Summary: Part of the reason Jesus is not someone people can ignore or forget, is how He lived and what He did during His thirty-three years on earth
A panel of historians recently voted Winston Churchill as the greatest person of the 20th Century. He was born.......does anyone know when? Even a guess? It was November 30, 1874. Does anyone have any idea where Sir Winston was born? Oxfordshire, England. How about the names of his father and mother? Randolph Churchill and Jenny Jerome Churchill. That is interesting. He is perhaps the most important figure of the last hundred years, and yet we know almost nothing about his birth. That is quite a contrast from a Man named Jesus. Now, it is true we don't know His precise birthdate. December 25 was chosen by the church in the 4th Century as the date when Jesus' birth would be celebrated. Yet, it is interesting that 2000 years after He was born, almost the entire world still commemorates that day when a woman named Mary, engaged to a man named Joseph, gave birth to a very special baby, in a stable located in a village called Bethlehem. People remember Jesus' birthday.
Friends, as we look back at the great individuals of the past thousand years, none of them even begin to compare with Jesus. If we want proof of that, we need to look no further than our calendar. We are approaching the end of the year 1999, or more precisely 1999 A.D., Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord -- 1999 years since Jesus was born. Even those who are clearly non-Christian admit His influence. They refer to it as the Common Era, acknowledging that the vast majority of folks mark their time based on the birth of this one Man. I have never ever heard anyone suggest that we change our calendar to date our years from when Winston Churchill was born. That would make it 125 A.C., After Churchill. Or how about 64 A.E., -- that many years since Elvis was born? No, we mark our calendar only by the true King, Jesus.
Why is He so special? Why do we remember His birth? What is there about Jesus Christ which makes Him the focal point of human history? Part of it is the very unique circumstances surrounding His birth. Jesus alone, not Winston Churchill or any of the rest of us, was born of a virgin. Certainly His extraordinary claim to be the Son of God, actually God in a human body, is something which captures our attention. And, most important of all, His death and resurrection make Him stand head and shoulders above anyone else, and make His claim to be God very credible. Yet, there is one more piece of the puzzle. Part of the reason Jesus is not someone people can ignore or forget, is how He lived and what He did during His thirty-three years on earth. Especially as Matthew and the other gospel writers gave their accounts of Jesus' public ministry during the last three years of His life, they want us to see what an amazing, wonderful and unforgettable Man He was. One of the stories that all four gospel writers tell, is about the time that Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 people. Our text today, as we continue our journey through the Book of Matthew, is 14:31-21. As we explore this passage of God's Word, I want the Lord to help us see Who Jesus was, and is, in a fresh way so that our celebration of Christmas this year can be full of joy and hope. Let's pray that would happen.
The feeding of the 5000. Listen as we read how Jesus feeds a hungry crowd. Matthew 14:13,14 When Jesus heard what had happened, (that is the execution of John the Baptist which we talked about last week) he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Notice that apparently because Jesus was human, as well as divine, He sometimes wanted privacy. Herod's sudden interest in Jesus' ministry no doubt concerned Him. He wanted to get away from the people and all the demands which they put on Him. But, when a crowd manages to find Him, He doesn't become angry. Instead, He has compassion on those folks and heals those who are sick. 14:15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." As the afternon wore on, the disciples realize they could be facing a big problem. There is a huge group of people and there doesn't seem to be any food around. Everyone is no doubt getting hungry and the disciples have a very practical solution. It is time to end the service and dismiss the folks so they can go get their own food. But, 14:16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat." Now, I have a feeling that Jesus was maybe giving His disciples a hard time. He knew that they did not have the ability to feed the crowd and, as John 6:6 says, Jesus already had in mind what He was going to do to feed everyone.