Ever Touched by our Needs
(Taken from J. R.Miller's Commentary on Matthew)
Jesus went out in a boat to cross the lake. But the people saw the boat departing and flocked around the lake to meet Him on the other side. He had not been long in His quiet retreat when the multitude began to gather, eager to see Him. Although He was seeking rest, His compassion drew Him to the people that He might help them.
It was always thus that Jesus carried people’s sorrows. When He looked upon the great throng who had flocked after Him and saw among them so many suffering ones — lame, sick, blind, palsied — His compassion was stirred. When we remember that Jesus was the Son of God, these revealings of His compassion are wonderful. It comforts us to know that there is the same compassion yet in the breast of the risen Christ in glory. He did not lose His tenderness of heart when he was exalted to heaven. We are told that as our High Priest He is touched by ever sorrow of ours. Every wrong that we suffer reaches Him. Every sorrow of ours thrills through His heart. It was not their hunger, their poverty, their sickness, nor any of their earthly wants that appeared to Him their greatest trouble, but their spiritual needs. Our worst misfortunes are not what we call calamities. Many people may seem prosperous in our eyes, and yet when Christ looks upon them He is moved with compassion, because they are like sheep with no heavenly Shepherd.
Yet the first help Christ gave that day was the healing of the sick. He thinks of our bodies as well as our souls. If we would be like Him, we must help people in their physical needs, and then, like Him, also, seek further to do them good in their inner life, their spiritual life. There are times when a loaf of bread is better evangel than a tract. At least the loaf must be given first, to prepare the way for the tract.
As the day wore away it became evident that the people were very hungry. They had brought no provisions with them, and there were no places in the desert where they could buy food. Combining the stories in the different Gospels, we get the complete narrative of what happened. Jesus asked Philip, “Whence are we to buy bread that these may eat?” (John 5:5). Philip thought it was impossible for them to make provision for such a throng. “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” The apostles could think of no way to meet the need of the hour but by dispersing the people. “Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.” To this suggestion the Master answered, “They need not depart; give ye them to eat.”