Friday, May 21, 2010

Mark 6:30-44 Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 “Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

In this section of Mark there are two distinct events; the twelve Apostle’s retuning from their missionary endeavors (See Mark 6:7-13) and Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. The first event speaks to Christ’s concern for His followers who labor for Him; (the need for rest or sabbatical with Him), while the second speaks to His concern for those who need to be fed by Him. Now the first event precedes the second, yet both are interwoven, just as ministry and life are rarely inseparable.
The passage begins with the twelve Apostles, now called, since Jesus Christ Himself first called them to Himself, then appointed them as such (Mark 3:13-19). These men were the ones the Lord Jesus Christ first chose to be with Himself as His elect emissaries. Though there were others who also followed Jesus of both men and women these men (there are only male Apostle’s in the N.T. Scriptures) were to be the ones He would entrust both His message, as well as His church or Body of believers too. These men than would be both eye witnesses to Christ’s crucifixion as well as His resurrection life and later ascension back to the God the Father. Now when they returned to Jesus they told Him all things; both of what they had done and taught (vs. 30) since Jesus didn’t just teach people about the Kingdom of God, He also did many mighty deeds which gave credence to His Words. Now with their returning to Jesus He said to them …Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. Vs. 31-32

Notice Jesus’ first concern upon their returning to Him was for their welfare; for He knows the energy one expends when they are actively doing His ministry as well as the elation at seeing ministry done through oneself by Him. Yet they didn’t even have time to eat, and Jesus thought that point important enough to call for a time of replenishment, a time of rest with Himself and with each other, so that they could do just that. Recharge together as it were. Now it is against that backdrop of Jesus’ desiring to nurture His own disciples that Jesus will also feed the multitudes who were soon to swamp them again. For the passage says starting in verse thirty three that the multitudes saw them departing and that they recognized Him and they started running after Him from all the cities. That is along the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, while Jesus and the disciples made way to a section of territory that belonged to the city of Bethsaida (Luke 9:10) yet many people arrived there before them. And with that Jesus came out to them and seeing the great multitude the Scripture says He had compassion on them, “…because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” Vs. 34 For that is the heart of Jesus for all people, and that is to be the heart of those who shepherd people in His Name. Again look at Jesus’ heart, first towards His disciples, after they returned from their missionary endeavors, than towards the multitudes. His first concern was for their well being. Though the disciples reported all things they did and taught, Jesus doesn’t even comment on their activities, His first concern was for them. That is what precipitated their seeking rest together. Yet in seeking that rest they were soon faced with the multitudes again, and when faced with them Jesus doesn’t neglect them, He has compassion on them and begins to teach them many things. For those seeking knowledge of God and or the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ does not turn away from anyone. And so it will be that Jesus will spend the day (or that portion of it) teaching the crowds many things. Now as the day closes the disciples will tell Jesus to send the multitudes away, so that the crowds can go and buy themselves bread, since they had nothing to eat and the hour was late (vs. 35-36). Whether or not the disciples were concerned for the multitudes well being, or they simply wanted Jesus to send them away is up to speculation, what is not though is Jesus response to them. For instead of sending the multitudes away as they said He should. Jesus says to His disciples “You give them something to eat.” Vs. 37
For that is what Jesus has been doing, feeding the people spiritually. But now He wants the disciples to feed the people physically. In essence to show genuine concern for their person’s. For that is what Jesus has been doing all day, both towards His disciples as well as those who sought Him. The disciples respond though by saying: …“Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” vs. 38 Now a denarii was about a days wages for a laborer, therefore it is highly unlikely that the disciples had that much money on hand (See John 6:7). Therefore the disciples response was natural, a natural response to a seemingly impossible situation. Nonetheless Jesus is not deterred, instead He simply asks them: …“How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” vs. 38

Now Jesus already knew what they had. I believe He asked them the question so that they would go and see what they already had with His prompting them to do so. Now what they actually had was seemingly of little significance in of itself, just five loves and two small fish, but in Christ’s hands what seems like little has exceedingly great potential as we will see. Therefore Jesus has the disciples organize the people into ranks of fifties and hundreds having them sit down on the green grass (vs. 39-40). Now from that position the people are not only more comfortable and relaxed, but the people will be able to see all that transpires next. So with that Jesus takes up the five loaves (these are more like flat bread than the loves of bread that we westerners are accustomed too) and the two small fish in His hands and looking up to heaven Jesus blessed and broke the loaves than gave them to His disciples. Notice that Jesus looked up into heaven for God is the source of every good thing and Jesus' doing so was acknowledging that fact. Than Jesus blessed the loaves and broke them into serving size portions in His own hands. The New Living Translation renders it that Jesus kept giving the disciples the bread and the fish and thus the miracle kept being multiplied in His hands, over and over again till all ate and were filled (vs. 41-42). Now when they all ate and were filled the disciples took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish (vs. 43). The abundance being such that not only were the five thousand fed but the disciples as well. Now there are a couple of things to note about the feeding of five thousand.
First as Jesus breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples, the miracle is being multiplied until all the need is met. Christ sent no one away hungry. In one sense what occurred there is a picture of the miracle of new life which everyone will have who eats of Jesus Christ, as Jesus said: ...“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." John 6:35
Second the miracle itself is only multiplied in Christ’s hands. It's not the disciples who multiply the bread and fish, it's Christ. Now as the disciples gave what little they had to Jesus, He then multiplies it and gives it back to them to feed the multitudes. In some ways that is a picture of one’s faith in Jesus Christ which may start out small at the beginning but in Christ’s hands it is so multiplied that soon it is feeding others as well. Therefore put your faith in Jesus Christ and let Him work out all the things that you can’t and He will make your faith fruitful and multiply it.
Third where our resources run out Christ’s does not. Now in this a distinction must be made. For in living by faith I believe God does not give us Christian’s, whether as individual believers or collective assembly’s resources to hoard up, or foolishly or frivolously squander. Sound discipleship by faith in Jesus Christ is always Biblically linked with sound stewardship for Him. Notice too that Jesus does not to point the disciples to money as the solution to feeding the five thousand, as they initially thought it was, but to Himself. For that is where fruitful ministry begins, not with how many resources one has, rather how much of Jesus Christ and obedience to His will does one have (Consider John 15:1-8). For resources are never expounded as a priority pursuit by the Lord Jesus Christ for His followers. Rather seeking the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness than all these things shall be added to you is what the Lord Jesus said (Matt. 6:33). Now I have experienced in my own life when I ask Jesus Christ in faith, I find His strength and His understanding sufficient for my need at that moment and that is what Jesus is showing the disciples here. So don’t be handcuffed by your own limitations, or the limitations others set on you, rather be set free by Christ’s unlimited resources to both provide and empower you when you seek to do His will.

Scripture Quotations
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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