March 17, 2021
Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." Then His disciples said to Him, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?" (Matthew 15:32-33).
We have spoken of the compassion of Jesus before (Sunday, March 14th devotional). Again Jesus speaks of His sympathy toward the crowd that had gathered around Him. He demonstrated His compassion by healing their sick family members and friends. Now He will demonstrate His compassion for them by feeding their hunger.
By calling His disciples and expressing His desire to feed the thousands who had gathered there on that hillside, Jesus was preparing to test their faith once again. The phrase, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat, doesn’t mean the crowd hadn’t had anything to eat in 3 days. It means that after being with Jesus 3 days, what food they did have had played out. For many of them, they had become so hungry they were beginning to collapse.
The miracle of feeding the 4,000+ here is similar to the feeding of the 5,000+ in Matthew 14:16-17. Is it the same event? No. There are far too many differences in the two events that we should conclude they are one and the same. But you will note the response of the disciples to the request of Jesus is virtually the same response in Matthew 14:15-21 (Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:4-13). Had they forgotten the feeding of the 5,000+? No. Did they believe Jesus could do it again with the 4,000+? Yes. So, what’s the problem? They were simply telling Jesus they had nothing with which to feed anyone, just like they didn’t have anything to feed the 5,000+ earlier. They knew Jesus could feed the crowd just as they knew they couldn’t feed the crowd.
I do not believe this test of tfaith was out of line with Jesus’ overall purpose in calling the disciples to be with Him. Faith in Christ Jesus has to grow and develop into maturity. For that to happen it has to be tested - again and again. It’s not that these disciples were ignorant or forgetful or faithless - they were not. They were learning to trust in Jesus to do what they were unable to do. They were being honest with the Lord in answering His desire - they couldn’t meet the needs of the people, but He could.
What a lesson for us to learn today! Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). It’s one thing to say to the Lord, “I can’t do what You desire;” it’s quite another thing to say, “Do what You desire through me.”
“Lord Jesus, may I always be available for You to fulfill Your will and purpose in and through me. I confess I cannot minister to others as I should, but You can, and have done so through my willingness to yield to Your Holy Spirit in me. May You receive all honor and glory through my desire to trust in You in all my ways. Amen.”