Some were present and benefited from His power
A very short account of an incident in Matthew 8.14-15, relates to Simon Peters mother-in-law. It appears that the Lord was visiting the house when He was confronted by the fact that she was ill with a fever. He "touched her hand, and the fever left her". The story could not be simpler. There was a need, He met it, and life went on. She made a good recovery, for she was immediately busy serving the heavenly guest!
In complete contrast to the previous episode is the story, in 12.9-14, of the man with the withered hand who was brought to His notice in the synagogue. This was a contentious attempt to put the Lord in a situation in which He could be criticised for working on the Sabbath. He took the opportunity of showing that a person is of vastly more value than an animal. His critics would show mercy to a needy sheep on the Sabbath; why should He not help a needy man? The man is not an active participant in any of the discussion or action so far. Then the Saviour, almost abruptly, says to him, "Stretch forth thine hand". The man had not asked for help, though it is clear that he needed it. The Saviour is not represented as going to the synagogue to meet the man. But he was there, and he was needy, and the Saviour cared, though the critics did not. But could he stretch forth his hand, as he had been bidden to do? Was he willing to be healed? If so, how would he prove his willingness? If he were unwilling to stretch forth his hand he would remain unhealed. His willingness and the Saviours power were the two intertwined factors in his healing. We may say that, strictly speaking, the order should be "the Saviours power and his willingness"; be that as it may, the two factors are inextricably linked. What God has joined together...
He set up the situation in which He fed the 5,000
The miraculous feeding of the 5,000 men, as well as women and children, is related in 14.13-21. It is most unusual in that it is the one miracle related in all four Gospels. Matthew and Mark both comment on the compassion which moved the Saviour to provide for the people on this occasion. They had followed Him to hear Him and be helped. It was late in the day and they were hungry. The disciples suggested that the crowds be sent away to get what food they could in the area. But the Saviour had other plans. They need not go away. The disciples should give them food! The problem was that they had inadequate supplies. His reply is most significant: "Bring them hither to me". When our resources are inadequate for our service for the Lord, the solution is to bring them to Him, admit our inadequacy, and look to Him to work. His grace is seen in this situation in that He made the supplies adequate, but He routed the distribution through the hands of the disciples. So they did indeed give the people food, but only through the power which He provided. The lesson is surely important, for it is also included in all four Gospels. Perhaps the point is, not that the needy had faith to be fed, but that the servants of God had faith to make their inadequate resources all available to Him who could make it abundantly more than adequate.