"In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?" And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full."
A couple quick thoughts on this passage:
As I read, I was struck by the crowd. Keep in mind these are real people. Four thousand people are following Jesus for three whole days. I'm sure they had jobs, things to do at home, and friends to see. Think of what it would be like to leave everything behind for three days to follow someone around on foot. Not to mention, they hadn't yet eaten during these three days. I'm sure they were tired. Yet, they were willing to follow Jesus.
These 4,000 people weren't following Jesus out of comfort and convenience. Quite the contrary, they were following Jesus out of faith. When they were following him, they had no guarantee that he would provide a huge meal for them, thus satisfying their hunger. Yet, they followed anyways; because they had faith that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. And if Jesus is who he says he is, he's worth following. If he is the one who can bring salvation, he's worth being hungry for three days, getting blisters on your feet from walking miles, being away from the comfort of your home.
I love verse 8, "And they ate and were satisfied". Wow! These people did not know Jesus would satisfy them: but, their faith was rewarded. I'm amazed at the provision Jesus makes for his followers. Following him wasn't easy, as these 4,000 knew. They were almost at the point of fainting! Yet, because they had faith, Jesus satisfied them, and on top of that, provided in abundance. What does this mean for us?
Doesn't Jesus call us to follow him in faith? Doesn't he say that being a true disciple of his will take you out of comfort and convenience? Doesn't he say it will be hard? Doesn't he say that he will take you places you may not want to go? Yes and Amen. And so we are called to follow Jesus as the 4,000 did.
Further, we have the promise that Jesus will satisfy us and provide for us. Jesus called himself the 'Bread of Life', who will bring true satisfaction. He called himself 'The Life', who comes to bring true abundant life. Jesus gives assurance that he will never leave nor forsake us. Where these 4,000 didn't even have the full revelation of these promises, they still had faith. Now, we, who have God's word, and have read and heard of all that he has done, have the promise. We have the promise of the word. We know that
he lived, died and resurrected for our salvation. We have the promise that when we follow him, though it may be hard, and may leave us to the point of fainting, Jesus will provide and satisfy us in a supernatural way. He has compassion on us and cares for us. He offers us true life in Himself, and invites us to partake in this true life by following him in faith, and trusting in him for everything.