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Unmindful of their own wants, they followed him to a lonely "desert"—
And, though destitute of" food or lodging," were unwilling to depart from him—]
How far their zeal was pure, may indeed admit of doubt
[Some perhaps were really desirous of divine instruction—
Others sought nothing but the healing of their bodily disorders—
And too many were actuated by no better motive than curiosity—
Thus we learn from their conduct how much may be done by those who, notwithstanding their zeal, are strangers to vital godliness—]
But their conduct condemns the supineness of lukewarm Christians
[It would not indeed be expedient for us to intimate them altogether—
The august character of Jesus, and the paucity of faithful instructors, fully justified them in neglecting, for a season, their temporal concerns—
Whereas we have many stated opportunities of religious instruction—
And may attend the ordinances without neglecting our worldly callings—
But we should imitate them in their thirst for divine knowledge—
We should, like them, be willing to deny our present ease and interests—
And (in heart and affection) forsake all to follow Christ—
O that the conduct of the generality did not form such a contrast to theirs!—]
Our Lord would not thwart their wishes, or disappoint their hopes
II. The miracles that Jesus wrought for them
He pitied the people because they were as sheep without a shepherd—
He instantly resumed his labour both for their souls and bodies'—
And provided them a plentiful supply for their present necessities
[To try the faith of Philip, Jesus enquired about purchasing of breadd—
! Ver. H. dJohn^S. 5, 6.
But having determined to supply the people by a miracle, he ordered them to be seated in ranks upon the grass—
He took the five loaves and two small fishes which were at hand, and, looking up to heaven, pronounced a blessing upon them—
By this he has taught us to acknowledge God in his bounties, and to adore him for them—
He then brake and delivered the bread to the disciples, that they might distribute it among the multitude—
In the disciples' hands the bread, though constantly imparted, suffered no diminution—
Thus all became spectators and witnesses of the miracle— All too were filled and satisfied with an ample repast— How infinitely did the grandeur of this feast surpass that given by king Ahasuerus!e—
And what an evident demonstration of Jesus' Messiahship did it afford!—]
Nevertheless he would not suffer any thing to be
[He ordered the remnants of the bread and fish to be
Of these there were not less than twelve baskets fullf— This afforded an additional confirmation of the miracle— By this too he shewed that, not the poor only, but even the
most opulent, should exercise frugality—]
From this history we may Infer that,
1. We may safely trust in Jesus for a supply of our wants
[He often suffers his people to be reduced to a state of indigence—
But by this means he discovers to them more fully his care over them—
Nor does he ever fail to fulfil the promise he has made thems—
We are not indeed in these days to look for miracles—
But he can in ten thousand unforeseen ways supply our wants—
It is he that gives provision to the whole universe—
His almighty power is no less exercised in the production of the fruits of the earth than it was in the miracle before us—
And in the season of our necessity he will interpose for our relief—
« Esth. i. 4—7.
f Probably much more than there was at the beginning.
* Matt. vi. 33.
Let us then, in firm reliance upon him, follow the direction given usb—]
2. We should be contented with mean and humble fare
[Our Lord occasionally attended at feasts to which he was invited—
Nor is it unlawful for his followers also to be present at them—
But when he feasted ten thousand people,' he gave them only the provisions suited to a laborious fisherman*—
How unseemly then is it for his followers to be men given to appetite!—
Or to squander away, their substance in splendid entertainments!—
How does it rather become them to be satisfied with mean provisions!—
And under the greatest straits to adopt the language of St. Paul!i—]
3. We should be ready at all times to communicate of our substance to others
[The loaves and fishes were all the provision which the apostles had—
Nor is it probable that they had any great store of money to purchase moreTM—
Yet all without reluctance complied with their Lord's command"—
Thus we also are directed to exercise liberality to the poor"—
And what we do for them, Christ will accept as done for himself"—]
b Ps. xxxvii. 3. « Matt. xiv. 21.
k Barley bread, and cold dried fish, with water out of the brook in the desert. John vi. 13. 'Phil. iv. 16.
m It should seem that 200 pence, about six guineas, was all the stock that they and their master had at that time to subsist upon, John vi. r. "Ver. 13. • Hcb. xiii. 16. r Matt. xxv. 40.
