Because they needed him
It would have been much easier for Him to walk away. Run to the silence, time alone with His Father. Time, no doubt He desperately needed to grieve and prepare for the next road of His ministry. But He stayed with His followers. Twice. Because they needed Him.
And His disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. (Matthew 14:12)
Jesus had just heard the news of the cruel killing of John the Baptist. The prophet who preached in the wilderness of His coming–of His ministry. The friend who baptized Him. His cousin.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; (Luke 1:76)
A man who many thought was the Messiah, but John was quick to say, He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. (John 1:27)
After hearing of John the Baptist’s death, the Bible tells us that Jesus left by ship and went to a desert away from others and when the people found out, they followed Him, by foot.
And Jesus seeing the great crowd of people and their condition, He forgot about His need and saw their need more. The Bible says He “was moved with compassion” (Matthew 14:14) because of them. Mark wrote (Mark 6:34), “because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things.”
He healed their sickness and ailments. He taught them about His heavenly Father. And when the day was coming to a close, the disciples told Jesus He needed to send the people away. Home, for they were miles from the villages, they needed to go and buy food. There was nothing to eat in the desert.
And again, it would have been easier to send them away as the disciples had suggested but Jesus was about His Father’s work and He said unto the disciples, They need not depart; give them to eat. (Matthew 14:16)
This is the part in the story I believe the disciples might have forgotten for a brief moment His power and who He was, for anything was and is possible with God.
The disciples said, We have but five loaves and two fishes. (Matthew 14:17, Mark 6:38).
And Jesus said to bring what they had to Him and then He told the crowd of 5000 to sit down on the grass (Matthew 14:19, Mark 6:39) and He looked up to His Father and blessed the food. The disciples, they served the people. And they ate until they were full and there remained twelve baskets full of leftovers–possibly one for each disciple for the next road ahead.
The story of the five loaves and two fishes–it is a story many of us learned as children. The lessons, often overlooked because of the familiarity of the story. But the beauty of God’s Holy Word is this–each time we read and study His love letter to us–if we are willing to open our hearts and minds, He will show us even more to His story.
It wasn’t just the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus fed their souls, teaching them. He fed their earthly bodies with food. He healed the sick. He provided for His disciples’ journey to come. He even told them where to sit–not just on grass, on the green grass. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass (Mark 6:39)
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:2)
Jesus gave them His best. And He brought glory and honor to His heavenly Father.
The multitude, what if they had not followed relentlessly, they would have missed Jesus. His miracles. His providing of all their needs. And the disciples, if they would have had their way about the story, they would have sent the people home, to town to buy food, they would have missed it all. Another miracle. His provision for them.
Their souls fed, bodies healed, hunger satisfied, Jesus directed the crowd and His disciples to go another way and He went upon a mountain, alone.
And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone. (Matthew 14:22-23)
Yes, it’s easier some days to take the road more travelled, hurry along in life, never giving second thought to another’s need, only our own. I’m glad Jesus isn’t like that.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
And the snow begins to fall again softly, and there are forty or more cardinals in my front yard, in the trees, at the feeder. Too many to count. And the Creator, He takes time for us, giving grace–even in the smallest of details.