Great Opportunities (Matthew 14:13-36)
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Great Opportunities (Matthew 14:13-36)

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As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 That evening 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 food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. 18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Jesus Walks on Water
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a spiritual reality that changes HOW I SEE EVERYTHING.

Overall Commentary: 🌎

Jesus has been sharing with us what the Kingdom of God looks like through parables. Now, He is going to show us the Kingdom of God in action. The two stories above are two of the most popular moments in Jesus' ministry. The day Jesus fed 5,000 was reported in all 4 Gospels and even those who do not follow Jesus have heard of His stroll across the water. Did you realize these two stories are connected? They are both examples of how to see the world through the lens of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus shows us that great opportunities are often disguised as impossible situations.


Feeding 5,000

  • Special moment- This is one of the moments in the ministry of Jesus to be talked about in all four Gospels. It is likely because it was so well known. Over ten thousand people could attest to its validity.
  • How many is 5,000?- We may not think that's is too big a deal now, but it was a massive number then. Five thousand people would have been larger than the entire town of Capernaum. This was a moving city. This is also one of the reasons why Jesus turned down their suggestion to send the people away to neighboring towns to buy food. The local villages would not have had enough food for the people and would have greatly strained the local economy.
  • 5 Loaves and 2 Fish- This meal would have been the right size for a young boy. Instead of a loaf by today's standards, think of a small roll that fits your hand. Instead of a big fish that you would mount on a wall, think of a dried or pickled sardine. This is likely what this meal looked like.
  • "Sit Down" on the grass- I love the word Jesus used when He told them to sit down. He told them to "recline." This was how one would sit when going to a banquet. This likely caused everyone to smile as they were told they were about to have a feast out on the seashore.
  • Twelve baskets of leftovers- Each disciple likely went around collecting leftovers. This is why there were 12 baskets, one per disciple.
  • How many did they feed?- During the time, it was common to count only the men in a group to get a basic idea of how many were there. This kept you from having to count every head in the gathering. When you realize women and children were there, there could have been between 10 and 15 thousand people.

Water Walkers

  • How far had they traveled?- The Sea of Galilee is 8 miles across at its widest point. We don't know exactly how far they were, but Matthew says it was far enough that they couldn't touch the bottom. They could have been about 3-4 miles out.
  • Didn't know there was a storm coming?- Because of how the local typography is laid out, sudden and violent storms were relatively common. This means they could have set out with a mildly cloudy night only to be in a storm quickly.
  • What time did this happen?- The fourth watch of the night means it was between 3am and 6am. This would mean it was just before sunrise.
  • Why did Jesus choose to walk on water?- This is one of the most famous things Jesus did. If He could walk on water, couldn't He have just appeared? Couldn't He have just calmed the storm? Yes. He could have done all those things. If you haven't noticed, Jesus doesn't do anything by accident. Job 8 says that God walks along the water. This is another time where Jesus is showing who He is.
  • "It is I"- I love this. The literal translation of this phrase is "I Am." This is exactly what God called Himself in Exodus when revealing Himself to Moses. Again, Jesus is letting them know who has arrived. He is saying, "Have courage, God is here."
  • Are selling Peter short?- I feel bad for Peter. One preacher once said, "Peter means small stone. Didn't he realize he would sink straight to the bottom with a name like that?" Yes, Peter did get his eyes off Jesus, but he also is the only person who is not God who walked on water. That's pretty impressive.
  • You really are the Son of God- When Jesus did the first miracle, they were impressed. When Jesus did this, they finally realized who He was. Jesus isn't just the King. He is God.

Top Takeaway- God doesn't always stop bad days but uses them to show you who He is.

There is a striking thing that both of these stories have in common that we need to realize. Both of these moments could have been stopped by God. Jesus could have told everyone to prepare before they came, but He didn't. Jesus is the one who told the disciples to go to the other side of the lake. Both of these moments could have been stopped by God, but He didn't. Why? This question has plagued people for a long time, and I likely will continue. The answer is amazing but not always satisfying when you are in the middle of the storm. Here is the answer: sometimes, the only way to truly see the strength of God is to get to the end of yours. In the storm, you can truly see God for who He is. It was at this low moment, when the disciples thought they were about to die, that they saw Jesus walking on water.

Further Resources for Deeper Study