Bring It To Jesus

CALL TO WORSHIP: Listen, everyone; God, our God is our provider. He is the source of all good things. Let us worship Him today, for He opens His hand and offers us the best.

‘Jesus left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.’ Let us close our eyes and imagine the boat, as it rests on the water at the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Let us imagine climbing in, and sitting down opposite Jesus. Jesus unties the boat, and we float away from the shore.

The time for rushing and dashing about is over. Now is our chance to share the things that we have been doing with Him. Now is our chance to listen to Him.

Let us pray.

Lord, thank you that we can spend time with You in this way. Help us to make the most of it, so that in the quietness and the stillness, we may listen to what You have to say. But most of all, help us simply to enjoy being with You, for You are our Creator, our Saviour and our Friend. Amen.

HYMN 507: O FOR A HEART TO PRAISE MY GOD-StF

PRAYER OF ADORATION: Generous God, we praise You; We praise Your Name forever and ever.

Lord, You care for the world that You have made. You care for everyone. You are quick to notice when people are in trouble, but slow to get angry. You see those who are struggling with heavy burdens.

Generous God, we praise You; We praise Your Name forever and ever.

Everyone looks to You with hopeful eyes. You give them the food that they need. You have made the world so that it can supply the needs of every living thing.

Generous God, we praise You; We praise Your Name forever and ever.

You are good in everything that You do. You are kind, and close to all who call to You. You hear Your people when they cry for help.

Generous God, we praise You; We praise Your Name forever and ever.

You sent Jesus to be our Saviour. When we invite Him into our lives, He changes everything, including us, making us more and more like Him.

Generous God, we praise You; We praise Your Name forever and ever. Amen

TALK FOR ALL: JESUS FEEDS THE PEOPLE (Matthew 14:13-21)

Wherever Jesus went, people followed him. They wanted him to help sick people feel better. They wanted to hear what he had to say. One time Jesus went to a quiet place where there were no stores, or restaurants. There were no houses in that place either. The Holy Bible calls it a “deserted place.” (v. 13)

When the people heard where he was, they followed him. They had walked a long time to reach him. Jesus taught them, and he healed those that were sick.

When evening came, Jesus’ disciples wanted to send everyone away, so they could walk back to town and buy food for themselves.

Jesus said, “Don’t send them away. You give them something to eat.”

Now remember, there are no grocery stores nearby, and no restaurants near this place. The disciples weren’t sure what to do since they only had a little bit of bread and two fish. They wondered how they could feed all those people with such a small amount of food.

Jesus disciples didn’t know how all those people could be fed, but they did as Jesus asked. They brought the fish and bread to him. Jesus told the people to sit down on the grass. He took the bread and the fish and prayed over it. Then he broke the fish and bread into pieces, and the disciples carried the meal to the people.

Everyone ate and when they were finished, the disciples collected the left over pieces of fish and bread. They didn’t waste any of the food. Imagine that!

In the Holy Bible, Jesus is called the Bread of Life. Also, in the early days of Christianity, a fish was a common symbol for Jesus. So, now when you see a loaf of bread, or a fish, you can remember this story of Jesus feeding a lot of people with just a little bit of bread and fish.

PRAYER
We are thankful to you, Loving God that Jesus cared so much for those people that he provided plenty of food for them from just a little bit of bread and two small fish. We are thankful, too that you care for us. Amen.

HYMN 338: THERE IS A REDEEMER- StF

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND THANKSGIVING:  Let us think again of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee. Let us imagine that we are in the crowd. All the people are hungry. Jesus tells the disciples to feed the people, but there is no food to be seen.

Let us imagine that the loaves and fishes are in our picnic bag. What will we do? Let us pray.

Lord, we are sorry because sometimes we find it so hard to share. When we do not offer good things that we have to those around us, Lord, forgive.

When we turn away from others because we do not want to share their troubles and heartache; Lord, forgive.

When we do not use the chances that we get to share the good news of Jesus; Lord, forgive.

We know that when we are truly sorry, Jesus says ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ Thank you, Lord, for that forgiveness offered to us. Help us not to clutch the good things that we have to ourselves, but to offer them to Jesus, knowing that in His hands, they can be used in wonderful ways. Amen

READINGS: MATTHEW 14: 13-21

HYMN 443: COME LET US SING OF A WONDERFUL LOVE- StF

SERMON: "BRING IT TO JESUS" Matthew 14:13-21

Theme: This passage teaches us how to bring the impossible situations of life to the One for whom nothing is impossible.

This miracle is in all the four Gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—to tell this story. Each tells this story in his own way, and records different elements and details about it. And yet they all report that the same basic events happened. It's a story that is impossible to “spiritualize”. It cannot be dismiss as a mere 'parable'. It is reported to us as a historic event. Jesus truly did feed a large multitude of people with a few loaves of bread and a few small fish.

I believe that what we are to do with impossible situations of life can be summed up in the words of Jesus—recorded for us only here in Matthew's Gospel. Jesus says, “Bring them here to Me” (Matthew 14:17). He doesn't give us a magic formula to solve our problems on our own. Rather, He gives us Himself; and invites us to cast our cares on Him.

Let's look, then, at what this passage teaches us to do when faced with seemingly impossible challenges. The first principle it teaches us is . . .DON'T DESPAIR OVER THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE

Now, this isn’t a principle that’s stated in so many words in the passage. Rather, it’s a principle that’s inferred from the facts of the story taken as a whole.

As I read the passage to you, did you pick up on a sense of despair on the part of the disciples over the seeming impossibility of their situation? Certainly it was a humanly impossible challenge. Matthew tells us that the number of people needing to be fed was “five thousands men, besides women and children” (v. 21). If you count the wives and children of five thousand men, this hungry multitude could easily have been over twenty-thousand people! Apparently, they were so eager to go to where Jesus was and hear Him teach that they forgot to bring food! And all that the disciples would have had to feed this multitude was “five loaves and two fish” (v. 17). It wouldn’t take long for even the most optimistic person to conclude that it simply couldn’t be done!

Now; you can be sure that Jesus knew the impossibility of the situation. He wasn't caught off-guard somehow by the tremendous need of the multitudes before Him. And when we read the Apostle John's account of this same story, we gain a fascinating insight into Jesus' intention with the impossible situations that He allows into our lives (John 6:5-9).

Now first, think about the ways the disciples “despaired” over the seeming impossibility of what faced them. See if you ever “despair” in the same way.

First, they despaired over what they didn’t have. Philip quickly sized up the crowd and said that it couldn’t be done financially. It would take more than “two hundred denarii”—which was the rough equivalent of eight to nine months wages—to feed such a crowd.

Second, they despaired over what they did have. All they had was the lunch that a little boy had brought—nothing more than the ancient equivalent to a “Happy Meal”.

Third, they even despaired over the humble nature of what little they had. It wasn’t just five loaves and two fish but; as John tells us, it was five “barley” loaves and two “small” fish.

And finally, in consideration of what they had, they despaired over the enormity of the task.

When we face a challenge that is bigger than we have the resources to accomplish—and when we simply don't know what we are going to do—let’s stop and remember that Jesus has sovereignly permitted that challenge to fall upon us, and He already knows what He is going to do. Let's rest assured that He is simply testing us to see whether or not we will trust Him.

This second principle isn’t something that automatically thinks about when we face a crisis. But I suggest to you that it’s one of the most important things that this passage can teach us. As hard as it is to do, we must learn to stop and seek what it is that Jesus is concerned about in our seemingly impossible situation. He isn't concerned about the impossibilities that we're concerned about. He is always concerned about something else—something greater and far more worthy of our attention. And we must look for the burden of His heart in it all.

Think about the disciples for a moment. What were they concerned about? Not about feeding the crowds, that's for sure! “Lord, please send them away!” they said. “Let them go to town and buy something for themselves!” They were concerned over the lack of resources. They didn’t see how the need of the people could be met through the resources available to them; and so, they proposed sending the people away so that they could take care of the problem on their own. Basically, they were focused on the resources . . . and not on the people, or on their needs.

Now compare that with the focus of Jesus' attention. What was His concern? Where was His heart in all this? This passage gives us lots of clues. First of all, you can see that, even though He and His disciples needed a time of rest and solitude, He wasn’t bitter or resentful toward the fact that multitudes of people that followed Him on foot from the surrounding cities. When He saw them, He wasn’t mad at them. Far from it! Rather, He was welcoming toward them. It even says that He was “moved with compassion for them.” He felt strongly and deeply for them.

And second, notice that He demonstrated His love and compassion for them by His actions. He healed their sick. Mark tells us that Jesus had compassion on them “because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). Luke tells us that “He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing” (Luke 9:11). And so, even though He Himself was tired and needed rest, He welcomed the needy crowds and gave Himself for them—even to the point of teaching them and healing them until it was evening.

Jesus’ actions demonstrate that His great concern in all this was not the resources. His great concern was not to avoid the situation. His great concern was the people and their needs. When He turned to the disciples and told them to give the people something to eat, it was more than just a test to the disciples. It was an expression of His real, genuine love for the people who had come to Him. He cared about people’s needs. People mattered to Him more than His own needs—more than His busy schedule—even more than the seeming impossibility itself of meeting the needs of all those people.

I believe this is one of the greatest challenges we face in a seemingly impossible situation. It's not the impossibility of the situation that is the challenge. Rather, it's whether or not we will be conformed to the heart of Christ in it. It's whether or not we will stop, examine ourselves, and see if we will desire the things that Jesus wants in it—and whether or not we will want them as much as He does.

I'm convinced that, when our sovereign God places us in seemingly impossible situations, He’s not concerned so much about changing the situation as He is about changing us. He doesn’t need our help in dealing with impossible situations; because they’re not impossible to Him. What He really wants from us the conformity of our hearts to His own. May God change us so that we look for His concerns first of all!

