Friday, June 18, 2010

Mark 8:1-10 Jesus Feeds The Four Thousand

1 In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 “And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” 4 Then His disciples answered Him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” 6 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. 7 They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. 8 So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. 9 Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, 10 immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

This passage is paralleled in Matt. 15:32-39 and occurs chronologically after Jesus fed the five thousand near the eastern hilly shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. Now this occurs in Decapolis in the land of the Gentiles. For Jesus’ having healed a man there who was brought to Him now has a huge multitude begin to follow Him and these all continue with Him three days and so they having nothing to eat the Lord has compassion on them.

Though Jesus previously miraculously fed a great multitude of five thousand this occurrence has some distinctions in contrast to the previous occurrence. In the feeding of the five thousand the Jewish Passover was at hand and thus Jesus intentionally uses that incident to reveal that He is the embodiment of it, first to be broken as the bread is broken and distributed freely amongst them, then to have His blood shed as a sacrifice for the sins of world, thus through that incident Jesus manifests Himself as God’s Manna sent from heaven to feed people Spiritually to give them Spiritual life. “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 Therefore it was the Spiritually realities that underlie that miraculous act that Jesus was clearly emphasizing and portraying to them, testing both His disciples and them so that their hearts and the depth of their faith might be revealed to them (Read John 6:26-69).
As well this time the disciples do not ask Jesus to send the multitude away to buy bread for themselves as they did before when He presented them with the situation, after just one day, since Jesus again initiates, but this time He says to the disciples: 2 “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 “And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Vs. 2-3
Jesus then is again demonstrating a heartfelt concern for those who seek to follow Him. What is different is there are no towns or villages nearby as in the feeding of the five thousand which took place near Bethsaida where the multitude could’ve been sent away to buy bread for themselves. So the situation in that sense is far more direr. What isn’t different is the disciple’s hardness of heart which seems to be blinded to the possibility that Jesus can feed these folks just as He did in the other incident. Maybe in some ways we are seeing the progression of faith that Jesus builds in His disciples as He spiritually feeds them? For the disciples respond to Jesus by saying …“How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?” vs. 4 Yet for Jesus to feed this multitude as He has already demonstrated is nothing. What is needed is our faith and our willingness to enter into His Work in the world. Are you then willing to enter into Christ’s labors with Him? The disciples, though not unwilling to enter into God’s labor were unsure on how the need was going to be met, and thus they handcuffed themselves. For they were looking at it from a perspective of what can they do to meet the need, rather than what Christ can. But Jesus doesn’t work that way. If He did He would raise up for Himself a couple of Bill Gates type philanthropy workers and seek to build His Kingdom that way. But Jesus doesn’t work that way. He works through ordinary people with ordinary lives, abilities and resources and does extraordinary things. So that God receives the glory, not man (Consider 1 Cor. 1:26-31). Therefore Jesus responds to the disciples question by saying …“How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” Vs. 5 Notice Jesus doesn’t say how much money is in the money box; as the disciples reasoned in the feeding of the five thousand, that they didn’t have enough money to buy bread so all the multitude could eat (John 6:7). Instead Jesus says to the disciples how much bread do you have on hand? Not what you will have when you retire or acquire “enough”.
But what do have on hand right now that you can use to build His Kingdom? Time, talents, resources, personal connections, you name it, for you know. What can you give to the most worthy cause in the world? That is for the salvation of it, from the sin within it, and the death that results from it (Rom. 6:23). God has given everybody something. Even our fears and failures God can turn into good for His kingdom when we trust Him to do what we can’t. In feeding of the five thousand incident it was a faith filled boy who provided five loaves and two fish (John 6:9) which became the catalyst that Jesus chose to work through when the disciples despairing, thought they could do nothing; for they were only seeing a crises before them, rather than the possibilities. Yet Jesus met the entire need so that everyone could eat, and still there were twelve baskets of left over fragments; the significance of which we won’t get into right now. So now Jesus is asking His disciples to trust to Him with what they have, so that He might multiply it.

So with the disciples giving to Jesus the seven loaves He commands the multitude to sit on the ground. And with that He takes the seven loafs gives thanks and in His hands (don’t miss this) Jesus breaks the bread and gives it to His disciples who then distribute it to the crowds (vs. 6), similarly with the fish (vs. 7). First our lives and resources go into Christ’s hands then He distributes them through His disciples so that all the need is met. That is how the early church functioned (Acts 4:32-36; 6:1-7). Now we don’t have to dogmatically follow that pattern (and become cult like), nor do we give blindly and without discernment and accountability. But we do have a clear Biblical model of co-operative faith working together, which is so much better than individuals striving apart to achieve the same goal.

And with that everybody ate and was filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. The significance being that is what they started out with! What at the start looked like it would cost them everything in reality cost them nothing. In the Book of Ecclesiastes it says:
“Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days.” Ecc. 11:1
Where’s your bread in your storehouse gathering mold (consider Luke 12:15-48) or is it in the Lord’s hands where He can multiply it and distribute it so that others and yourself will be filled by Him. The passage concludes by saying that those who ate were about four thousand (vs. 9). As well it states that Jesus sent the multitudes away, something that Jesus frequently did, either personally greeting people or bidding them a farewell. Even with large crowds, Jesus was a Man of gracious hospitality; a Man who delivered His Kingdom message with tact and grace so that all might believe and be saved. And so with the people’s departure Jesus immediately got into the boat with His disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha to minister there (vs.10). Now serving Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of heaven begins by first entering into it. And this anyone can do when they believe in Jesus Christ crucified and raised from dead so that their sins can be forgiven and they can be brought into a everlasting relationship with God the Father through faith in Him. For the Scripture says: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Rom. 10:9-13

Have you called on the name of the Lord? Sincerely and truthfully, knowing that there is nothing you can do to save yourself from your sins? God isn’t out to condemn you for admitting to Him what He already knows about you. But He is out to change you, first by providing atonement for your sins that is what Jesus’ crucifixion accomplishes. He saves you from His judgment against your sins. Then He transforms you. That is what the Holy Spirit does, conforming your character to Christ’s. Not your personality, but your moral and spiritual character to Jesus Christ’s. Who when He became flesh became the perfect embodiment of what humanity should be like. That is God’s salvation plan for humanity, for everyone who repents of their sins and turns to God through faith in Jesus Christ, God by the Holy Spirit makes them a new creation In Christ and thus apart of God’s new created order to be physically established with Christ’s return. For now the Kingdom of God is as Jesus said within you, within everyone who believes in Him and has believed in ages past is already apart of Jesus Christ’s eternal Kingdom. The alternative is to remain willfully unbelieving, spiritually dead in ones sins and trespasses separated from God because of them and one day if one dies in that degenerate state to spend an eternity in hell, where Jesus said the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48). But that is not the will of God for anyone, no matter what you have done, that is not God’s will for you, for “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

Therefore while the Lord delays His return don’t delay your decision, be ready for the Lord Jesus Christ’s return by accepting Him and His offer to pardon your sins and change you here and now. For when He returns or you die, it will be too late as Jesus revealed in His parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). That is why the Scriptures say today is the day of salvation, for God will not hold back fulfilling His Word for anyone. Not tomorrow, but right now is the appointed time to invite Jesus Christ into your life while there is still time. You may want to pray a salvation prayer, like Billy Graham uses or you may want to pray something from your own heart. It doesn’t matter what matters is that you invite Jesus Christ into your heart and life and then chose to follow Him in obedience to the gospel that is all that matters. This life is a moment, a fleeting moment, and then it’s gone. Don't waste yours on nothing. Prepare for eternity today by making your decision for Jesus Christ.

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

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