Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.”
This is Just Jesus, Week 60, Matthew, Part 58 in the series. Today Pastor G covers Matthew 14:29-16:12. Jesus miraculously heals and feeds a crowd of 4,000 GENTILE men plus an unknown number of women and children. By this, combined with His conversation with thew Canaanite woman that we discussed last week, Jesus shows His disciples, both Jews and Gentiles who observed, and all of us 2,000 years later, that He is both the Messiah of the Jews and the Messiah of the Gentiles. He is the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.
Welcome to week 60 of our Just Jesus series. This is Matthew Part 58. Last week we saw Jesus criticize the Pharisees again for their lack of compassion and for the upholding of human tradition over the true Law of God. Then we saw Jesus go into a Gentile district and interact with a Canaanite woman and while it seemed at first that Jesus was being rude and withholding compassion from her at first, because of the rest of the context of Scripture, and what we know about the character and habits of Jesus, we realized that He was actually engaging in some “prophetic theater” with her. He was really just speaking what most of the people of Israel THOUGHT about the Messiah and about the Canaanites and His relationship with Jews and Gentiles. We’ll see that even more in today’s message.
The Gentile woman showed humility and persistence and Jesus complimented her for her faith and humility and granted her request. We finished by talking about how she is an example to the rest of us Gentiles who want to follow Yashua Ha’Maschiach – Jesus the Messiah. We shared Paul’s words in Galatians that allude to this as well, that in Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike are counted as part of the descendants of Abraham, whether we were born or spiritually adopted into the family line. Isn’t that a big YAY GOD truth for sure? Today, we continue in the fifteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. If you are ready to hear what God has put on my heart to share with you today would you do me a favor and either say or type “HIT ME WIT’ IT G! I’M READY!” Awesome. Let’s dig into it. Look at Matthew 15:29-31
Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there. ~ Matthew 14:29
Mark’s Gospel tells us this is happening in the region of the Decapolis. Decapolis means “ten cities.” They were each autonomous city states dependent upon Rome. They were the center of Greek and Roman culture. We visited the Decapolis before with Jesus when He casts a legion of demons into a herd of pigs. This is a region where some Jews reside but the vast majority of the population are Gentiles, Greeks and Romans. That’s important to remember, especially when we factor in last week’s interaction with the Canaanite woman. What happened on this mountainside in the Decapolis? Look at verse 30 and following.
And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. ~ Matthew 15:30
Obviously, the vast majority of these people, brought to Him in the Decapolis, were Gentiles. We don’t see the back and forth “prophetic theater” we saw between Jesus and the Canaanite woman here. Jesus already made that point for the disciples and others who were observing Him. Even though you might think the Messiah is ONLY for the Jews, even though you might think the Messiah shouldn’t have anything to do with Gentiles, Jesus has proven, if anyone, Jew or Gentile, comes to Him with humility and sincere faith, He will receive them, heal them, bless them.
He made the point clear with the Canaanite woman. He doesn’t have to belabor the point here. He just heals all who come to Him in this primarily Gentile land and He makes the point loud and clear. The Messiah is not just the Savior of Israel. The Messiah is the Savior of the World. YAY GOD? Let’s continue:
So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. ~ Matthew 15:31
Here is the point. These Greeks and Romans, who previously had worshiped a whole pantheon of gods, are now turning to, believing in, and glorifying the God of Israel instead. That of course, is the real mission of Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of Man, the Son of God. He is turning people’s hearts toward Yahweh, the one true God. Let’s keep going.
And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” ~ Matthew 15:32
Remember when Jesus first started speaking to the Canaanite woman last week and we asked “Where is the splangknidzomai? Where is His compassion for her?” We finally saw it at the end of the “prophetic theater” and we see it again here. Jesus has splangknidzomai/compassion for all of these Gentiles who are with Him on this mountainside. They’ve been with Him for three days. All the food they brought with them has run out. Many of them probably ran to the region when they heard Jesus was there and didn’t think to bring any food with them at all. Jesus doesn’t want to send them away hungry. Some maybe three, four, or more days without food.
The disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” ~ Matthew 15:33
Does this sound familiar? We had a very similar situation just a couple weeks ago, just one chapter ago yeah? Remember when Jesus told the disciples, who were the ones concerned about the people needing something to eat – “You give them something to eat?” Remember that? The feeding of the 5,000? How are they not realizing right now what Jesus intends, how He plans to feed THIS group of people? I mentioned this last week. I don’t know if it is just 20/20 hindsight, but sometimes the disciples seem a little dim to me you know? Maybe I would have missed it back then too. I hope not. I hope I would have been like, “Cool Jesus! Are you going to miraculously feed them like you did the 5,000 men plus women a children a few weeks ago?” Instead of saying “Where are we going to get enough food to feed all these people? AGAIN!
