- Sermon Notes
In Jesus’ Hands
ILLUS – Leading worship at a community night of worship
1. Have you ever felt inadequate or insufficient to step out and do what God has called you to do?
2. Perhaps you can relate to the words of Charlie Brown, when he complained to Linus, “You see, Linus, it goes all the way back to the beginning. The moment I was born and set foot on the stage of life, they took one look at me and said, ‘Not right for the part.’”
3. Tonight, we will study a familiar passage from Matthew 14, a miracle of Jesus, in fact the only miracle that is recorded in all four Gospels, and there discover what God can do when we place our lives in Jesus’ hands.
1. In Matthew 12, the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of using His Satanic power to heal people and deliver demoniacs from evil spirits. Their accusation was an official rejection of Jesus by the religious establishment. In essence, they declared that Jesus was not Israel’s Messiah, the promised King of the kingdom of heaven. He was from hell.
2. The rejection Jesus experienced did not end with the scribes and Pharisees, for Matthew also wrote that Jesus was rejected by the residents of His hometown of Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58).
3. Even though the scene shifts to the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas in Matthew 14:1-12, the theme is still the same, rejection. You see, John the Baptist was the forerunner of Messiah, the one who declared that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). By putting John to death, Herod was rejecting Jesus as well. All of this was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:2-3…
Isaiah 53:2-3, For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4. According to the other Gospels, Jesus received word of John’s death around the time that His apostles returned from being sent out to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom. They gave Jesus an update on all they had done; the healings, the exorcisms, and the response to their kingdom proclamation. (Luke 9:1-6)
5. After receiving their report, Jesus invited His apostles to get away from the crowds to be refreshed and receive instruction about His death and resurrection. (Luke 9:10-11)
6. Though Jesus had been rejected by the religious and political establishments, His popularity among the common people was booming because of the miracles. In fact, Jesus and the apostles were so busy that Mark wrote “they did not even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31)
7. While traveling across the Sea of Galilee, northeast towards Bethsaida, the crowds could see where Jesus was going and quickly followed on foot in order to meet Him once He came to shore. (Luke 9:10-11)
Transition – It was supposed to be a retreat! But as we look at Matthew 14 and the other Gospels, a clear picture comes into focus for what it means to be in Jesus’ hands.
I. Our God is a Compassionate God
• It was the making of a perfect storm. Rejection. Fatigue. Large crowds (over 10,000 to 15,000). A remote location (far from lodging and food).
• But when Jesus came to shore, the first word to describe His heart for the crowd was “compassion” because “they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). So, He healed their sick and taught them many things. (Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:34)
• The word “compassion” speaks of a strong emotion “to feel deep sympathy”. Truly the people must have been encouraged by the tender care of Jesus.
• But did Jesus forget about His apostles? No! In fact, they were right in the middle of God’s will for what happens next taught them a lesson that would transform their lives, and ours as well.
A. God will test our faith
1. While Jesus was ministering to the crowd, it appears that the apostles were holding a meeting of their own and had come to the conclusion that Jesus could use their advice.
2. Sure, Jesus is called the “Wonderful Counselor”, but like many people, they still felt it was necessary to help Jesus out and tell Him what was best.
APPL – By the way, when you feel tempted to follow suit, the words of Isaiah 40:13-14 are helpful to remember…
Isaiah 40:13-14, Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?
3. It was getting late, the place was remote, and the crowd was large so their recommendation was to send the people away so that they may go into the surrounding villages and buy food.
4. According to John 6:5, Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”
a. Why did Jesus ask Philip?
b. Because Philip was from Bethsaida according to John 1:44.
5. Philip didn’t recommend a restaurant but made some quick calculations and said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” (John 6:7)
6. So Andrew, Peter’s brother, chimed in and offered the lunch of a poor boy, five barley loaves and two fish. Then he quickly shot down the idea and said, “But what are these among so many people?” (John 6:9)
7. In response, Jesus said, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”
8. What was Jesus thinking? John 6:6 is the key to understanding what was behind Jesus’ questions and command.
John 6:6, This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
APPL – One of the principals from the Bible is that faith must be tested to bring about transformation.
• God knows how to test.
