It wasn’t just a crowd of anybody and everybody. This crowd was a specific crowd. It was the caregivers. And they were there by the thousands bringing to Jesus those who wouldn’t walk, talk, see or hear.
If you’ve ever been a full-time caregiver then you understand this moment. Care giving is intense. It means that almost every second of the day is about fulfilling someone else’s needs and desires, because they are legit. And unlike parenting, caregiving doesn’t necessarily lead to more and more life. What awaits at you the end is great sorrow. It’s your biggest fears coming to pass.
And that is nothing to say about the physical aspect of care giving. There’s no other way to put it then that it is manual labor. You are picking someone up and transferring them to the bathroom, to the bed, to the chair, back to the bathroom, back to the chair and on and on. It’s hard labor. And we live in the time of wheelchairs! And lifts. And more. But look at the Scriptures here.
It was over 4000 besides women and children who brought the crippled and lame. And Jesus was on a mountain! That meant all those cripples and lame ones had to be carried on backs, on pallets and on anything possible to get them to Jesus. Literally up a mountain! And when they did finally get their loved ones up the mountain, they had to compete with thousands of others to get to Jesus. I’m sure it wasn’t just one attempt but many.
Why, oh why, Jesus did you not set up camp on the plains?
Already the caregivers were exhausted. Emotionally drained. Their bodies could take little more. And there was no food. It was an enforced fast. For three days. Only there was no time to rest. If they wanted their loved one healed they had to get to Jesus.
I’ve fasted before. And a three day water fast not doing a lot can wipe me out. I can’t imagine this crowd on the mountain carrying cripples up hill over rocky terrain.
“Jesus called his disciples to him and said,
“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way” (Mt 16:32).
That was no joke.
“He told the crowd to sit down on the ground,” (Mt 15:35).
They all needed the rest.
It was then that Jesus fed the 4000.
Jesus saw the need. He also saw the sacrifice to do whatever it took to get to him. So in turn he shepherded his sheep. He healed them. Told them to lie down. Then he fed them.
They call him Jesus.