You Are Most Certainly God's Son Mt. 14:13 - 32
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 14:13–14:32
Matt. 14:13 - 33 You are most certainly God's Son.
Faith Lessons, and Stumbling over Jesus
13Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
15When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.
22Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
We've tried to keep Matthews gospel as a running narative. A story that is unfolding.
And you'll recall by way of reminder that the rulers of Israel had upon receiving all of the evidence of the miracles and the authoritative teaching, decided that the power was satanic. He does his tricks because he's in an association with Satan. That's the power source.
And when they got to that conclusion, God closed the door to Israel, and the leaders of Israel closed the door to the creator of the universe. From this time forward they are ever and only, combative. They're waiting for the opportunity to present itself to murder . . . Jesus.
From that point forward the straight simple teaching ends and there is nothing but meaningless parables for Israel. Corporate Israel if you will. The movers and shakers of Israel. The ruling class . . has stumbled over Jesus. They want no part of Him.
But that doesn't mean the multitude feels the same way. What Bill O'Reilly calls "the folks". Ordinary people. Like us. Some of us, painfully ordinary. They haven't lost interest. Yet.
This group that follows Jesus on land trying to get to where His little boat will land, is made up of ordinary every day folks. Maybe 25,000 of them! A large group. And while the leaders have dismissed Him as Satanic, the ordinary folks are mesmerized by Him.
Pack up the babies, and grab the old ladies, and eveyone goes to the Jesus show. No one before or since can speak words that make a blind person see. A lame person whole. A leperous person well. Never!
But, ultimately, these folks will stumble over Him too. Most of them will be gone. Almost all of them. They aren't hard pan soil. They're shallow. Perhaps weedy. And I'm sure a few, a very few of them are in heaven today with Him.
Why will these stumble? For the same reason that almost all of what calls itself christian today, will also stumble.
They don't see Jesus as a spiritual entity. Someone who can forgive their sins and re-establish that broken connection between God and people. Individually. That isn't why the follow Him.
They want Jesus for what He can give them. They want Jesus to make their lives better. They want Jesus for the same reason 23% of registered republicans want Donald Trump. They think they will be better off. They think a person can make a lasting difference in the quality of their lives.
They want Jesus to be King. They believe life will be better for them, if Jesus is King. No different from someone who is convinced that Bernie Sanders will fix things and make life better. Easier.
And so, ultimately, they haven't stumbled over Him yet, but they will. By John chapter 6, when He gives the spiritual metaphor of His body and His blood as food and drink, they will bail. After that, we get to the upper room after the resurrection and there's 120 people.
Some of these very folks will shout for His blood. Crucify Him! Crucify Him. The bitterness of expectation and hope, dashed to pieces.
What He was offering is so much better than what they wanted, but they can't see it. They're blind to spiritual reality. Spiritual life. Living water. The bread of life. Spiritual life. He's offering the opportunity to have sin removed and have eternal life. Quickening from the dead, spiritually. They are NOT interested. Neither is a great percentage of what calls themselves christians today.
They want financial security. Happy families. Safety. Quality of life, on a non-spiritual plane.
What will happen to the Evangelicals if ISIS sweeps across this land on a killing spree? Will what this generation of so-called christians signed up for be good enough to see them through.
Christians in Syria are seeing their children crucified. Their women ravaged. How would the christians who signed up for greener lawns do, if that happens here?
This isn't a difficult passage, interpretively. We can go through these verses fairly quickly.
13Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself;
We really have 3 stories all intertwined with each other.
Jesus has shifted focus from preaching and teaching in Israel, to making 12 disciples who will go on after His departure. He'll spend the rest of His time incarnate doing that. Making disciples. Investing in 12 men.
He's already begun the process by sending them out 2 by 2 throughout the cities of Judea. He gave them explicit instructions. You'll recall them in Matthew 10 and 11.
Now they have returned and we can imagine the inward pressure of these men. They're about to explode. They want to be alone with Jesus and share all of their adventures on their first mission. They've probably got a million questions. Story 1 is, can we go some place by ourselves and just talk. Just share. Intimately?
Story 2. Jesus is probably heartsick over the death of John. Sometimes I worry about reading something into this that isn't really there. Is there a connection between this story and the immediate previous event. Herod murders John in a situation that is unspeakably evil. Jesus gets in a boat and His intent is to go somewhere alone. Disciples, yes, but He has some alone time with His father planned.
Remember that John was His cousin. Besides being the greatest man ever born of women, he was family. His mother and his aunt would be in sorrow. Such a senseless death. Sometimes it seems like evil is winning.
Mark's version of this story is why I think this may be valid. In Mk.6:30 - 32, Mark says; 30The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. 31And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) 32They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
Story 3. Think about how these events have aligned. Herod has murdered John. The people hate Herod. What better time than this for Jesus, who can do miracles, to overthrow Herod and be King. Good times for Judea if Herod is gone and Jesus is on that throne.
Again, I hope I'm not reading something into this that isn't there, but 25,000 people are traveling 7 or 8 miles by land in order to see what He's going to do next. Sort of like how we all sit by our TV on election night hoping our guy is going to win so our lives will be better.
