Matthew 14: 13-22 Struggles in Ministry

In every ministry you will struggle with many obstacles and in these passages Jesus gives us some guidlines that we need to live by in order to minister to others.

1)   Compassion versus their Motives

Jesus went in a boat away from where He was and the crowd followed Him several miles around the lake to catch up to where He was going. Some of these people were sick, crippled and in dire need of His healing touch and no amount of obstacles were getting in their way.

They were deeply moved: What deeply bothers you about our world or our City? What things drive you to do something? Have you ever thought that God placed a compassion in your life that He gave you for you to do a ministry?

If you do not have a compassion about anything, why not? Compassion is this burning in your gut that effects your whole body and this is the compassion Jesus felt for the people. He saw how they were physically and spiritually lost and He had to do something.

Jeremiah 13:17 If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.

“How many nights will we go to bed dry eyed while the rest of the world cries themselves to sleep?” Jay Strack”

Some of the people that were there were not there because they trusted Him as the Messiah they were there for selfish reasons. Some of the hardest people to have compassion for are those whose intent is to just get everything out of you for their own purposes.

Matthew 10:16  I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

We cannot allow our compassion to overwhelm our mind. You have to be smart as you do ministry. You have to have compassion that is guarded so that you know when it is time to start and stop ministering to someone.

2)   God’s Resources versus Your Resources


The disciples had a legitimate concern because the crowds are estimated to be between 10- 25 thousand people all depending on how many women and children came. They knew they did not have the resources to feed them and they knew that even if they divided up into several surrounding cities that they may not have enough food for all the people out here.

John 6:5 -7 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Why would Jesus ask Philip that question? He wanted to see if he would look to Him and not his own resources or ingenuity. Philip saw the largeness of the task more than he saw the largeness of Jesus

They do not need to go away , you give them something to eat

If I asked  you if God can do anything you would say yes but when it comes to us taking steps of faith to fulfill what we are called to do we sometimes doubt. The disciples had been walking with Jesus for about two years seeing Him do incredible miracles yet they did not look to Him but to the enormity of the situation. When God calls you  to a ministry you will have a burning desire to do it but HE will also provide you what is needed to sustain it.

Bring them here to me

Jesus asked only for what they had to offer and no more. Give Jesus what you have been given and He will multiply it. We have made ministry something we can do instead of handing it to Jesus and see what He can do.

When Jesus multiplied the fish it is not written as if all of a sudden there was a huge amount of fish and bread. We do not know if the baskets they carried around never ran out or if they just kept going back to Jesus for more but it was amazing that the resources did not run out. They had to walk by faith trusting that the other groups would be fed as they fed each group.

1 Corinthians 1: 26-29 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

It’s not about You but God wants you to be a part

3)   Organization versus Chaos


The Greek word for sat means garden bed. When you say Sit Down it was a banquet term. The Hillside would have looked like a quilt with various colors divided up among it as the people were divided up into groups.

Mark 6:39-40 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

So they sat in groups of 50 and 100’s all over the hillside and they were satisfied meaning they all had enough to eat. The disciples gathered up the extras and there was enough for them as well showing that God always provides the right amount that you need.

1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

This is exactly what Jesus did on this hillside as He had the people organized in groups and He fed them systematically. The ministries we are a part of need to be organized and not chaotic because that is not who God is.

4)   Staying versus Leaving


The beginning and the end of our passages today have Jesus leaving an area. Some say He left the area to not cause any undue controversy with Herod who thought Jesus to be the risen John the Baptist. Toward the end though we see Jesus leaving again but not because of problems do to people hating Him but because they had the wrong view of Him. The people at this time were acknowledging that He was the Messiah and wanted to make Him their King.

John 6:14-15 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

The disciples were probably thrilled that this was happening and thought this was their chance to be recognized in a positive light. If this was happening in a ministry today people would have tried to figure out how to capitalize on the moment but Jesus knew that this was not the right thing to do. Matthew says that Jesus dismissed the crowds because although they wanted Jesus to begin His rule on earth no one could make Jesus do what He did not want to do.

One of the toughest things in ministry is to not do what everyone thinks you should do.

Jesus knew the balance of knowing when it was time to minister and when it was time to get away. Sometimes the toughest thing is walking away from a good ministry opportunity because it is not Gods will for you. The only way you can know for sure is through prayer.

5)   Prayer versus Doing

Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

In John 17 Jesus prays for His disciples and all believers.Do you pray for the ministry you are a part of?  We take prayer too lightly although we see Jesus time after time getting away from everyone and praying. People think that being busy all the time is what ministry is about but it is about being in tune with God, what He is doing and praying for those you are ministering to.

If Jesus thought it necessary to pray how much more should we?

2 Corinthians 1:10-12 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

“When God’s people intercede for each other, His power and sovereign purposes are realized. Thus, the purpose of prayer is not to manipulate God but to exalt His power and submit to His will’ John MacArthur



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