• God knows what to test.
• God knows for how long to test.
• But who likes taking a test?
• Not me. Have you ever had nightmares about taking a test, but you weren’t prepared?
Job 23:10, But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
B. Testing brings growth
1. Jesus was training the disciples. He was strengthening their faith. How?
a. By giving them the principles of God’s Word.
b. By giving them opportunities to see what God can do if they place their lives in His hands.
2. Remember, they had just returned from being sent out on their own by Jesus to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God. Remember as well, the instructions that Jesus gave them before they left.
Mark 6:8-9, He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— but to wear sandals; and He added,
“Do not put on two tunics.”
LESSON – If God could provide for them while they were doing the work of the kingdom, couldn’t He provide again by satisfying the hunger of 15,000 people? God provided manna, the bread from heaven, to Israel (1 million strong) for forty years while they wandered through the desert. Couldn’t He take care of 15,000 people in a remote location by the Sea of Galilee?
• You see testing of our faith is about making faith greater. God wants us to trust Him more.
• The testing of our faith is not about passing or failing.
• It’s about having an opportunity to learn that we can trust God with our concerns, needs, and trials of our lives. That’s why James declared…
James 1:2-4, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect
result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
ILLUS – David, the man after God’s heart, was strengthened by the Lord’s testing in his life. The man who wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” also rejoiced in how God had strengthened him to endure various trials. David wrote Psalm 18 on the day he was delivered from King Saul and all his enemies.
Psalm 18:31-34, 36, For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped.
Transition – The testing of our faith will bring us to the conclusion that…
II. Jesus is More Than Enough
• One of the themes that come out of these verses is the significance of the insignificant when it’s in God’s hands.
• The whole story turns on one statement. Jesus responded to their lack of faith by saying, “Bring them here to Me.” (18)
Transition – When you feel insufficient and inadequate, remember to…
A. Bring what you have to Jesus
1. This is a very difficult lesson for us to understand because it is so common for us to focus on what we do not have.
2. People often have a lack of faith because they see themselves as insignificant, especially in comparison to a mountain of trouble or difficulty.
ILLUS – When Israel returned to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon, they found the city as a mountain of rubble. They only had a few hands to help and became discouraged. God responded to strengthen their faith.
Zechariah 4:6-7, This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts. “What are you, O great mountain?” Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”
APPL – Jesus was increasing their faith and He will increase our faith too.
• We must take the first step and bring what we have and who we are to Jesus.
• Without His hands, we really are inadequate and insufficient. But faith pleases Him, and He rewards those who trust Him wholeheartedly.
Psalm 127:2, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for it is He who gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
B. With Jesus, little is much in His hands
1. Jesus had the crowd sit in 100s and 50s. Then He looked up to heaven, blessed the food, and gave it to the disciples, who gave it to the people.
2. Notice that it didn’t immediately become a mountain of bread and a pile of fish.
3. Jesus took what He had, blessed it, and it became more.
4. Mark 6:41 gives us more insight into the nature of the miracle.
Mark 6:41, And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.
5. Jesus “kept giving to the disciples”.
APPL – Where did the multiplication take place? In the baskets? No! In Jesus’ hands!
• Jesus would fill an apostle’s basket with bread and fish.
• The apostle would go to a group of 100 or 50 and empty his basket.
• Then the apostle would return to Jesus and Jesus would fill it all over again!
• This continued until all ate and were satisfied.
Warren Wiersbe, “God’s servants are distributors not manufacturers.”
• Then Jesus instructed the apostles to make one more trip to pick up the leftovers; twelve baskets were filled. One for each apostle.
• Little is much in Jesus’ hands!
ILLUS – Our view of Christ’s sufficiency will determine whether or not we will place our lives, the little we have, in His hands.
APPL – In Jesus’ hands…
• Heart are cleansed
• Lives are healed
• Servants are empowered
• Jesus takes our inadequacy and makes us ready to meet any need, great or small.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6, Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate
as servants of a new covenant
APPL – Will you place your life in Jesus’ hands?
Matthew 14:13-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Five Thousand Fed
13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the [a]people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went [b]ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already [c]late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They *said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the [d]people to [e]sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.