Matt. 14:15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”
Matt. 14:16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
I love the various accounts of this great miracle in the ministry of Jesus. In Matthew’s gospel, we see the connection of the death of John the Baptist to this defining moment in the ministry of Jesus. When He could have retreated He decided to advance. It appeared that the Lord was going away into seclusion when compassion stopped Him in His tracks. He was moved by the hunger of the crowds that were chasing after Him. When the disciples wanted to send them away, Jesus opened His heart. You can hear Him saying, “Why send them away? All they need is right here”. It wasn’t just food for their belly that they longed for. Their true hunger, even though they were not in touch with it, was a craving after the Lord. They were starving for spiritual food and Jesus was about to spread the table. From this miracle forward Jesus began to talk about the real reason He came. It was not just to heal the sick and feed the hungry, He came for far more than that. He came to give His life as a sacrifice. He came so we could eat the true food, His body and His blood. Here is a powerful thought on this event from Matthew Henry.
“Christ would not dismiss them hungry as they were, nor detain them longer without meat, nor put them upon the trouble and charge of buying meat for themselves, but orders his disciples to provide for them. See how reluctant Christ is to part with those who are resolved to cleave to him! They need not depart. Note, Those who have Christ have enough, and need not depart to seek a happiness and livelihood in the creature; they that have made sure of the one thing needful, need not be cumbered about much serving: nor will Christ put his willing followers upon a needless expense, but will make their attendance cheap to them.”
The Lord doesn’t want to turn any of us away. Even today, the table is spread. He is calling whosoever will to come to the gospel feast. There is no longer a need to look for sustenance and answers anywhere else. He is all we need.