by Dr. Samuel Lee   04/23/2000     0 reads



Matthew 14:13-21

Key Verse: 14:16

  "Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them

something to eat.'"


1. Read verse 13. When Jesus heard of John's tragic death, what did he

do? Why did he need to be alone with his disciples? What did the

crowds who followed Jesus do? Why?

2. Read verse 14. What did Jesus find when he landed? How did he regard

the crowd? What did he do for them? How does he show himself to be

different from most people?

3. Read verse 15. Why was the disciples' suggestion reasonable common

sense? What does this reveal about them?

4. Read verses 16-17. What was Jesus' response? How was Jesus teaching

them to have faith in God? How was he teaching them to have a sense

of responsibility?

5. Read verses 18-21. What did Jesus and the disciples do? How did

Jesus teach his disciples a coworking spirit? In what way were these

lessons preparation for the task of world evangelization?




Matthew 14:13-21

Key Verse: 14:16

  "Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them

something to eat.'"

In the last passage we studied that Jesus was rejected and

despised by his hometown people, even though he taught the word of God

and through his teaching his hometown people were amazed.  Through this

we learned that after teaching the Bible we should not expect praise or

admiration. Rather, we must expect contempt and rejection. But we must

rejoice in the Lord that we taught the Bible and participated in the

sufferings of Jesus Christ. One lady taught a sheep and gave all her

heart. Her sheep received everything and ran away. Since then she

doesn't teach sheep anymore, because she was greatly wounded by her

sheep's rejection. This is not good. We must imitate our Lord Jesus

Christ who taught the Bible from the beginning to the end in the midst

of rejection and contempt and thus he fulfilled God's mission without

any hint of discouragement. In the last passage we also learned that

John the Baptist fulfilled his mission as the forerunner of our Lord

Jesus Christ through his martyrdom. Jesus was not sorry at his

martyrdom. Rather, he praised John as the greatest among those born of

women (Mt 11:11). We must do everything with martyrdom spirit. We must

do school homework with martyrdom spirit. We must teach the Bible to

other students with martyrdom spirit. Then God will give us spiritual

wisdom, and joy that spiritual power is circulating in our bodies and

souls. Today we learn Jesus' compassion. Jesus is the Son of God

because of his compassion. We also learn how Jesus trained his

disciples in several respects to grow as fruitful disciples. May God

bless you to learn the compassion of Jesus and Jesus' discipleship


First, Jesus withdrew to a solitary place to pray with his disciples

(13).  Look at verse 13. "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." Verse 13a says, "When

Jesus heard what had happened...." It meant how his forerunner, John

the Baptist, had been beheaded. Jesus was not surprised at how John the

Baptist had suffered a cruel death in order to complete his mission.

But he realized that he had to pray to God to take over John's

ministry, and continue to work to proclaim the gospel in that

situation. So he needed time to pray in order to talk to God and to be

strengthened by God. Another reason he wanted to have a retreat was to

give a vacation to his disciples, who had been completely exhausted

just hanging around Jesus. So he got into the boat with his disciples

and crossed to the other side of the lake.  It was indeed a necessary

retreat. Nobody should bother his retreat.  Nobody should bother his

time of prayer.

But a surprising and totally unexpected event happened. The people

who were desperate and needed Jesus' help watched his movement

carefully and found that he and his disciples were crossing the lake by

boat. They did not have a telescope. Maybe they used their fingers as a

telescope by curling them into circles and putting them to their eyes.

Then they saw that Jesus was in the boat far away from them. They began

to run with bare feet, circling around the lake so desperately. As a

result, they reached the spot where Jesus was supposed to land, and

they were waiting for Jesus when he arrived. When Jesus landed with his

disciples, probably the crowd said, "Good morning Jesus! Thank you

Jesus. We are here for your help."

They bothered Jesus' prayer in a solitary place. They also

bothered the disciples' short-term vacation. In a sense they were

obnoxious people, and they were a large crowd.

