top of page

He Cares | Matthew 14-16

As preached by Zach Thompson.


"In His grace, God will cut off sin from us, sometimes painfully."


  1. Jesus is filled with power and compassion.

  2. Jesus patiently shapes those who believe in him.

  3. Jesus is building His church.


Matthew 14-16


Good morning Christ Fellowship.


If you haven’t turned there yet, we will be in the book of Matthew again this morning, and we’ll cover chapters 14 to 16. 


Last time in Matthew, we looked at chapter 13, where Jesus used parables to paint a picture of what the kingdom of God would be like, and in our chapters this week, those parables come to life as Jesus starts. 


For our public reading this morning, we are going to start in Matthew 14:13, then we’ll read some other select passages. 


If you are able, would you please stand in honor of the reading of God’s word? 


Matthew 14:13-36

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. 

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well. 


Matthew 15:21-28

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.


Matthew 16:13-28

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 


21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 


24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” 


Let's pray.


Have you ever learned something new about someone, and it changed how you thought about that person? I’m sure that you’ve experienced this before. 


A few years ago, I was at Timothy’s house. This was before most of our church members were with us, and we had just finished gathering for worship in Timothy’s living room. I can’t remember why I had my computer out, but I was feeling nostalgic, so I turned on a Relient K song. And to my shock, Timothy knew all of the words. And in that moment, he broke a box that I had put him in. Here was a man who wore brown leather shoes and probably read Robert’s Rules of Order by firelight after the kids went to bed, and in this moment, I realized that somewhere, deep down in his past, he was punk. 


That’s mostly a joke, but I think we’ve all had experiences like this, where a single interaction changes the things that we assume about someone. 


In our text today, Jesus is showing the disciples things about himself that are causing them to constantly reevaluate who they thought he was. They think they understand him, and they put him in a box, then Jesus does something that breaks the box. 


And Jesus is doing this intentionally. He is performing miracles and he is speaking to Pharisees and Gentiles, all so that they would see and learn. 


He is shaping them for his kingdom. 


And He is shaping them by showing them who he is. So for our time today, I want to simply point out some of what Jesus was revealing about himself to the disciples.


  1. Jesus is filled with power and compassion.


We see this throughout our passage today, but we can see it really clearly in chapter 14. We read this in our public reading. 


Jesus hears about John the Baptist’s death. So he gets in a boat and heads out onto the lake just to get away, and he goes to a place that is desolate so that he can have some genuine time alone to grieve and pray. 


But when he comes to shore, there is a massive crowd waiting for him. 


Imagine this with me. Your close family member is murdered. And you try to get away to spend some time alone, but when you get to your destination, there are thousands of people waiting to do stuff for them.


Thousands. It’s overwhelming when you stop and think about it. 


How would you respond? I think that my first inclination would be to keep going down the lake and try to avoid everyone as much as I can, but what does Jesus do? Look in 14:14. “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” He had compassion. Even in the midst of grief and the desire to get away, he cared for them. 


And it didn’t stop there. His compassion drove him to exhibit his power in a way that he hadn’t before. He multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed 5,000 men, and that isn’t counting the women and children. This was probably around 10,000 people. His compassion compels him to use his power. 


Then he sends the disciples out on the lake ahead of him, and during a storm, he literally walks on the water to them, and Peter has this shining moment of faith where at the word of Jesus, he steps out onto the water, but after walking on it for just a moment, we see 14:30. “When he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” He is filled with power and compassion. 


And after this, they worship him, and he accepts their worship! If Jesus accepts their worship, then he is either a blasphemer or he is the God who is worthy of worship. 


Then when they cross the lake, they get to Gennesaaret, and apparently, the story about the woman who touched the fringe of Jesus’ garment had gotten around, because everyone there wanted to touch his clothes, and in 14:36, it says that “as many as touched it were made well.” 


Then after speaking to the Pharisees, he withdraws into Gentile territory and he does the same things! He feeds thousands. He heals the masses. 


In all of these verses, it’s so clear. Jesus is filled with power and compassion. He is perfectly able to do anything, and he is filled with compassion that will set aside his own energy and desires for the sake of others. 


And this is what I want us to see in this first point today. This Jesus in this text–this is the real Jesus. If your faith is in Christ, then this is the Jesus that you believe in. 


We have this tendency to read things in the Bible and immediately waive it off because we know we are supposed to believe it. But then when it really matters that we believe it, we forget. 


Jesus is still full of power and compassion. He never stopped. 


It’s so easy to get caught up in fear and doubt and let lies dictate what we think about Jesus.


When you consider your finances or your workload or some other thing, are you filled with anxiety? Do you know what anxiety is? Anxiety is what happens when we look at our circumstances and think about our own abilities rather than God’s. Anxiety is what happens when we fixate on the lie that God doesn’t care. 


Is God beckoning you toward some kind of faithfulness that feels impossible right now?


Jesus is full of power and compassion. Seek the kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added to you. 


Or consider another example. You might think, “If I confess my sin, I’m going to be cast out. I’ll be ashamed and alone and I’ll be useless to Jesus. He would despise me along with everyone else. So I’ll hold it in and put on a show.”


It’s a lie. 


Jesus is full of power and compassion. If you feel the conviction of sin, that is the power of Christ at work in you. In the moment, it might feel like a sinking dread, but that’s because you feel bad and you don’t know how to interpret your emotions. In those moments, Jesus is beckoning you to himself. Come to him without pretense and call out like Peter, “Lord, Save me!” His hand is there. 


Do you see Jesus as a hard taskmaster? Are you scared of what he might do if you really open yourself up to him? The author of Hebrews tells us that “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward since he himself is beset with weakness.” 


Jesus understands your weakness, and as he looks at you, he has mercy in his eyes. 


He is filled with power and compassion.


Second,

  1. Jesus patiently shapes those who believe in Him.


Do you ever feel like you are a lost cause? Like God wasted his time on you and you should just give in. God doesn’t see it that way. Jesus doesn’t treat his people that way. 


This is all throughout our text today. There are two examples here. The Canaanite woman is one, but we won’t be able to spend much time on her. We will spend most of our time on the disciples since they are all over the text. 


And when I say that they are all over the text, I mean that over and over, they swing and they miss. 


Back at the feeding of the 5,000, they try to send the people away. Then Peter seems bold as he walks on the water, then he gets scared and he sinks. Jesus calls him, “O you of little faith.”


Then when Jesus goes head to head with the Pharisees in 15:1-20, these disciples have no idea what is going on. Jesus makes a comment that was supposed to be super clear– that what comes out of the mouth defiles a person, not what they put in. And the disciples have no idea what’s happening. Look in 15:15, “But Peter said to him, Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?” Then he explains that sin is what defiles you. 


These are the men who have been with Jesus through all of his sermons and ministry and parables and secret explanations of those parables, and they have no idea what is going on. 


Then in 15:23, they try to send away the Canaanite woman because she was irritating. 


Then in 15:33, they have an opportunity. They know that Jesus can multiply food by his power, and they have 4,000 people in front of them. Jesus tells them that he wants to feed the crowd, and what do the disciples say? Look in 15:33, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” Instead of having compassion for them and trusting the power of Jesus, they just default to their own power. They aren’t thinking in light of what Jesus can do. They are thinking in light of what they can do. 


Then at the beginning of chapter 16, the Pharisees and Sadducees try to test Jesus by asking for a sign, and he stiff-arms them because they aren’t asking in faith. After this, Jesus warns the disciples in 16:7, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 


When Jesus said this, he was making a reference to a parable from chapter 13. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”


So there is kingdom leaven and there is Pharisee leaven. And different types of leaven can’t coexist. 


Did you know that if you put normal baking yeast in a jar of sourdough starter, the yeast will eat the sourdough? They can’t coexist. One is dangerous to the other. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, their unbelief will do harm to your soul. You can’t serve God and the world, so be on guard against false teaching. That’s what Jesus was communicating.


But these guys were all hungry because they forgot to bring bread, so they think that Jesus is talking about actual bread, and they are super confused. “Jesus is mad because we forgot to bring bread.” Then look in verse 8. But Jesus aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”


These guys are struggling. They aren’t picking up on the fact that Jesus is full of compassion and power. They keep trying to send people away because they are inconvenient or they keep misunderstanding what Jesus says because they forget what he has already said


It’s all over the place. The disciples keep falling on their faces. 


But in all of this, Jesus doesn’t abandon them. They may be dense and forgetful, but they are his. He is patient with them, and in all of these things, he is shaping them to be the first men who will take the gospel to the nations. 


There is something incredibly comforting about this. Isn’t there? 


It’s easy to pick on the disciples, but the reality is that we are just as dense. We are just as forgetful. Just as selfish. 


I’ve never seen Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. I’ve heard that it’s beautiful. Made of Carrera marble, this thing took 3 years of painstaking work. They say that it started out as a block of marble, and Michelangelo didn’t see it as sculpting the marble. He saw it as releasing the statue that was already inside of the marble. 


This is how sanctification works. If you are in Christ, then you are counted as righteous in the eyes of God. Once, you were spiritually dead, but now you are alive. But God doesn’t give you new life and just leave you there. 


He shapes you. And he chisels at you so that you’ll be shaped more and more in the image of Christ. Listen, when God sanctifies you, he isn’t unlocking your hidden potential. You are a block of marble. As he chisels at you, he isn’t trying to give you your best life now. He is shaping you into the image of Christ. Sanctification doesn’t mean that you are the best version of yourself. It means that you are being made more like Christ. 


And we have this promise of God that when he appears, we’ll be like him. We’ll see him as he is. We have this guarantee that there is a day when we won’t need more chiseling because we’ll be perfected in Christ. 


But maybe you don’t feel like you relate to the statue. Maybe you feel more like a starfish. Did you know that there are some species of starfish that you can cut off their arm, and if they have enough food in that arm, then they can regrow their entire body using the food in that arm? They can regrow a mouth so that they can eat more food. 


Do you feel like you should be past this already? This sin that keeps cropping up. In his grace, God cuts it off, and then years down the road, you have that arm again, and again, you need surgery. You need to amputate. 


Why do I still struggle with depression? Why does lust keep cropping up in my heart? Why do I keep falling into patterns of seclusion and selfishness? I thought I was done with this years ago. God help me. 


We can say with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”


This is sanctification. Our Lord is patient with us, and we can call to him in our weakness, and say Lord save me. Son of David, have mercy on me. 


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This isn’t just a promise for when you start the Christian life. It’s a promise for the entire thing. 


Until we come into glory before the throne of God, it will always be a battle. But until that day, we have this promise…


Our third point.


  1. Jesus is building his church. 


With all of the uncertainties in the world and all of our weakness, and every other thing that would come against us, we have this promise. Jesus is building his church. 


It’s not you. It’s not Peter. It’s not that Youtube preacher. It’s Jesus. 


This is in chapter 16 when Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ. Look in 16:15, “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 


Now, there is a lot to say about these verses, and I’m not going to say all of it. Roman Catholics think this is the seed of legitimacy for the Pope, and Protestants tend to try and skirt this by saying yes, Peter’s name means rock, but Jesus is actually talking about himself here when he talks about a rock. 


But I think we have to square both of these with text. The natural reading of this text is that Jesus is talking about Peter. Peter and his confession of Jesus as the Christ is the rock on which Jesus would build his church. And if you look in the book of Acts, you see Peter living this out. He preaches at Pentecost. He leads the church to baptize Gentiles after Cornelius. He loses Ananias and Sapphira. He operates with real authority. But then he disappears, and you see the Holy Spirit continuing to guide the work of the church. 


The church has this authority, not just Peter. Not just Peter’s position. 


Jesus is making a specific statement about Peter here, but if we caught up on Peter, we’ll miss the main point. Jesus is the one building his church. “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.”


And this gets clearer in the next section. It becomes clear why Jesus didn’t want them to tell people he was the Messiah. It was because they had no idea what it actually meant. 


Look in 16:21. “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 


Jesus just praised this guy for his confession of faith, and now he is calling him Satan. Why? 


Because Jesus is building his church. Jesus came to set the foundation of his church through his life and death and resurrection. This was his work here. To reconcile people to God by taking their sin and giving them his righteousness.


But Peter didn’t understand. He tried to domesticate Jesus by keeping him focused on Peter’s idea of what was best. 


It’s another example of Jesus patiently shaping his disciples. 


Do you find that God’s idea of what is best is different than your own ideas? 


Do you look at your life with disappointment? Maybe you had such high hopes for what you would become. You saw such great ways that God would use you. But looking back at the last ten years, it’s filled with pain and disappointment and mundane circumstances.


If you feel that way, then look at what Jesus says in verse 24.


24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” 


“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”


We are not given the promise that following Jesus will be easy. We aren’t promised that we will get praised along the way. We aren’t promised that it will be exciting.  


We are given the promise that it will be worth it.


You may not see how he is working in you, but Jesus is filled with power and compassion. He is patiently shaping you. And He is the one who is building his church. 


So knowing that he is doing all of this, rest in him. And set your mind on the things of God as you look to that day when “the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father.” 


Let’s pray. 

bottom of page