“In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.’ Then His disciples answered Him, ‘How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’ So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude.”
These verses tell the story of the feeding of the 4,000. Not long before this, the now infamous feeding of the 5,000 took place. The disciples had apparently forgotten the miracle of feeding the 5,000 because, once again, they were baffled as to how Jesus would feed the multitude.
OR…Did they just not want to be bothered?
I believe, in these verses, Jesus was teaching His disciples through example. Let’s look at this closer.
Jesus said to His disciples, “I have COMPASSION on the multitude…”
Compassion. Splanchnizomai (Splangkh-nid-zom-ahee) meaning “to be moved with compassion, tender mercies and feelings of affection.”
Jesus saw the hearts of the people – people who were seeking Him and hungry for God’s Truth.
The disciples, perhaps, saw a bunch of hungry people who were getting in their way at the end of a long day.
Ouch! Do we do that sometimes? I hate to admit that I have. I have had times where I felt annoyed or overwhelmed by having so much “kingdom business” to do – you know, feeding the hungry, taking blankets to the homeless, fund-raisers for the youth, hospital visits…I love every minute of ministry, but sometimes I just want to take a break and have some “me” time.
How sad! I think that often as Christians, we fall into the “me” trap. We forget that our acts of service are actually acts of worship to our Lord. When we sacrifice “self” and serve Him with a joyful, pure heart, our Father is honored – He is glorified on this earth. And we get to know Jesus a little bit better.
AND – Jesus was trying to teach His disciples to see the HEARTS of the multitude. These people were like sheep without a shepherd. They needed a Savior.
Verse six reads, “So Jesus commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before the multitude.”
Jesus did not give the bread to the people Himself. He gave the bread to His disciples to hand out.
This is what Jesus requires of us. He expects us to take the bread of the Word which He has fed us and give it out to a hurting world. He has called us to be “ministers of reconciliation” – reconciling people to the Lord God.
Jesus wants us to see the HEART of those around us just as He does.
He wants us to have COMPASSION on them – to be moved with tender mercy and God’s love.
He wants us to shake off the “ME” attitude that stops the Move of God.
Did Jesus condemn His disciples for their attitude? No. He patiently taught them by example. He helped them see the bigger picture. Why?
Because people need the Lord.
Lord, this is a sobering message, but I thank You for gently reminding us that our purpose is not about us. Our purpose is to reconcile people to You who have been separated by sin and tragedies. If ever there was a time that people are hungry for Your Truth, it is now. Help us to become selfLESS in our walk with You. Help us to see the hearts of others the way You see them. Remind us that if it had not been for Your grace and You sending a disciple to us to feed us Your Bread, we, too, would still be hungry and dying in our sins without a Savior. We love You, Lord and we desire to honor You with our service. We give our lives in worship to You, Father.