"They need not go away"- Matthew 14:13-21

“They need not go away, feeding the 5,000”


    Matthew 14:13-21


The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle recorded in all 4 gospels (Matt. 14:13–23; Mark 6:30–46; Luke 9:10–17; John 6:1-21). Each account gives us a little bit of different information. Just as it is today, the people who were in the crowd were facing real life issues and needed a reminder of what Christ can do in a life surrendered to Him.  

Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

The Message of this Passage:  

In the Matthew, Mark, and Luke accounts, Jesus has just heard the news about John the Baptist being beheaded by Herod. You might be able to imagine how He would have received that news, maybe He wanted to be alone -- to think--to take time out. The disciples were tired from being with crowds of people and ministering to need after need, they too might have just wanted a time out. Jesus intended to get away from it all for a while to rest and to pray, but the crowds tracked him down. He could have been irritated by their crying out for one thing and then another, but instead the scripture opens by saying in verse 14 “when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” His heart went out to them. He welcomed all who came.
It was late in the day and they were tired and out in the middle of nowhere without food.
The disciples urged Jesus to take a break late in the day and send the people into the town's to get some food. Instead he told them, “There is no need for them to go away.” Jesus was not accustomed to sending people away with needs. He is saying, “It is not necessary that you go away without confronting the needs that you came with.
How many times are we just like the disciples in our thinking when it comes to the overwhelming needs in the world today or in our own lives. We come to church sometimes with deep needs and problems and go away with those same needs because we are thinking, “It’s impossible. How’s He going to do this for ME?”
Jesus was not accustomed to sending people away empty handed. Jesus is saying to us today, “There is no need for you to go away the same as you came, still burdened by the problems you have.”
They had 5 loaves and 2 fish and were wondering how is that going to help?  The need is so great and the resources way too scarce. This doesn’t amount to anything. It is only a drop in the bucket. Don’t let your estimate of what can or can’t be done keep you from taking on a task. We often say, “that’s not much, so I won’t do anything at all.”
Jesus was trying to get the disciples to think and see things differently. The disciples looked at the need through their eyes --It never occurred to them that with Jesus things are not as impossible as they seem.

Answering Interpretive Questions:

  • Putting yourself in Jesus’ shoes, what would you be feeling and wanting to do when you heard of John’s murder?

  • How does Jesus demonstrate the selfless nature of ministry in this event?

  • What is significant about the fact that the disciples gave what they had to Jesus?

  • According to verse 19, who distributed the Lord’s provision? Why is that important?

  • Have you ever faced an impossible situation where you felt overwhelmed and completely unable to meet the needs of your situation? What did you do and how did you get through it? Did you turn to God?

  • As a rule, what is your first reaction when you experience fear, pain, stress, or trouble?

  • What can you learn by the way you react to difficult situations?

  • Read the four accounts in Matthew 13:13-21, Mark 6:32-44, and Luke 9:10-17. How are the accounts similar? Are there any differences?

  • Do you think the disciples were overwhelmed with the idea of feeding so many people? Would you have been overwhelmed?

  • Do you think Andrew was really expecting Jesus to use this boy’s lunch to feed the crowd?

  • Is there a lesson for you to learn through the story of this miracle?

Challenge: This message about Jesus feeding 5,000+ people is a reminder that Jesus is big enough to do what seems impossible. As you think about your life and what God is calling you to do, remember that Jesus is big enough to see you though the impossible situations in your life.

Action: Make a list of impossible things in your life that you want to surrender to Jesus. The list might include, finances, career, relationships, addictions, health or a dream of doing something for God and His kingdom, etc. Make a commitment to pray over your list.

The world sees committed Christians and churches, but very little activity that can only be explained in terms of God’s activity.

Grant SchweisthalMatthew