MATTHEW 14:13-21

Verse of the Week

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” [Matthew 14:13-21]

The Big Picture

Jesus feeds the five thousand. In this passage we see Jesus right after getting the news of John the Baptist’s beheading. Let’s look at Jesus' reaction after hearing this tragic news. It says Jesus withdrew by boat to a solitary place. Then as He sees a huge crowd gathered He has compassion on them and heals many of their sick. Jesus then sees their immediate need for food and He takes the little bit of food a little boy has and multiplies it into abundance for everyone present. At this same time Jesus is teaching His disciples a valuable lesson. The disciples saw this situation only from a worldly perspective, but Jesus wanted to reveal to them who He was and what He could do. In John 6:25-59, which takes place the next day after the miracle, Jesus shares the real meaning of what he wanted to show the disciples and the crowd. He wanted to show them that he was the Bread of Life and that those who put their faith in Him will have spiritual bread that nourishes and lasts for all eternity.

Major Points:

Point 1 - Recognize the focus of Jesus.

In this passage we can learn from the mindset of Jesus. It’s important to know the context and what’s happened in Matthew 14:1-12. Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist has just been beheaded. Jesus' immediate reaction is to get alone with the Father, most likely to bring his hurts to His Father and be renewed and refreshed. In this we see:

  • How Jesus dealt with enemies. He did not let them throw him off track of what God had called him to do. The acts of his enemies did not cause him to lose focus. 

  • Jesus was focused on the mission. He continued to preach the good news and train his disciples.

  • Jesus was focused on his men. He had disciples to train and teach, this miracle would be a part of that. 

  • Jesus was focused on loving the multitudes. While it would have been easy to be frustrated that so many people were coming to him for help and his teaching, Jesus didn’t turn them away but rather he ministered to them.

Point 2 - Repeat the miracle of multiplication.

Sunday we learned that the Kingdom of God grows through multiplication much more than addition. That refers to disciple making. While Jesus ministered to the crowds and performed this incredible miracle where he multiplied bread and fish to feed an estimated 15,000-20,000, if you read John 6 you learn that the very same people who saw the miracle rejected the message that Jesus was the bread of life (the only way to eternal life).

The whole point of the miracle was to point people to the man. Jesus was training the 12 disciples how to depend on Him for everything and continue his ministry after he was gone. Jesus wanted to reach the world and his plan was to train disciples who would go and continue His ministry. Sunday we talked about some motivations of what we should be disciples that make disciples. Let’s see some practical lessons Jesus was teaching the disciples:

  • Even if what we have is small, bring it to Jesus and He can multiply it. That means time, talent, treasure. It doesn’t matter how big, it’s about bringing what we have to Jesus. 

  • The disciples didn’t manufacture the miracle, they just distributed it. Notice that they didn’t make something happen, they brought what they had and trusted Jesus and He made it happen. 

Ultimately, how do we repeat the miracle of multiplication? By becoming disciples who make disciples. Sunday we talked about some reasons we should do that:

  • God’s plan to reach the world is through disciple making (Matthew 28:18-20)

  • Jesus called his disciples to fish for men. (Matthew 4:19)

  • Disciple making keeps us from getting stuck in boring religion. (Matthew 9:35-38)

**Remember we weren’t called to maintain, we were called to multiply.

Point 3 - Receive the Bread of Life.

The ultimate purpose of the miracle is so that the people would come to know who this man was. Every miracle Jesus performed had a higher purpose. The purpose (again, you can see this in John 6) of performing this miracle wasn’t just to meet the physical need but it was in hopes of meeting the spiritual needs. There is a spiritually starving world out there looking for the bread of life. We as his followers are called to give the world the Bread of Life. That means we are called to share Jesus with the world. But first we have to taste the Bread of Life and see that He is good. That means repenting of our sin and receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We can’t give away bread we’ve never tasted.

Question Bank

  1. How has your week been spiritually? / What is God teaching you?

  2. What are some of the obvious observations from this passage?

  3. Can you relate with how Jesus must have felt dealing with the death of John the Baptist? Has an enemy ever knocked you off course in your journey?

  4. What can we learn from Jesus and how he responded when the multitudes followed Him? How can we have compassion on people that don’t deserve it?

  5. What is Jesus teaching us by performing the miracle of multiplication? 

  6. How does this passage point to disciple making? Who is called to make disciples?

  7. Is there a next step in your relationship that you’ve been called to?

  8. Who’s one person in your life that you can invite to church or small group?