For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. Rom. 5,6



Matthew 14:13-21

   13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves." 16 But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!" 17 They said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." 18 And He said, "Bring them here to Me." 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.”

   “Now when Jesus heard about John.” This is how this passage starts.

   What did Jesus hear - and what made Him want to be by Himself for a little while? Yes, because John the baptizer was beheaded and buried.
   Two questions concerning this: How could the Lord allow such a terrible and debasing end to the life to a loved servant? One who had “been willing to go,” as we might say. And seen from the subject that has gather us now (church growth): How could He afford to lose someone so clever and devoted preacher and witness as John? He was the one who shouted out one of the most known and used quotations from the Bible, to the whole people: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
   There will probably be a lot of to-the-point formulations in this sermon, but I think that is what it takes.
   We can ask: Are those who go against the Word of God afraid to use strong words and expressions? No, we know that they are not. We who calls ourselves believers - God’s people – we are also called to encourage each other. To strengthen the courage in people. But can anyone read the gospels – the story about Jesus and the disciples without noticing that there also is a courage in man that Jesus wants to put to death! It is the courage that was born on the day of the fall, when man fell for the serpents – notice: the serpents - seduction: “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen.3:5). “You will be…” That is where the light lies over our old self for everyone who wants to see. The question is whether you want to see. Want to see, when the road gets narrow and the gate contracted. It is so contracted that our old self cannot come through.
   Daniel prophesies based on the visions God has given him, about a time on earth when “many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” (Dan. 12:4).
   Many will go back and forth. In other words, there shall be a huge and widespread travel activity. Does it remind us of our time? There are whole nations that depend on this travel inclination of ours. It is called the tourist industry. And this time shall also be affected by one more thing: Knowledge shall become huge. Isn’t it exactly this we boast about in our time? But this time the Lord calls by the prophet for “The end times!”
   We have become very clever today – competent in many areas, if we choose to look away from the moral aspect. It is not hard to spot man from the day of the fall, man who has fallen away from God when it comes to that. But apart from that! We know so much, and do not give up without results. You can just read about in many an advertisement in the paper – what we believe in – there they look for young sanguine people with “go for it will” and a winner instinct. One who is focused on results, and goes for it! But the problem – and I call it a problem – is that we pull this into the kingdom of God. Or that we try to pull this into the kingdom of God. But there is one who guards the gate you see!
   We hear from the Scripture that He does great and inscrutable things (Job 9:10) - and that His understanding is inscrutable. (Is. 40:28). You know the expression: “The Lords ways are inscrutable,” or: “The Lord moves in mysterious ways.” And then once more a question for you: Who wants to begin and explore the inscrutable! This word should make you bow your neck and say: There are things that are impossible for us. But man does not want to until it has challenged the inscrutable one!
   Our ancestors, they put up with this – mostly all at least – they said: The Lords ways are inscrutable, and settled with it. It is worse today, in the last rebellious time, when the opposition against the Lord and His ways will culminate. Also there where you would least expect it!
   We mentioned John the baptizer’s death. We also meet this in our time - people whom we considered as important in the Lords vineyard are taken away – sometime sudden – in their best age. We dear to say that they are taken away before time. But does not God act, according to His word, or to set times? Did John go into eternity before time? Did the Lord slip here? Did He have to resort to a plan B?
   The most humble of us, often say by such circumstances: God can certainly afford a lot! Well, maybe they were not so important after all? Maybe none of us are? Maybe there is only one who is important in this context? That should not be the case, should it? Maybe there is only one who can do something!
   What do you say who knows how to do things - if you are here now?
   In a parallel passage to ours in the gospel of John it says that Jesus asks Philip for advice. But then it is added, and notices carefully: “This He was saying to test him.” Maybe He is testing you right now! But it does not stop with this, and we get a glimpse into the inscrutable one’s thoughts: “For He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” (John 6:6).
   Has it ever struck you that He can do something without your shrewdness and help? Coming out from what was nothing!
