Jesus is Enough

Posted: July 9, 2012 in Matthew

Matthew 14:13-21, “Jesus is Enough”

It’s happened to all of us: we’ve prepared a meal for a number of guests or for a party, but due to how much is being consumed or how many people or present, all of sudden we start to panic & wonder if there’s going to be enough.  Now, instead of running out of what you had prepared, imagine starting out with nothing in the first place.  That’s what happened to the disciples.  Thrown in with 5000-7000 people (the 5000 only included the men), all of a sudden they’re expected to feed them.  It’s no wonder they began to panic a bit!  Yet what they found was that Jesus was enough.  Jesus had been sufficient to provide healing when it was needed (and compassionate enough to provide it), and Jesus was sufficient to meet the needs of physical hunger as well.  Jesus was enough.

Do we remember (or do we even realize) that Jesus is truly enough for our needs?  When we come across a medical emergency, we don’t hesitate to call every doctor we know and trust the advice we’re given, but perhaps we’re a bit slower to trust Christ in the same way.  When our family is coming apart at the seams, we look to every single thing we can possibly do, but sometimes we’re somewhat hesitant to truly trust Jesus and His word in our most dire situations.  “Sure, it seems good for other people, but when it comes to us – well, God doesn’t really understand MY situation…”  Not true.  God does understand, and what Jesus says and what Jesus provides truly is enough.  None less than the apostle Paul had to learn the exact same lesson when he struggled with his mysterious thorn in the flesh.  He prayed three times for it to be taken from him – and if anyone knew how to pray, it was Paul!  He had seen miracles performed that ranged from calling blindness upon someone to raising a person from the dead.  People would collect Paul’s sweat-rags just to heal their friends.  Yet the answer to Paul is the same one provided to many of us today: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)  IOW, Jesus is enough.  His power is enough – His provision is enough – His word is enough…anything that He provides will be sufficient for our need because Jesus is enough.

Matthew 14:13–21 (NKJV)
13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

  1. The first thing we need to ask is what “it” refers to.  Was it when Jesus heard about John’s death (which took place at an earlier time than what is described in vss. 1-2) – or was it when Jesus heard of Herod asking questions about Himself (and mistaking Him for John the Baptist)?  From the rest of the chapter, it would seem that Matthew had picked up in his narrative chronology again (the account of John’s death was a flashback), so most likely Jesus withdrew to the deserted place after He heard of Herod’s inquiries about Him.  To this point, Jesus had led a very public ministry, and although He would never truly disappear from the public eye, He seems to make Himself much less accessible to Herod or the other leaders in Judea.
  2. Why?  Would does Jesus pull back?  Certainly it wasn’t due to fear.  Herod Antipas was a brutal man with much power and influence, but his power was nothing compared with the Son of God!  There was absolutely no reason for Jesus to fear Herod, which was demonstrated even at His own trial.  No matter what Herod did, he could not intimidate the Lord Jesus. (As if an ant could intimidate an elephant?!  There simply is no comparison…)
  3. If Jesus didn’t withdraw due to reasons of man, then it follows that He withdrew because of reasons of God.  Never forget that there was an eternal plan in place, in which God the Father was sending God the Son to the cross in order to die for the sins of mankind.  That plan had to be executed according to prophecy and design, and thus had to be timed perfectly.  Herod could not take Jesus before the time, and Jesus wasn’t going to allow Herod to distract Him from His mission.  God’s will was supreme, and if that meant that Jesus needed to draw back, so be it.
    1. Are we willing to submit ourselves not only to the plan of God, but also to His timing?  Truth be told, it’s God’s timing with which many Christians struggle with, much more than His plan.  Maybe we think we know what God wants, but in our mind, God simply isn’t moving fast enough.  So we do our little manipulations to try to get things on a schedule that better suits us.  Of course, we’re not the only ones…Abraham and Sarah went through exactly the same thing. [Gen 16: Hagar & Ishmael]  Be careful not to push your own timetable onto the Lord.  If He is our Master, then we need to trust Him with His timing in addition to His will.
  4. Where did He go?  Jesus went to a “deserted place by Himself,” but it didn’t stay deserted for long.  Pretty soon, the multitudes showed up in a major way, following Him from the city.  Keep in mind, this wasn’t like us just hopping in the car and heading to the other side of town; people walked for miles and miles to get where Jesus was.  And when they got there, they could that it wasn’t even a populated place.  There wasn’t a Chick-Fil-A in sight! J  Where had Jesus taken them?  (He had allowed Himself to BE followed; He could have avoided the crowds if He so desired.)  The deserted wilderness.  Luke’s account indicates it was the region of Bethsaida (Lk 9:10). [map]  They were willing to go to the middle of nowhere just to be with Jesus.
    1. Certainly, not all who followed Jesus in the multitude continued to follow Jesus always.  Yet we’ve got to love how they began!  They knew Jesus had power and authority…there was something dramatically different about this Man.  They may not have yet understood it fully, but they knew they needed to be around Him if they wanted to find out more.
    2. As American Evangelicals, we need to ask ourselves if our efforts at evangelism haven’t been as effective if it’s because we haven’t been showing Jesus to people.  We’ve got our methods, arguments, apologetics, and debates (all of which may have their place), but if we’re not showing Jesus to people, what’s the point?  When people see Him, that’s when their curiosity will be peaked.  Granted, Jesus will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to some, but to others, they will see Him as Someone who cannot be ignored.  Take people to Jesus!  When He is lifted up, He will draw all people to Himself. (Jn 12:32)

