I’ve been working my way through Matthew for my devotional time, supplementing it with David Platt’s Radical. This morning I came across the passage where Jesus feeds the 4000. Of course this is not to be confused with the time when Jesus fed the 5000; and it is not that eye witnesses interviewed by gospel writers pulled a Roger Clemens and “mis-remembered” the same activity as liberal folk will say. This event actually has a different emphasis.
You’ve probably heard it said, “Why care about taking care of physical needs, when the eternal soul is what counts?” Sounds spiritual, doesn’t it? We should care about where people spend eternity, and not about whether or not they live in poverty or have enough to eat for only a temporary period of time, right? While it may sound “spiritual” to the evangelical mind, it is, like my Cuban high school physics teacher taught us to say: “a bunch of bunk!”
Jesus never thought like this, so we can’t either. Check this out.
“Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Matthew 15:32
When Jesus emphasizes the soul over material possession, it is never in relation to the poor and needy, but in connection to the rich and extravagant (Luke 12:19-20).
Why didn’t Jesus say, “It doesn’t matter if they faint or die of hunger, because they now have a chance to go to heaven since they’ve heard the gospel?” Because that kind of thinking is bunk. He cared not only that they not die, but that they not faint for lack of food. He cared about more than their souls, but their physical needs.
Fortunately missionaries in Japan don’t believe in this western, comfortably concocted, “spiritual” Jesus, but instead believe and follow the Jesus of the bible. Let’s never forget that Jesus cares about people not fainting as well as people not spending eternity with Him.