Second, Jesus' compassion on them (14). Look at verse 14. "When Jesus

landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed

their sick." Generally, ordinary people are selfish, and if they are

bothered, they say, "Don't bother me, and I won't bother you." There

was a beautiful lady. She was a princess to her parents. But after she

met Jesus, she spent most of her leisure time teaching the Bible. Her

parents loved her. But she did not spend time with them. Then they were

so unhappy that they firmly decided to brainwash her through

deprogrammers. They failed to brainwash her because of her firm faith

and wisdom. When they failed to brainwash her, they lost interest in

her and didn't support her at all. They didn't give even one dollar for

her happy wedding. I am not criticizing the parents. But when we see

people, we find that they are all self-centered. They say they love

their children. But if their children don't try to fulfill their dream

or compensate their failure, the parents become self-centered and begin

to keep a distance from their children. Most American parents quit

supporting their children after high school. So their children have to

work and study at the same time.  As a result, there are so many young

American students who are trying to support themselves and study. In

the course of time, they find that they did not finish a two-year

junior college in eight years. This is not one or two persons' problem.

It is a nationwide problem of young American students. Parents think

that their children are responsible for themselves after age eighteen.

So they don't support them after age eighteen. These parents do for

their children and their country only what they must do. Therefore

American high school students' ranking in the international math and

science contest is number 48. It is not their fault.  It is due to

their parents' selfishness. We cannot say that these kind of people are

men and women of compassion.

Let's see how Jesus was compassionate for the people who needed

his help. Let's look at verse 14 again. "When Jesus landed and saw a

large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." The

disciples could have said, "Wow! They hinder our vacation." Jesus could

have thought, "Wow, too many people!" But Jesus did not think so. Jesus

had compassion on them. Compassion comes from God's love. Here we see

that Jesus is the Son of God who was filled with compassion. When he

heard of John the Baptist's martyrdom, he must have been deeply

depressed. Therefore he needed time to pray to God after his forerunner

was killed. He was greatly burdened to fulfill the work of world

salvation. So he had to pray. But Jesus was not selfish. Jesus was not

self-centered. He saw these desperate people with God's compassion.

What did Jesus do when he saw a large crowd of people? He canceled his

plan for prayer time. He ignored his disciples' tiredness. He began to

heal the sick people from mid-morning to the time of dusk. The western

sky was getting darker. But Jesus was compassionately healing the sick.

In this passage a specific healing story is not recorded. But we can

see many examples of Jesus' healing ministry in the gospels. Once Jesus

saw a man with leprosy. His body was almost rotten. His eyes were

rotten and barely supported by the sockets. But Jesus had mercy on him

and said in Mark 1:41, "I am willing. Be clean!" In the movie

"Ben-Hur," when Ben-Hur's leprous mother and sister appeared on the

street with him, people threw stones at them. But Jesus was willing. He

cleansed this man with leprosy and made him whole. Once Jesus saw a man

with a shriveled hand in the synagogue. Jesus restored his hand so that

he might have a dream of marriage like other young people, so that he

might be a basketball player like Michael Jordan, so that he might be a

pianist like Clara Schuman (Mt 12:13). Once Jesus saw that a widow was

weeping, following after her only son's coffin. Jesus said, "Don't cry"

(Lk 7:13). Then he raised her son and restored the mother from her deep

sorrow. Jesus' compassion finally demanded that he be crucified on the

cross and die, shedding much blood. But he was raised on the third day

and opened the way to the kingdom of God. Whoever believes in him can

live in the kingdom of God, even though they must live in this hard

world. And on the last day he will see Jesus face to face and bear the

likeness of Jesus. Therefore we must learn the compassion of Jesus. If

we claim to be a Christian without the compassion of Jesus, we are old

wineskin Christians or hypocritical Pharisees. When we learn the

compassion of Jesus, we can be happy and we can be a blessing to

others. Finally the disciples learned Jesus' compassion. 2 Corinthians

1:3 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort...." Again, James

5:11b says, "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

Third, Jesus' discipleship ministry. Let's see how the disciples

responded. Look at verse 15. "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.'" They liked Jesus' compassion. But they could

not ignore the reality. It was getting dark. The number of people was

huge. What really mattered to them was that they had no food. And their

twelve stomachs began to make noises. It was not a good sound like the

sound of the Chicago UBF Orchestra. It was a growling sound, because

the disciples were hungry, too. So all the disciples came to Jesus 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." They were reasonable and realistic, but they lacked several

things as responsible shepherds and world leaders. So Jesus taught them

several things.

