Bread of Heaven
“Our Father…” (Slowly pray through the Lord’s Prayer, thinking about each phrase.)
Read MARK 8:1–13
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
For many of us this is symbolically a prayer for our general needs. Imagine, though, what it would be like to pray this prayer quite literally, even desperately, not knowing where the next meal is coming from. This is the real concern expressed in this passage for those who had come to hear Jesus but who did not even have the basics of food to sustain them on their homeward journey.
It could be argued that they should have been more organized, planning ahead or bringing with them the means of supporting themselves. However, just as Jesus’ disciples earlier in Mark are obliged to “pick some ears of corn” in an attempt to satisfy their hunger, so these people seemingly have no other means of support
but have nevertheless come to Jesus (Mark 2:23).
Before we turn with commentators to this event as a symbolic representation of communion or of the spreading of the Word, there is something far more prosaic before us: what will Jesus’ response be to the poor and needy? Just prior to this incident, a Gentile woman has begged for Jesus’ help, hoping for “crumbs” (Mark 7:28). What will these people who likewise “have come a long distance” (3) receive? In one of the most hopeful verses in the Gospel, we read that Jesus had “compassion” for them (2). This compassion extended to his provision of a miraculous meal by which 4,000 “ate and were satisfied” (8).
How ironic, then, that the Pharisees “asked him for a sign from heaven” (11). It is no wonder that Jesus “sighed deeply” (12). What greater sign could there be of the presence of God in Jesus than in his compassion for the needy?
“You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst” (Neh. 9:20). How has God shown compassion to you? What could you do today for someone in need?
Providing God, for every need I have, I feed on Your provision. It may not always be in the form I had in mind or the way I imagined, but You know best. Thank You!