Theme: The Priority of Evangelism
In this week’s lessons we see how Jesus was teaching his disciples to minister to the needs of others, and that our own service needs to follow in this way.
Scripture: Matthew 14:13-21
The fourth lesson we learn is that although we are inadequate and Jesus is adequate, nevertheless, we are to be a bridge between himself and other people. And you see that’s the point with which we began. Jesus chooses to use us as his coworkers. I marvel at the way he does that in the story: He calls the disciples to him, takes what they have, multiplies it, gives it back, and they distribute it. And then at the end they’re gathering it up, no doubt in order to have it later to give out to other people. You see, although they have nothing in themselves, nevertheless they are the bridge between the Master and the masses. And as they take the bread to the masses the masses are fed.
If people are going to hear about Jesus Christ it’s going to be from you. God is not going to send an angel to tell them. Jesus was here once. He’s not going to come back again until he comes in judgment, and then it’s going to be too late. We live in an age of grace, and it’s the missionary age, and you are the missionaries. You say, “Well, isn’t he sovereign? If he’s sovereign he’s going to save who he’s going to save. And it really doesn’t matter what I do.” Yes, it does matter what you do. It matters absolutely. If you go they will hear. If you do not go they will not hear. You say, “Does that mean I’m going to frustrate the grace of God?” No, it doesn’t mean that at all. It means that since he’s going to reach them through you, you are going to go.
Remember Jonah? God wanted him to preach the gospel to the Ninevites, and he said, “I’m not going to do it.” You know how that story went. God said that Jonah was going to go, because ordained that the Ninevites are going to hear the gospel through him. And so Jonah went. If Jonah had not gone, they would not have heard; but they did hear because Jonah went. And the reason Jonah went, even though he was reluctant, is that God said, “I want you, Jonah, to go. You are my bridge to that people.”
I’m very impressed with a story that Luke tells, a parable of Jesus about a man who was at home at night in bed when another came and knocked at the door. The friend had a guest at his house and he had nothing to give him. So this man, for the sake of his visitor, went next door looking for food. The man who was knocking said something very significant. He said to the owner of the house, “Friend, a friend has come.” You see that’s what it means to be a bridge. It means to have two friendships. One is a friendship with the world, not in the wrong sense where we betray the cause of Christ but in a genuine sense of compassionately caring for those who have a need. And the other friendship is with God Almighty who alone is able to answer the deep needs of the human heart. You see, you have to have one hand in heaven and the other hand on earth in order that you might take the bread he offers and feed the one who desperately needs to have it.
Now let me end in this way by saying all of this points to Jesus Christ. In John 6 we are told that Jesus is the true bread who came down from heaven and gives life to the world. Now I suppose that in one way or another that applies to any kind of human need. You may be lost and don’t know where you’re going in life. You don’t know what career choice to make and you don’t know which way to turn. You’re unhappy in your current job. Your personal relationships are deteriorating. Well what you need is a shepherd, and Jesus is the Shepherd.
Perhaps this is not your problem. You feel as if you’ve made it and are successful. You have a good job and good relationships, but somehow it just doesn’t satisfy. If that’s the case what you need is Jesus as the bread. He wants to fill your life and satisfy you spiritually because that’s what really matters. He’s the true bread who gives eternal life to all who feed on him in faith.
If you’re in either of those categories, I want to say to you that Jesus is the answer. Every Christian needs to take the message of Jesus, the one who is the shepherd and the bread, and offer it to those they meet. You might say to yourself, “Oh, I’ve been so disappointed in Christians. Christians always let me down.” Yes, they do. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is. Christians do let you down. Christians are only sinners saved by grace. They don’t have the answer in themselves. Christians are not the shepherd. Christians are not the true bread. But they are to commend Christ to those around them because he is sufficient for every need. Jesus is the one who can satisfy the longing of your heart. He’s calling you. He wants you. He’s the Shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name. He’s calling you by name right now. And what you have to do is hear the voice of your Shepherd and come and find that he will lead you into living fountains and spiritually feed you, satisfy you, direct you, keep you from enemies, and bless you in the way that you should go.
What is the fourth lesson Jesus teaches his disciples through this miracle?
Where else do you see Jesus using others as a bridge to minister to those in need?
Application: What opportunities has God given you to be a blessing and help to someone else? Ask the Lord for greater compassion to take advantage of these.
For Further Study: To learn more about how God used Jonah as the bridge to bring repentance to the Ninevites, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “The Greatest Revival in History.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)