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Verses 1-4

Mark 8:1-4. In those days, the multitude being very great The multitude mentioned Matthew 15:30; and having nothing to eat They had, as on a former occasion, consumed all the provision they had brought with them; Jesus said I have compassion, Greek, σπλαγχνιζομαι , my bowels yearn, or, are moved, toward the multitude Who thus flock eagerly about me, and express such zeal in their attendance, as to expose themselves thereby to many inconveniences and hardships. It is pleasing to observe the strong compassion which our blessed Lord continually discovered in all his actions toward mankind. Because they have now been with me three days It is probable that the multitude, intent on hearing Christ and seeing his miracles, had lodged two nights together in the fields, as the season of the year was pleasant, this event happening quickly after the passover; and besides, the great number of the cures which had been wrought but just before, might animate them to continue with him, concluding, perhaps, that the miraculous power of Christ, which was displayed in so many glorious instances around them, would either preserve their health from being endangered by the large dews which fell in the night, or restore them from any disorder they might contract by their eagerness to attend on his ministry. If I send them away fasting, they will faint, &c. Our Lord by his power could as easily have preserved them from fainting without food, as have created food by multiplying the loaves and fishes for their support, but he chose to take the latter method. For divers of them came from far This our Lord knew, and he knew also that they were but ill furnished for procuring provisions, or accommodations abroad, for themselves. His disciples answered, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread, &c. The disciples, it seems, did not reflect on the miracle which Christ had lately wrought for the relief of the five thousand, or they did not imagine he would repeat such a miracle; or perhaps they thought that Christ proposed to feed this great multitude in the natural way, and, therefore, thus intimated their surprise that he should think of doing a thing so impracticable. Jesus did not reprove them for their forgetfulness of what he had so lately done, or for their wrong notions, but meekly asked what meat they had, and upon their telling him, he ordered it to be brought, and out of seven loaves and a few little fishes made a second dinner for an immense multitude by a miracle, few or none of them having been present at the former dinner. They seem to have been mostly such as followed Jesus from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and the neighbouring heathen country; hence they are said, on seeing his miracles, to have glorified the God of Israel. This dinner was in all respects like the first, except in the number of loaves and fishes of which it was made, the number of persons who were present at it, and the number of baskets that were filled with the fragments that remained. “One cannot but remark,” says Dr. Macknight, “with what wisdom Jesus chose to be so much in deserts during this period of his ministry. He was resolved, in the discharge of the duties of it, to make as little noise as possible, to avoid crowds, and to be followed only by such as had dispositions proper for profiting by his instructions. And, to say the truth, not a great many others would accompany him into solitudes, where they were to sustain the inconveniences of hunger, and the weather, for several days together. As the multitude on this and the like occasions remained long with Jesus, doubtless his doctrine distilled upon them all the while like dew, and as the small rain upon the tender herb. If so, what satisfaction and edification should we find in the divine discourses which he then delivered, were we in possession of them! The refreshment we receive from such of them as the inspired writers have preserved, raises an ardent desire of the rest. At the same time it must be acknowledged, that we are blessed with as much of Christ’s doctrine as is fully sufficient to all the purposes of salvation.”

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