JESUS SOON found that if he wished to be alone with his disciples, he must leave the land of Tyre and Sidon; for after he had cured the woman’s child of her evil spirit, the people were coming to him for other mighty works. He made up his mind to go farther away, and taking his disciples, he went to Sidon, north of Tyre, and then not through Galilee, but around it, to the river Jordan, north of the Sea of Galilee. He crossed the Jordan, and on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee came to a country called Decapolis, or “the land of the Ten Cities,” from ten large places in that region. While they were on this journey, few people saw them, and as they walked together he talked to his disciples and taught them many things.
The place to which Jesus came was not far from the. town where some months before he had cast out from a poor man a whole army of evil spirits and had sent them into the drove of hogs. At that time, you remember, the people had come to Jesus and had begged him to go away from them, for they had seen his power, but knew nothing of his goodness. But after that miracle, the man who had been cured went all through this land, of the Ten Cities, telling the people everywhere of the good work Jesus had done to him and how much they had lost in sending him away.
On this second visit of Jesus to this land, the people were ready and eager for his coming. They gathered around Jesus with great joy, and came from near and from far to see him. He went up into a mountain and sat down with his disciples, hoping to be alone. But the people came to him in great crowds, bringing with them those that were lame, and ill with different diseases. They laid these suffering people at his feet, and asked him to cure them. He made them all well. They all wondered, as they saw the dumb talking, the cripples made sound, the lame walking about and the blind seeing; and they all praised the God of Israel.
At this time they led to Jesus a man who was very deaf, and who stammered so that people could scarcely understand his words. They asked Jesus to place his hand on this man and cure him. But Jesus would not do this in public, with a crowd of people looking on. He led him away out of the throng to a place where they could be by themselves. He put his fingers into the man’s ears, and then, moistening one finger upon his own tongue, with it touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven with a sigh, he said, “Be opened.” The man’s ears and his tongue were at once set free; he could hear and could speak plainly. Jesus forbade the man and his friends to tell anyone about the cure; but contrary to his command they made it known everywhere. All who saw this man were astonished; and they said of Jesus, “He has done everything well! He makes even the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak!”
The crowd clung to Jesus and followed him for three days. By that time whatever food the people had brought with them had been eaten and yet they stayed with Jesus, never thinking of their needs. Jesus called his disciples together and said to them :
“My heart is touched on account of all these people; for they have now been with me three days and they have nothing to eat. Some of them have come from distant places, and I cannot bear to send them away hungry for fear that they may break down by the way.”
“Where can we,” the disciples asked him, “in a lonely place like this, with no towns near, find bread for such a crowd as this?”
“How many loaves have you?” asked Jesus.
“We have in all seven loaves,” they answered, “and with them a few small fishes.”
Jesus told all the crowds to sit down upon the ground; and when they had done so, he held up the loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks to his heavenly Father for them. Then he broke the loaves into pieces, also the dried fish, and gave them to the disciples. The disciples distributed them among the people; and everyone had all that he wanted to eat.
After the meal, the disciples went around with large baskets, and picked up of the food left over seven baskets full. At this time the people who were fed by Jesus were four thousand men, besides women and children. When all were satisfied, Jesus told them to go back to their homes; then with his disciples, he went into the boat and sailed across the Sea of Galilee.