Matthew 14:13-21
“Counting On Jesus”
August 3, 2014
Several years ago Bill Murray starred in the movie “What About Bob?” In it he plays Bob Wiley, the patient of a psychiatrist who is desperately trying to take a vacation with his family, but Bob does not think he can make it a month while his psychiatrist is on vacation. He takes the bus from New York to the psychiatrists’ vacation home in New Hampshire and spends the entire month with the psychiatrist and his family. In the process the psychiatrist learns how much good he is doing others and decides to continue the practice, although at the start of his vacation he was ready to quit.
At one point the psychiatrist says : “You know – I never thought anyone was counting on me!”
It’s a funny movie, and it shows how we need to be available for others, even when it’s not convenient to us.
Jesus was certainly willing to be available for others, even when it was not convenient for Him. In the passage directly before our passage for today, John is killed by Herd, and Jesus seems to want to get away for awhile. He seems to want to take a break, to take a vacation. He seems to want time alone with the disciples and with God. It’s not really all that unfair a fair a request when you think about it.
His cousin, his predecessor in ministry, had been killed. and Jesus probably wanted some time te to sort things out, so to speak. Time to think about what He was doing. Maybe some time to pray about God’s will for His life. Time away from the increasingly pressing crowds. But the crowds follow Jesus and the disciples. They can not get away.
What does Jesus do?
Does He yell at them and tell them to go away, to come back later? Does He
refuse to see them? No, He has compassion.
He has compassion
He has compassion for the crowds and compassion for their needs.
He heals many of them and teaches them.
He has so much compassion that the day gets late, everyone is hungry and no one has any food.
Now what does Jesus do? The disciples want Him to dismiss the crowds so they can go into the nearby towns and villges and get something to eat but what does Jesus do?
Again, He has compassion. He refuses to send the crowd away.
“You feed them” He tells the disciples.
But — how? How could they do that? they ask. They don’t have enough food to feed so many. They figure there must be at least 5.000 people there. They are not prepared to feed such a crowd, and don’t have the money to buy enough food. They found 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, but what were they in such a large crowd?
How could they give them something to eat?
You know what? There was something the disciples had forgotten how to do. They had forgotten how to count. Not in the traditional way, but by Jesus’ way, a “new math” of abundance! They saw the situation by the following mathematical equation: (5 loaves plus 2 fish) divided by (5,000 people) = a desperate need they could not meet. They know how to “count” in the sense of world, but they did not know how to count in Jesus’ new way, the “new math” of abundance! They forgot one important factor in the equation – JESUS. They forgot that, whatever they had, Jesus could take it and bless it and use it for His work and will in the world. They forgot that they could always count on Jesus, and when they counted on Jesus, a miracle occurred! What they thought was just a small amount of food just 5 loaves and 2 fish, suddenly became an enormous amount of food!
You may remember the episode of the “I Love Lucy” show where Lucy is baking bread and glances down at her cookbook and reads that she needs to add in 12 cakes of yeast. When her friend Ethel arrives she questions whether that is too much, but Lucy says “that’s what the cookbook says”. They look at the cookbook again, and discover that Lucy had misread the cookbook. She only needed to put in 2 cakes of yeast, not 12. But they figure the cakes of yeast are very small and won’t be any problem. They go shopping, and when they return home Lucy notices the door of the oven is ajar. Opening the door to investigate, an enormous loaf of bread emerges, so big it pins Lucy against the cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen. Ethel runs to get a huge lumberjack saw and rescues Lucy from the monster loaf of bread!
Like the small cakes of yeast can do powerful things — Jesus can take small things, and do powerful things. Here’s how the true mathematical equation the disciples were facing in trying to feed the 5,000 should have looked like:
(5 loaves + 2 fish) plus JESUS divided by (over 5,000 people) = A Miracle!
A miracle occurred when they gave what they had to Jesus and let Him do His miracle!
Like the psychiatrist in the movie “What About Bob” the disciples learned to care and have compassion that day, but they learned more than that – they learned how to count on Jesus’ ability to care, Jesus’ ability to meet needs and work miracles. They learned that, when they step up do what they can Jesus can do the rest. In other words, they learned to learned to count on Jesus.
OK – so – what about us?
Well, aren’t there times we are like the disciples? Aren’t there times we feel so overwhelmed by needs around us in world and community that we just want t get away? Aren’t there times we feel like saying:
“God – take care of those needs I see around me” But feel Jesus saying “No – you do it!”
Aren’t there times we want to ask –
God, surely you don’t expect me to take care of all these needs!
Like the disciples, we forget how to count, not by the world’s standards, but by Jesus’ “new math” of abundance! The mathematical equation for how we see it may look something like this:
(Our limited resources) divided by (the world’s great needs) equals disaster!
This story before us today is a word for every weary disciple, and a word for us. Although we may feel we are confronted with impossible expectations we are supported by Jesus’ promise to give us more than enough to reach out to those in need, if we will just do it. The mathematical equation we should be looking at is:
(Our limited resources) plus (JESUS) divined by (the world’s great needs) equals A MIRACLE!
How can we do all God has called us to do?
How can we find enough to meet the needs of so many people?
How can we visit the sick, console the distressed, find a word of hope for others, and help those who desperately need it?
Well, the task is obviously impossible, but, like the disciples, if we will simply do what we can and depend on Jesus for the rest things will get done.
Yea (our limited resources) plus (JESUS) divined by (the world’s great needs) equals a miracle!
You see, Jesus is not really saying “ you do it”, instead Jesus is saying: “Let’ it together!”
When we look at needs and situations around us we might be overwhelmed, but we need to count Jesus into equation
(Our limited resources) plus (JESUS) divined by (the world’s great needs) equals A MIRACLE!
Instead of feeling overwhelmed, remember to count on on Jesus!
Matthew West has a song that’s getting a lot of air play on the Contemporary Christian radio stations these days where he sings about a man who asked God why He didn’t do something about all the problems in the world — and God replied;
“I created you!”
In other words, God created us to work with Him, to put what we can do with what He can dom through us and see the miraculous difference we can make together.
Feel for the needs of others, and do what you can to meet their needs.
Feel compassion for others, and do what you can to help them.
Think of what you can do – what we together can do – what we together with Jesus can do – to meet the needs of others
Think of what can be done when we add Jesus to the equation
Think of what we can do when we count on Jesus
We don’t have to feel like the psychiatrist in “What About Bob” whose patients would not leave him alone — or the disciples overwhelmed by needs of those around them –
We can count on Jesus. and find our needs met, and, find His miraculous power when we willing to do what we can and count on Jesus to do the rest!
A minister tells the story of one day, while walking into the Hospital to visit someone, a mother and her young daughter were ahead of him. Just before they got to the entrance, the little girl noticed the closed door and asked her mother how they were going to get inside. The mother smiled, walked forward, and the electronic eye opened the door and they walked in. As they were walking in, the little girl turned to him and said: “It’s ok – just step up and a miracle will happen” Jesus says to us – “It’s ok – step forward in faith – and a miracle will occur!”
Step up – in faith – and count on Jesus! AMEN