Vss. 13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
Please notice something. Jesus is exhausted. He's human like we are. He's tired and broken hearted and just wants to re-group for a minute, and when He gets to the shore and gets out of the boat, 25,000 people are there. The same people that He got into the boat to get away from.
Some of us would have turned that boat around and got out of there as fast as the wind could take us. Some of us would have pulled the plug on the boat and just let it sink at that point. Exhaustion is never good. It makes us, at best, NOT at our best. And for most of us, it makes us grouchy and horrid.
Jesus looks out over the same crowd he'd left behind in order to be alone, and He felt compassion for them. How hopeful that is for us. The same Jesus who patiently forgives me the same stupid sin, over and over. The same Jesus who always is ready to set His need aside, and meet me wherever I'm at.
15When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
The disciples, not so much. I look at this and think to myself how I would feel and react.
Hey, Jesus, remember us? Enough with the multitude. Send them home. Our time has come, surely, hasn't it.
They cover it up a little better than I would. “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
We've got their best interest at heart Jesus. For their own benefit, send them home. It's time for them to go. They'll be famished. They've walked 8 miles to get here. There's no food. They're going to run out of gas if we don't move them along. For their own good.
Remember though. The purpose for getting away with the 12 is for discipleship building. Jesus is going to use this opportunity to increase their faith.
God has a way that He gets stuff done. Ultimately, He doesn't need us at all. Jesus doesn't need these guys. He could call down manna from heaven. He could call flying fish out of the sea of Galilee. He could create wine. He's got options. He doesn't need our feeble offering. Our useless attempts. But look what He does.
16But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”
This miracle is the only one that is recorded in all 4 gospels. It's that important. Matthew is the briefest recounter of the 4. We can get lots of color to add to the story if we read through the other accounts.
13But He said to them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless perhaps we go and buy food for all these people.” 14(For there were about five thousand men.) Lk. 9
37But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” 38And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Mk. 6
5Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” 6This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. 7Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” 8One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jn. 6
You can see Jesus method here. Identify the problem is where you begin. 25,000 hungry people.
Consider your options. Take the 200 days wages we have in our cash box and go buy food and everybody gets 1 bite.
17They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”
Bring your human sized solution to God. five loaves and two fish for 25,000 people is a good synopsis of the ratio of the size of our problem and the accompanying size of our solution. Our need and the bankruptcy of what we can do about it. We come with a football stadium of sin and a hot dog lunch of cure.
18And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.
Notice something here please. The size of the problem is unfathomably beyond our meeger resources. But God says, I'll take your worthless resource and magnify it to solve the problem.
He doesn't tell them, you can skip the loaves and fishes. I'll just create some steak. No, he takes our useless offering and makes it into a magnificent meal.
God lets us join Him in His miracle solution. He takes our useless loaves and fish, and uses that, to solve the problem. And you realize, everything we bring to the table is . . useless. Worthless.
I'll let you in on something. The only reason I'm standing in this pulpit is because I believe Jesus is still doing the same thing today. I come in here knowing my abilities don't amount to a box lunch. But I'm praying that He will take this meeger offering and do something off the charts magnificent with it. Will you join me in that prayer?
The world isn't impressed when we churn up a bunch of stuff that anybody else could do. A bunch of people who get together and say, we're going to do church. And they go through all the motions and churn out church. And God isn't there. Who needs Him. Church will keep right on going with or without God. It's 100% fish and loaves. It's just us doing stuff.
The onlooking world isn't impressed with that. In fact they see right through it.
But what if we take our loaves and fish to God and tell Him, this is all we've got, and the problem is 2500 people in town who could care less about loaves and fish. Is God still in the miracle business.
I want us to be a church where God is doing the impossible.
Let's talk about the miracle. It's a miracle of creation. Making something out of nothing. Only God can do that. Only God. Period.
We can't help but wonder what that looked like. 18And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food,
The first thing He does after ordering the folks to sit in groups, while He's holding the provision, He looks up to heaven and thanks God for it. He blesses the food. There is that connection. He's holding the food in His hands and He honors God for this provision.
and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20and they all ate and were satisfied.
Breaking the loaves. Somewhere, there's 12 baskets, right. Nobody tells us where those came from. They're just there. And Jesus simply breaks the loaves up and puts pieces of loaves and pickled fish in each basket, and the disciples walk among the groups, perhaps they pass the baskets sort of like we do at communion service, and each person takes his fill, enough for him and his little ones, and passes it to the next person and the morsels are never depleted.
20,000+ people ate and were filled with five loaves and 2 pickled fish. It says they were satisfied. They didn't each get one bite, they were full. Satisfied.
They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.
Miracles are a big deal. We understand the science of matter. It exists. But all the power in the world won't create more of it. We re-shape it and package it and watch it change elementally before our eyes, but we understand that it IS. No one can create new matter that wasn't there before in some other form. Science teaches us that. These folks knew that anyways. All science does is define the rules that God set in place.
