When we are part of a large crowd attending an outdoor happening of some kind, it is gratifying to discover that the event has been well-planned. We are pleased to see that canteens, first-aid stations and sanitary facilities are set up in advance. But, a crowd that once gathered to hear Jesus speak was in a different situation. That crowd had gathered spontaneously. Jesus had withdrawn to a deserted place to be by Himself after hearing of the death of John the Baptist, but the people would not be disuaded. They simply followed Him–five thousand of them–“Not counting women and children” as Matthew puts it (sounding a bit like an adult, male chauvinist).
You can see that feeding them, much less providing other facilities, without any prior planning would be a tremendous task. The disciples were not heartless, but they were very realistic and practical. Night was coming, and there was no Burger-Chef or McDonald’s in the area. Jesus had spoken to the people,…
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