Matthew 14:15
When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is already late. Dismiss the crowds, so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves."
The Sacrament MiracleP.C. Barker Matthew 14:13-21
The Table in the WildernessJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 14:13-21
Baskets for FragmentsA. Cart.Matthew 14:15-21
Christ Feeding the MultitudeT. Kidd.Matthew 14:15-21
Communication Begets PlentyL. N. Frothingham.Matthew 14:15-21
Compassion for the MultitudeC. H. Spurgeon.Matthew 14:15-21
Increase by DistributionBishop Hall.Matthew 14:15-21
Jesus Feeding the MultitudeW.F. Adeney Matthew 14:15-21
Multiplied by GivingLapideMatthew 14:15-21
Our Lord in PrayerGeorge Macdonald.Matthew 14:15-21
Sitting on GrassDean Stanley.Matthew 14:15-21
Strong Charity, Weak FaithBishop Hall.Matthew 14:15-21
The Five Barley Loaves in the DesertA. M. Stuart.Matthew 14:15-21
The Food of the WorldA. Maclaren, D. D.Matthew 14:15-21
The Food of the WormAmerican Homiletic ReviewMatthew 14:15-21
The Miracle of the LoavesC. Clayton, M. A.Matthew 14:15-21
The Miracle of the Loaves and FishesDr. J. Burns.Matthew 14:15-21
The Work of the Church in a Starving WorldA. Maclaren, D. D.Matthew 14:15-21

On the death of John the Baptist Jesus retired to the eastern side of the lake, oppressed with grief and longing for a time of seclusion. But it was one of his trials that he was forbidden the rest of privacy when he most craved it. The crowds followed him with such enthusiasm that they quite forgot to provide themselves with needful food, and therefore when the evening was come they were out among the lonely mountains faint and hurry. Jesus had not brought about this awkward situation. But he could not see distress without desiring to remove it. Thus there was an adequate occasion for the wonderful feeding of the thousands.

I. JESUS HAS COMPASSION ON BODILY DISTRESS. He had manifested this compassion earlier by healing the sick who were brought out to him in this remote region; and now the sight of the weary multitude touched his heart, as it became apparent to him that the evening shadows would find them far from home and without the means of providing themselves with their evening meal

1. The motive of Christ was compassion. This was the motive of his life work and of his atoning death. He came into the world because he took pity on the world's misery. The same motive moved him in particular actions. This is the grand Christian motive. The passion of pity is a peculiarly Christ-like feeling that seems to be rising among us in the present day.

2. The trouble was bodily distress - hunger. Then it is a Christ-like thing to feed the hungry. We are not to neglect men's bodies in caring for their souls.

II. JESUS HELPS THROUGH EARTHLY MEANS. He utilized the existing provisions. He did not create food out of nothing, but he wrought with the loaves and fishes already in hand. They were few, but he did not despise them, for they were invaluable in affording a foundation for his miracle. Christ now uses the instruments of human work. We have to contribute our share, and if we selfishly or despairingly refuse to do so we have no right to look for his blessing.

III. JESUS PRODUCES WONDERFUL PROVISIONS. We do not know how the miracle was wrought; we cannot even conceive of it. But we do not know how God makes the corn to grow in the fields. Nature only seems to us less wonderful than miracle because we are familiar with her external aspect and her visible processes. But behind all nature, as behind every miracle, there is the unfathomable mystery of life and being which God only understands. It is enough for us that our Lord is not thwarted, that there is nothing to which he sets his band in which he fails. He is powerful as well as pitiful. We bemoan the distress we cannot aid. When Christ is moved with compassion he helps effectively.

IV. JESUS SATISFIES THE HUNGRY. He gave no princely banquet, but mere loaves and fishes - the common barley loaves of the poor, the familiar fishes of the lake. His object was not to pamper jaded appetites - that was not needed in the keen mountain air; he simply fed the hungry. Moreover, he gave what he received, and of the same kind. He will bless our work according to its character and quality. He gives the increase, but it is according to the seed we sow - "after its kind." Surely this miracle is more than a miracle; it is a sacrament, a sacred symbol, as our Lord shows in the discourse that follows in St. John's account (John 6.). Christ is the real Bread of life, feeding hungry souls. - W.F.A.

They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
The miracles of Jesus were:




1. When was it wrought? In "the evening." The evening of a day that had been well spent.

2. Where was it performed? In "a desert place." The miracle as to time and place encourages our confidence in Christ in the most trying and destitute situations.

3. What was the order of its performance.

(1)Christ's tenderness to the people — "They need not depart."

(2)The all-sufficiency which He possessed in Himself.

(3)The plainness of their provision, as well as the scantiness of the supply.

(4)However little you have bring it to Jesus, and He will make it more.

(5)His devotion — "looking up to heaven."

(6)Our Lord employed the disciples as the dispensers of His bounty.

(7)A lesson of frugality — "They took up the fragments."


