“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat” Mark 8:2
Multitudes of people had come to Jesus possibly out of curiosity regarding His teaching or His miracles. Why they came isn’t so important but rather how they leave. This is always the case when people encounter Jesus and this has not changed through time.
For three days this crowd had listened to Jesus’ teaching and observed miracles but their provisions depleted to the point that Jesus observed that they had no food remaining and there was no opportunity for them to acquire more.
Jesus said that His compassion came from the fact that He was about to end this assembly and the large number of people would be returning to their homes. Some would have a long way to travel on their return journey without food and there was a risk they might not make it in good health.
Once again the disciples express their total inability to do anything about the situation. There was not enough food for them let alone anyone else. Only Jesus would be able to meet this need.
The disciples may have remembered intellectually that God had provided Israel with manna in the wilderness but that they had not made the connection that it was Jesus who provided that manna. Even the recent feeding of 5,000 men plus women and children seems to have fallen from memory.
They appear to be just like us. We read and think we understand the Bible yet do not make the connection between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus with whom we relate. It takes circumstances in our lives, usually difficult or impossible ones, to bring the two to be as one.
Jesus is not at all unmindful of our physical needs. We always have and always will require provision for our physical being. God demonstrates His faithfulness daily in providing us with what we need. When He saw people in need He had compassion and met the need as He was able.
If we really believe that Jesus will provide all we require for eternity it is an easy matter to believe He will provide all we need now. If we doubt His ability or willingness to provide now we show the same lack of faith that the disciples did and reveal that we have doubts about His providing for us in eternity. Jesus’ intervention in impossible situations will increase our faith.
Jesus may not ask us to feed such a large crowd but He will present impossible situations in our lives in order that we may call upon Him and see His response. When these times come James gives us an appropriate response: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting…. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man” (James 1:5-8).