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is not hidden as to its effects, its fruits. But as the work throughout of a supernatural One—the Holy Spirit of God—there are many things about it which flesh and blood can never understand. I prefer the common rendering of verse 8 to that which gives the clause thus“The Spirit bloweth where he willeth.” The power of the comparison is lost in this translation.
John was baptizing in Ænon near to Salim, because there was much water there. “Much water," literally, "many streams."
The common people had heard him gladly. He was now in an unfrequented and secluded place on the eastern side of the sea of Galilee. Luke informs us that “he went privately into a desert place belonging to a city called Bethsaida” (ix. 10). Mark, referring to the same time and circumstances, says that when they were on the western side of the sea, Jesus addressed them, saying—“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” And he adds—“They departed into a desert place by ship privately” (vi. 31, 32). Thus we can trace them to the wilderness on the north-east of the lake of Tiberias, and south of Bethsaida Julias. Luke also tells us that “the people followed him, that he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God.” The multitudes appear to have chiefly been of the common people, one of whom had taken with him barley bread (vi. 9) as a supply for himself and some friend. The barley loaf was used chiefly by the poorer and industrious classes. The bread of the rich was made from wheaten flour. See under Ruth i. 22, ii. 4; and Ezekiel iv. 12.
The Lord in his sovereignty chose the five barley loaves as the basis, as it were, of the miracle. The result is before us.
The people were completely satisfied, and twelve baskets were filled with the fragments, " which remained over and above unto them that had eaten." Like the lad's loaves the fare provided by the miracle was of the homeliest kind, but it was that which constituted the chief article of bread diet of the people whose wants he had thus satisfied. In 2 Kings iv. 42–44, we meet with the Spirit of Jesus enabling Elisha, in circumstances suggestive of those described here, by a miracle to feed a hundred men—“And there came a man from Baal-shalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the first-fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof: and he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, What! should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord.” In this case, equally as in the miracle of our Lord, the manner of the miracle is hidden. We see the loaves, we listen to the commanding word of the prophet, “ Thus saith the Lord,” or we realize what is implied in the expression regarding Jesus, that “when he had given thanks” he distributed the loaves to the people; but we are left in complete ignorance of the mode in which the five loaves were so increased as to be able to supply five thousand, or how Elisha's loaves and ears of corn so multiplied as to be able to satisfy a hundred men.
“ An analogy has been found in this miracle, and as it were an help to the understanding of it, in that which year by year is accomplished in the corn-field, when a single grain of corn cast into the earth multiplies itself, and in the end unfolds in numerous ears; and with allusion to this analogy many beautiful remarks have been made—as this, that while God's every-day miracles had grown cheap in men's sight by continual repetition, he had therefore reserved something, not more wonderful, but less frequent, to arouse men's minds to a new admiration. Others have urged that here, as in the case of the water made wine, he did but compress into a single moment all those processes which in ordinary circumstances he, the same Lord of nature, causes more slowly to follow one another. But, true as in its measure is this last observation, it must not be forgotten that the analogy does not reach through and through. For that other work in the field is the unfolding of the seed according to the law of its own being. Thus, had the Lord taken a few grains of corn and cast them into the ground, and, if a moment after, a large harvest had sprung up, to this the name of such a 'divinely-hastened process' might have been fitly applied. But with bread it is otherwise, since before that is made, there must be new interpositions of man's art, and those of such a nature as that by them the very life, which hitherto unfolded itself, must be crushed and destroyed. A grain of wheat could never by itself, and according to the laws of its natural development, issue in a loaf of bread. And, moreover, the Lord does not start from the simple germ, from the lifeful rudiments, in which all the seeds of a future life might be supposed to be wrapt up, and by him rapidly developed, but with the latest artificial result. One can conceive how the oak is enfolded in the acorn, but not how it could be said to be wrapped up in the piece of timber hewn and shaped from itself. This analogy then, even as such, is not satisfying; and renouncing all helps of this kind, we must simply behold in this multiplying of the bread an act of divine omnipotence on his part who was the Word of God—not indeed now, as at the first, of absolute creation out of nothing, since there was a substratum to work on in the original loaves and fishes, but an act of creative accretion; the bread growing under his hands, so that from that little stock all the multitude were abundantly supplied : 'they did all eat and were filled.'”
”—(Trench.) Chapter x. 1-18.—The Lord's standing as the only Redeemer and shepherd of “the flock of God,” the ready response to him of all who are divinely set to care for the sheep, the violence of intruders, the danger of the flock, the heartlessness of those who, like Eli's sons, have assumed the pastoral office for a bit of bread, Christ's position as the true door into the fold, his devotion to the flock in laying down his life, the ready obedience of the sheep to him, and their eternal safety as in his hands, are all set touchingly before us in this chapter. Every traveller bears testimony to the truthfulness of the picture to scenes which may yet be witnessed in parts of Syria where the wolf (Canis lupus) abounds. “Owing to the wild wadies covered with dense forests of oak and underwood, the country above us has ever been a favourite range for sheep and goats. Those low, flat buildings out on the sheltered side of the valley are sheepfolds. They are called mârâh, and, when the nights are cold, the flocks are shut up in them, but in ordinary weather they are merely kept within the yard. This, you observe, is defended by a wide stone wall, crowned all around with sharp thorns, which the prowling wolf will rarely attempt to scale. The nimer, however, and fahed-the leopard and panther of this country—when pressed with hunger, will overleap this thorny hedge, and with one tremendous bound land among the frightened fold. Then is the time to try the nerve and heart of the faithful shepherd. These humble types of him who leadeth Joseph like a flock never leave their helpless charge alone, but accompany them by day, and abide with them at night. As spring advances, they will move higher up to other mârâhs and greener ranges; and in the hot months of summer they sleep with their flocks on the cool heights of the mountains, with no other protection than a stout palisade of tangled thorn-bushes. Nothing can be more romantic, Oriental, and even Biblical, than this shepherd life far away among the sublime solitudes of goodly Lebanon. Indeed, I never ride over these hills, clothed with flocks, without meditating upon this delightful theme. Our Saviour says that the good shepherd, when he putteth forth his