Summary: Fear is destructive, so faith should be constructive. When faith is at work, it opens our eyes and enables us to do something about the need we see all around us.
Passage: Matthew 14:13-21
Intro: I remember when I got glasses in 4th grade.
1. we had a vision test every year at school, and apparently I failed.
2. so off we went to the eye doctor, and I got fitted with glasses. Wow!
3. individual bricks, leaves on trees, pins at the end of the bowling alley.
4. it was whole new world!
5. the most pressing challenge in the Christian life is vision correction
6. last week, with Herods trip from fear to panic, we saw the disaster of limited vision; a world without God.
7. this next passage, the problem revisited, but a different path taken that arrests the response of fear and builds faith.
8. and as we look at this, we will find that the faith built enables us not to be wealthy or healthy, but to be compassionate.
I. The Context of Compassion
1. Jesus was tired, physically and emotionally.
2. v13 “When Jesus heard…” that John was dead.
3. he need some alone time, some solitude.
4. crowd still pressing, he got in a boat and sailed to a distant shore, probably northeast.
5. but the Sea of Galilee just not that big!
PP Lake Michigan, 118 miles wide, 307 miles long. Sea of Galilee, 7 miles wide, 14 miles long.
6. so this thundering herd, keeping his boat in sight, were there when he landed!
Il) heard of a pastor with very needy person who lived near his house. Would come home but not turn on the lights, because if he did, the phone would ring!!
7. v14 sets up a potential tension…”when he saw the crowd” we would understand many reactions.
8. “he blew his top, he breathed a heavy sigh, he got back in the boat…”
9. and as we will see, this was not a small group of people.
10. he had compassion, pity, saw their deep need and responded to it.
11. two things we need to see here:
12. one, that compassion is a characteristic of God, and it requires getting my eyes off of myself and seeing the needs of others.
13. so compassion is normal for God, abnormal for humans whose natural focus is on self.
14. 2nd, that the lessons about to be taught about God’s provision are being taught in the context of compassion.
15. very easy to think about God’s provision very selfishly; what can He do for me.
16. my health, my wealth, my mansion, my jet
17. the context here is the seeing of real need and the meeting of that need.
II. The Problem of Limited Vision
1. the healing probably stretched on for hours, until the sun was setting.
2. the more practically minded disciples saw the problem on the horizon
3. and the plan they came up with was full of common sense, practicality.
4. time pressure “getting late”, bad location “remote place”
5. no 24 hour Wendy’s drive thru, when it got dark out there, it was really dark!
6. solution: “end the service”, dismiss the crowds before they start needing food.
7. they were faced with a crowd of between 15-20,000 people! Riots?!
8. so the disciples wanted to relieve themselves of the responsibility for this group and send them away.
9. their compassion was limited by their resources. And their resources were pitiful.
Il) typical guys. Out on the road, no cooler!
10. they came up with as good a plan as they could, as long as they left God out of the picture.
11. the challenge that Jesus made was amazing!
12. “they’ve got all they need right here. You give them something to eat.”
13. seems cruel, but wait!
14. these guys were Jews; they knew about the 40 year wandering with food every day.
15. they knew how God kept millions of people alive in the wilderness.
16. and they had just watched Jesus heal one person after another all afternoon, on top of what they had witnessed for the months they had spent with him.
17. so Jesus was asking them to open their eyes to full reality, but they could not.
18. vv17..”We don’t have anything except five loaves of bread and two fish.”
19. their vision was limited in two ways: the physical, and the present.
Il) times we have gone to feed the hungry, see that long line of people and the relatively small amount of food, and get a little nervous.
20. they had far more than 5 loaves and 2 fish…they had God in the flesh!
PP so do we. In the same context of compassionate ministry, Jesus said…
III. Vision Correction
1. now Jesus doesn’t yell or scold
2. instead he invites the disciples to participate in a miracle.
3. takes their little offering of fish and chips, not because He needs it but because he wants to involve them.