If anything, science should make the miracles more spectacular. These folks should have understood intuitively that nothing never becomes something. We have formulas and mathematics that prove that all the matter that will ever be here is here and it simply changes form elementally, but no one makes new matter.
Jesus did. Over and over and over. When He heals, He creates millions of healthy cells to replace the dead ones in whatever it was He healed. He just creates them from nothing. Here, He creates food. And before the day is over, He's going to break some more rules of science. Something only God can do.
The miracle that day didn't change the multitude. They still want Jesus for the same reasons republicans want Dr. Carson and democrats want Uncle Joe. They think they will have the direct benefit of a better life. Very shallow.
We could argue that the miracle isn't for the multitude, it's for the disciples. The guys who are passing the basket and it's never empty. In fact at the end it had significantly more than when they started. Creation of substance with weight. That's a God thing.
They didn't get what they were after. Alone time with Jesus. But they did get to witness a magnificent creative miracle. That would charge your batteries up some. And they learned, it isn't what you bring that gets the work done, it's what He adds to it. That's a faith lesson.
They're about to get another one.
22Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
Jesus is in total control. He sends the crowds away. He's finished with them. He sends the disciples off in the boat. And He has this all important time, alone, with His father, in prayer.
Israel has rejected Him. They are blind, and deaf. Now, everything is about these 12 men that He's pouring Himself into.
I'll just make a wild guess that He prayed that the phenomenon of blindness and deafness that Israel had experienced would be polar opposite for the 12. Open their eyes, so they can see me. Open their ears so they can hear and understand me. Open their hearts. These 12 that are mine.
That's just a guess. We don't have a written record. But we DO have the final words in this chapter, and I really want to get there.
He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night
Next scene. Jesus has prayed for hours. Literally. Maybe 6 hours have gone by.
The disciples are in the boat. It's pitch dark. Inside of a cow dark. And the wind is blowing them 11 inches backwards for every 12 inches they row forward. They were tired when they started. We can only imagine the despair.
Tuesday morning I had an experience. It was my job to install a camera on a tower in the middle of a dry lake bed in the darkness of night. Except the lakebed wasn't dry any more. There was 4 inches of water. So I trudge out in the water, in a safe warm car, in the dark, and I can't find my tower. In fact I can't find anything.
And I trudge and trudge for long minutes in the direction I thought I would find it, and the water is getting deeper, and the car begins to lose traction. Not good.
So I put it in 4 wheel drive mode and gun it and it slowly starts moving again and I think, I better just get to dry land and forget the camera. More long minutes and finally I find dry land and get up on it, but in the dark of night, with nothing but water, I am completely turned around. Lost. And I realize, I'm on an island. Surrounded by more water, any direction I proceed.
Ultimately I find the big dipper and the north star and discover that what I thought was north, is south. I'm 180 degrees out, in the black darkness of night. A weird experience. We are easily lost. Thank God for His stars!
These guys are actually in real danger. Exhausted. Rowing. I'm quite sure they were headed in the right direction looking at the same stars I looked at.
And then, here comes Jesus. vs. 25b He came to them, walking on the sea. Another miracle only God can do. Science again makes this miracle even more miraculous. Science has taught us that all matter has 3 forms. Gas. Liquid. Solid. Solids displace liquid. Right. Need to prove that, try walking on water and see how that goes.
And the disciples are all a little bit scientist themselves. They see something walking on the water coming toward them and they immediately think, well, it can't be a solid, it must be a gas.
26When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.
They all screamed like a girl.
27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
It's not a ghost. It's God. Don't be afraid. I'm not sure how helpful that is. Either one freaks me out. But we have learned to trust in the kindness and grace of our father who really does love us. He tenderly provides for us. He gives us all good things.
28Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Impetuous Peter! We so need more like him. He's like, I've been in this boat long enough. Peter always, always, always wants to be near Jesus. And that's a good thing!
There are thousands of sermons about faith and walking on water and doubting and more faith etc. but I'm not going to preach one. I'm probably more like the other 11 guys. This boat got me this far. You go for it Peter.
Although I can report that I've experienced the beginning to sink and crying out, "Lord, save me!" He always does.
Jesus overules science. He creates matter. And He overules it's properties. He creates food from nothing. He walks on water. He controls the wind. One person can do that. God.
32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
Because of the miracles, and I'm quite sure, the prayer, they worshipped Him, saying You are certainly God's Son!
The leaders of Israel saw the miracles and did not worship Him.
The multitude saw the miracles and did not worship Him.
These 12 saw the miracles, and they worshipped Him.
Matthew has taken us on an adventure. A story. A gradual awakening to the fact that Jesus is God incarnate. Little by little that fact is made real to a few people.
In chapter 16, Peter, speaking for the disciples (he always does) will blurt out, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And that's Matthews message to us. That's the pinnacle. After that we move swiftly towards the cross, and the resurrection.
Matthew wants us to see and understand and believe that Jesus is God. Son of God, co-equal with the Father. The King of Kings who will return and re-claim this world.
those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2