1. In this provision see an emblem of Jesus Christ. He is the true Bread.

2. In the distribution of this provision learn the office and work of Christian ministers.

3. In the apparent deficiency of this provision we are reminded of the treatment of the Saviour and His gospel by an unbelieving world. "Five loaves and two fishes" appeared nothing to the supply of such an assembly.

4. In the real sufficiency of this provision we are instructed in the glorious ability of Christ to complete the happiness of all that believe. The multitude " did all eat and were filled."

(T. Kidd.)

I. CHRIST'S RETREAT INTO THE DESERT. He sought retirement; multitude intruded, yet Christ was not disappointed or annoyed.


1. There is the want of bread for the congregation in the desert.

2. Jesus asks the disciples what supply they have.

3. Jesus orders the disciples to bring the loaves to Himself. Christ's way of giving us more is to begin with what we have.

4. Jesus next commands the multitude to sit down in order. The multitude needed great faith. We cannot first eat and then believe; must believe and eat. The disciples need faith and courage; sent by Christ on a trying errand — "Give ye them to eat. The foolishness of preaching becomes the power of God.


1. Jesus gave thanks to God for the bread in the face of all the multitude.

2. Jesus blesses the bread before he breaks and gives to the people; and His blessing breathed upon it fills the bread with an infinite fulness. Christ is the Bread of Life to the sinner dying for want; sweet to the soul in the desert.

3. Jesus breaks the bread and multiplies in the using; He breaks and distributes to the apostles, and they break and distribute to the people; and probably the people break and distribute to each other. Christ breathes upon and blesses the Word.


1. After the feast is finished there are many fragments over.

2. Jesus and His disciples live upon these fragments. The fragments are more than the entire supply for the feast. The more we feed on Christ, the more always is there of Christ to feed on; He increases to us.

(A. M. Stuart.)

American Homiletic Review.
I. Christ feeds the famishing world by means of His Church.

1. The food, though supernaturally provided, is carried to the hungry by the ordinary means.

2. The disciples were prepared for their work. They had to learn the absolute disproportion between the means at their command and the needs of the crowd.

3. We must carry our poor and inadequate resources to Christ.

II. THE BREAD IS ENOUGH FOR ALL THE WORLD — "They did all eat and were filled."


(American Homiletic Review.)


II. THE SPIRITUAL LESSONS WHICH THE MIRACLE AFFORDS. In the people we see a striking representation of the moral condition of the human family. In the provision we see a true exhibition of the blessing of the gospel. In its distribution we see the nature of the office of the Christian ministry. In the abundance remaining we see the boundlessness of gospel supplies. What personal participation of gospel blessing is necessary to our happiness and satisfaction?

(Dr. J. Burns.)

Scripture miracles are not merely wonders, but signs. This one is a symbolic revelation of Christ supplying all the wants of this hungry world. Three points — the distribution, the meal, the gathering up.


1. Economy of power. God does not interfere supernaturally, any further than is necessary. Christ's incarnation and sacrifice are the purely supernatural work of the Divine power and mercy; but, after their introduction into the world, human agency is required for the diffusion of the new power. Christian people are henceforth Christ's instruments.

2. Preparation of the disciples for this work. Looking at their own resources, they felt utterly inadequate to the work. Humility and self-distrust are necessary if God is to work with and in us. He works with bruised reeds, and out of them makes polished shafts, pillars in His house. In His hands our feeble resources are enough.

3. The disciples seem to have partaken first. Those only can distribute and impart, who have themselves found sustenance and life in Christ. And an obligation lies on them to do so. Power to its last particle is duty.

II. THE BREAD IS ENOUGH FOR ALL THE WORLD. The gospel addresses itself to universal wants, brushing aside all surface distinctions, and going right down to the depths of our common nature. The seed of the kingdom is like corn, an exotic nowhere, for wherever man lives it will grow — and yet an exotic everywhere, for it came down from heaven. Other food requires an educated palate for its appreciation; but any hungry man in any land will relish bread. For every soul on earth this living, dying love of Jesus addresses itself to and satisfies his deepest wants. It is the bread which gives life to the world.

III. THE BREAD GIVEN TO THE FAMISHING IS MULTIPLIED FOR THE FUTURE OF THE DISTRIBUTORS. TO impart to others is to gain for oneself. If you would learn, teach. If you would have your own spiritual life strengthened and deepened, remember that not by solitary meditation or raptures of silent communion alone can that be accomplished, but by these and by honest, manful work for God in the world.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

An emblem of the whole work of the Church in this starving world. The multitudes famish. Tell Christ of their wants. Count your own small resources till you have completely learned your poverty: then take them to Jesus. He will accept them, and in His hands they will become mighty, being transfigured from human thoughts and forces into Divine words, spiritual powers. On that bread which He gives, do you yourself live. Then carry it boldly to all the hungry. Rank after rank will eat. All races, all ages, from grey hairs to babbling childhood, will find there the food of their souls. As you part the blessing, it will grow beneath His eye; and the longer you give, the fuller handed you will become. Nor shall the bread fail, nor the word become weak, till all the world has tasted of its sweetness, and been refreshed by its potent life.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. What is wanted — food.

