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Though today’s Bible study is based on Matthew 14:13-21, we must understand that it is related to the previous verses. I have given the first part of the verse below. First read it carefully.
“Now when Jesus heard this (When He heard of John the Baptist’s death) he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns….” Matthew 14:13-21 (Emphasis mine)
So as we see that the first crisis (disguised as persecution) breaks out in first 12 verses of chapter 14. And the rest of the narrative explains how Jesus responded to this crisis situation? Let’s see what can we learn from this story.
1. Isolate yourself with God, Matthew 14:13
A. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. I am sure that Jesus grieved in His heart upon hearing His cousin’s execution.
B. Secondly this was a warning to Jesus. He was supposed to die any way. But this was not the hour. He had to watch out for His life.
C. However Jesus’ response was a quite strange one. He isolated Himself, probably to wait upon the Lord in prayer. Probably this restored Jesus’ energy and prepared himself for the next bigger task He was supposed to do that day. To feed 5000 people.
D. The first thing we must do when we are at crisis is not to get panic and run to every one asking for help – but to isolate ourselves before God and and ask for physical, emotional, spiritual strength and wisdom. This prepares us to face the future.
2. Keep your priorities straight, Matthew 14:14
A. Crisis didn’t stop Jesus from ministering to people.
B. In our effort to handle the situation, we switch priorities. We make solving the problem our highest priority, and the least priority is given for ministry.
C. Most Christians tend to stop what they were doing, when facing crisis. They stop attending church, they stop serving etc.
D. Pastors and Leaders should remember, that ministry is not something they control so that they can cease to minister upon crisis because of frustration and disappointment. God called us to serve, crisis is not an excuse to stop serving.
E. Remember, you control the situation. Not that you are controlled by it.
And now the second crisis breaks out. Jesus ministered to the crowd. But they were starving. Men alone were 5000 in number! Jesus and His disciples had to feed them.
3. Be a part of the solution – not the problem, Matthew 14:15-16
A. The disciples told Jesus to send the people to near by villages so they can find food.
B. In a crisis situation most Christians are likely to play a part in the problem (ex: gossip, criticizing the leadership).
C. Jesus told the disciples, “You feed them”
D. God expects Christians to be a part of the solution. Not the problem. How to be a part of the solution? This is what we are going to learn in the fourth point.
4. Contribute with what you have, Matthew 14:17-18
A. There were only 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Jesus ordered the disciples to bring them to Him.
B. Everyone who wants to be a part of the solution, must contribute with what they have.
C. Don’t worry about the quantity of your resources.
D. You can contribute Physically. (financially, cooperating with the leadership) and spiritually (Prayer, encouragement, a word of wisdom). Besides it’s the disciples who distributed broken loaves and fishes.
5. Give thanks to God, Matthew 14:19
A. This verse doesn’t tell us that Jesus prayed about the problem. He rather gave thanks to God the heavenly Father.
B. Praying is important. But sometimes merely crying out to God about the problem itself hinders God’s intervention. Thanks giving is an essential part of prayer (The actions – looking up to heaven, thanking God and breaking the loaves are normal for any head of a Jewish household in prayer)
C. Bible says to give thanks in every thing, (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
6. Don’t react in flesh, Matthew 14:20-21
A. When we react in flesh – we blame others, we blame God, panic about the situation. Worse thing is we can never find a perfect solution.
B. This verse says everyone ate and had their fill. 12 baskets were filled with the pieces that were left behind.
C. When we response to situations in faith and spirit God will release the perfect solution.
All of us face crisis and problems in our life. But God has already given us the guidelines in this passage. I hope you will remember these principals and practice them the next time you face a crisis in your life.