“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ But Jesus said, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’” (Matthew 14:14-16)
This miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes intrigues our imagination. We struggle to see how it happened. One moment Jesus is holding 5 loaves and 2 fish, and the next He is handing out thousands of loaves and fish, so much so that everyone eats until they are full. And there were still leftovers. It was a spectacular miracle, and the people there knew it: it was a sign that Jesus was the Messiah.
The Jews of Jesus’ day expected many such signs and wonders with the coming of the Messiah. One sign would be that He would bring manna, bread from heaven, as Moses gave the children of Israel in the desert. And this is one reason why Jesus performed this miracle. As the leader of the new Israel, like Moses, He would lead the Chosen People out of slavery. Like Moses, Jesus was going to provide them with bread, but the bread that He would give was not literal food. He was going to provide them with the Bread that they needed for eternal life. Jesus is the source of all life, physical and eternal for He is God Himself. He does not just give bread. He Himself is the bread.
But there was another reason why Jesus fed the crowd of people: He had compassion on them. Compassion was the motivating force for what Jesus did and said. It was the basis for His atoning sacrifice on the cross. He wanted to save people who could not help themselves and grant them peace and eternal life. He is still extending compassion to helpless sinners through His people, the church. We must, therefore, follow Jesus and extend compassion towards all those poor sinners trying to find peace and satisfaction in philosophy, science, the media, sexual immorality, and political movements. Truly the church alone has the only solution for the world.