14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

  1. Notice the verbs here: (1) went/saw, (2) moved, (3) healed.  There’s a definite progression here.  First, He “saw” them.  Jesus had gone to the deserted place by Himself, but He didn’t stay in a bubble once He was there.  He didn’t lock Himself away saying, “I came out here to be alone!  Everyone go away!”  No.  Once the people were there, Jesus went out and saw them with His own eyes.
    1. BTW: Even if the text had said nothing else after this point, this would still be a major statement regarding the love and condescension of God when He became a Man.  That GOD would personally look upon individual human beings is an amazing demonstration of love.  After all, what can we possibly offer to God that He does not already have?  What possible interest could we be to the Almighty?  Yet we are.  He sees us.
  2. Not only did Jesus see them; He was “moved with compassion for them.”  The need of the people created a grief/yearning in their Creator.  Actually, the whole phrase, “He was moved with compassion” is translated from the one Greek word for “compassion,” using the various tense & mood the word is in.  The word itself originally referred to the inner parts of a sacrifice – the various organs that were used from the animal.  It came to refer to someone’s inner-self, or as we might say “our heart.”  If someone is moved with compassion, the idea is that their whole inner being is moved.  This isn’t a mere moment of pity; this is heartfelt sympathy & yearning…from GOD – the Lord Jesus Christ.  That God would feel that way towards us is incredible!
    1. Keep in mind that these are people still in rebellion against God.  The Bible makes it plain that our sin shows that we are at enmity with the God of the universe.  What repentance had these people shown?  None that we’re told.  Jesus had not yet even gone to the cross to offer them reconciliation with God, and yet He was still moved with compassion.  This is the demonstration of His love for us in that He had compassion upon us while we were still His enemies. [Romans 5:8]
  3. Finally, Jesus did something about it.  He way them, and He was moved for them, but He didn’t stay only in a point of pity for them.  Jesus’ compassion certainly started in His heart, but it moved to His hands.  In this case, He “healed their sick.”  We’re not told the specific examples or numbers of those He healed.  Presumably He healed those who were in need as He walked among them.  People needed to be healed, and the Great Physician was among them and had been moved with compassion…so He healed them.
    1. Question: Where those who were healed people who later joined the disciples?  We don’t know…Scripture is silent.  Perhaps some were, while others later rejected Christ.  Maybe all of them came to faith; maybe none of them did…we simply don’t know.  But the faith of the individual here is not so much the focus as the love, compassion, and power of Jesus.  What people did with the gift God gave them is lost to history, but God gave the gift irrespective of the outcome.  Sometimes you just help because someone needs helping.  It’s the loving thing to do.
  4. Be challenged here to look at your own life.  Jesus saw, was moved, and then did something.  Many of us never make it to the first step.  What can you do this week to get out of your bubble and demonstrate the love of Christ to someone?  You might not be able to heal, but you be able to offer a sandwich.  Look around you, and ask God to show you the need…and when He does, He’ll also be showing you the harvest field of those who need to be saved.  Show someone the love of Christ, and you’ll have gained the opportunity to tell someone about the salvation that Jesus offers.