First, Jesus taught his disciples to have faith in God (16). Look at

verse 16. "Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them

something to eat.'" "You give them something to eat." By saying this,

Jesus teaches his disciples to have faith in God. Jesus knew that they

had no money in their pockets. He knew that it was too late to prepare

food for such a large crowd of people. But Jesus did not allow them to

despair because of their impossible situation. Jesus wanted them to

have faith in God, that by depending on God they could feed the crowd

of people.  Jesus wanted to teach them that they could do nothing, but

God can do everything. By faith we must experience the power of faith

to feed five thousand people with our own bare hands. Without faith no

one can help himself. But with faith anybody can feed even five

thousand people.

Second, Jesus wanted to teach them a shepherd's responsibility

(16-19a). "You give them something to eat." When Jesus said this, he

wanted his disciples to find out what they could give to God when they

had nothing in their hands. The starting point of faith is to have some

possibility in an impossible situation by having faith in God. The

disciples said, "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish"

(17). This was too small an amount to distribute to such a large crowd

of people.  But to our surprise Jesus said in verse 18, "Bring them

here to me." Jesus wanted to teach them a sense of responsibility for

helpless sheep.  When we see modern America, many things seem totally

impossible.  And campus evangelism seems to be too great to be done. So

we deeply despair and become nominal Christians. This is not what Jesus

taught.  Actually, American young people are spiritually thirsty and

hungry.  Whether we can do it or not, we must have a sense of

responsibility.  Those who have a sense of responsibility can be used

by God greatly.  A sense of responsibility comes from God's compassion.

Before conversion, Paul lived for his own selfish dream. At that time

he was a disaster to the early Christians. He was irresponsible for his

actions. But after his conversion, a sense of responsibility grew in

his heart until he could have a sense of responsibility for the whole

world. Like Paul, we must have Jesus' compassion and become men of

responsibility for ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation

and the whole world. Those who do not have a sense of responsibility

may do many things but they will be unfruitful and unhappy, because

they cannot recognize themselves as normal human beings.

Third, Jesus taught his disciples a coworking spirit (19b-21). Look at

verse 19b. "Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave

them to the people." There is a deep spiritual lesson in this verse.

Generally, people are proud. So each one wants to be a one-man show.

Each one wants to become the President of the United States. There are

many Christians who love God so much. Yet coworking with others seems

to be nonsense to them. But Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, "For where two

or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Believing in

God is easy. But coworking with others is very difficult. We know that

the cross is the symbol of Christianity. The vertical line represents

our relationship with God. The horizontal line represents coworking

with others or loving one another. Many people love God, but they hate

their brothers. Many people work hard for God, but they never cowork

with others. They cannot be great servants of God. Here Jesus, even

though he is the Son of God, coworked with his disciples by letting

them distribute bread to the people. Therefore, in both small and large

matters, we must learn how to cowork with others and how to love one


Today we studied Jesus feeding the five thousand. According to

Matthew, the five thousand were only men. Matthew omitted women and

children. Verse 21 says, "The number of those who ate was about five

thousand men, besides women and children." Matthew was formerly an

orthodox Jew. So he didn't even count the women and children. In

reality, the total number might have been more than ten thousand.

Jesus' saying, "You give them something to eat," tells us to have faith

in God that we can feed five thousand men, and women and children, by

faith. Jesus' saying, "You give them something to eat," tells us to

have a sense of responsibility starting from oneself and extending to

the whole world. Jesus also taught us a shepherd heart for large

crowds.  Spiritually, "large crowds" refers to all people of all

nations. Therefore Jesus said to his disciples, "Go into all the world

and preach the good news to all creation" (Mk 16:15). May God bless you

to accept his word, "You give them something to eat."