Miracles authenticated Christ and illustrate the way He heals and gives life to the soul. We learn of His compassion, and of His test of faith for the disciples. Then the eight purposes of the miracle, all showing Christ and how He should be proclaimed.
‘And the apostles gather themselves together unto Jesus’ – that is, after their mission work – ‘and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile, for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.’ And our subject is ‘The Supreme Teaching Miracle’, and that is what we shall mainly be looking at: the feeding of the 5000, a teaching miracle. Well, all the miracles were teaching miracles. They were not only mighty invincible demonstrations of the divinity of Christ – the fact that he was God, come in the flesh – but they also showed how he was Christ, that he was the true Messiah, the Prophet, Priest and King, prophesied, promised to the Old Testament, the great descendant of Abraham and of David, the one who would be the Saviour of the world, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed.
And all the features of the types were fulfilled in him, and this is demonstrated in this miracles. The miracles are so full of meaning. We do not reduce them only to demonstrations of his divinity. They were that, of course, first and foremost, but there were more. They were teaching miracles, and this is seen here in what is often called the supreme teaching miracle; because it’s the only miracle in all four Gospels. Because it has the greatest number of participants or beneficiaries of any miracle; not one person healed but thousands fed, 5000 men, and elsewhere in the Gospels we are told that didn’t count the women and the children. Who knows how many ? Some people guess at very large numbers: 20,000. One would think perhaps that’s unlikely, that [maybe] 10,000.
In fact this miracle hadn’t been carried out by God for fifteen centuries. The manna that came down from heaven to the people in the time of Moses, and the centuries pass and now comes the Messiah, and he feeds five to ten – or however many – thousand people with miraculous bread, and they were privileged to be the first recipients of such bread since the giving of the manna. So it is the supreme teaching miracle. There you see [that] it even fulfils – so that Christ fulfils – the great type of the giving of the manna, and he says so himself. He is the bread of God who comes down from heaven for the life of men and women.
There is so much in the miracles. We do not have to go to the fanciful extremes of some of the mediaeval exegetes on the these parables, and invent all sorts of ideas that perhaps they depict, but there are obvious features in every miracle, where Christ is shown. Not just: he must be the Son of God, but look at him, fulfilling the types and the shadows; look at him, bringing all the features that are predicted and prophesied of the Saviour of the world. There is meaning and significance in them.