32-39) included mainly Gentiles. These parallels reflect the new Israel that Jesus brought about after He reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God (Ephesians 2:11-18).
Jesus Gathered the People of God in the Wilderness
As Jesus went to this “wilderness” of sorts in a deserted place, a multitude of people followed and were gathered to Him (Matthew 14:13, 14). In the same way, when Moses led the people out of Egypt, he gathered their multitude (Exodus 12:37, 38) and they followed him into the wilderness (Exodus 13:18). In Mark’s parallel account, Jesus refers to this multitude as being like “sheep not having a shepherd (Mark 6:34),” like how Moses described God’s people when he asked for a new leader to be set over them (Numbers 27:15-17). In organizing the people, we see in Mark that Jesus grouped them in ranks of “hundreds and in fifties (Mark 6:39, 40),” akin to how Moses organized the people of God in the wilderness (Exodus 18:21). Yet again, we see a consistent set of parallels that reflect Jesus this time as the gatherer of God’s people in the wilderness.
Jesus Provided for the People of God
When the people of God were in the wilderness, God miraculously provided meat for them to eat at twilight, and bread (manna) in the morning (Exodus 16:1-31). Jesus also provided both meat and bread by multiplying the five loaves and two fish to feed the multitude (Matthew 14:17-19). Beyond just food, Jesus described Himself in John as the “bread of life,” who would not just provide salvation for God’s people, but for all their needs as well (John 6:32-40).
Jesus Our Example
When Jesus instructed his disciples to feed the multitude (Matthew 14:16), He used the emphatic term for “You”, which is “humeis” (ὑμεῖς) in Ancient Greek. In other words, Jesus was emphasizing to His disciples that He was going to use them to feed the multitude. An Archippus must follow Jesus’ ways so that they can be effectively used by Him.
Jesus was Focused
The preceding passage in Matthew before the feeding of the five thousand talks about the execution of John the Baptist, which was told to Jesus (Matthew 14:1-12). When someone hears startling news like this, especially in the case of Jesus, who probably had a close affinity with John—John was a relative of His (Luke 1:36), the forerunner in His ministry (Matthew 3:1-3), the one who baptized Him (Matthew 3:13-17), and the one He singled out as being the greatest “among those born of women (Matthew 11:11)”—, they can react in any number of ways, especially with fear for their lives. Despite hearing this, Jesus remained focused on what He had to do and continued to a deserted place (Matthew 14:13) to rest (Mark 6:31, 32). An Archippus must remain focused on alignment and assignment without giving way to distractions.
Jesus was Rested
Before Jesus was in the wilderness, He had likely come from ministering in His hometown of Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58), while His disciples had also come from ministering to many people without even time for themselves to eat (Mark 6:31). As such, He told them to go with him to a deserted place to rest (Mark 6:31). Doing God’s work can be tiring, and it was necessary for even Jesus to find rest. For an Archippus to remain on assignment, it is essential to work from rest.
Jesus was Moved with Compassion
When Jesus saw the multitude (Matthew 14:14), which were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34), He had compassion for their needs and moved to fulfil them (Matthew 14:14). Jesus was both sensitive and responsive to the needs of those around Him. An Archippus must be aware but not apathetic.
Jesus had Consistent Faith
After ministering to the people till evening, Jesus’ disciples advised Him to dismiss the multitude so that they could go into the surrounding villages to buy food for themselves (Matthew 14:15). However, Jesus decided against this and wanted to use what little food there was to feed them instead (Matthew 14:16). While the disciples’ “pragmatic” suggestion might have seemed appropriate in the situation, it was not a solution at all. The surrounding villages could not have possibly handled the large numbers of the multitude (Matthew 14:21), and there would also have been little bread left for the day since it was already late (Matthew 14:15). It was more a convenient way for the disciples to deal with the situation. Despite their recent foray into ministry by themselves, which would have included exercising their faith in performing supernatural works (Matthew 10:8) and relying wholly on God’s provision for their livelihoods (Matthew 10:9, 10), they did not exercise the same faith that God would provide food for the multitude. In comparison, Jesus had faith that God could multiply what little food there was (v16-19). Jesus’ faith in God remained consistent regardless of what the circumstances were. An Archippus must remain rested in the empowerment of God to fulfil an assignment.
Jesus had Practical Faith
When Jesus fed the multitude, He first took the initiative to offer whatever food was available first (Matthew 14:18, 19). Jesus first exercised faith by taking action to commit what he had. An Archippus must first “press the button” so that God will move through faith.
Jesus had Surrender
Even though Jesus was tired and probably hungry as well (Mark 6:31), He foregoes his rest to minister to the multitude (Matthew 14:14), and when He was feeding them with his disciples, they likely only ate after everyone was fed since they would have been busy with giving out the bread and fish (Matthew 14:19). Jesus set aside His own needs first to serve others. An Archippus must suffer well when serving others.
Jesus had Abundance
Despite feeding a multitude of more than around five thousand people (Matthew 14:21), there were twelve baskets full of leftover food (Matthew 14:20), which would have been more than enough for Jesus and his disciples. As Jesus surrendered and put others first, God more than provided for Him and even His disciples. An Archippus must rest in the assurance of God’s provision.
From this account, the parallels with the Old Testament clearly point to Jesus as the Messiah. As He ministered to the multitude, every aspect of how He went about things is both an example and an invitation to all His disciples.