In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him, and said to them,…
It could hardly have been without some special reason that the same miracle should have been worked twice by Christ with scarcely any variation of detail, and twice recorded with so very great attention to detail. In each case, too, Christ Himself drew from the miracle teaching of the highest importance. Notice these points of similarity.
I. IN EACH CASE JESUS, BEHOLDING THE MULTITUDE OF PEOPLE, HAS COMPASSION ON THEM. That is the origin and source of help for man. Because of His compassion —
1. He came from heaven to earth to bring to famishing men the Bread of Life.
2. He sends to us His Church, by and through the ministry of which He gives us all the means of grace. He takes just what we have, water, bread, wine — all insufficient of themselves — and by His power makes them more than sufficient for our needs.
3. He looks at us not in the mass, but one by one. It is the individual soul which is the factor in the mind of God.
II. IN EACH CASE, BEFORE WORKING THE MIRACLE, HE DRAWS FROM THE DISCIPLES A DECLARATION OF THEIR INABILITY TO SUPPLY UNASSISTED THAT WHICH WAS NEEDED.
III. IN EACH CASE HE TAKES, NEVERTHELESS, THAT WHICH THEY HAVE, AND MAKES IT SUFFICIENT. "How many loaves have ye?" "Seven."
1. The gift of baptismal grace — the germ of all graces.
2. The seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit, bestowed in confirmation.
3. The Holy Communion.
4. All the means of grace. The Word of God. Opportunities of public worship.
5. The power of repentance.
6. The gift of prayer.
7. The ministry of the Church.So that we have, after all, a great deal: if we use these gifts faithfully, by God's blessing they will more than suffice for the wants of our souls.
IV. IN EACH CASE HE COMMANDED THE MULTITUDE TO SIT DOWN. We must come to receive God's blessing obediently, quietly, calmly. Need of this lesson in a busy, energetic age, so restless and so excited. We need more repose of mind and character. It is good to be "up and doing," but there are times when it is well for us to sit still. The life most free from feverish excitement is the life most likely to profit by God's gifts.
1. "Sit down" before you say your prayers, if you would really have them answered. Recall your thoughts, be patient and quiet and humble, try to remember to Whom you are about to speak, and what it is you are going to ask, what you really need.
2. "Sit down" before your acts of public worship. Let there be more restfulness about your worship, more repose of thought, more concentration of thought on what you are about to do.
3. "Sit down" before each communion you make (1 Corinthians 11:28).
(1) Let me calmly, honestly, and thoughtfully look into my past life, especially examining that part of it that has been lived since my last communion.
(2) Let me see where I am, and what I am.
(3) Let me try my best to see my sins as they really are, and as they are recorded in God's book.
(4) Let me truly repent of past sins, and make my humble confession to God, honestly purposing amendment of life.
V. IN EACH CASE, EITHER AT HIS COMMAND OR WITH HIS APPROVAL, THE FRAGMENTS ARE GATHERED UP. God's gifts, whether temporal or spiritual, are never to be wasted. He gives with a splendid liberality, but only in order that His gifts may be used. Gather up —
1. Fragments of time.
2. Fragments of opportunities.
3. Fragments of temporal goods.
4. Fragments of prayer, repentance, worship, grace.
Parallel VersesKJV: In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,