We have here, I. The account which the twelve gave their Master of the success of their ministry. They were not long out; but, when they returned, they told him all that they had done, as became servants who were sent on an errand. They told him what they had done, that, if they had done any thing amiss, they might mend it next time.
II. Their retirement, for a little breathing: He took them, and went aside privately into a desert place, that they might have some relaxation from business and not be always upon the stretch. Note, He that hath appointed our man-servant and maid-servant to rest would have his servants to rest too. Those in the most public stations, and that are most publicly useful, must sometimes go aside privately, both for the repose of their bodies, to recruit them, and for the furnishing of their minds by meditation for further public work.
III. The resort of the people to him, and the kind reception he gave them. They followed him, though it was into a desert place; for that is no desert where Christ is. And, though they hereby disturbed the repose he designed here for himself and his disciples, yet he welcomed them, Luke 9:11. Note, Pious zeal may excuse a little rudeness; it did with Christ, and should with us. Though they came unseasonably, yet Christ gave them what they came for. 1. He spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, the laws of that kingdom with which they must be bound, and the privileges of that kingdom with which they might be blessed. 2. He healed them that had need of healing, and, in a sense of their need, made their application to him. Though the disease was ever so inveterate, and incurable by the physicians, though the patients were ever so poor and mean, yet Christ healed them. There is healing in Christ for all that need it, whether for soul or body. Christ hath still a power over bodily diseases, and heals his people that need healing. Sometimes he sees that we need the sickness for the good of our souls, more than the healing for the ease of our bodies, and then we must be willing for a season, because there is need, to be in heaviness; but, when he sees that we need healing, we shall have it. Death is his servant, to heal the saints of all diseases. He heals spiritual maladies by his graces, by his comforts, and has for each what the case calls for; relief for every exigence.
IV. The plentiful provision Christ made for the multitude that attended him. With five loaves of bread, and two fishes, he fed five thousand men. This narrative we had twice before, and shall meet with it again; it is the only miracle of our Saviour’s that is recorded by all the four evangelists. Let us only observe out of it, 1. Those who diligently attend upon Christ in the way of duty, and therein deny or expose themselves, or are made to forget themselves and their outward conveniences by their zeal for God’s house, are taken under his particular care, and may depend upon Jehovah-jireh—The Lord will provide. He will not see those that fear him, and serve him faithfully, want any good thing. 2. Our Lord Jesus was of a free and generous spirit. His disciples said, Send them away, that they may get victuals; but Christ said, “No, give ye them to eat; let what we have go as far as it will reach, and they are welcome to it.” Thus he has taught both ministers and Christians to use hospitality without grudging, 1 Pet. 4:9. Those that have but a little, let them do what they can with that little, and that is the way to make it more. There is that scatters, and yet increases. 3. Jesus Christ has not only physic, but food, for all those that by faith apply themselves to him; he not only heals them that need healing, cures the diseases of the soul, but feeds them too that need feeding, supports the spiritual life, relieves the necessities of it, and satisfies the desires of it. Christ has provided not only to save the soul from perishing by its diseases, but to nourish the soul unto life eternal, and strengthen it for all spiritual exercises. 4. All the gifts of Christ are to be received by the church in a regular orderly manner; Make them sit down by fifties in a company, Luke 9:14. Notice is here taken of the number of each company which Christ appointed for the better distribution of the meat and the easier computation of the number of the guests. 5. When we are receiving our creature-comforts, we must look up to heaven. Christ did so, to teach us to do so. We must acknowledge that we receive them from God, and that we are unworthy to receive them,—that we owe them all, and all the comfort we have in them, to the mediation of Christ, by whom the curse is removed, and the covenant of peace settled,—that we depend upon God’s blessing upon them to make them serviceable to us, and desire that blessing. 6. The blessing of Christ will make a little go a great way. The little that the righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked, a dinner of herbs better than a stalled ox. 7. Those whom Christ feeds he fills; to whom he gives, he gives enough; as there is in him enough for all, so there is enough for each. He replenishes every hungry soul, abundantly satisfies it with the goodness of his house. Here were fragments taken up, to assure us that in our Father’s house there is bread enough, and to spare. We are not straitened, or stinted, in him.