They all ate and were satisfied. Matthew 15:38a
Time and again in the Gospel accounts, no sooner are the sick laid at Jesus’ feet than, in compassionate grace, He reaches out and heals them (15:29-30). With their loved ones healed, the crowds happily stay with Jesus and hear Him teaching for three days, glorifying God as they do (15:31-32). But while man does not live by bread alone, neither does he live without bread at all, and after three days, these happy people were likely beginning to starve. So again in compassionate grace, Jesus again uses His faithless disciples to multiply and distribute a mere “seven loaves and a few fish,” to fully satisfy a crowd of upwards of 10,000 people, with a huge supply of leftovers (15:33-39)!
A. Sand wrote in his commentary on Matthew: “In the logic of the Gospel it appears that there is some kind of intimate connection between healing people and feeding them.” In both the healing of great crowds, as well as the feeding of the four-thousand, we find the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated; and we will examine our text in Matthew as we celebrate the reformation rallying cry, “Sola Gratia,” or grace alone. Next Sunday’s text in Matthew chapter 15 manifests the truth that the apostle John documented about the coming of “grace and truth” in the person of the Messiah. In John chapter 1, the apostle writes: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. …For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:14,16-17). In both of the stories in our text, Jesus saves, heals, and provides on the basis of grace alone, apart from all merit on the part of both those receiving the benefits of grace and those being used as a means of grace.
The grace of God is no more clearly revealed than in the salvation of God’s elect, where according to Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sola Gratia is important because it accurately conveys the fact that God saves people because of His mercy and goodness and not because of anything that makes them desirable to God or worthy to be saved.