Don’t End The Service Prematurely: Matthew 14:15-21
“15) When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16) But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!”” Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭15‬-‭16‬
Evidently, Jesus had been ministering to the people for a long time. Because it had been a spontaneous gathering, there were no provisions made in advance for food.
The disciples came to Jesus with an obvious solution, “Ok, let’s wrap this thing up and send these people home so they can buy themselves some food.” From their perspective, Jesus had already served up plenty of healings and miracles for one day.
But Jesus wasn’t done yet. He wasn’t about to end the service prematurely. Just when they were ready to sing the doxology and give the benediction, Jesus looked at His disciples and said; “They do not need to go away: you give them something to eat.”
They looked at Him and said; “That’s impossible, we’ve already taken inventory and we only have five loaves and two fish.” Do you ever restrict God to the resources in hand? Your budget can either be a box to limit God or down payment for a larger miracle.
Jesus said, “Bring them to me.” He was the Provider. He had fed over a million people in the wilderness for forty years under Moses. What was a single meal for 5,000 men plus their families? It depends on your perspective… for the disciples this was uncharted waters.
Do you see the school of faith Jesus had His disciples enrolled in? By this point they had passed kindergarten. They had great faith in Him as Savior. They knew He could save people.
They had just graduated from elementary school. They were gaining confidence in Him as the Great Physician. They knew He could heal people. I confess, I’m still in elementary school. It still stretches me to pray for healings… but I’m doing it more often.
But Jesus was about to promote them to middle school. It was time to meet Him as “The Provider.” This was a huge leap forward in their faith. They were ready to end the service prematurely because things had come to the end of their “faith comfort zone”, but Jesus was ready for the next level of faith.
When it comes to gaining faith in Jesus as Provider, it’s often a huge stretch. It launches us into the realm of what we would consider “the impossible.” It defies reason, goes beyond solid accounting principles and is often on par with moving mountains with five shovels and two picks. Ok, the text says five loafs and two fish, but you get the idea.
When Jesus said, “Bring them to me”; I could just imagine the disciples looking at each other and asking… “Who is this guy, does He think He can walk on water or what?” Ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… walking on water was the next lesson. They had to pass middle school faith before they were ready for high school faith. (For those of you who read ahead, you already know that’s a teaser for the next paragraph in the story.)
After the disciples had the people recline, Jesus looked up to heaven and blessed the meal and started breaking the loves. I cannot explain it, but in Provider faith… division somehow becomes multiplication. Everyone ate and was satisfied and they collected twelve baskets of leftovers. They had more left over than what they started with!
I’ve seen it happen many times that the ending balance after a huge venture of faith far exceeds the initial “start up” capital. How can I explain that? The Provider stepped in!
I’ve been involved in numerous projects for the kingdom where a few hundred dollars of start up seed money turns into thousands and eventually grows into millions. Some of the Provider stories are so miraculous, I need to screen the audience I share them with lest people think that I have secret supplies of wealth.
The truth is our family still lives on a modest budget, drives old cars, shops at thrift stores, loves the clearance department at Walmart and trusts our Provider for our daily needs. Yes, like the disciples we are blessed by left overs.
But my faith in Jesus as the Provider is growing. When I first stepped into ministry, a few thousand dollar evangelistic endeavor or a hundred thousand dollar annual church budget was extreme faith. Today, individual ministry project budgets of a million dollars or more are becoming more common… but they still stretch me. What has changed? My view of the Provider is growing.
There are two amazing lessons we have learned from living by faith in our Provider the past thirty years. First, He seldom does it the way we expect! And Second, He usually shows up right at the end of the fourth quarter. Don’t end the service prematurely. The Provider usually steps up when we step down and turn things over to Him.
Where are you at in the School of Faith? Have you passed Savior Faith? Have you invited Jesus Christ into your life? It is the prerequisite for all other classes. Have you grappled with Great Physician Faith? Jesus is both the Healer and the Comforter. Have you ventured out into Provider Faith? Are you joining Jesus in any God Sized ventures of faith? Are you ready to have your small boxes shattered? Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone? Stay tuned… Jesus was about to drag His disciples into high school and graduate school faith!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global