After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.…
1. It was rather to the disciples than to the multitude that the events of the day were significant. They had been taught by degrees all that was involved in "leaving all " to "follow Him." From the beginning it has been essential that a man should forsake the world. But the world may be forsaken in many ways. Some have done so out of contempt for it; others for the sake of a wholly selfish personal culture. But Christ now taught His disciples what was their mission to the world they had left. They had left it only that they might serve it more effectually, and were now to love it with a new love. Discipleship involved practical laborious service, not only to Christ, but to men.
2. There was something like embarrassment in Philip's answer to our Lord's question: but before we blame him let us put ourselves in his place. It was an unexpected appeal to limited resources. The disciples had a common purse. All their modest requirements were provided for, but all their quiet economy was invaded by a proposal to feed 5,000.
3. Christ intercedes with the Church for the world. His intercession is not only with God for us all, but with us for one another.
(1) We are prone to make a life of personal edification the sum total of discipleship, turning our backs on the problems of life, suffering and sin around us. But while Christ is carrying upon His heart the burden of the world He cannot delight Him- self in a companionship that seeks to be exclusive and selfish.
(2) Again Christ would not have us think less of each other as Christians, but there must be no for- getting of those who are without, the world and its terrible hunger, physical and moral.
(3) Philip's answer betrays his impatience with the apparent unreasonable- ness of the question. And how often have we given the like answer, and silenced the earnest man of large faith whom Christ has made the mouthpiece for His question.
4. Andrew's reply was a great advance on Philip's. From Philip's non-existent two hundred pennyworth to Andrew's actual five loaves is certainly to make progress. It is moving out of the negative into the positive, out of that region in which our cynicism and despair so often tarries into the region of practical endeavour. Our Lord takes him at his word as we find in the parallel narrative, "Bring them to Me." A minute ago it could have been said exactly what the five loaves were worth, and how many men they would feed, but since the Lord's words, all our powers of calculation are confounded. We contemplate things in themselves with- out seeing any touch of the Divine power upon them, and so we could never make five loaves worth more than five loaves. We take the measure of a man — his natural powers, education, etc., and we leave no room for another factor that may multiply indefinitely the whole series — the living power of Christ.
5. We ought to notice that our Lord did not say, "Whence will you buy bread," but, "we," you and I.
(1) Do not let us think of our Lord as throwing upon His Church dark and difficult questions for her to solve; He is rather seeking to bring her into fuller fellowship with Himself.
(2) We must recognize here the proffer of our Lord's own wisdom and power for the answering of His own question. Not only does Christ intercede with the Church for, but works with her upon the world.
(F. W. Macdonald.)
Parallel VersesKJV: After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.