Matt.14:13,14 – Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard about this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He came ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.
This is one of the defining miracles of the ministry of Jesus; feeding the 5,000. This verse gives us a glimpse into the very heart of the ministry of Jesus. He was moved with compassion. Mark connected the compassion of Jesus to teaching the people, Matthew spoke of the healing miracles, and all four gospels said that He multiplied the fish and bread to feed the people. The Shepherd loves His sheep and leads them into His green pastures. Today our Shepherd cares for His sheep. He feeds us with His word, He heals our sicknesses, and He still multiplies fish and bread and provides for us. Here is how Barnes describes today’s passage.
“Mark 6:34 says he was moved with compassion because they were as sheep having no shepherd. A. shepherd is one who takes care of a flock. It was his duty to feed it, to defend it from wolves and other wild beasts; to take care of the young and feeble; to lead it by green pastures and still waters…. When Christ says the people were as sheep without a shepherd, he means that they had no teachers and guides who cared for them, and took pains to instruct them. The scribes and Pharisees were haughty and proud, and cared little for the common people; and when they did attempt to teach them, they led them astray. They therefore came in great multitudes to him who preached the gospel to the poor, and who was thus the good Shepherd.”
Mankind today still has the same basic needs that we have had since the time of the ministry of Jesus. We still long for the compassion of Jesus. We may think we need physical provision, or a healing miracle, or some other divine intervention. The Lord still does those things, but that is not really what we are longing for. The miracles may get us by for another day, but what our hearts are longing for is God’s love. That alone will satisfy and sustain our hungry hearts.