Don’t Miss Jesus
August 07, 2022 | Jess Rainer
Passage: Matthew 13:53-14:21
We reach another turning point in the life and ministry of Jesus. The parables that Jesus taught in Matthew 13 are now shown to be reality in Matthew 14 and following. In fact, we’ll see 8 situations where the parable of the soils come to life as people are confronted with the reality of who Jesus is. In the book of Matthew, the author (Matthew) focuses on demonstrating that Jesus is indeed the King of kings. Matthew has a clear theme of the kingdom of God throughout his gospel account. But now, Matthew shifts from the kingdom to the King. Just as the original readers of this gospel account were faced to answer the question, “Who is Jesus,” so we are. In just a few chapters, Jesus will ask Peter, “Who do you say I am?”
Over the next 7 weeks, that’s the underlying question we are going to answer. Who do you say Jesus is? Is He crazy? Is He nothing but a liar? Or is He the King of all kings? Today, we are looking at three different situations where people answered that question to lead them to miss Jesus. I don’t want you to do the same. Here’s my challenge to you this morning: Don’t miss Jesus. We are going to cover a lot of ground today, so I’m just going to read the first part of our passage. We’ll read the rest as we get to it. Three different groups had three different reasons they missed Jesus.
1) Don’t let the power of unbelief cause you miss Jesus. (vs. 13:53-58) Jesus had spent about a year in Capernaum and we see him depart now. 53 When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. Jesus would not return back to this city expect when He was passing through. We know that a lot of Capernaum would turn to false gods. Now, with about a year left before Jesus goes to the cross, Jesus returns his hometown. Jesus goes to the synagogue to teach and look at the reaction of the people. You may remember the last time Jesus was in His hometown, He exposed the people’s hypocrisy and they wanted to kill Him. Now’s He back and their memory wasn’t short-lived. 54 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” 55 Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56 All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” Now, they did notice that something was different with Jesus. They saw His wisdom and miraculous powers. But they still couldn’t past the fact that He was still the “carpenter’s son”. They saw Jesus as the ordinary boy around the corner.
The problem is that they choose to keep their past memory of Jesus instead of seeing who Jesus was right in front of them. Look at what verse 57 and 58 says: 57 And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” 58 And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief. Unbelief blurs the obvious. The people in Nazareth had all the evidence in front of them. They didn’t WANT to believe. True seekers of Jesus will take the evidence to allow it to draw them closer to Jesus. Those with closed hearts allow the evidence to push them further from Jesus. Satan tells you to hoard your unbelief; Jesus wants you to divulge your unbelief. We think that Jesus will respond harshly if we tell Him that we struggle to believe in Him. But that’s far from the case. Look at Mark 9:19-24: 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
Some of you are using your unbelief as a means to keep Jesus away. As a means to miss Jesus. Open up your heart a little and let this small question enter: “Could Jesus really be the Savior of the world?” And instead of pushing Jesus away, take your unbelief to Him. Open up to the possibility that Jesus may be actually who He says He is. Some of you have walked down the path of unbelief and have taken hold of the evidence, but you are still missing Jesus? Why’s that? You’re afraid of what it means if you declare Jesus as the Messiah.
2) Don’t let the power of fear cause you miss Jesus. (vs. 14:1-12) Matthew takes us on a little bit of detour starting in chapter 14. Matthew pulls Herod Antipas into the story. Herod Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was one who tried to kill Jesus as an infant/toddler when he ordered the massacre of Bethlehem boys. The apple didn’t fall to far from the tree with Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas hears about Jesus and has a freak out moment. 14 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, 2 he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” Why did Herod freak out? Matthew provides the back story for you. It’s a flashback of events. Allow me to paraphrase verses 3 through 12 for you. Herod had John the Baptist arrested because he called out Herod’s wife (Herodias) and their evil and illegitimate marriage. Herod was afraid to sentence John to death because he feared what the people would do because he was so loved. Well, one night, Herod and his buddies were drunk. Herod’s stepdaughter did a seductive dance for them and he promised to give her whatever she wanted. Herodias, in her evil nature, told her daughter to have John the Baptist executed. Herod brought John the Baptist’s head on a tray to them.
It’s evident that this past event stuck with Herod. When Herod heard about Jesus, he went through this process of trying to figure out who Jesus was. In Luke 9, we see Herod in his confusion. 7 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. 8 Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead. 9 “I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see him. Herod’s guilt and fear pushed him to the point where he was convinced that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Now, we can look at this situation and go, “He’s just evil and crazy.” But fear has the power to change what we see. Fear alters what’s real. For Herod, the fear of something happening to him or his power caused him to believe Jesus was John the Baptist. He feared his wife. He feared his throne. He feared his peers. He feared his reputation. And the fear of losing something caused him to not fear God. Fear caused him to miss Jesus.
Fear will cause to do two things with Jesus: 1) What are you afraid will happen if you declare Jesus as King? “Jess, I might lose my friends or my family or my comfort or my addiction.” And I get that. I get the reality of what it means to lose something or someone that means so much to you. But you lose so much more without Jesus. 2) Or is fear causing some of you to not let the world know that you have declared Jesus as King? I was having a conversation with someone in my office this week and I was given the reminder and encouragement about the importance of my faith being visible and prominent. When the Holy Spirit prompts you to share Christ, do it.
Jesus’ hometown let their unbelief miss Jesus. Herod’s fear missed Jesus. We end with a miracle and a story that you think would not lend itself to missing Jesus. But we see a large group of people curious about Jesus, but they still missed Him. Don’t let the power of curiosity cause you miss Jesus.
3) Don’t let the power of curiosity cause you miss Jesus. (vs. 14:13-21) If you have been around the Bible for any significant amount of time, there are some stories that you know. The miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is one of those stories. It’s the only miracle recorded in all 4 gospels. We pick up the story starting in 14:13. 13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” 17 “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. 18 “Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Jesus took 5 loaves and two fish and used it to feed way more than 5,000 people. There were 5,000 men. If you add in the women and children mentioned in verse 21, it’s possible there were up to 25,000 people there. Somehow, someway, the 5 loaves and 2 fish kept multiplying – so much there were 12 baskets left over. When we read this miracle, we can view it from 3 possible perspectives:
1) From Jesus - We see Jesus is compassionate to the crowds. We see his power and authority. We see his declaration as the Messiah.
2) From the disciples - Which, we will come back next week and touch on this because it goes directly into the next miracle of Jesus walking on water. Matthew writes with the emphasis on what this miracle did for the disciples. Jesus had told the disciples, “You feed them.”
3) From the crowd - That’s where I want us to focus. Put yourself in that crowd that day. Thaddeus comes around to you and the few thousand around you. “Guys, you don’t need to go home. We are going to provide dinner for you. Give us a few minutes to figure it out. By the way, does anybody have any food with them?” “Great news! We found a boy who had 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Dinner will be served soon!” And then you see Thaddeus walking over with his basket. He reaches in and gives your family their own loaf of bread and own fish. He does it again and again for the thousands around you. He even comes around for seconds. Before you know it, you’re stuffed and there’s more food left over.
What would have been your reaction? Now, take away the knowledge you have by being able to look back on history. When you’ve seen a miracle done today, did you even recognize it? Did you chalk it up to magic, coincidence, or even science? The crowds that day, for the most part, saw it as a magic trick. They were focused on the curiosity of Jesus that they failed to see the authenticity of Jesus. Curiosity distracts from authenticity. How do we know that? In John 6, we see that only a small amount from the crowd actually sought out Jesus the next day. The others went home with full stomachs, but spiritually empty.
Some want the effects of Jesus without Jesus Himself. They want Jesus to fit into their lives, not transform their lives. “Jesus, just do this in my life, but you can’t have ownership of my life.” And that is a dangerous place to live because you think by getting the effects of Jesus you are getting Jesus. It’s good to let curiosity drive you to Jesus. It’s not okay to let curiosity keep you from embracing Jesus. At some point, you must be authentic with Jesus. Getting the effects of Jesus begins with submitting your life to Jesus.
What’s keeping you from embracing Jesus? What’s causing you to keep missing Jesus? Don’t miss Jesus. He’s right in front of you. The stories of those who believed in Jesus in the Bible are endless. Just read Hebrews 11. Let’s find our names among those in this chapter than those who missed Jesus.
Who Is This Man? The Inescapable Power of Jesus is a series that examines aspects of Jesus’s character. His character is revealed by his interactions with his disciples, with those who need healing, and even with children. In these interactions, Jesus shows that his heart is for all people, even (perhaps especially) those outside the traditional community. Through words difficult and caring, Jesus declares that his people should trust in him and participate in his work, for the sake of their neighbors.