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Luke 9:12 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

This miracle of our Saviour's feeding five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, is recorded by all the evangelists, and in the history of it we have these observable particulars:

1. The seasonable expression of the disciples' pity towards the multitude, who had long fasted, and wanted now the ordinary comforts and supports of life; it well becomes the ministers of Christ to have respect to the bodily wants as well as to the spiritual necessities of their people.

Observe, 2. The motion which the disciples make to Christ on behalf of the multitude: Send them away, that they may go into the towns and country, and get victuals. Here was a strong charity, but a weak faith; a strong charity in desiring the people's relief, but a weak faith in supposing that they could no other way be relieved, but by sending them away; forgetting that Christ, who had healed the multitude miraculously, could also feed them miraculously whenever he pleased; all things being equally easy to an almighty power.

Observe, 3. Our Saviour's strange reply to the disciples' request: They need not depart, give ye them to eat. Need not depart, why? The people must either feed or famish; victuals they must have, and a dry desert will afford none; yet says Christ to his disciples, Give ye them to eat. Alas poor disciples! They had nothing for themselves to eat, how then should they give the multitude to eat?

When Christ requires of us what we of ourselves are unable to perform, it is to discover to us our own impotency and weakness, to provoke us to look up to him, and to depend by faith on his almighty power.

Observe, 4. What a poor and slender provision the Lord of the whole earth has for himself and his family: five barley loaves, and two fishes: teaching us, that these bodies of ours must be fed, but not pampered. Our belly must not be our master, much less our god. The end of food is to sustain nature; we must not stifle her with a gluttonous variety. And as the quality of the victuals was plain, so the quantity of it was small; five loaves, and two fishes: well might the disciples say, What are they among so many? The eye of sense and reason sees an utter impossibility of those effects which faith can easily apprehend, and a divine power more easily reproduce.

Observe, 5. How Christ, the great master of the feast does marshal his guests: He commands them all to sit down by fifties in a company. None of them reply, "Sit down! But to what? Here are the mouths, but where's the meat? We may soon be set, but what shall we be served?" Not a word like this, but they obey and expect.

Lord! How easy it is to trust thy providence, and rely upon thy power, when there is corn in the barn, bread in the cupboard, money in the purse; but when our stores are empty, when we have nothing in hand, then to depend upon an invisible bounty, is a noble act of faith indeed.

Observe, 6. The actions performed by our blessed Saviour: He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to the disciples, and they to the multitude.

1. He blessed them teaching us by his example never to use or receive the good creatures of God, without prayer and praise; never to sit down to our food as a beast to his fodder.

2. Christ brake the loaves: he could have multiplied them whole. Why then would he rather do it in the breaking? Perhaps to teach us that we may rather expect his blessing in the distribution of his bounty than in the reservation of it. Scattering is the way to increasing, liberality is the way to riches.

3. Christ gave the loaves thus broken to the disciples, that they might distribute to the multitude. But why did Christ distribute by the disciples' hands? Doubtless to gain respect to his disciples from the people: and the same course does our Lord take in a spiritual distribution. He that could feed the world by his own immediate hand, chooses rather by the hand of his ministers to divide the bread of life amongst his people.

Observe, 7. The certainty and greatness of this miracle: They did all eat, and were filled, they did all eat, not a crumb or a bit, but a satiety and fullness; all that were hungry did eat, and all that did eat were satisifed; and yet twelve baskets of fragments remain: more is left than was at first set on.

It is hard to say which was the greatest miracle; the miraculous eating or the miraculous leaving. If we consider what they left, we may wonder that they ate anything; if what they ate, that they left anything.

Observe lastly, these fragments, though of barley loaves and fish-bones, must not be lost, but at our Saviour's command gathered up: the great Housekeeper of the world will not allow the loss of his leftovers.

Lord! How tremendous will their accounts be, who having large and plentiful estates, do consume them upon their lust! How will they wish they had been born to poverty and want, when they appear to make up their account before God!

Consult other comments:

Luke 9:12 - The Greek Testament

Luke 9:12 - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Luke 9:12 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Luke 9:12 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Luke 9:12 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Luke 9:12 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Luke 9:12 - Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

Luke 9:12 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Luke 9:12 - The Expositor’s Greek Testament by Robertson

Luke 9:12 - Discovering Christ In Selected Books of the Bible

Luke 9:12 - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Luke 9:12 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Luke 9:12 - Godet Commentary (Luke, John, Romans and 1 Corinthians)

Luke 9:12 - Henry Alford's Greek Testament

Luke 9:12 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Luke 9:12 - The Popular Commentary on the Bible by Kretzmann

Luke 9:12 - Expositions Of Holy Scripture by Alexander MacLaren

Luke 9:12 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Luke 9:12 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Luke 9:12 - Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Luke 9:12 - Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

Luke 9:12 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Luke 9:12 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Luke 9:12 - You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series by Bob Utley

Luke 9:12 - Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament

Luke 9:12 - Combined Bible Commentary

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament