In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him, and said to them,…
Men often talk about this life as being a wilderness, and they are right; but do you know why, and in what sense? What is the wilderness to which our earthly life is like, the wilderness in which our Lord worked this and other miracles? Is it a great howling expanse of sand and rock, with nought but blazing earth below and blazing sky above? Is it the vast and terrible desert, where fiery death pursues the steps of the unhappy traveller, where doleful creatures cry, and whitening bones lie all about? If this were the wilderness, then would our life be very unlike one. The wildernesses of Palestine, like "the bush" in Australia, are not by any means always barren, or ugly, or desolate: often they are very beautiful, and very productive; only, their beauty and productiveness are so uncertain, so unreliable, so disappointing, that no one can live there or make his home there — unless, indeed, he receives his supplies from somewhere else. Now, our life is lust like the wilderness in this sense: very often it is full of beauty, of grace, of life, of promise; there are times when every element of hope and contentment seems present in abundance. But all this beauty and promise will not satisfy the soul of man, however much it may please his fancy and his taste. Suppose you found yourself in the wilderness among the grasses and flowers, could you feed on them? Could you sustain life on them? No; however lovely and luxuriant they might be, however grateful as elements in a landscape, they would not appease your hunger; your limbs would grow weak, your eyes would fail, your head would swim, and you would fall and starve and die amongst the dewy grasses and the many-coloured flowers. Even so would it be if you tried to satisfy your immortal souls with the pleasures and beauties, and joys and riches, of this life. We should be other than human if we did not like them, we should be very ungrateful if we did not give thanks for them — but, all the same, we cannot be satisfied with them; the old craving would return — we should feel ourselves discontented, miserable, perishing, amidst all the abundance of this world.
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,