And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” ~ Matthew 15:34
AGAIN! They’ve got EVEN MORE to work with this time than the last time. Last time they only had five loaves and two fish! This time they have seven loaves and a few (that’s more than two – it’s at least 3 fish) And the crowd is smaller this time. We will learn in a little bit there are only 4,000 men plus women and children this time. Probably 2,000 less total people and they are starting with more bread and more fish. HOW DO THEY NOT KNOW WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN? I don’t get it. It just seems like it would have been obvious to me if I has been a disciple. Anyway, moving on…
And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. ~ Matthew 15:35-36
Dejavu anyone? What do you think is going to happen here in the Gentile world? Do you think it will be just like what happened in the Jewish world when Jesus fed the 5,000?
And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. ~ Matthew 15:37-38
Just like the 5,000 they ate until they were satisfied. The same word is used which refers to fattening livestock. They were STUFFED. Only seven baskets of leftovers this time instead of twelve. Let’s talk about Jewish number symbolism and significance for a minute. We’ve talked about this a lot but it is really significant here.
The number twelve occurs in 187 places in the Bible. The Book of Revelation alone has 22 references to the number twelve. 12 is considered a perfect number in Hebrew thought. It symbolizes God’s power and authority and is seen as the perfect governmental foundation. It also symbolized the nation of Israel. Jacob, later renamed Israel by God, had twelve sons, each led one of the twelve tribes that made up the nation of Israel. God specified that twelve unleavened loaves of bread be placed every week in the temple. The priests were commanded to change the bread every Sabbath day. The High Priest’s Breastplate had twelve stones embedded in it. Each stone represented a tribe of Israel. Solomon appointed twelve officers over Israel.
The Scripture’s first recording of Jesus’ words occurs when He is twelve years old. Jesus named twelve disciples from all the Jewish people who followed Him. Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times in the Four Gospels. Twelve thousand from each tribe of Israel (144,000 total) will receive salvation during the end time’s Great Tribulation. The church, Christ’s bride in Revelation 12, wears a crown containing twelve stars. The New Jerusalem which is made in heaven and brought to the earth by God, contains 12 gates made of pearl which are each manned by an angel. Over each gate will be one of the names of Israel’s twelve tribes. The walls are 144 cubits high (12×12) the city itself is 12,000 furlongs square. There are many more examples. Twelve is God. Twelve is Israel. Twelve is the Church. When Jesus fed 5,000 Jewish men and their wives and children in Israel there were twelve baskets leftover.
This time, 4,000 Gentile men and their wives and children eat and there are seven baskets leftover. What does the number seven symbolize in Hebrew thought? The number seven is used 860 times in Scripture. Seven is the number of completeness, wholeness, totality and perfection. It is tied directly to God’s creation of all things. God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. Therefore, there are 7 days in a week and God’s Sabbath day is on the 7th day of the week. The Bible, as a whole, was originally divided into 7 major divisions. They are 1) the Law; 2) the Prophets; 3) the Writings; 4) the Gospels (including Acts – which is essentially Luke part two) 5) the General Epistles; 6) the Epistles of Paul; and 7) the Book of Revelation. The Book of Hebrews uses seven titles to refer to Jesus.
In Matthew 13 Jesus is quoted as sharing seven parables. In the New Testament, seven psalms are referred to as having been written by David. In the book of Revelation, there are seven churches, seven angels to the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpet plagues, seven thunders, and the seven last plagues. The first resurrection of the dead takes place at the 7th trumpet. There are 7 Feasts of the Lord, that occur over a seven-month period, beginning with Passover and ending with the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus performed seven miracles on the sabbath. Again, there are many more examples. Why did Jesus have seven leftover baskets after feeding the Gentiles? These are not random numbers in Scripture. He had seven baskets to show the totality of, the completeness of, the wholeness of, the perfection of God’s offer of salvation to all humanity. Again, Jesus is not just the Savior of the Jews, He is the Savior of both Jews and non-Jews alike. He is the Savior of the whole world. Let’s continue.
And sending away the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan. ~ Matthew 15:39
Magadan and Magdala are two names for the same place, the place where Mary Magdalene or Mary from Magdala, is from. The Pharisees and Sadducees, the two primary leadership groups of Israel are still trying to trip Jesus up and prove He is not the Messiah. They find Him again and start another set of demands and interrogations. We’re into chapter sixteen now.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. ~ Matthew 16:1
No doubt, news of Jesus’ many miracles has spread throughout the region. However, they come with a specific type of miracle request. They want “a sign from heaven.” Perhaps a pillar of fire or smoke like in Exodus or fire from the heavens like Elijah called down. Healing people, casting out demons, feeding thousands from a small amount of food. They weren’t impressed by any of that. They wanted a miracle, a sign coming straight out of heaven to prove to them that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus, witty as ever, turns their miracle in the sky request back on them. Look at His response
But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? ~ Matthew 16:2-3
We’ve talked about this many times before. Elder Doug Campbell gave an excellent message at Christmas time about it called the Elephant in the Room. If these experts in the Law had really read and studied and understood the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah it should have been obvious to them that Jesus was the guy. Look to the sky if you want to predict the weather. Look to Jesus if you want to see God. Jesus continues.
An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. ~ Matthew 16:4
We’ve talked about this a lot this year. The Sign of Jonah was that both were presumed dead and both miraculously returned from the dead. Jonah did it after three days and nights in the belly of a fish. Jesus wasn’t dead for three days and three nights but Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day of the Passover Feast. Jesus is saying He is not going to do anything to prove Himself to these hypocrites and doubters. But when He rises from the dead on the third day that sign of Jonah, that miracle will, once and for all, substantiate all of His claims. After this kind of mic drop moment, Jesus is like “Jesus is out!” He left them and went away. Let’s see what happens next. Look at verses 5-12 as we wrap up today’s message.
And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. ~ Matthew 16:5
These guys are kind of notorious for traveling light on the food scale yeah? They always have minimal bread on hand. Annette and I make sure we always have plenty of snacks in the car when we hele on down the road yeah? Jesus uses their reference to bread as a jumping-off point to teach.
And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” ~ Matthew 16:6
We’ve talked a thousand times about how leaven is almost always used in Scripture as a symbol of sin. One time, Jesus flipped it on its head and used it as a reference to how fast the Gospel can spread but every other time it is a reference to sin. It is a pretty obvious symbolic thing yeah? Beware the sin, the lies, the teachings, the motivations of the Pharisees. Pretty obvious statement. Did the disciples get it?
They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring any bread.” ~ Matthew 16:7
Really? Really? I’ve said this several times in the last few weeks. I guess I’m kind of harping on it. I’m probably coming across a little arrogant. I don’t mean to be. These disciples were Jewish. They had been with Jesus day and night for a loooooong time. Jesus says beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees and their first thought is, “Oh, He said that because we didn’t bring any bread.” I’m starting to think the disciples were the ancient equivalent of Joey from Friends. Jesus is a little incredulous as well.
But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” ~ Matthew 16:8-11
Remember how Jesus created bread and fish, essentially out of thin air, not once, but twice? Remember how it was enough to feed 8,000-10,000 people both times? Do you really think you not having bread for the thirteen of you is really of any concern to Him? Jesus says the original lesson, the original metaphor again. I have to believe He said it really slowly this time and put the word leaven in air quotes this time. beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. ~ Matthew 16:12
WOW! THEN they understood. I would certainly hope so right? That’s where we’re going to stop this week because what happens next is so important, so critical, such a monumental and foundational thing in the lives of the disciples and has such powerful repercussions for the ministry of Jesus and the disciples and the future of Christianity, we don’t want to rush through it.
We want to relish in it. So we’ll do that next week. What are some takeaways for us this week? We’ve got Three Takeaways ~~~~ FIRST – When traveling, always bring along enough food for everyone. —- That’s basic knowledge yeah? Don’t expect Jesus to show up and multiply it for you all the time. Plan ahead. People gotta eat. Ok. SECOND – Jesus is the Savior of the World. He’s not just the Jewish Messiah. He is the Messiah for Jews and Non-Jews alike. That was a powerful revelation for His Jewish followers. He makes it clear with the Canaanite woman and then He drives the point home even further with His interactions with the crowd of 4,000 Gentile men and their families. THIRD – We need to watch out for and beware of false teachers. It was true in their time and it is still true today. The Pharisees and Saducees would have been among those that believed and taught that Messiah was only for Israel and that all others were dogs. Rabbinical teachings of the times said as much. They taught falsehoods and human traditions as if they were doctrine, the Law of God. They required signs and miracles in order to believe and still did not believe even with that solid proof was staring them in the face. Don’t fall into that trap. We don’t need signs and miracles. The Holy Spirit of God is here, communicating to our hearts, minds and spirits, the truth of God and the love of Jesus.
You, no matter who you are. No matter your ethnic or religious background. No matter what kind of life you’ve lived so far. No matter what good things or bad things you’ve done so far. Jesus came to earth for you. Jesus came to save you and all you have to do is believe and receive. Jesus takes care of all the rest. He will feed your soul the same way He fed the bellies of the 5,000 and the 4,000. Just as they were fully satisfied with that physical food, your soul will be fully satisfied with the word of God, with Jesus Himself. If you express your faith in Him, He will come to live inside of you and through you. He will forgive you of all your sins. Cleanse you of all your leaven and make your life as one who has never sinned. A clean slate is waiting for you. The wise guidance of Jesus throughout your life ahead is waiting for you. An eternal life without pain or death or sorrow is waiting for you as well. It all starts with following Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Today is your chance to know that joy.
~~~~~ LET’S PRAY ~~~~~