Jason Free

You Only Have Jesus

by Jason Free on August 6th, 2023
Matthew 14:13-21

I have a confession to make today. Here it is: Call me crazy, but I believe in miracles. Yes, I believe that supernatural things have happened, can happen, and still do happen. I believe in miracles. Do you? A lot of people don’t believe in miracles, and a lot of the stuff we used to attribute to being a miracle we can now, today, explain through science; it’s true. But science can’t and doesn’t explain everything, and very often it actually leaves us with more questions than answers. Gravity being just one example. We can explain how gravity functions, but we really don’t know how or why it works the way it does. That we cannot explain. Gravity just works. Go back to miracles.

Think about this, we can’t explain miracles. In our lesson for today, Jesus feeds 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. How’d he do that? I have no idea. I can’t explain it. Yet, since I was a little kid, I’ve been told that this was one of the miracles of Jesus. And, that’s great, but what does that prove? Does it prove Jesus is God? To us it might, but to a lot of people who witnessed the miracles, who saw Jesus do these miraculous things, it didn’t. That’s an important point for us to keep in mind. The miracles of the Bible, while amazing, and perplexing, and wonderful, aren’t exactly the best faith builders. 

Because what can a person do? Well, use this story as an example. Did you know that a lot of modern preachers and scholars say that Jesus didn’t miraculously feed 5,000 people? No, his desire to feed the crowds led everyone to contribute and give what they had and everyone was able to eat and there were even leftovers gathered. That sounds silly to us, but if you don’t believe in God or in miracles, I suppose that’s one way to rationalize this story. Here is what I’m getting at.

 The obvious miracle in this story is Jesus feeding 5,000+ people, but that can be explained away. And you know what? That’s fine because Jesus didn’t perform that miracle – or any miracle – to prove that he’s the Savior, or that he’s God. I mean, let’s be real, if Jesus wanted to use miracles to prove his divinity, like, why didn’t he just fly up into the air superman style? Something like that would’ve been way harder to explain away. “There he is in the sky! Explain that Pharisees! Look at him flying around. Shooting lasers out of his eyes” You know what else though? Think about reading that today, “And Jesus after feeding 5,000 people took off and flew to Jerusalem to defeat evil King Herod.” Sounds like a Marvel movie. Sounds made up.  

You see if you think about Jesus’ miracles, he did do them for a purpose. Yes, to teach us. Yes, to help others in need. Yes, to sometimes encourage his followers but, ultimately, Jesus’ miracles were meant to show us how things were meant to be.  What do I mean? Well, people – maybe you even – will often wonder why God allows bad things to happen in this world. It bothers some that a supposed loving God allows injustice, and sickness, and suffering. Now, I can’t tell you why God allows those things to happen, but, but, in the miracles of Jesus what do we see? That God despises those things too. God never intended for people to be hungry. He never intended for people to be sick or for death to be our end.

So, when Jesus does a miracle like feed the hungry, he’s not temporarily suspending the natural order of the world, no, he’s restoring it. Jesus’ miracles are the only natural thing in this world. Every miracle of Jesus was an assault on injustice, an assault on decay, and hunger, pain, even death. And every one of those miracles – and you see it here in our lesson – begins with compassion. Jesus looking out at this unnatural sin sick world, at suffering and hungry and hurting people like you and me, and he loves us. That’s the real miracle.  

And, here is the kicker, we need him to work this miracle. We need this miracle of compassion, because otherwise, yes, hunger, sickness, cancer, pain, abuse, neglect, depression, injustice, death, that’s what we can expect. And we can’t do anything about it. Please, rid yourself of any fanciful idea that society will eventually solve all these problems that you see in the world. Stop hoping for this world to become a better place. This is the world we live in. It’s a world of sin. And, I know that’s not exactly an inspiring message, but it is an honest one. More importantly it gets you to this place, where you realize that I don’t want to stay here forever. I don’t want to have to keep doing this every day. I want to go home. 

In compassion, Jesus provided that home. He didn’t just come to feed 5,000 people, heal some sick, raise a few dead, and drive out demons. He came to get rid of it all and restore me, and you, and this fallen world to its natural state, to what things were like before the fall. So, note this well, when you place your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you can be assured that you will one day be restored to what is natural. You will be perfect. You will be in heaven. You will stand in glory. Why? Because of his compassion.  That compassion carried him to a cross, and there he endured and defeated all the unnatural effects of sin, giving his body and his blood to free us from this world of sin and rose to satisfy us into eternity. This is what your God offers to provide for you in Christ. Full forgiveness and an eternal home with him. 

Now, here is the thing were not there yet though. So, check this out. let’s shift for a moment to the disciples in our lesson. You see them there how they’re tired and just done. It’s late. They want the crowds to go away. They tell Jesus to send the crowds away, and he says what? “No, you feed them.” “But, Lord, we have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.”

“Five loaves of bread and two fish…”you ever feel like that? You know it’s one thing to be able to sit here and say, “Yep, heaven is my home. I know that in Christ.” But then you still have to get through each day. And some days maybe we feel a bit like these disciples and, well, “Lord, I have here only five loaves of bread and two fish. What do you want from me?” 

The day my grandpa died was a five loaves and two fish kind of day. A recent conversation with a friend left me feeling like I had nothing but five loaves and two fish. I didn’t really feel that I had anything I could offer him. And, that’s exactly it, some days you just don’t feel like you have enough. Enough energy to make it through the day. Enough money to pay the bills. Enough patience to manage your family. Enough love to share with your spouse. Enough confidence that things are going to be okay. You’re exhausted. You’re in a deserted place. It’s getting dark and, just like the disciples, you really don’t know what to do and you know that, even if you make it to the next day, it’s probably just going to be filled with more struggle and more disappointment. 

We tend to do this. We look and see what we have and what’s going on in life, we take stock. And maybe we don’t full on despair, but we doubt. We worry. We’re hesitant and unsure. And whatever we do have maybe we cling to it a bit more than we should. You know what Jesus says to you and me in those moments. You see it there in verse 18. “Bring those things to me.” That’s the first response we need to have in want or in crisis, even in plenty. Bring it to Jesus. Look what he can do. Look what he did (Point to cross). Let’s not limit his compassion. Let’s not think that he won’t provide for us. He loves you. 

Yet, I get it. Sometimes it sure would be nice if Jesus provided a little bit more. You know why does he need to make us struggle so much? Why can’t life be easy…? That would be nice, I admit. But go back to our lesson. If Jesus had listened and sent the crowds away, who would’ve benefited? The disciples would’ve likely gotten their alone time with Jesus. The crowds I suppose would’ve found food somewhere, though I can’t be certain – that’s a lot of people to feed. So, maybe it would’ve been fine if Jesus had listened to his disciples, but, he didn’t.

I don’t know why he didn’t listen. Likewise, I don’t know why he doesn’t make us all rich, and healthy, and successful – I have my guesses – but I don’t know. However, I do know that when the followers of Jesus felt like they didn’t have enough and that their Lord and Savior was leaving them out to dry, he provided. He showed them that they had plenty, because they had him. 

What about you? Because as you go through life, you have Jesus too. Sometimes you may only have Jesus. Is that enough? Well, on this particular day in Matthew 14, 12 disciples who didn’t think they had enough walked away with a personal basketful of proof that it was enough, that God provides. Let a miracle like the feeding of the 5000 help you to trust that he will provide for you too. And, if you’re still not sure, if you’re still doubting, if you’re not seeing it, come over here to the foot of the cross and remember what God provided so that he could call you his own. Because at the end of the day, at the end of life, if you only have Jesus, you have enough, more than enough. One day we will all fully understand why that’s true. Until that day, let us provide for others as Jesus has provided for us. Let us not send away those who need us most, but invite them to know Jesus’ compassion and love. And let us use what we have to encourage one another as we journey home. Amen.

 

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