Matthew 14:13-21 (NIV)-(13)When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. (14)When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (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. (16) Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” (17) “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” the answered. (18) Bring them here to me,” he said. (19)And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. (20) They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelbe basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. (21) The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Recently the middle school ministry at our church’s weekly lesson was based on the above scripture from the Bible. The focus for that lesson was serving. There was powerful testimony from our leaders/teachers of how God has/is using them to serve. How by just saying yes to God has increased their faith and they have truly seen God move in their lives and the lives around them.
As one of the leaders of eighth grade girls (some of us have been together since 6th grade), these verses spoke to me in a way that I had not experienced before. When I read ahead to prepare for the lesson, I noticed which verses we were reading and figured there was nothing new. I had heard/read that story a bunch and was ready to encourage our girls to increase their faith through service. As I read the words the holy spirit moved my heart in a different direction.
I got stuck on Matthew 14:13 (NIV)-“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Previously, I was reading to get to the miracle skipping over the horrifying tragedy that had happened. John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin was beheaded. He was beheaded because he made King Herod’s wife uncomfortable. She didn’t like that Jesus’ cousin spoke the truth to her husband about marrying his brothers wife. King Herod’s wife went about getting the king to order the death of Jesus’ cousin in the most devious way. This woman was determined to get what she wanted. She used her daughter to get Herod to agree to have John the Baptist beheaded. An old twist on the man being the head of the household and the woman being the neck.
This time reading the passage I got stuck on the human side of Jesus. Seriously, can you imagine what he must have been feeling? Anger, immense grief, helplessness? The text says that “he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Jesus and his cousin were close and loved each other. I can envision Jesus just getting in the boat and trying to get away for a few moments alone. Alone to pray, grieve, gather his own thoughts at the murder of his cousin who had served God with his whole heart. Justice?
As you know from the text Jesus did not get away. The text says, “hearing of this the crowds followed him by foot.” So, the crowds knew. They knew that Jesus’ cousin had been murdered, they knew Jesus was taking off to be alone, yet they followed him. You would think he would be annoyed. Instead “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” I used to get frustrated with the disciples when the disciples told Jesus to tell the followers to go away. I clearly can see now that they must have been exhausted too. Done. Drained. Finished. Depleted. Then, there was a miracle.
Can you not only imagine the folks that traveled by foot experiencing the miracle of the bread and fish multiplying to feed thousands, but what about the disciples? At the moment when they were done, drained, finished, depleted, there is a miracle.
Let this truth sink deep into your heart.