2. The urgency of the want — in the wilderness.

II. THE ABUNDANCE OF THE SUPPLY — "He openeth His hand and filleth all things living with plenteousness."

1. Like the five loaves the word is, in the letter of it. contemptible and mean.

2. The miracle instructive on account of its typical character; the disciples received the food they set before the people from the hands of Jesus. We should determine:

(1)To eat the food ourselves;

(2)To distribute it to others.

(C. Clayton, M. A.)

I. OUR MISSION AND OUR WEAKNESS. Hungry men around us. To feed them, superstition offers stones instead of bread. Infidelity tries to persuade that they are not hungry. You say " Who are we that we should feed this multitude, who can count them?" Do not let the magnitude of the work dispirit you. "The supply is scant" you say. There is a tendency to shift responsibility. "Let us send them away into the villages to buy meat."


1. "In immediate obedience to Christ's commands.

2. In consecrating what we have to Christ.

3. In prayer.

4. In active service.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PRODUCTIONS OF THE EARTH AND OF THE EARTH'S INDUSTRY, OUTWARD POSSESSIONS AND BENEFITS, THE THINGS THAT ARE CONSUMED IN THE USING. Shut up your bread-corn in a granary, and though it may not rot, it cannot grow; but strow it Abroad over the furrows of the ground, and it will swell into a harvest. Lock up your piece of silver or gold, and it is no better than dead; but send it out into the world's free commerce, and the rusty solitary shall become a glittering host. An avaricious policy is dull-sighted and thriftless. It saves, but to be barren. Modern science teaches us that public wealth is born of trust and free communications.

II. INTELLIGENCE AND KNOWLEDGE, THE POWER OF LEARNING AND THE TREASURES OF LEARNING, ARE MULTIPLIED BY DISTRIBUTION. The human mind is not less ready than the soil to render back with interest what is sown in it. Jesus gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. That is the way in which instruction is imparted. It passes from one to the many. It finds companions. Truth begets truth; and you must have a company to show the supply. What would have seemed inconsiderable if left by itself, grows into great account as it is sent forward among those who apprehend it, and transmit it in new and manifold forms. It is manifested, it is accumulated, by travelling down among the sympathies and wants of those whose hearts love it, whose natures crave it, and whose ability and experience reproduce and recommend it to all men.

III. JOY, HOPE, AND ALL CHEERING INFLUENCES ARE INCREASED BY BEING SENT ROUND FROM A SINGLE MIND AMONG THE RANKS OF THE WORLD'S POOR SOJOURNERS. Nothing is more heightened by communication than just such impulses as those we here require. Joy and hope are social; they ask for companionship; they spread by contact and mutual encouragement. He who has awakened them in his own breast, finds them greatly enhanced by expressing them; and their expression is caught up and repeated by numberless voices that had till then slept.

(L. N. Frothingham.)

The tall grass which, broken down by the feet of the thousands there gathered together, would make as it were "couches" for them to recline upon.

(Dean Stanley.)

, Lapide.
From whence God multiplies the crops of corn from a few grains, from thence He multiplied the loaves in His own hands. For the power was in the hands of Christ. For those five loaves were, as it were, seed, not indeed committed to the earth, but multiplied by Him who made the earth.

( Augustine.)When you give a loaf or a coin to a poor man, you do not lose it, but you sow it; for, as from one grain of seed many grains grow, so it is likewise with loaves and money.


Christ could as welt have multiplied the loaves whole; why would He rather do it in the breaking? Perhaps to teach us that in the distribution of our goods we should expect His blessing, and not in their entireness and reservation. There is no man but increaseth by scattering.

(Bishop Hall.)

"Send them away, that they may buy victuals." Here was a strong charity, but a weak faith: a strong charity, in that they would have the people relieved; a weak faith, in that they supposed they could not otherwise be so well relieved. As a man, when he sees many ways lie before him, takes that which he thinks both fairest and nearest, so do they: this way of relief lay openest to their view and promised most.

(Bishop Hall.)

The Roman poet Juvenal describes a large provision-basket, together with a bundle of hay, as being part of the equipment of the Jewish mendicants who thronged the grove of Egeria at Rome. The motive for this custom was to avoid ceremonial impurity in eating, or in resting at night.

(A. Cart.)

Likely he was weary in body, and also worn in spirit for lack of that finer sympathy which His disciples could not give Him. being very earthly yet. He who loves his fellows and labours among those who can ill understand him will best know what this weariness of our Lord must have been like He had to endure the world-pressure of surrounding humanity in all its ungodlike phases.

(George Macdonald.)

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