CCXCVIII. CHRIST WALKING OS THE SEA.
Matt. xiv. 26, 27. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer: it is I; be nut afraid.
THM Christian's duties are often difficult and selfdenying—Nevertheless he must do the will of God, and leave events to his all-wise disposal—Jesus ordered his disciples to go in a small vessel to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the multitudes, who had been fed by him—they probably approving in their hearts the proposal that had been made to invest him with royal authority,* were somewhat averse to leave him; but, being commanded to go, compliedb-—In the prosecution of their duty they were overtaken with a storm, which not only obstructed their progress but threatened their lives—In this state they were greatly terrified; but they soon found that the Way of duty was the way of safety—
In elucidating the miraculous interposition of Jesus on their behalf, we shall notice I. The power he exercised
He came to them walking on the sea [Jesus, after dismissing the multitudes, retired to a mountain to pray—
And thus by his own example taught us all, and especially ministers, that, however pressing our public business may be, we should redeem time, even from sleep, for the purposes of private devotion—
In the meantime his disciples, driven from their course, were contending with the stormc—But Jesus went to their relief; and, having no boat or attendants to convey him, walked to them upon the tempestuous waters—]
This he did from the purest and most benevolent motives
[Had he been actuated by a vain ostentation, he would probably have continued walking on the sea, instead of going up into the ship, that the people of Capernaum also might behold himd—But his disciples were to be his witnesses to the world; and, being very slow of heart to believe, they needed more abundant testimonies for their conviction—Now the walking upon the sea was known to be an indication of divine power*-—
He therefore gave them this evidence on purpose to prove to them his Messiahship; and, by means of it, he wrought a conviction on their minds, which his other miracles had failed to producef—]
» John vi. 15. b 'HmyKXTft, ver. 22.
c They were ordered to go over a small bay to Bethsaida; but striving against the winds which drove them out to sea towards Capernaum, they were, after many hours, only a league from shore.
d Besides, he had just refused to be made a king.
♦ Job ix. 8. r Ver. 33. with Mark vi. 52.
The first effect produced by his appearance to them, leads us to notice
II. The fears he occasioned
His disciples were extremely terrified at the sight of him
[The day but just beginning to dawn, their view of him was very indistinct—They supposed him to be a spirit—They knew that it was an evil spirit who had raised the storm by which Job's family were destroyed,i1 and they possibly might think that such a spirit had stirred up this tempest, and was now coming to overwhelm them utterly—Filled with terror, they cried aloud; accounting him an object, of dread, whom, if they had known him, they would have regarded as their most seasonable, most welcome deliverer—But the trouble was necessary, in order to engage their more fixed attention to the miracle now exhibited before their eyes—]
Thus are the Lord's people frequently harassed by unnecessary fears
[All are called to sustain some conflicts in the path of duty—And in the midst of trouble the mind is apt to faint—If our difficulties or dangers be great, we are prone to indulge despondency, and to increase by imaginary fears the calamities under which we labour—How often has that been a source of trouble to us, which should rather have been an occasion of joy and gratitude!—How often have we forgotten, that God is pledged for our support, while we continue in the path of duty—And that there are a thousand unforeseen ways in which he can appear for us, when we think him most unmindful of our state!—But, however distressing our fears may be for a moment, we shall have reason to be thankful for them, if they be the means of impressing us with a more abiding sense of Christ's love and faithfulness—Yea, they are often permitted, and even excited by him, for this very end—]
These fears however were amply compensated by*
III. The condescension he manifested
He instantly dispelled their fears in the kindest and most condescending manner
[He at first appeared as though he would pass by them— But, having tried them for a moment, he revealed himself unto them; and bade them dismiss their groundless fears— He moreover went up into the vessel to them—And immediately the ship was wafted to its destined portb—]
■ Jobi. 19, 19. bjohnvi. 31.