15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

  1. This was a legitimate problem.  There weren’t any convenience stores or fast food restaurants in the area.  It was “deserted,” and if the people were going to eat anything, they needed to get moving to a town where they could buy something.  After all, it wasn’t as if the disciples carried around truckloads of food with them.  They may have been wondering if they were going to skip dinner that night themselves.  The most natural solution?  (IOW, the same one that any of us would have come up with.)  Tell the multitudes to leave, get some dinner, and presumably come back tomorrow.  It’s a logical solution, but it’s certainly an earthly one.  It’s something that could be done by the power of men without any thought of dependence upon God.  Apparently, that was NOT what Jesus had in mind.
    1. God doesn’t always want us comfortable.  We like comfort.  We like those times in which everything is under control, and we know exactly what is going to happen from minute to minute.  The problem is that we very rarely recognize our need and dependency upon God during those times.  It’s when things get uncomfortable that we’re reminded how much we need our Heavenly Father.  When we’re on a mission trip, and don’t speak the language, we’re dependent upon the Spirit.  When we’re forced to make a decision at our job, if we’re going to do what honors the Lord or what pleases our boss – then we remember our dependency.  When we’re handing out aid to a line of people, and the number of people in line is more than the bags we’ve brought, we remember our dependency upon the Lord.  Many times God is simply waiting for the point that we recognize our own dependency upon Him.  That’s the point in which He will receive all of the glory, and many times that’s the point in which we’ll see Him move.
    2. Don’t be anxious during uncomfortable times; be dependent. Philippians 4:6–7, "(6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." []  Take your needs to the Lord and see what He will do.

16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

  1. Jesus’ response was probably very unexpected for the disciples.  How could the people NOT need to leave?  How else would they find food?  Obviously we know the end of the story, but the disciples did not know it at the time.  All they knew is that they certainly did not have any food, and yet Jesus is telling them to feed the crowds.  Notice there are two responses from Jesus:
  2. Response #1: “They do not need to go away.” From all external evidence it would have seemed as if the people needed to leave.  But that leaves out one very important factor: they were with Jesus.  If they truly believed that Jesus is God in the flesh, then why would the people need to leave?  Certainly the same God who created the universe could feed a few thousand people if He so wished!  Besides, the people’s greatest need in all the world was to receive the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ.  They needed to recognize Jesus as the King if they were to become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.  How could the people possibly be sent away from Jesus if Jesus is what they needed the most?  The very last thing they needed was to leave Jesus!  People with full bellies at dinner can still die and go to hell by dessert-time.  The people’s greatest need was to be reconciled with God, and that can only come through the grace of Jesus.  They needed to be with Him!
    1. How important it is for us not to get distracted from giving people what they truly need.  There are many things that are important: political issues, theological points concerning non-essential issues (creation, the gifts, end-times, etc.), social helps, and more…but not one of those things is the difference between eternal life with Christ and eternal hell without Him.  Let us make sure that in whatever situation we may find ourselves, that our discussions and actions don’t take people away from Jesus, but rather to Him.
  3. Response #2: “You give them something to eat.” Surely at least one of the disciples thought: “Are you kidding?!  Feed them what, exactly?”  Again, they probably didn’t have many provisions for themselves, much less a crowd the size of a small basketball arena.  Other gospel accounts note that the disciples estimated it would cost 200 denarii (days’ wages) to feed the crowd.  All they needed was a little less than 2/3 a year’s worth of salary…in a moment…to be spent overnight.  Impossible!  Of course the problem again was that they forgot about Jesus.  The Son of God was in their midst, and they hadn’t even tried to feed the people.  When Jesus went through His temptation, Satan tried to get Jesus to turn a stone into a loaf of bread.  Of course Jesus refused – not from a lack of power, but because of the will of God.  They disciples didn’t even think to bring a rock to Jesus!  They forgot their own history of how God fed the ancient Hebrews manna on a daily basis.  Couldn’t they have asked Jesus for manna?  Of course…they just didn’t.
    1. Too often we tend to forget Who it is that we serve.  Our faith is not in a mythological deity.  It’s not in a nice book of moralistic stories. It’s not in an ancient history book with no bearing on today.  Our faith is in the Living God!  Right now, our Lord Jesus is alive, sitting at the right hand of God the Father actively interceding for you.  We can go to God in prayer with the same certainty as any one of the disciples could have gone to Jesus with their request (if they had bothered to ask).  Our God is alive, and He hears the prayers of His saints/people!
    2. There’s another aspect to Jesus’ response to the disciples that we don’t want to overlook.  He directly challenged/commanded the disciples to do something about the problem.  “You give them something to eat.”  To this point, they had seen the need, but they hadn’t done anything.  Earlier, when Jesus saw the need, He was moved with compassion, and did something (He healed).  The disciples had not followed His example.  They saw the need, and then tried to pawn it off on someone else.  They may not have known what could be done, but they personally had not done anything.
      1. When it comes to the many issues that need someone to take action, have you done what you can do?  When you see a need, it’s not a sign from the Lord that you found another ministry from someone else; it may be something that the Lord wants you to tackle, with His help and guidance. …

17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.”

  1. They didn’t have much, but what they had, they brought to Jesus.  Some of the other gospel accounts show this to be a young boy’s provisions (most likely his lunch).  We’re not talking about huge loaves of sourdough, but probably some flatbread and some small fish.  It was all they could find…and Jesus took what they brought.  No doubt if they disciples had found more, or if they had only found one loaf, Jesus still would have taken it.  It’s not the size of the offering we bring to Jesus that counts; it’s the attitude and faith in which we bring it.
  2. It’s doubtful that the disciples had much faith at all on this point.  Everything we’ve read in the text so far has only indicated their doubt.  Matthew’s account doesn’t mention the young boy, but no doubt the boy had the heart attitude that was right before the Lord.  A multitude needed to be fed, and this boy was willing to go hungry for the night if Jesus asked for his sack lunch.  THAT’s the heart of a cheerful giver!  He gave to the Lord first, and trusted God to provide for his needs.
  3. So many times we see a need & our first thought is: “I only have a little bit; it’s not enough for the task.”  Our heart has gone out & we know that God wants us to do something, but we only have a little bit (be it money, time, gifts, or whatever).  Bring what you have to Jesus!  Do we not think that our God can do much with little?  Charles Spurgeon preached an entire sermon on these two verses, emphasizing at one point the need to consecrate what we do have unto the Lord. “Let us bring all we have to Christ, likewise in faith, laying it all at His feet, believing that His great power can make little means suffice for mighty ends. “Lord, there are only five loaves”—they were five loaves only when we had them in our hands. But now they are in Your hands, they are food for 5,000 men! “Lord, there are two fishes”—they were paltry to insignificance while they were ours, but Your touch has ennobled them, and those little fishes shall become food for that vast multitude! Blessed is that man who, feeling that he has truly consecrated all to God, can say, “There is enough; I do not need more talent; I do not need more substance; I would not wish to have more; there is enough for my work; I know it is utterly insufficient in itself, but our sufficiency is of God.”” (Spurgeon)  Perhaps the needs we see that are unmet are simply unmet due to the fact that we haven’t even brought what little we DO have to our Lord?  We haven’t trusted Jesus with our little, and thus we remain overwhelmed by the task in front of us.

19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

  1. Jesus took it and blessed it.  No incantations, no magic formulas – just a normal guy giving the normal thanks to God for the food.  What makes the scene so amazing is the normalcy of it all.  Jesus simply blessed the food (like so many of us do at every meal) and started to give it to the disciples.  And He gave, and gave, and gave!  Like the widow at Zarephath whose jar of oil and bin of flour kept on producing & producing (1 Kings 17), so Jesus kept handing out loaf after loaf and fish after fish.  What exactly it would have looked like, we don’t know, but don’t you wish there was a video of it?  Amazing!
  2. Can our God create something out of nothing?  Absolutely.  He did it at Creation – He did it with Jesus, and He can still do it any time He so desires! [Belarus outreach]
  3. Notice who it was that saw the miracle: the disciples.  Surely the word spread of what happened, but those who were personally involved in serving the Lord were the once who witnessed the work of God firsthand. … (Like the servants with the waterpots turning to wine at the Cana wedding – Jn 2)  So often that’s the way it still is.  You can certainly hear about the work of God from someone else, but if you want to experience it for yourself, you’ve often got to get involved.  Start serving the Lord on any level, and you might be surprised at the little “miracles” of God you’ve previously overlooked.

20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. 21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

  1. Not only did the people eat, but there was more than enough!  The situation went from needing 200 denarii to purchase bread, to having enough left over bread to open up a small grocery store!  12 baskets – 12 disciples – 12 tribes of Israel…Jesus is making an obvious statement about His sufficiency for their needs.  Every single disciple had the opportunity to see exactly how over-abundant Jesus’ power is.  Jesus did not provide “just enough” food to take the edge off their hunger; He provided so much that they were stuffed to the gills and couldn’t eat any more.
  2. This is how the blessings of our salvation work.  When we come to faith in Christ, convinced that He is God, and then personally receive Him as our Lord and Savior, Jesus doesn’t just give a little grace; He gives it abundantly!  We’re not forgiven of a few of our sins; we’re forgiven of all of them.  We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing which is in Christ (Eph 1:3).  We have been given grace upon grace (John 1:16).  There is nothing that we lack in Christ Jesus!
  3. There is also no limit as to who can receive of His blessing and grace.  5000 men were there, plus women and children.  Some think there were a preponderance of men there due to the travel, others think there were likely as many women & children present as there were men.  We may not know the final figure, but we know this much: no one was left out.  ALL who wanted to receive of what was offered to them through Christ received it.  From the other gospel accounts, there’s no doubt that there were many who ate this day that later turned away from Christ, but yet Jesus’ gift was available to all.  There was no restriction of who could receive; the only limit was if they would receive.
    1. Have you received?  Have you partaken of the grace and forgiveness that Jesus has made available to you?  If you haven’t, the only barrier is yourself.  His grace IS available; you simply need to receive what He offers.

Jesus is enough!  Whether we’re looking at His person or His provision, our Lord Jesus is enough for every need. 

As our loving personal God, Jesus looks upon us & sees our need – He is moved with compassion upon both His own people & also upon those who are lost (like sheep without a shepherd) – and He takes action.  Truly Jesus intervened in the lives of the 5000+ in the deserted place by healing them, and He takes action today.  He still heals the brokenhearted – He still opens up the eyes of the spiritually blind – He still heals medically and supernaturally…our God is the living God, and He takes action.  Of course the most dramatic action Jesus took is demonstrated at the cross.  Jesus saw us at our deepest need, when we were utterly lost – He was moved with compassion for us, loving us when we did not deserve to be loved – and He provided for our healing when He hung on that torturous cross, died for us, and then rose again from the grave.

Jesus is also more than enough in His provision.  Just as His healing demonstrated His compassion, so does the multiplying of the bread and fish demonstrate His ability.  Not only does our God intimately care about the people He has created, He is abundantly able to do something about it.  The Man who can take a little boy’s lunch, and feed multiple thousands of people can surely provide for our every need.  There is nothing that we lack that will not be found in Him.  Truly He IS the bread of life, and we are to go to Him for our spiritual and physical sustenance every day. 

May we beware that we not be like those who are Christians on Sunday, yet not live like those who have personally encountered the living God during the rest of the week.  How easy it is to fall into the same trap as the original disciples, and look at our own problems through earthly plans without taking them to the feet of our Lord Jesus.  He’s given us His word in the Bible – He’s given us His presence & power through the Holy Spirit – He’s given us communication in prayer…wonderful blessings!  Yet still so many Christians act as if they have to walk alone & figure things out by themselves.  Christian: rely upon your living Lord Jesus, who is more than enough for your need!

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