   Jesus walked around with His disciples down there in Israel – in Bethlehem, in Jerusalem, in Capernaum, Bethsaida etc., And we are now gathered in Luster, Norway. How far is it down there? If you go by plane you get surprised how short time it takes to get there. If you go by car - how many overnight stops do you need? Not many! The youngest and fittest here can take their bikes and cycle down there! But how long did the Gospel take to reach our coasts? Was it approximately 900 years? And when it finally reached here, it took many hundred years with such a lawful Christianity understanding that we would back away from it immediately. Before the great revivals came with Hans Nielsen Hauge, and then by C.O. Roseninus – the rosenian revival as we generally call it – the blessed! But then we have almost reached our time! And also now, good 2000 years after the cross of Christ, there are great amount of people who have not heard it!
   What is this really? Is this caused by people not being willing enough, or clever enough, to go with the Gospel? Or has it something to do with the inscrutable? Can you answer that? Or are you just standing open-mouthed - as the disciples probably did facing Jesus’ bread wonder - and must say as David: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Ps. 139:6). David was an anointed prophet and a witness of the Lord!
   I must personally say: Lord, let your will be done, in heaven as it is on earth! And can you use something like me, I am here.
   But isn’t this determinism? What will happen, will happen. Then we can all put our hands on our lap, because the Lord will make it happen anyway. No, when the time was up the Lord took out a Luther, a Hauge, a Rosenius, and those who have travelled around our lengthy country, and incidentally in the whole world with a true and saving message! But could anyone anticipate anything? Could anyone reason out anything to revival and life? Could anyone start something, before the Lord bowed down and said: Now!
   The Lord bowed down to a young Jewish girl one day: You are going to give birth to the Savior! Had she decided anything? No, then it would not have been the Saviors birth, but a bondsman’s - like it happened in Sarah and Abraham’s case, when they anticipate the eventful day: Then Ishmael – and not the promised son Isaac – was born!
   And this is how they have been chosen by the Lord the whole time. As you read among others about Jeremiah and Paul: From the mother’s womb
   You who stand in front of the ranks today, if you are here: Does this concern you too? Are you rightfully called to the work you are in? Because if you are not, everything will go wrong! You will be a part of leading the unsaved souls longer away from the Lord, and the goal He has set for them, than they were before they met and listened to you. Because the Lord has – and that is according to His own word - not much problem with getting tax collectors and prostitutes in the kingdom of God, as He has with getting pious and self righteous people. (Matthew 21:31).
   We do - without being aware of it ourselves - the same thing - the same as the disciple in our passage does. What does he say?: “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
   He saw accordingly the solution in that people went away from Jesus! And further: That they got hold of necessary food, with what they owned themselves! He did not mean it like that. But that was the result. It was good that Jesus had other thoughts about it, right?
   I have not solved any puzzles with this I guess - but think if it has gotten one or another to turn in their helplessness to Him who sees the solution in every puzzle! I.e.: To turn the right way. Turn to Him who is inscrutable, and therefore also has inscrutable ways.
   It is called in one of our weel known chapel songs: “We become so small with Jesus, that is what He want us to be.” Has it happened with one of us in the meeting with this inscrutable and puzzling which is called God’s kingdom and its ways - yes, then it is at least a start, a beginning! Because I am afraid of what we see growing in Christians - or shall we rather say: religious - circuits today, is because the beginning has been wrong. It has not happened by a birth, by God, but by fleshly will, by the will of man!
   By His foot - in His presence - all our own is burned up! We do not come out from there with a song saying we are valuable, but a song about Jesus blood who cleanses from all sin - with a testimony that His ways are inscrutable! He did what was impossible: He saved me!
   Do you have any experience of this? Or do you go right into the strife, without knowing the truth? Then the tragedy becomes sky-high bigger for every soul you manage to add to your church!
   I have not spoken so much about the passage we had as our starting point, you might say. I know that - not like you had expected I guess. And as much: I have not spoken about anything else than what you see there. If you do not see that then read the passage about the bread wonder in the gospels over and over again, till the Lord opens your eyes for the message that really lies there.
   The Christian flocks are so engaged with signs and wonders and God’s power and all these miraculous and odd things today, but in the Scripture we see that the revelation of His power always goes hand in hand with the revelation of our powerlessness.
   Is that the reason why we do not see much of a true revival in our time?
   Have I discouraged you now? I hope that that is the courage that you have to lose, which has had an impact. Because there are no reason to be disheartened for the one who sits by the Lords feet! He reads about Jesus: “Because He knew Himself what He wanted to do.”


Holy Bible New American Standard Version
Translator: Benedicte H.Smart