And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away…
Scripture miracles are not merely wonders, but signs. This one is a symbolic revelation of Christ supplying all the wants of this hungry world. Three points — the distribution, the meal, the gathering up.
I. CHRIST FEEDS THE FAMISHING WORLD BY MEANS OF HIS CHURCH.
1. Economy of power. God does not interfere supernaturally, any further than is necessary. Christ's incarnation and sacrifice are the purely supernatural work of the Divine power and mercy; but, after their introduction into the world, human agency is required for the diffusion of the new power. Christian people are henceforth Christ's instruments.
2. Preparation of the disciples for this work. Looking at their own resources, they felt utterly inadequate to the work. Humility and self-distrust are necessary if God is to work with and in us. He works with bruised reeds, and out of them makes polished shafts, pillars in His house. In His hands our feeble resources are enough.
3. The disciples seem to have partaken first. Those only can distribute and impart, who have themselves found sustenance and life in Christ. And an obligation lies on them to do so. Power to its last particle is duty.
II. THE BREAD IS ENOUGH FOR ALL THE WORLD. The gospel addresses itself to universal wants, brushing aside all surface distinctions, and going right down to the depths of our common nature. The seed of the kingdom is like corn, an exotic nowhere, for wherever man lives it will grow — and yet an exotic everywhere, for it came down from heaven. Other food requires an educated palate for its appreciation; but any hungry man in any land will relish bread. For every soul on earth this living, dying love of Jesus addresses itself to and satisfies his deepest wants. It is the bread which gives life to the world.
III. THE BREAD GIVEN TO THE FAMISHING IS MULTIPLIED FOR THE FUTURE OF THE DISTRIBUTORS. TO impart to others is to gain for oneself. If you would learn, teach. If you would have your own spiritual life strengthened and deepened, remember that not by solitary meditation or raptures of silent communion alone can that be accomplished, but by these and by honest, manful work for God in the world.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
WEB: When evening had come, his disciples came to him, saying, "This place is deserted, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves food."