When the disciples told Jesus to send the people into town to buy food for themselves (as if the Lord of glory needed their advice . . . !), He told them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” They responded by saying to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And that’s when He gave the only solution to the problem that they really needed. He said, “‘Bring them here to Me.’”

Jesus took that little sack-lunch and multiplied it into a meal for tens of thousands of people. He satisfied the hunger of a stadium-sized crowd with it; and even multiplied it so much that there was twelve baskets-full of leftovers. It doesn't tell us this in the Bible; but I’m pretty sure the little boy was also given an abundance—far over and above what he had given up. I'd bet that he was very excited to bring it all home and show everyone!

And by the way; those words from Jesus—“Bring it here to Me”—illustrate what it is that makes the difference between mere “religion” and true, biblical Christian faith.

It’s fascinating that, when they brought that small lunch to Jesus, He didn’t simply wave His hand over it all and—Bam!—turn it all into a huge seafood restaurant. He certainly could have. Or He could have thrown the food up into the air, and it would have instantly and mysteriously multiplied as dinner in everyone’s bellies. His use of the meagre resources that were given to Him could have been immediate, and marvellous, and very dramatic. But instead, He seemed to go through a process that took time, and that involved obedience to Him.

First, He had the multitudes sit down. Mark tells us that they sat in ranks, in hundreds and fifties (Mark 6:40). Jesus made people seat themselves into organized groups to get their food before He fed them. Perhaps He wanted them to be able to enjoy fellowship as they ate; and to be able to talk together about what they were about to see Him do.

Second, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them. He took the time to give thanks to God and to acknowledge Him for His provision—even if that provision seemed small and insignificant in human eyes. He took the time to place the worship of His Father over the urgency of the need.

And third, He divided it up and distributed it through His disciples. And just think of that! They were the very one’s who were complaining that all this was impossible; and no doubt, they were even still thinking that it was impossible as they began to distribute the food. Jesus could have distributed it all Himself, and denied them the privilege of being involved in a notable miracle. But instead, He took the time to include them and use them.

I have no doubt but that, as they distributed the increasingly multiplied food, their sense of wonder and awe over Jesus multiplied as well. And as a result, everyone had a feast—both literally and spiritually.

This reminds us of the principle that, once we bring our resources to Jesus, we must wait on His timing. Things might happen immediately after we turn things over to Him; or they might not. They might be solved by Him the way we expect; or they might not. It’s all up to Him. And when it seems as if He’s delaying, who’s to say that it’s not because it was in His plan to accomplish several other things first—things that were put on hold until we finally turned our resources over to Him?

That's a tremendous test—to wait on Jesus after we have brought our problem to Him. But as Psalm 37:5 promises, “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” May God help us to learn to do both: to commit our way to Him, and also to trust in Him when we do so.

What great principles this passage teaches us about our Lord! We need to take them to heart at those times when we're challenged with the seemingly impossible. First, we need to repent of all despair; because everything is possible to Him. Second, need to make sure that we are concerned about the things He is concerned about in that situation. Third, we need to bring what we have to Jesus. And finally, having done so, we need to learn to wait on His perfect timing as we trust Him.

Let's learn to bring the impossible to Jesus. Nothing is impossible for Him.

HYMN 401: COME, SINNERS TO THE GOSPEL FEAST- StF

PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION: As we think of Jesus feeding the 5,000,

We remember those who provide food for others, and those who have no food.

Let us pray.

Jesus said ‘You give them something to eat.’ Show us how to feed Your people.

Generous God, although we live in a world where there is enough for everyone, we know that people live in want of food. We think of those who have grown crops but cannot harvest them because of war.

We think of those who have had to run away from their homes, leaving crops and stores behind. Bring peace to troubled areas, so that Your people may rejoice over what they have grown.

Jesus said ‘You give them something to eat.’ Show us how to feed Your people.

Lord, we know that there are those who have planted crops, but these have failed. There has been too much rain, or not enough, or insects and other pests have destroyed what was good.

Be with those who work to provide for those in need. Show world leaders what they can do to solve this problem.

Jesus said ‘You give them something to eat.’ Show us how to feed Your people.

Farming and working with the land is hard work. Even in this country, things can go wrong, and plant diseases can wipe out a whole year’s crop. Even here, there can be too much rain, or not enough. Be with farmers and growers in our own land, and help them as they cope with all kinds of difficulties.

Jesus said ‘You give them something to eat.’ Show us how to feed Your people.

Lord, we give thanks that today we will have full plates, with plenty left for tomorrow. Help us not to waste the good things that we have, but to use it wisely. Show us how we can help those in need.

Jesus said ‘You give them something to eat.’ Show us how to feed Your people.

We ask this in the name of Jesus, who broke the bread and the fish and gave it to everyone. Amen. The Lord’s Prayer

HYMN 661: GIVE ME THE FAITH WHICH CAN REMOVE -HP

BLESSINGS: Almighty God, today we have heard how Jesus makes a difference. As we go, help us to keep listening and learning from You, so that we may show others the difference that knowing Jesus can make.

And the Blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen