“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat.” Mark 8:2
Both Matthew and Mark include this second, less commonly known, miraculous feeding of the multitude. The details between the first and second feeding, while different are, in my opinion, comparable with the only major difference being the length of time the people had been with Jesus. With the feeding of the five thousand the people had been with Jesus for a single day. Now, with the feeding of the four thousand the people have been following and listening to Jesus for three days.
I have to ask myself, would I desire to hear Jesus teach so much that I would follow him into the wilderness without definite plans and continue following him when I saw that my food supply was running low and then stick with him even after my food had run out? I can’t see myself doing that.
I know Jesus told Satan when he was being tempted that, “Man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” And he told the people, “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled.” But I don’t hear Jesus saying that we don’t need physical food at all and I don’t think I’m less than sincere for wanting to make sufficient plans so that my spiritual learning isn’t interrupted by the distraction of bad menu planning.
All that being said, I’m still impressed by the dedication of the people in sticking with Jesus as long as they did. Perhaps Jesus waited so long to feed them to weed out the ones that were following him, in this deserted place, just to see if he would multiply the bread again. No doubt those looking for miraculous entertainment had already gone home. Even those that just liked hanging around spiritual people had gone away in search of food. Now only those that were actually listening to what Jesus had to say, desiring to know more, were left.
How long have you been with Jesus? I’m not asking about a single event. I’m asking about how long he’s been your Savior, your God. Two years? Ten years? Twenty years? What keeps you following after him? Are you simply wanting to maintain what you’ve already been taught or are you wanting more? Physical, practical need is an effective way of testing motivation. Jesus desire isn’t to weed out anyone. But he does like to reveal the truth we like to hide from. Perhaps if we’re going through a patch where things are difficult Jesus is allowing this to show us why we’re where we are with him so that we can become ready to receive more.