Markby Robert M. Solomon
Here was ″another large crowd″ (v. 1). Jesus taught with such amazing authority, freshness, and relevance that the people stayed on for three days. By then they had run out of food and were hungry. Jesus, as He always did, felt compassion for them (v. 2), and was concerned that some would collapse on the way home (v. 3).
Instead of saying, ″Lord you miraculously fed the 5,000. You can do it now too,″ the disciples pointed out that they were in a remote place and it was impossible to feed such a crowd (v. 4). How could they have forgotten the recent miracle? It is easy when facing present challenges to forget past expressions of God's faithfulness and power. The faith of the disciples was at a depressing low.
Patiently, Jesus asked them how many loaves they had. This time they offered from their own supplies seven loaves (v. 5). In the same way as previously, Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread, and distributed it, thus miraculously feeding the hungry and grateful crowd (vv. 6-7). The disciples later contributed ″a few small fish″ (v. 7) too. Perhaps they held back the fish to see what Jesus would do with the loaves first-like the way we often hold back from giving Him everything we have, just in case. The people were asked to sit, for it was going to be a full meal. ″The people ate and were satisfied″ (v. 8). After the meal, the disciples ″picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces″ (v. 8).
After Jesus and His disciples returned to Jewish territory, they went to the region of Dalmanutha, where they were approached by Pharisees who came to test Jesus with more questions. The word for ″test″ can also be translated as ″tempt″, for we can see Satan's diabolical suggestions (cf. Matthew 4:5-7) behind the Pharisees' demand for a miraculous sign from heaven (v. 11) to prove that Jesus' power came from God, not Satan. Jesus ″sighed deeply″ at their stubborn unbelief and refused to perform any such miracle (v. 12)-He had already done enough to prove His identity. The Pharisees were not seriously looking for a sign, and Jesus refused to be their resident magician.
How often do we forget the wonderful acts of God in the past in answer to our prayers? Why do we forget so easily when faced with a present crisis? What lessons can we learn from Jesus' response to such lack of faith?
Why did Jesus refuse to perform additional miracles for the Pharisees? In what way was it a temptation? What kind of faith does Jesus look for?