Monday, November 19, 2012

Mark 6:41-44 Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

41 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God’s blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people. 42 They all ate as much as they wanted, 43 and they picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. 44 Five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves!

Often times in ministry we bind ourselves to mammon rather then to love as if more resources is where our success lay. If only we had this or that… Jesus’ young protégée’s are no different. Jesus had intended to spend some respite time with the disciples, but when the crowds recognized Him they quickly followed. And soon a great multitude was gathered. Now what happens next is foundational to understanding the passages significance “…and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He taught them many things.” vs. 34 Jesus’ first response was to have compassion on the thronging multitude who came to see the Great miracle worker from Galilee. His second response was to begin to teach. For He sensed their spiritual hunger and filling that need first is paramount to restoring broken and hurting people back to God. And in this Jesus’ teachings, while upholding the Law, were rooted in grace and truth (John 1:17). Almost always then He taught about the Kingdom of God and not just the Law. He often spoke in parables using symbolism that captivated His audiences, and it was through these that He both revealed, and kept secret Kingdom mysteries. For a people reared on religion Jesus was more then just a great teacher. Israel was filled with gifted rabbis and scribes. Yet Jesus transcended all their understandings of the Law, and seemed to speak as the very Authority of God’s Word. If people were not captivated to silence by His teachings, they were compelled to praise by His miracles. Jesus to even the most immovable was a Man whose words and deeds were mighty. Yet acknowledging His Might as He ominously taught is no substitute for ones repentance and faith (Matt. 11:20-30).

Initially then Capernaum and its surrounding regions was where Jesus conducted most of His early ministry. He taught in their synagogues and did many mighty deeds there. And it is that region where Christ’s declaration of His Person and fourfold witness is first cited in John’s gospel. That being the witness of John the Baptist (John 5:31-35); the witness of Christ’s own works (John 5:36); the witness of Christ’s Father (John 5:37-38); and finally the witness of the Scriptures themselves which they say they believed, yet remained unmoved by to come and find life through the Incarnate Word of God amongst them (John 5:39-47). Instead they honored each other in God’s Name, yet would not receive Jesus' Testimony (vs. 40-44). They laid claim to Moses (through whom God gave the Law) yet Moses wrote about Jesus Christ that He is the Prophet to come (vs. 45-46). Yet they largely rejected Him. So before His departure Jesus openly declares their own unbelief to them, saying: “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (vs. 47). So Jesus leaves them and moves by way of Jerusalem to the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee, to a region barren of synagogues and religious trappings. He has an object lesson to teach His disciples that will transcend more then just miraculously feeding five thousand people with bread, but that He Himself is the Bread of Life and they (His followers) must not only feed on Him, but also feed all people with Him. That lesson still applies today. For in a world of spiritual hunger and despair there is only One who can satisfy the soul. Therefore Jesus’ miracle here on the desolate heights surrounding the Sea of Galilee is more then just an impromptu act of mercy. It is pre-conceived, and its true purpose is to bring forth Christ’s Testimony, a testimony that was rejected in Capernaum’s regions, but a testimony so powerful when it is simply received by faith can radically change ones outlook, life and destiny (John 1:12). That is: the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Savior of the world (John 3:16).
Therefore it will be in the midst of this impromptu gathering, with it’s soon to be setting sun, that Jesus will plant another seed of faith in the disciple's hearts. But that’s the future. For now the disciple’s growing uneasiness at the crowd’s size, the late hour, and Jesus’ relaxed demeanor about it all, initially blinds them to all the potential for God working amongst them. So with some anxiousness and a bit of trepidation they approach Jesus, and ask Him to send the multitudes away, that the people might buy themselves bread from the surrounding villages. Now Jesus’ response is not to send anyone away to search for food. Instead He says to the disciples, You feed them” vs 37 which was the last thing they would’ve expected to hear given the circumstances. Even taken at a glance the implications of His Words are staggering, feed them “with what?” they asked. “It would take a small fortune to buy food for all this crowd!” is their reply. Nonetheless they conduct a quick search and all they can amass is seven loaves and two small fish donated from a young and faith filled boy. Now what? I mean you can’t feed multitudes from crumbs (seven loaves divided by five thousand portions equals crumbs). Yet it is through these kinds of “perilous moments” that God permits in our lives that He wants us to overcome our fears and do for others as He’s done for us. For the Lord doesn’t hear their fretting, for He simply say’s: “You feed them.” Now Jesus’ could have agreed with the disciples; given into their anxiety; and let them send the crowds away. But Jesus has no intention of letting the disciples off like that. Personal growth always means overcoming personal fears. When Jesus say’s “You feed them” He’s talking to us all. He’s saying don’t send people away hungry, have faith and feed them. Share the Bread of Life both in words and deeds. Though you start off with only a child’s offering, give some here and little there, and He’ll not let it run out. But feed the people with what you have (rather than waiting for what you don't have) for the more you give, the more that ultimately remains, because God wants all people fed and when they are filled; for us to pick up the fragments and make sure that nothing is lost. That is the ongoing miracle that Jesus’ continually demonstrates through believers lives; He takes what little we have and through it feeds multitudes. Our part is simply to keep looking to Him in faith, and going forward in faith, not noting what we don’t have, but what we do. That in a nutshell is the life of faith.
Therefore in the gospel Jesus never says’ go out with a hoards of resources and harvest. Instead He says trust Me to work through you with what you have. Invest your time, your talents, your money, in essence your life and I will multiply your fruits. Five thousand people okay maybe that’s a bit daunting for a first time effort. But how about a timely visit or an invite for a coffee, or just a simple hello to get things moving. An encouraging word or a sincerely kind gesture just might feed someone who is hungry today, and change a life’s course forever.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982



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