Sermon on Matthew 14:13-21 | Super-Size Your Faith

Super-Size Your Faith (Matthew 14:13-21)

I know you might find this hard to believe, but I really enjoy eating.

I mentioned some time ago that when I was a junior in high school, I was privileged to go to Denver, Colorado, on a school trip with DECA. When we arrived in Denver, our teachers pulled out a big wad of money, and they announced that the Rotary Club had donated money so we could eat at The Broker Restaurant while we were in town.

I don’t believe that before or sense that I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant as unique as The Broker. The Broker once housed the Denver National Bank, and while some things had obviously been changed to make the building a restaurant, the building is fairly much as it was as a bank over a hundred years ago. My group ate in one of the old vaults, and it was very obvious that we were down in an old bank vault.

I remember after all these years that I ordered the filet mignon. I don’t remember the price tag, but I remember thinking it was very expensive. But, what I really remember was the atmosphere, so unique.

You probably like to eat, too. I’ve eaten with a good group of you either in a restaurant or in my home or yours and you like to eat.

In this morning’s text, we read about a potluck of sorts.

No, people didn’t bring anything and share with each other. In fact, there was only a “lad” with five barley loaves and two small fish (Jn 6:9). As you can imagine bread and fish were the staples of the Palestinian diet in the days of Jesus; meat was quite expensive, and you only ate meat at special occasions.

Jesus, out of great compassion, feeds a multitude in this morning’s text. Matthew tells us that the Lord fed “about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Therefore, it’s very difficult to know how many people Jesus fed on this occasion. It’s generally believed, however, that Jesus fed somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand on this occasion.

As Jesus feeds the multitudes, he demonstrates His power over nature and teaches an important lesson: “You can super-size your faith because you serve a ‘BIG’ Jesus.

Scripture (Matthew 14:13-21)

verse 13:

“When Jesus heard it”: the death of John the Baptist.

Jesus left to go off by Himself. He is in deep grief—a member of His physical family and His forerunner has been killed. While Jesus goes to get away, the multitudes somehow hear where Jesus is going, and they get there on foot before Him.

verse 14:

Jesus sees the multitude, has great compassion for them, and healed their sick.

The Lord is physically and mentally exhausted, but His love prompts Him to serve. Jesus served according to the needs of others. The Lord really needed some rest. However, He saw a great need in the lives of the multitudes, and He served.

verse 15:

The disciples urge Jesus to send the multitudes away that they might be able to go away and buy themselves some food.

verses 16-18:

Jesus told the disciples that they needed to feed the crowd. Can you imagine the look on the disciples’ faces? I dare say that if I came home and told Tammy that we were getting ready to feed 20,000 people, she’d probably hit me upside the head with a frying pan to get some sense into me, and if that didn’t work, she’d call those nice men with white coats to come and get me.

Why would Jesus tell the disciples to do something that could not be done? Exactly because it could not be done—Jesus is demonstrating to the disciples their inadequacy for the task at hand.

verses 19-21:

Jesus had everyone to sit down, He blessed the food, and has His disciples distribute the food.

The people ate until they were full, and the disciples gather up the leftovers in 12 large baskets.


You can super-size your faith because you serve a ‘BIG’ Jesus.” Jesus needed to teach His disciples that lesson so that they could go forth with His message. We need to learn that message in order that we might be busy in the Lord’s work today. How does this text help us in modern ministry?

Understand your inadequacies.

The disciples learned their inadequacies. They come to Jesus and say, “We need to send these folks to buy food.” Jesus says, “No, we don’t. You feed them.” The disciples could never have fed 15,000 to 20,000 people with the seven items they had. Only the power of God could do so.

Make a list of things that make you feel inadequate. Is it teaching Bible class? Is it speaking to someone after a loved one has passed away? Is it praying in public? Is it teaching a neighbor the Gospel?

I fully understand that we have different talents—e.g., the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30)—however, do we always feel adequate for the tasks for which we are talented? Moses didn’t feel adequate to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Jeremiah told the Lord that because he was a youth that there was absolutely no way for him to be a prophet.

Pray about your inadequacies.

The Lord has promised to answer our prayers according to His will. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (Jn 14:14). “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 Jn 5:14).

In each of the examples we used earlier, the Lord took care of the inadequacies because He was asked to do so. The Lord gave Moses a spokesman in his brother Aaron. The Lord told Jeremiah that he would speak the words God gave him, and that the Lord would be with him.

Act on your inadequacies.

Minister in some way this week that causes you to feel inadequate. Vacation Bible School is this coming weekend. Joe has all the teaching slots filled, but maybe you could help with a class. Maybe you could tell A.W. that you’d be willing to lead a prayer. Maybe you’d tell Shawn that you’d like to try your hand at teaching.

Step out of your comfort zone and act.

Trust God’s power to overcome your inadequacies.

As Jesus fed the 20,000 or so folks in this narrative, the disciples would learn to rely on Jesus’ strength in a big way.

God can strengthen your inadequacies. As Paul prayed that his “thorn in the flesh” would be removed, the Lord answered and said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Ephesians 3:20-21. Paul, writing in a context of material need, writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). No one was willing to be with Paul during his first trial, “[b]ut the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear” (2 Tim 4:17).

Will you allow God to strengthen your inadequacies?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Dale Ridge church of Christ in Roanoke, Virginia.

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