And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said to him, Send the multitude away…
This miracle of our Lord, meeting as it did the present bodily necessities of the multitude about him, stands for ever as a picture and parable of the far more wonderful and the gloriously bountiful provision which the Saviour of mankind has made for the deeper necessities of our race.
I. OUR HOLY SOLICITUDE FOR THE SPIRITUALLY DESTITUTE. There is a note of true sympathy in the language of the disciples (ver. 12; see Mark 6:35, 36). They were concerned to think of that great number of people, among whom were "women and children" (Matthew 14:21), having gone so long without food, and being "in a desert place" where none could be obtained. How strong and keen should be our sympathy with those who are spiritually destitute; who have received from God a nature with immeasurable capacities, with profound cravings for that which is eternally true and divinely good, and who "have nothing to eat"! No solicitude for hungering human hearts can be extravagant; it is only too common to be guiltily and pitifully unconcerned. And if the stage of spiritual hunger and thirst should have passed into that of spiritual unconsciousness, that is one degree (and a large degree too) more deplorable, for it is one stage nearer to spiritual death. We do well to pity the multitudes at home and abroad who might be and who should be living on Divine and everlasting truth, but who are pining and perishing on miserable husks, - on errors, on superstitions, on morbid fancies, on low ambitions, on unsatisfying and perhaps demoralizing pleasures.
II. THE APPARENT INADEQUACY OF THE DIVINE PROVISION. Well may the disciples, not yet enlightened as to their Master's purpose, regard "five loaves and two fishes" as hopelessly inadequate to the occasion. So to human judgment they seemed. Not less strikingly disproportioned must the Divine provision for man's higher necessities have seemed to those who first regarded it. What was it? It was, in the language of our Lord recorded a few verses on in this chapter (ver. 22), "the Son of man suffering many things, being rejected.., and slain, and being raised the third day." A crucified and restored Messiah was to be offered as the Bread of life to a hungering world! Would this satisfy the needs of all mankind - of Jew and Gentile, of barbarian and cultured, of bond and free, of man and woman? Could One that seemed to fail, whose cause was all but extinguished in obloquy and desertion, be the Redeemer of mankind? It was unlikely in the last degree; speaking after the manner of men, it was impossible! And the machinery, too, the instrumentality by which this strange provision was to be conveyed to all human souls everywhere and through all generations, was that not equally inadequate? A few "unlearned and ignorant men," a few earnest and true but obscure and uninfluential women, - could they establish and perpetuate this new system? could they pass on these scanty provisions to the waiting and perishing multitude? How hopeless! how impossible! Yet see -
III. ITS PROVED SUFFICIENCY. As those five loaves and two fishes, under the multiplying hand of Christ, proved to be far more than enough for the thousands who partook of them, so is the provision in the gospel of Christ for the needs of man found to be all-sufficient. In a once-crucified and now exalted Saviour we have One in whom is found:
1. Pardon for every sin and for every repentant sinner.
2. Admission, instant and full, to the presence and favour of God.
3. A source of purity of heart, and excellency, and even nobility, of life.
4. Comfort in all the sorrows and privations of our earthly course.
5. Peace and hope in death.
6. A glorious immortality.
Well does this great Benefactor say, "I am come that ye might have life, and, have it more abundantly. The provision is more than equal to the necessity; there is a marvellous overflow of truth and grace. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place.
WEB: The day began to wear away; and the twelve came, and said to him, "Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and farms, and lodge, and get food, for we are here in a deserted place."