Where True Ministry Begins: When the Healing Ends and the Hunger Sets In

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ according to apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twenty-two through thirty-six of the fourteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will ons the apostle Matthew picking up and transitioning from what took place in the preceding set of verses. If you direct your attention to the opening verses of this particular portion of the chapter you will find that after Jesus had finished feeding the multitudes by using the five loaves of bread and two fish, He Himself sent the multitudes away. The twenty-second verse of this chapter presents ya with Jesus just performing a miracle that was completely out of the ordinary and completely different from the ones He had performed leading up until this moment. This set of verses begins and opens up with Jesus sending the multitudes away after He had just finished feeding them. It’s important to note that not only did Jesus feed the multitudes, but Matthew records how there were five thousand men present that day, which didn’t include the women and children. This is actually quite an interesting piece of information—particularly and especially when you consider the fact that time and time again within this gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ we find apostle Matthew referencing great multitudes who followed Jesus, great multitudes who gathered before Jesus, and great multitudes who sought to receive healing for their sicknesses, their diseases, their illnesses, their infirmities and that which plagued and oppressed them. Reading about there being five thousand men who were present on this day—excluding women and children—we are confronted with just how massive the crowds were that followed Jesus where He went, and even the crowds who sought for to find Him when He has departed from their midst. As surely as we read concerning the multitudes following Jesus, we also read of the great multitudes seeking Jesus in order that they might find Him, for they desperately desired to come unto Him in order that they might learn more about Him and to receive healing of their infirmities and sicknesses.

It’s actually quite interesting to read and consider the preceding passage of scripture, for within the preceding passage of scripture we find a great multitude of people gathering themselves unto Jesus. Within the preceding passage of scripture we not only find the great multitude of people gathering themselves unto Jesus, but we find Jesus having compassion on them and healing their sick. What is truly interesting and unique about the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is that after Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist by beheading in the prison, He departed into a solitary and desert place in order that He might ponder the fate of John the Baptist there in the prison cell. Matthew records how Jesus withdrew Himself into a deserted place—perhaps to be alone with His disciples—and yet even there in that deserted place the crowds and the multitudes found and came unto Him. I have to say—upon reading this particular passage of scripture—that I am thankful for the compassion of Jesus the Christ. I am absolutely and utterly convinced that Jesus went into a desert and solitary place in order that He might be alone with His disciples after hearing about the death of John the Baptist. Unfortunately the great crowds and multitudes of people diligently sought out Jesus and His disciples and found Him there in that place. I would imagine that Jesus desired to be alone with His disciples there in that desert place—perhaps to mourn and grieve upon hearing the death of John the Baptist there in the prison cell. What is both interesting and unique about this is that the needs of the multitude sought after and sought out Jesus there in that desolate place where He and His disciples were alone. What do you do when you retreat into a solitary and quiet place in order that you might be alone, and yet you are confronted with the needs of those around you in that place? How do you respond and how do you react when you set out to withdraw yourself from among those before and around you in order that you might be alone, and yet you are met with the needs of others who are desperately seeking after and searching for a miracle and touch from the Father?

When you come to the preceding passage of scripture you will find Jesus and His disciples withdrawing and retreating to a desert place in order that they might find rest, peace, shelter and solitude—particularly and especially when you consider that they had just heard of the death of John the Baptist by Herod there in the prison cell. Upon seeing the great multitudes of people that had gone out into that desert place in order that they might find Jesus, He Himself had compassion upon them and healed their sick. What happens next is actually truly unique, for so great was the ministry of Jesus Christ on this day that it went well into the course of the day, and perhaps even unto the evening. After Jesus had finished healing their sick, the disciples saw that it was late in the day, and that many within the crowd were tired, were hungry, were weary, and many still had a great journey to arrive home where they lived and dwelt. As a result of the disciples looking upon the time of the day and the great crowds of people who were tired, who were hungry, and were perhaps weary, they desired of Jesus that He send them away to find food to eat. The disciples desired of Jesus that He send the crowds away after healing all their sick because it was now late in the day and many of them were tired and hungry, and could quite possibly faint along the way. HEALED BUT TIRED! HEALED BY HUNGRY! HEALED BY WEARY! HEALED BUT FAINTING! We dare not miss or lose sight of the great significance and importance of what is taking place within this passage of scripture, for within this passage we do find Jesus healing all their sick which were brought before and unto Him, but after having spent the entire day with Jesus and receiving frat ministry from His hands, there were many among them who although they were healed in their physical bodies, they were hungry and in need of physical sustenance. Though there were many who were healed within their physical bodies, they were tired and weary within their physical bodies and perhaps needed rest in the presence of Jesus. Although Jesus has healed their sick and had ministered to their physical conditions, He had done absolutely nothing for their physical needs and their being tired, their being weary, their being hungry, and their needing rest in the presence of Jesus the Christ.

I can’t help but be incredibly gripped and captivated by what I read and what I find in verses thirteen through twenty-one of the fourteenth chapter, for while we find Jesus having compassion upon the great multitude of people who gathered themselves unto Him—after Jesus had healed all their sick, the disciples sought that He might send them away from that place in order that they might find food for themselves. Consider if you will how the text actually unfolds and plays out in this passage of Scripture beginning with the thirteenth verse and continuing through to the sixteenth verse:

“When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat” (Matthew 14:13-16).

I find what we have within this passage of Scripture to be incredibly challenging and incredibly convicting, for while it is true we find Jesus having compassion on the great multitude that had gathered themselves unto Him, and while it is true that we find Him healing their sick, it is also true that we find the disciples desiring that Jesus might send the crowds away, for it was the end of the day. The disciples saw that they were in a deserted place, and they saw that the crowds had been with Jesus all day and well into the evening, and many of them were tired, many of them were weary, many of their were hungry, and many of them were in desperate need of physical sustenance. It was true they had just received physical healing from that which plagued their physical bodies, but having spent so long with Jesus on this particular day, many of them were tired, many of them were weary, and many of them needed physical food in order that they might not faint along the way. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this, for I can’t help but find a powerful prophetic truth and declaration contained within this passage of Scripture. I can’t help but find a word that greatly and tremendously challenges us in this particular passage of Scripture, for it would appear that although Jesus healed the sick of those who gathered themselves unto Him in this desert place, the disciples would have sent them away. Although Jesus had healed their sick, the disciples would have sent them away tired, the disciples would have sent them away hungry, the disciples would have sent them away weary and faint hearted and needing to fend for themselves at that time of day. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women come into our meetings, how many men and women come into our worship sets, how many men and women come into our gatherings and our assemblies, and they might receive physical healing, and yet although they are healed within their physical bodies, they are forced to leave tired and weary. I can’t help but think to myself that there are countless men and women among us who may very well find healing for their physical bodies in our meetings, in our gatherings and in our assemblies, and yet they are forced to leave our meetings tired, weary and faint of heart. In other words—we are content to watch them receive physical healing for their bodies and that which plagues and oppresses them, but when it comes to ministry unto their souls, and ministry unto their tiredness, ministry unto their weariness, and ministry unto their faint-heartedness, we tend to shy away from such. Ministry. We don’t mind men and women receiving healing within their physical bodies, for such is seen on the external and can very well be a manifestation of pride and arrogance. What I mean by this is that we are okay with the multitudes of men and women receiving healing in their physical bodies, yet when it comes to soul ministry, and when it comes to ministry unto their weariness, their tiredness, and their faint-heartedness, we tend to shy away from such ministry.

As I sit here and contemplate this particular passage of Scripture—not only am I confronted with the fact that the disciples sought to send the crowds and multitude away in order that they might fend for themselves and provide their own needs, Jesus knew that they had no need of being sent away. The disciples had watched as Jesus healed all their sick on this particular day in that deserted place, and the disciples had watched as it grew later and later into the day. Eventually there came a point when it was well into the day, and many of those who had received healing in their physical bodies were tired and weary from an intense day of ministry and healing. The disciples were aware of the time of the day, and the disciples were away of many of the needs that were present within and present among the crowds of people on this particular day, and they desired of Jesus that He send them away in order that they might find food for themselves. I am greatly challenged when I read these words, for I am completely and utterly convinced that there are many times when we would rather send the crowds away from among us and from our midst—although those whom we are sending away are tired and weary. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women we are sending away from our meetings and from our assemblies tired, weary, and perhaps even hungry rather than taking the time to continue in further ministry. WHEN THE HEALING CEASES THE REAL MINISTRY BEGINS! WHEN THE HEALING CEASES THE TRUE TEST COMES INTO PLAY! It is true that Jesus healed all their sick on this particular day in that desert place, however, I am convinced that the true ministry did not take place until Jesus had the disciples sit the crowds down in that place and began ministering with the bread and the fish. We read this passage and we tend to think that true ministry took place and began with Jesus healing all the sick which were gathered there together on that particular day, and yet I am convinced that this simply isn’t the case. I am completely and utterly convinced that true and authentic ministry didn’t begin when Jesus healed their sick, but rather when Jesus had the disciples sit the crowds down before Him and began ministering with the loaves of bread and the fish. We would read this passage and think that true ministry took place as a result of Jesus’ compassion on the crowds and through His healing their sick, and yet I am convinced that true ministry didn’t take place on this particular day until after the healing was over, until after the miracles within the physical bodies of men were met. Please note that I am in no way diminishing the fact that Jesus healed their sick because He had compassion on them, but rather that I believe that true ministry didn’t take place until after the disciples desired that the crowds be sent away from that place to care for themselves.

TRUE MINISTRY BEGINS WHEN YOU YOURSELF ARE TIRED! TRUE MINISTRY BEGINS WHEN YOU YOURSELF ARE WEARY! TRUE MINISTRY BEGINS WHEN IT IS EASIER TO SEND THE CROWDS AWAY! Jesus had just finished healing all their sick, and the disciples desired of Jesus that He send the crowds and the multitudes away from that place. It is at this particular point in the day when I am convinced that true ministry began—not so much for Jesus the Christ, but for the disciples who were there with Jesus before the crowds and great multitude. I am completely and utterly convinced that true and authentic ministry began when the healing was finished, and perhaps when fatigue and tiredness had begun to set in. I believe that true and authentic ministry began when it would have been so easy to send the crowds away rather than remain with the crowds and continue ministering unto them. Oh, how many men and women among us would be willing to send the crowds and masses away tired and hungry—although many of them had received physical healing within their bodies? How many of us would allow men and women to leave our midst tired, weary, and even hungry rather than continuing to engage ourselves in ministry with them? I can’t help but think within myself and come to terms with the fact that there are many who are being sent away from us in our midst, and yet they are being sent away tired, weary, and hungry. In other words, it is easier for them to receive physical healing, and for them to receive deliverance from that which oppressed, and from that which tormented and plagued them than it is for them to receive food for their souls, and food for their physical bodies. While this particular passage describes and highlights a physical desire for food, I am convinced that it presents us with a much deeper and much larger picture that we would be wise to think about and consider. While this particular passage centers around a physical hunger that was found within the physical bodies of these men, women and children, I am convinced that it brings us face to face with a spiritual hunger that is present within hearts, within the souls, and within the spirits of countless who gather themselves unto us within our midst. I am convinced that there are many who enter into our sanctuaries and enter into our houses of worship, and many might even receive physical healing, and yet we would choose to send them out with their healing and that’s it. We are content sending them out with a physical healing for their bodies, and yet we expect them to care for themselves rather than us continuing our care for them. We are content with allowing them to receive physical healing for their bodies, and yet we do absolutely nothing to provide that which they need for their spiritual hunger and that which they need for their spiritual thirst.

I would dare say that true and authentic ministry begins when the healing ends and the hunger begins. WHEN THE HEALING ENDS AND THE HUNGER BEGINS! WHEN THE HEALING ENDS AND THE HUNGER SETS IN! The more I read this particular passage of Scripture the more I am confronted with the fact that the real ministry within this passage did not begin when Jesus healed all their sick, but when the healing was over and when the hunger began to set in. The real test of ministry within this passage was not in the healing of the sick which were gathered together before Jesus on this occasion, but rather when the healing had ceased and when the hunger began to set in, when the tiredness began to set in, when the weariness began to set in. We tend to think that the greatest demonstration of ministry is through physical healing, and that ministry somehow ceases and comes to an end when men and women receive healing within their physical bodies. Many of us are completely and utterly oblivious to the fact that many within our midst might receive physical healing for their bodies, and yet it is possible that they can leave in just as much need as when they gathered together among us within our midst. Did you know that it is possible for men and women to enter into our midst, receive physical healing or some type of miracle within their physical bodies, and yet they can still exit our sanctuaries and houses of worship in just as much need as when they entered? It is true that they might have entered in with one particular need, however, although their initial need might have been met, another need has arisen as a direct result of what they have received. Jesus had compassion on the crowds, and Jesus healed all their diseases, all their sicknesses, all their infirmities, all their illnesses, and yet the crowds were still in a place of need. It was true that their physical bodies had received physical healing from Jesus, and it was true that many of them had experienced great deliverance—perhaps even from demonic oppression and possession—and yet as a result of being there with Jesus all day, many of them were tired, many of them were weary, and many of them were hungry. The disciples desired that the crowds be sent away, and the disciples desired that they fend for themselves and provide for their own needs, when Jesus would have done the complete opposite. The disciples would have allowed the crowds to depart from the presence of Jesus healed, and yet hungry. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many men and women might very well leave our midst healed, and yet hungry. How many men and women leave our assemblies, leave our gatherings, and leave our meetings healed, and yet they are hungry?

Oh, I can’t help but think about all the “revivals,” all the “awakenings,” and all the “outpourings” which have taken place throughout recent years, and how many men and women came unto these meetings to receive physical healing, and to receive a miracle within their individual lives. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women might have come unto such meetings with a physical need of healing, with a physical need of deliverance, with a physical need of a miracle, and while that initial need might have been met, many of them have left such meetings with an even greater need—one that might have caused them to faint along the way after departing. Imagine entering into the presence of Jesus needing healing, receiving the healing you desired, and yet leaving the presence of Jesus tired and hungry. Imagine leaving the presence of Jesus healed and yet fainting on the way because no one was willing to meet the need that was present within your physical body. Imagine what many of these men, women and children would and could have faced had they left the presence of Jesus healed, yet hungry. I am convinced that we do ourselves and those we are called to minister to a great disservice when we allow them to leave healed and yet hungry. I am convinced that we might very well do more damage and more harm when we allow men and women to leave our midst healed within their physical bodies, and yet tired, and yet weary, and yet fatigued. OH, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus spoke unto the crowds, which were written and recorded by the apostle Matthew in the eleventh chapter of this particular gospel. In verses twenty-eight through thirty of this particular gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus we find the following words spoken by Jesus the Christ unto the crowds and multitudes of people who had gathered themselves before Him:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Within this particular passage of Scripture we find Jesus extending a wonderful and powerful invitation unto men and women of that generation—and not just within that generation, but in every generation that would proceed after it—to come unto Him if we labour and are heavy laden. Jesus issued a wonderful and powerful invitation within this passage of Scripture to those who laboured and were heavy laden, and He would give them rest. What’s more, is that Jesus invited them to take His yoke upon them, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart. Jesus emphatically declared unto those who would come unto Him that they would find rest for their souls, for His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Oh, we dare not miss and lose sight of this particular reality and concept, for it holds tremendous significance for what we find and what we read in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. In the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find great multitudes of people gathering themselves unto Jesus, and Jesus having compassion on them—a compassion that led to and resulted in their sick being healed. Where this particular passage becomes interesting and intriguing is when we consider the fact that although many received physical healing on this particular occasion, the disciples would have allowed them to go away hungry and in need of food. Although many of them had received physical healing for that which plagued and oppressed their bodies, they would leave tired, they would leave weary, and they would leave faint of heart. I mentioned the various “awakenings,” the various “revivals,” and the various “outpourings,” and how there are those who come unto such meetings and might very well receive physical healing within their bodies, and perhaps even some manner of deliverance from that which plagued and oppressed their physical bodies. What I can’t help but wonder is how many men and women might come unto these meetings, and come unto these gatherings, and while they might receive healing for their physical bodies, they end of leaving tired, they end of leaving hungry, their end of leaving weary, they end of leaving faint of heart. Imagine what would happen if instead of allowing the crowds to leave these meetings healed and yet hungry, we actually choose to continue on ministering—even when it is tough, and even when it is difficult. Imagine what would happen if instead of allowing such crowds to leave tired, to leave weary, to leave faint of heart, we continue on ministering unto them, and extending that ministry to their tired and weary souls. Jesus invited those who laboured and were weary to come unto Him, and He would give them rest, and yet I can’t help but wonder how many of us would allow men and women to leave our midst tired, weary and faint of heart. I can’t help but wonder how many of us would allow men and women to leave our midst healed and yet hungry, and having to fend for themselves and meet their own needs.

There might be those who would read the words contained within this particular writing and would think that I somehow have something against rest, and that it isn’t possible for those engaged in ministry to themselves be tired, to be weary, and to be faint of heart. Within this particular passage of Scripture we do not find the disciples entreating Jesus that He send the crowds away because the disciples themselves were tired, and because the disciples themselves were weary, and because the disciples themselves were hungry. Within this passage of Scripture we find the disciples seeking to send away the crowds and the multitudes because many of them were tired, many of them were weary, and many of them were hungry. Jesus—being unwilling to allow men and women to leave His presence tired, weary and hungry—declared unto the disciples that they did not need to depart, and then instructed the disciples to feed them. Oh, imagine what it was like for the disciples to hear Jesus declare unto them that the crowds and multitudes didn’t need to depart, and then find Jesus instruct them to feed the multitudes. Imagine being the disciples and knowing that you didn’t have nearly enough to provide for all the needs of those who were gathered together on that day. Imagine being the disciples and being instructed by Jesus Christ to feed the crowds and the multitudes, knowing that you weren’t prepared to feed that many people. It is clearly evident form this particular passage that the disciples didn’t enter into this particular day with the intention of feeding five thousand men, which didn’t include women and children. It is clear from this particular passage that the disciples were somewhat surprised and shocked when Jesus instructed them to feed the crowds and multitudes knowing that they didn’t have anything to feed them with. What’s more, is that in response to Jesus’ instruct to feed the crowds and masses, the disciples proceeded to tell Jesus what it would take in order to feed this many people in a single instance and in a single day. Jesus presented them with an invitation to minister unto the crowds, for although He Himself healed them, He instructed the disciples to feed the crowds. Oh, I am convinced that there is a wonderful and powerful truth contained within this passage, and that is that it is Jesus alone who heals the crowds, it is Jesus alone who heals the masses, it is Jesus alone who heals those in our midst, and yet we are instructed to feed the crowds and the masses. You will notice that within this passage Jesus healed the crowds and the multitudes, but He instructed His disciples to feed the crowd, and would later instruct the disciples to have the crowds of people sit down on the ground, and later pass out that which He distributed unto them in baskets.

We must take special note within this passage that Jesus healed the crowds and multitudes of people, yet when it came to feeding the five thousand, Jesus instructed the disciples to feed them. What’s more, is that it was the disciples who would take the broken bread and the fragments of the fish and distribute it to the crowds of people that were gathered together before them. With that being said, it is imperative that we recognize and understand that it is not enough to allow Jesus to do His part and to heal those who have great need within their physical bodies, and yet not do our part. What I mean by this is that we cannot be content with Jesus healing the physical bodies of men and women, bringing deliverance into the lives of men and women, and yet we aren’t willing to do our part and feed the crowds of people who are gathered together. We dare not, we cannot, we must not allow men and women to come into our midst and to receive physical healing, and yet leave tired, weary, faint of heart and hungry, for if men and women leave our midst as such, it is not because of Jesus and because Jesus didn’t show up and do His part. If men and women leave our midst tired, weary, faint of heart and hungry, it is not because Jesus didn’t show up and do what He desired to do, but because we were unwilling to do our part and what we have been called to do. It is Jesus’ work to provide physical healing for the crowds and the multitudes and masses, but it is our responsibility to feed the crowds and the masses, and to give them to eat. Even if we don’t feel we have enough to offer those who have gathered before us as the disciples did, we bring our own need, our own inadequacy and our own impossibility before Jesus, and allow Him to give unto us that we might distribute unto those who have gathered together before us. Though we might be content with allowing the crowds to leave tired, to leave weary, to leave faint of heart, and to leave hungry, we have a great responsibility to feed the crowds and to feed the masses, and to allow them to not only leave healed, but also full and satisfied. We dare not allow men and women to leave our midst healed and yet tired and weary, and in danger of fainting along the way. We dare not allow men and women to come into our midst with a physical need for healing, and yet they end up leaving hungry and in need. I am convinced that we must allow Jesus to provide the healing that is necessary within the lives of men and women who gather together among us within our midst, and we must engage ourselves in feeding the crowds and masses of people who are before us. I leave you with the words which Jesus declared unto the apostle Peter, which is found at the very end of the New Testament gospel of John:

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him a third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou s halt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow me” (John 21:15-19).

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