- Sermon Notes
“Bridge out Ahead”
When we left Jesus last week He was far to the west along the Mediterranean Sea and then north in the area we now call Lebanon in the district of the cities of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman had sought after Jesus and asked persistently that He might heal her daughter who was cruelly tormented by a demon.
Jesus commended her for her faith and gave her what she requested and her daughter was healed that once.
From there, Jesus traveled back to the area of the Sea of Galilee, but this time traveling to the southeastern district, an area known as the Decapolis. The name, Decapolis, means ten cities, but more than that these cities were primarily Gentile in nature and were allowed to have a fairly high degree of self-rule from the Roman Empire.
From Matthew 15 as well as from the book of Mark, we read that Jesus healed many of their sick; the crippled, blind, lame, etc. so that the crowd was amazed and glorified the God of Israel. That crowd stayed with Him for three days and He taught them many things. You can imagine that these Gentile people from the area of the Decapolis had never heard such things before in their lives. They grew up on worldly philosophies; Roman stoicism, Greek wisdom, and false gods.
Still more amazing is what Jesus does next. After teaching them for three days, Jesus turned to the disciples and said, "I do not wish to send them away hungry lest they faint on the way." Again, the disciples responded by noting how little they had in comparison to the great need. But could it be that they did not believe Jesus would do this miracle here where there were so many Gentiles? Was Jesus stretching their faith yet again by these great miracles?
I. Faith is Trusting God’s Heart
- One of the themes we have seen over and over in the Gospels is that Jesus strengthens faith.
- We saw it last week as Jesus was pointing out what great faith looks like when He commended the faith of the Canaanite woman.
- He did this in another place when He commended the faith of the Roman centurion.
- Faith will also be the issue here in the verses we’re studying today.
- But what we see again and again is that Jesus strengthens their faith by revealing who He is and therefore also revealing His Father to them.
A. God is filled with compassion
- Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, "I feel compassion for the multitude…"
- That word "compassion" has the meaning "my heart is moved with passion," in other words, God sees their condition and His heart is moved.
- Our faith is increased when we know God's heart and trust in it. God has a heart of compassion; this is part of knowing who He is.
Illus - God had compassion on the people of Nineveh so He sent Jonah to give them an opportunity to know God's heart and to repent and find forgiveness. Jonah didn't exactly share those same feelings toward the Ninevites, however, and so God had to give Jonah a few lessons in compassion as well.
Jonah 4:1-11 Jonah knew that God was compassionate
- There are several scriptures that give us insight into God's heart of compassion.
Psalm 103:2-5, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Illus - When I was a young man and single, I felt very strongly that I wanted to be married. After all, I was getting old; I was 23 years old. And God had compassion on me and showed me someone who prayed, who wanted to honor God, and who was organized. God also knew what she needed; He knew He that her faith needed to be strengthened, so He gave her someone that would test her patience so she would keep her eyes fixed on God.
B. God heals the broken
- When Jesus came to this area of the Decapolis He saw the crippled, blind, and dumb and He healed them.
- Again, our faith is strengthened when we know who God is and His heart toward us, which He reveals through His Word.
- We know that God heals as a sign, a witness, and the testimony of His strength and power.
- There were times when God especially manifested His glory and power to heal such as when Israel was in the desert those 40 years, or when Elijah was sent as a prophet to Israel during Israel's most rebellious days under Ahab, and also here, when Jesus was sent to redeem the world.
- But many people want a constant flow of personal miracles in their behalf as though they were saying, "I want to be able to direct the flow of God's power according to my desire."
- They expect that the conditions of heaven should be the conditions here on earth, but here again the Word of God gives us understanding in what God is doing.
- This is earth, not heaven, and Jesus told us in advance that in this world there would be many troubles, but that we should take courage, or in other words, increase in faith for two reasons:
- He has overcome the world,
- He would walk through this life together with us; that He would not leave us or forsake us; that He would walk with us all the way through this life and into the next.
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
C. God satisfies the soul that hungers
- Jesus does another amazing miracle of feeding a large crowd with bread and as we will see, this has great significance.
- First of all, clearly, there is a theme developing here. Jesus ended his public ministry to the Galileans by the feeding of 5,000. He ended his ministry in the Gentile area by the feeding of 4,000. Jesus ended his ministry with the disciples by feeding them a meal of bread and fish. Jesus spoke of relationship with the church when He said…
Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
- Finally, when Jesus speaks of relationship to us in heaven, He speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb.
- So eating together is something that God approves of very much. But it's also a picture of how God ministers to our soul.
Deuteronomy 8:3, … That He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
John 6:33, 35, "For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world… I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst."
- God's Word reveals His heart to us and that strengthens our faith. God's Word reveals the way in which God wants us to walk and that keeps us out of danger. But God's Word is also living and active and is sent with God's power to accomplish His purpose in our lives as well.
- Only He can satisfy the soul that is empty.
II. Believe the Sign God has Given
- The first part of this chapter has two interesting events that unfold and give insight to strengthen our faith as well.
- The Pharisees and Sadducees began to test Him, asking Him to show them a sign from heaven.
Illus – This is like when people today say, “If there’s a God in heaven let Him strike me with lightning right now.” And then we He doesn’t they say, “See, He’s not there.”
A. Don’t suppress the truth
- Jesus responded to their challenge by giving them an illustration. They had the ability to discern the signs in the sky that indicated what the weather would be like.
- So how could it be, Jesus was saying, that they could not discern the signs of the times? Actually, from the book of Mark we know that it was here that he called them hypocrites. In other words, they were actors, pretending not to discern the signs of the times.
Illus – Ignoring the signs? I did that when the babies would cry at night and I pretended I couldn’t hear them.
- But Jesus correctly pointed out the problem within their heart. They rejected the signs that were right before their eyes and kept looking for ways to have authority over Jesus.
Illus – He who can demand that signs be given truly as authority. When I traveled to Canada with only a driver’s license, I had to show a sign I was a citizen. Clearly the officer had the
- Jesus was fulfilling all the prophecies that were expected of the coming Messiah.
Isaiah 35:5-6, Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
- Jesus said that no sign would be given except the sign of Jonah. That is clearly a reference to His resurrection from the dead.
- Has God not sufficiently revealed himself to us and given us sufficient signs to discern the truth?
Romans 1:18-22 Woe to those who suppress the truth
- God even gives us signs of the end times for us to discern. There is the rebirth of Israel in 1948, the re-aligning of nations to create the alliances found in the scriptures. The reviving of the old Roman Empire and more.
B. The Bread of Life has no leaven
- After the encounter with the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus left them and went with His disciples to the other side of the sea, but the disciples had forgotten to take bread.
- Jesus then gave them a warning, "Be on your guard, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." At first, they were confused, but soon they began to understand that Jesus was saying that the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees was the leaven.
- What was the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees? God sent His Word to reveal His heart, to draw people to Himself, and to strengthen their faith.
- But they had distorted the truth of God's Word and frankly, God didn't take kindly to it. That's His Word, and it is not to be trifled with.
Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
- Revelation 22 has a similar admonition and warning that comes with it.
- The Pharisees were adding to the word of God by loading it with burdensome requirements that God never intended.
- The Sadducees were taking away from the Word of God. They did not believe in heaven, or angels, or demons, or the resurrection…
Matthew 22:29, But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God."
- There are some even today who add to the word of God by creating burdens and requirements God never intended. The result is legalism and worst of all, a misunderstanding of God's heart.
- There are some even today who take away from the Word of God by saying that God in His love accepts everyone without requiring anything of them at all. But God does teach us to discern right from wrong through His Word.
- God's Word reveals His heart and that is what we need to understand to increase our faith.
Matthew 15:32-16:12 NASB