Matthew 14:13-16 … “When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, ‘This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.’ But Jesus said unto them, ‘They need not depart; give ye them to eat’” (KJV).
The paths of fellowship and relationship had been meaningful for both Jesus and John the Baptist. They had been linked together in prophecy dating all the way back to the prophet Malachi. Their mothers were cousins. Their ministries were united in purpose. Their message was repentance and holiness.
John willingly decreased in the sight of his admirers in order to give his energies to the increase of Jesus the Christ and His mission here on Earth. Jesus loved John and said of him, “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” (Luke 7:28).
When news came to Jesus of John’s death, Jesus was deeply moved. He imposed upon Himself a time of seclusion, no doubt to reflect upon the life and times of John and to contemplate the turbulent times leading to His own sacrifice. This time of rest was interrupted by the thousands who had followed Him to a desert place. Scripture points out, “Now Jesus called His disciples to himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’” (Matthew 15:32).
Jesus never takes the phone off the hook. He never puts an “out to lunch” sign upon His door. He is the accessible Savior. The songwriter phrased it beautifully when he said, “I can call Jesus anytime!”
Throughout the day, Jesus blessed the multitude with His words and miracles. At the end of the day, while He had fed the spiritual man, He knew that the natural man needed nourishment, as well. The disciples urged Him to send the people away so they could find food. It is at this moment that Christ astounded His disciples with this challenge: “They need not depart, give ye them to eat.” He seemed to be saying everything that was needed was already present. There was no need to look any further for help in feeding the multitude of 5,000 men. The call of Jesus is the same to the church today. There is never a reason to turn anyone away.