The Scriptorium

A Test in a Deserted Place

Are we ready for the daily tests that come our way? Matthew 14.13-21

Matthew 14: Son of God (3)

Pray Psalm 138.1-3.
I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.

Sing Psalm 138.1-3.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
I will give You thanks and praise You, God of gods, with all my heart.
I will bow before Your temple, grateful praise to You impart.
For Your Name and for Your glory, You have magnified Your Word!

Read Matthew 14.1-21; meditate on verses 13-21.

1. How did Jesus show His compassion for the people (cf. also Mk. 6.34)?

2. What does this story tell us about the sovereign power of Jesus?

Throughout the remainder of this chapter, Jesus will demonstrate in extraordinary ways that He is Who He claims to be: God, and the Son of God.

Upon learning of John’s death, Jesus felt the need to be alone. So he departed by boat to go to a deserted place, to be alone with His Father (v. 13). The people heard about this, and they followed Him to His place of retreat. We might think Jesus was annoyed by this; He was not. When He saw the assembling crowds, He had compassion on them. Mark tells us that He first began to teach them many things (Mk. 6.34). This must have gone on throughout the better part of the day.

But when evening came, the disciples, thinking of the wellbeing of the people, urged Jesus to send them away, so they could find something to eat (v. 15). Jesus’ reply startled the disciples. We know this from Philip’s response when Jesus asked where they might find bread to feed the people (Jn. 6.7). Philip said, in effect, the resources aren’t there. Pop quiz, Philip: F.

Andrew weighed in next: A kid has some loaves and fish, but that won’t even begin to feed this throng. Andrew: F.

How many times, in how many ways, does Jesus “test” us during the day, giving us opportunity after opportunity to look to Him, rest in Him, rejoice in Him, and go forward in faith? How many pop quizzes do we fail each day, because we forget that Jesus is God?

Jesus took the available resources in hand, arranged the people in groups of fifty for easier serving (Lk. 9.14), and began to do what He as God does every day: create the world anew. He began to break the bread and fish, and He kept breaking them and giving them to His disciples to pass around, until everyone had all they could eat. Then His disciples gathered up leftovers more than the initial offering (v. 20). Five thousand men, plus women and children, ate until they were full, as the Creator of all things fed them from His compassionate heart.

Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Creator. Jesus is the sovereign God. As amazing as this miracle of the loaves and fishes is, it’s the sort of thing Jesus does every day. The vast creation has no inherent power to keep itself going or even to continue in existence. As Jonathan Edwards explained, everything that is continues to exist because, in a certain sense, Jesus creates it new every moment, speaking to and upholding the entire cosmos by His eternal Word of power (Heb. 1.3).

For He is God.

1. What does it mean to have compassion on someone? How can we tell when we have compassion on others?

2. What would be some examples of ways Jesus “tests” us throughout the day, to encourage us to trust Him? How can we make sure we’re ready for these quizzes, and that we will pass them?

3. How does Jesus want to use you to bring His blessings to people today? Are you ready?

Although this was a deserted place, he that is here is ready to feed the world. The one who is speaking to you is not subject to time, even though “the day is now over.”
John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 49.1

Lord, help me to trust You in every situation, especially today as I…

Pray Psalm 138.4-8.
Praise God for His daily provision: He will take care of all that concerns you. Thank Him for His mercy and faithfulness.

Sing Psalm 138.4-8.
Psalm 138.4-8 (Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
On the day I called You answered, made me bold within my soul.
When I walk in troubled places, You revive and make me whole.
For Your hand will gently shield me, and my fearsome foes control.

All the kings of earth will praise You when Your words of truth they hear.
Of Your ways, of Your great glory, gladly they will loudly cheer.
For the proud shall not approach You, yet You hold the lowly dear.

Your Right Hand will save and keep me; all I need You will supply.
For Your love is everlasting, reaching from beyond the sky.
You will not forsake or leave me; You will save me when I cry.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore