As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening 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 food for themselves.”
But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Matthew 14:13-21 NLT
The moment Jesus heard about John’s death, he left the area in a boat to be alone and grieve. But the crowds followed Jesus and he extended grace by having compassion on them and healing their sick.
Jesus forfeited his own time alone to grieve and receive compassion from his disciples.
He did it for the sick, for the hurt, for the lost, and even for the undeserving. He did it for all the people.
His compassion didn’t stop with healing and teaching. As evening neared he multiplied what food they had available and fed the masses. Did the people even know it was a miracle? Did they really care about Jesus or did they just want what he could do for them? Did they even want to be fed? It didn’t matter to Jesus; he fed all the people anyway.
I find myself having conflicted emotions right now. I want to be aggravated at ‘the people’ because he wasn’t able to grieve, but then if I were ‘the people’ I’d probably want…, maybe even need, what Jesus had to offer.
In our last lesson (Matthew 14:1-12) we were challenged with a question: what do we do about Jesus?
If our answer was that we surrender to Jesus, then our verses today bring us to a new question: Now that we have Jesus, what do we do for Jesus?
Jesus himself gives us the answer:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Jesus is giving us a living example in Matthew 14:13-21 of our responsibility to and for the people when we become Christians. In this verse in Acts he tells us we are to go and tell all the people about Jesus whether they deserve it or not, or whether we think they deserve it or not!
We are to feed the people the good news about Jesus Christ: That he died for us, and when we believe this and accept him as our savior, Jesus forgives us. Once we are forgiven, we have eternal life with Jesus Christ! He died so we could live and Jesus did that regardless of whether we deserve it.
I don’t know about you, but having a perfect Savior to cover my sins is a huge blessing, because I know I don’t deserve it!
I recently had the privilege of endorsing a new book for a friend of mine who is an author. I have read several of her books, but this one turned my thinking as a believer upside down. The book is:
“Spiritual Orphans” by Erin Olson
It just became available for purchase on Amazon this week. She gets very specific and expands on this topic we are discussing today. Do yourself a favor and get this book ASAP!
There are people all around us who need to know about Jesus, to be asked what to do about Jesus, and then learn about Jesus. Once they understand Jesus, their next logical role is to become an apostle for Jesus; someone who feeds, or shares, the healing and loving news about Jesus Christ. Whether we do this for the people or not (as believers) is a matter of obedience or disobedience, but it is a matter of life or death for those who are lost!
Closing Prayer: Father God, my heart has an urgency to do your work and to share the good news about your son, Jesus Christ! I pray that you spread this blog so your people can be reminded we need to get about the business that you called us to do right now. The hour is late and the time for your return is near. I also pray the book Erin Olson wrote sets the Christian community on fire and we have a revival in our hearts and in our cities to band together to help those who are drowning and desperately need to know about you. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen!