Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the twenty-ninth verse of the fifteenth chapter and continues through to the fourth verse of the sixteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find something taking place within it which has already occurred within the New Testament gospel of Matthew. In fact, if you then and direct your attention to the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel of Jesus you will read how Jesus performed many great miracles and healed a great multitude of people who some unto Him in desperate need. I have to admit that the more I read the gospel of Matthew the more I can’t help but see and be confronted with the recurrence of the phrase “great multitudes,” for time and time again within and throughout the gospel you will find what it wasn’t merely a small group of men and women who gathered themselves before and unto Jesus. More often than not we read how great multitudes of people sought out Jesus—many of them great in need, and great in their desire for Him to heal them. What is interesting to note is that there are two specific places within the gospel of Matthew where we learn of the size of the multitudes which gathered themselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ in order that they might receive a special touch from them. In the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament book we read of a great multitude of people who gathered themselves unto Jesus, and how after they had spent all day with Jesus, the disciples sought to send them away. Upon hearing the disciples’ request to send the crowds away, Jesus not only declared unto them that they did not need to go away, but He also instructed them to feed the crowd of people that had spent all day with Jesus: if you read this particular passage of scripture you will find—after the miracle had been performed—that the number of men present that day was five thousand. This number did not even include the women and children that were also present on this particular day.
Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous fact that the number of those who were present on that day was five thousand—and that number was only referencing the men which were present on that day. What makes this particular passage so incredibly powerful and wonderful is that within the passage we not only find that Jesus healed all those who were present on that particular day, but He also fed and provided for all those who were present on that day. I firmly believe and am convinced that it is one thing to heal all those who had gathered themselves unto Jesus and His disciples, but it is something else altogether to feed those very same men and women. It’s one thing to bring wholeness and restoration unto those who had gathered themselves unto you, but it’s something else altogether to actually take the time to take Ministry to an entirely different level. It’s something else altogether to minister—perhaps from a place of tiredness, perhaps from a place of fatigue, perhaps from a place or weariness. I am firmly convinced that true and authentic ministry takes place after the healing has ended, and when those who had gathered before you find themselves tired, weary and fatigued. It’s interesting to note that after all those men and women were healed by Jesus Christ, the disciples sought to dismiss them and send them away in order that they might fend for themselves. The disciples sought to send the great multitude of people away from the presence of Jesus in order that they might find provision, food and sustenance for themselves and for their needs. What is so incredibly interesting about this particular passage is that not only was Jesus unwilling to allow the crowds of people to leave in the same desperate condition they arrived in, but Jesus was also unwilling to let them leave tired and hungry. These people had spent all day with Jesus and had watched as all those who had gathered themselves unto Jesus would receive healing for whatever ailed and infirmed them. What we read and what we find in this particular passage of scripture is a wonderful and powerful picture of a Jesus who is not only willing to bring healing to our physical bodies, but also a Jesus who is willing to feed us. We find within this particular passage a wonderful and powerful picture of a Jesus who is willing to feed the innermost longings and needs within our hearts and souls in order that we might receive exactly what we need.
In the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ according to Matthew we find great multitudes of people who had gathered themselves before and around Jesus in order that they might find and receive healing for their physical bodies. What I absolutely love about this passage is that not only was Jesus willing to heal each and every one of them of all that plagued and infirmed them, but Jesus was willing to ensure that they left completely full and wanting nothing. Please take a moment and consider that reality—the reality that Jesus wasn’t willing to allow the crowds and multitude of people to leave unfulfilled and in need of anything. Jesus wanted to ensure that the same men and women who had received healing in their bodies and had been restored by Him also left His presence completely full and completely satisfied. What a truly wonderful and powerful picture it is to consider the fact what not only was Jesus unwilling to allow all those who gathered themselves unto Him to leave with the same desperate condition they entered His presence was, but so also was Jesus unwilling to allow those same men and women to leave His presence tired, weary, and hungry. HEALED AND SATISFIED! HEALED AND FULL! Oh I absolutely love reading the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of Jesus according to Matthew and reading how not only did Jesus heal all those who gathered themselves unto Him, but Jesus also fed and completely satisfied all those who had gathered themselves before and unto Him. What’s more, is that so full and complete was the miracle of feeding the five thousand that there were twelve baskets of fragments and leftovers after all the men, women and children had eaten and had their fill of bread and fish. I absolutely love how all those who had gathered themselves before and all those who had gathered unto Jesus Christ to receive physical healing for their bodies not only left the presence of Jesus completely whole, but they also left the presence of Jesus completely full and completely satisfied. There was not a single man, woman or child present on this particular day who was not completely full and satisfied by the loaves of bread and the fish that had been provided. When you read the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Jesus according to Matthew you will find that when Jesus fed the five thousand men—not including the women and children—He performed this miracle with only five loaves of bread and two fish. Consider the tremendous reality that Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and after He had given thanks unto His Father in heaven, He blessed and broke it, and gave it unto the disciples. The disciples then in turn distributed it unto all those who were present on that particular day.
Consider if you will the words which are found and recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew beginning to read with the thirteenth verse and you will not only encounter a Jesus who was more than willing to heal all the sick which were brought unto Him, but you will also find a Jesus who was absolutely and completely unwilling to allow anyone to leave His presence tired, weary, hungry and famished. Beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse of the fourteenth chapter you will find the following words written by the apostle Matthew—not only concerning the healing of all those who were brought before and unto Jesus, but also the feeding of those same men and women who gathered themselves unto Jesus:
“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 food out 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. And they say unto Him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the give loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children” (Matthew 14:13-21).
What I so love about this particular passage of Scripture is that while it was Jesus who healed the crowds and multitude of people, it was the disciples who were responsible for feeding the great multitude that was present on that day. If you read this passage very carefully you will find that Jesus healed their sick being moved with compassion toward them, and yet when it came to the feeding of the multitude, Jesus merely took of the loaves of bread and the fish and gave it unto the disciples. It was the disciples’ responsibility to take that which had been placed in their hands and to not only distribute it to the crowds, but to feed the crowd that was present on this day. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss the tremendous importance, and the tremendous significance of this particular reality, for there are many within the house of the Lord who think it is their responsibility to do what only God can do, and on this particular occurrence, the only thing Jesus asked the disciples to do was first bring them the loaves of bread and the fish, and then distribute that which was placed in their hands unto the great crowd that was before them in the grass. I would love to know what it was like for the disciples to take of the loaves of bread and of the fish and distribute it unto the crowds of people, and to continue coming back to Jesus in order to receive of those same loaves of bread and fish in order that they might distribute it unto the crowds. At what point within this particular miracle did the disciples realize what was actually taking place? At what point during this miracle did the disciples begin to wonder where the additional loaves of bread and fish were coming from in order that they might continue distributing it unto the crowds of people who had gathered themselves unto the Lord Jesus to receive healing? What was it like for the disciples to recognize that Jesus was moving beyond the ordinary, and moving beyond the natural in order that He might provide for all those who were present on that particular day? What was it like when the disciples began recognizing that something truly remarkable and special was taking place, and that they were distributing more than what they received? WHEN DISTRIBUTION MOVES BEYOND INFLOW! WHEN DISTRIBUTION MOVES BEYOND WHAT WAS RECEIVED! What is so incredibly moving and powerful about this passage of Scripture is that Jesus was provided with five loaves of bread and two fish, and yet Jesus took of those five loaves of bread and two fish and so blessed and broke it that it was able to completely fill and satisfy all those which were present on that day.
The more I consider this first miracle of feeding the five thousand, the more I can’t help but be reminded of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. If you turn and direct your attention back to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find that the Spirit of the Lord led Jesus into the wilderness after His baptism in order that He might be tempted of the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, Matthew records how Jesus was hungry. The very first temptation which the adversary sought to bring against Jesus there in the wilderness was the temptation to turn stones into loaves of bread. Consider if you will the account of Jesus in the wilderness, and how the devil came against Jesus in order that He might tempt Him to turn and command stones be turned and transformed into bread. Beginning with the first verse of the fourth chapter we find the following words concerning Jesus’ time in the wilderness where He was tempted of the devil:
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to Him, He said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made of bread. But He anxswered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:1-4).
I have to admit that I absolutely love what I find and what I read within this particular passage, for within this passage we find the tempter, that ancient serpent in the garden known as the Devil and Satan coming unto Jesus in order that he might tempt Him. The very first temptation the tempter came unto Jesus with was directly linked to the hunger He faced and experienced there in the wilderness after having fasted forty days and forty nights. After having just fasted forty days and forty nights Jesus was in fact hungry, and the very first temptation the tempter came at Him with was to turn and command that the stones on the desert floor be turned into bread that would satisfy and fill Him up. If you read this particular passage of Scripture you will find that Jesus was unwilling to use His divine power in order to serve and suit His own needs and His own desires. Jesus was completely unwilling to use His divine power to satisfy His own needs, and would not allow Himself to live by bread alone. Jesus overcame this particular temptation by directly quoting the Scripture in the hearing and presence of the tempter, for Jesus declared that it was written how man should not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. What is so incredibly significant of this particular passage of Scripture—particularly and especially when you consider it in light of what we find and read in the fourteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel—is that Jesus was unwilling to use His divine power to meet and satisfy His own needs, His own wants, and His own desires, but when it came to meeting the needs of others, Jesus was without a doubt willing to use the divine power that was within Him in order that He might satisfy those who had gathered themselves before Him. Not only was Jesus willing to heal all those who had been brought before, and all those who had gathered themselves unto Him, but Jesus was also willing to feed them, and to satisfy the physical longing within their bodies. Jesus would and could not turn stones in the wilderness into loaves of bread in order to satisfy His own hunger, but when it came to those who were gathered before Him being hungry and in need of food and sustenance, Jesus was willing to take what was presented unto Him, bless and break it, and have it distributed by the disciples unto all those who were present before Him in order that they might be full and completely satisfied. Jesus wouldn’t use His divine power to satisfy His own hunger, for not only was He determined to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, but He also declared that his meat was to do the will and work of the Father.
When you read the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find that Jesus was unwilling to allow the crowds and masses to leave His presence tired and hungry, and instructed the crowds to be seated in the grass, and the disciples to distribute and feed the crowds which were before them. Having resisted the temptation earlier on in His life to turn stones into bread, Jesus was now willing to take loaves of bread and to bless, break and multiply it in such a way that it would provide for and satisfy the hunger that was found among the crowds and masses that were present before Him. Jesus was unwilling to turn and command stones in the wilderness to be made into bread, but He was willing to take loaves of bread which were provided unto Him—as well as fish—and bless and break them in order that they might completely fill and satisfy the hunger of those who had just experienced physical healing within their bodies. Having spent all day with Jesus receiving healing in their physical bodies, all those who had gathered themselves before and unto Jesus were undoubtedly tired and hungry, and it was in that state the disciples were willing to allow the crowds of people to leave the presence of Jesus in. If it were up to the disciples, the great crowds of people would have left the presence of Jesus tired, weary, faint of heart, and hungry, and it’s quite possible that some of them might have fainted along the way. Instead of allowing the crowds of people which were gathered before and unto Jesus to leave his presence tired, weary, faint of heart and hungry, Jesus instructed the disciples to feed the crowds and masses. Oh, please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this, for not only was Jesus unwilling to allow them to leave in the same condition they arrived in, but Jesus was unwilling to allow them to leave His presence tired and hungry. If there is one thing this particular passage reveals, it’s that Jesus was desirous that those who gathered themselves before and unto Him not only left completely full, but also satisfied. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves when reading this particular passages is that while men and women might leave our meetings, and while men and women might leave our gatherings healed and whole, are they leaving full and satisfied? If you work in the secular industry for any length of time, you will find that there are surveys that are presented to the customers and clients asking them one very important question—the question of whether or not they are completely and totally satisfied. The reason I mention this is because I wonder what would happen if when men and women left our church buildings and left our meetings, and if they were presented with the simple question whether or not they were completely satisfied—how many would respond by emphatically declaring and stating, “Yes.” How many men and women who gather themselves unto us within our meetings, within our assemblies, within our corporate fellowship are leaving completely satisfied and completely full having not only received from Jesus physical healing and wholeness, but also receiving their full of that which only He can provide?
What would happen if after each and every Sunday morning service the pastor or minister stood at the entrance and exit of the door to the house and upon watching each man, woman, young adult, teenager, and child alike leaving the house, asked them one simply question—“Are you completely full?” What if after each service there were cards passed out in the pews and chairs of our churches, and on those cards was one simple question which demanded a one word answer—either “Yes,” or “No?” What if after each and every Sunday morning service cards were passed out and distributed among those gathered together, and on those cards was a simple question asking men and women whether or not they were completely satisfied? Where are those ministers, and where are those leaders within our churches who are willing to deal honestly with those before them and ask them the hard question whether or not they are full and completely satisfied? Now, with this being said, I feel a great need to emphatically to declare unto you who are reading this particular writing that if the only meal you are receiving is on Sunday mornings when you enter into the house of the Lord, you are so short-changing yourself. I do not believe for one minute that it is the responsibility of the minister, the pastor or leader to so feed you, and that you are able to live off that meal for the entire week—Monday through Saturday. If you are one of those men and women who only receive a meal once a week on Sunday morning and expect to live off that single meal for the entire week, you are sorely and severely deceived and misguided. I completely and totally believe that we have a tremendous responsibility to come before the throne of God, to open the divinely inspired Word of God throughout the week, and to allow the Shepherd of our souls to feed us. I firmly believe that when we enter into the house of the Lord we are to receive that which the Lord would have from us, and we should leave the house completely full and completely satisfied—not because some minister, or some pastor, or some leader provided for us, but because the Shepherd of our souls met us there and provided for us in the house. I am firmly convinced that there should not be a single individual who should enter into the house of the Lord and leave in need or in want, but should leave completely satisfied and completely full having received from the Lord. With that being said, please note and please understand that more often than not, we are our greatest hindrance and our greatest enemy to receiving from the Lord within the house. More often than not it is not the fault of the minister or the fault of the leader if we leave unsatisfied and not filled, but rather it is our own responsibility and our own fault. More often than not—when we enter into the house of the Lord, we get out of it what we put in.
I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the young lad who gave his lunch—the five loaves of bread and the two fish—unto Jesus to partake of that miracle, and to eat that which had been blessed and broken by the Lord Jesus Christ. When He came into the presence of Jesus, that which he had with him was simply five loaves of bread and two fish which were provided for him by his parents, family, or those he lived with. Imagine what it was like for this young lad to give up his lunch into the hands of Jesus, and to watch as this single lunch was so blessed and so broken that it was able to feed five thousand men—not including women and children. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder what happened to the twelve baskets of leftovers. What happened to the twelve baskets of fragments which were still there after each and every man, woman and child was satisfied? Is it possible that this young lad who had brought his lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish on this particular occasion left with all twelve baskets full of the fragments of the miracle, and brought them home to his family and friends. BRINGING THE FRAGMENTS OF YOUR ENCOUNTER HOME! BRINGING THE FRAGMENTS OF YOUR MIRACLE HOME TO YOUR FAMILY! CARRYING THE FRAGMENTS OF YOUR MIRACLE HOME! Imagine what it was like for this young lad to carry a single basket himself, and perhaps have others who knew him help him carry the remaining eleven baskets home to this family. Imagine what his parents and his family would have thought when they saw him come home with twelve baskets of broken bread and fish. What was it like for this young lad to enter into his own home and to set before his family the broken fragments of his lunch, and begin to explain to them what had happened on that particular day. I can’t imagine what his family and friends would and must have thought knowing that they had sent him out with five loaves of bread and two fish, and seeing him come home with twelve baskets full of broken bread and fragments of fish. I wonder how long those twelve baskets of leftovers and fragments lasted within the home of this young lad who had brought a simple lunch on this particular day not expecting anything extraordinary to take place. I can’t help but wonder what would come of this young lad who not only potentially left with the twelve baskets of broken fragments, but also watched as Jesus healed all those who were gathered unto Him, and fed them with the five loaves of bread and two fish that were present on that day. Imagine what it was like for this young lad to watch as five thousand men—not including women and children left the presence of Jesus completely full and completely satisfied having received of that which was blessed and broken by the hands of Jesus.
What is so incredibly unique about this reality and concept is that what we find in the fourteenth chapter wasn’t the only occurrence of Jesus using loaves of bread and fish to feed a great crowd and multitude. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel you will find Jesus again being presented with a great crowd of people who had gathered themselves before and unto Him. Beginning to read with and from the twenty-ninth verse of the fifteenth chapter you will find the following words which were written by the apostle Matthew—one who was present on this particular occasion when Jesus would again heal a great multitude of people, and would also satisfy their hunger and provide strength and sustenance to return to where they came from. Consider if you will this second encounter of healing and hunger as it is recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew:
“And Jesus departed from thence, and came night unto the Sea of Galilee; and went up. Into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and He healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And His disciples say unto Him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children” (Matthew 15:29-38).
If you read this particular passage of Scripture you will find that what began with healing the blind, the lame, the maimed, the dumb, and countless others would eventually end and culminate with Jesus again feeding all those who were present on that particular day. What’s quite interesting and unique about this particular passage is the response of the disciples when Jesus declared unto them that He would not send them away hungry and fasting, and as a result—faint in the way. The disciples asked Jesus a very simply question—a question of where they would get, and where they would have so much bread in the wilderness to feed a great multitude. This is quite remarkable and unique, for there was another time in the wilderness when a great multitude of people were tired and hungry, and when the God of Israel chose to provide for and feed them. If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Exodus, you will find that the children of Israel were hungry, and as a direct result of their hunger, the God of Israel sent them manna from heaven six days during the week. Six days over the period of forty years in the wilderness the God of Israel provided the children of Israel with manna from heaven in order that they might eat and be completely satisfied and full. What’s more, is that you will also recall how Jesus provided water for them in the wilderness—not only once, but twice, as He caused water to flow from a rock there in the wilderness. Even more than this, the God of Israel would send them quail in order that they might eat there in the wilderness. Truly and indeed the God of Israel prepared and set a table before the children of Israel there in the wilderness, and fed such a great multitude in order that they might be completely full and satisfied. When we come to the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find the disciples finding themselves standing in the midst of and before a great multitude in the wilderness and wondering how such a great multitude would and could be filled and satisfied. What an absolutely incredible reality it is to see how Jesus again took loaves of bread and fish, blessed and brake them, and not only completely filled and satisfied all those who were present on that day, but also healed their sick—the lame, the blind, the deaf, the dumb and the maimed. What’s more, is that so full and so complete was the miracle of feeding the four thousand that there were seven baskets left over after the miracle was finished and completed. If there is one question we must ask ourselves when reading this particular passage of Scripture it’s whether or not those who are entering into the house of the Lord are leaving completely satisfied and completely satisfied, and whether or not they are leaving—not only healed and whole, but also completely full having their needs met.