FOOD AND LEFTOVERS
Lord, feed me with the best food.
Read MARK 6:30–44
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[a]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
a Mark 6:37 Greek take two hundred denarii
New International Version (NIV)
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“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry” (John 6:35). O Lord, please feed me today.
This passage follows the disciples’ first ministry experience (verse 30 harkens back to verses 7–13). Jesus has previously outlined the disciples’ training program: proclaiming the good news along with casting out demons (Mark 3:13–15). In 6:7–13, the disciples have their first internship and now (30) they report to Jesus about their spectacular results. But before they get unduly affected by their success or suffer ministerial fatigue, Jesus takes them aside (31, 32), knowing the importance of withdrawing from public view to spend time with God (See also Mark 1:35; 6:46;14:35). Similarly, we should periodically take time out from ministry to rest and reflect.
Jesus’ attempt to be alone with his disciples is unsuccessful because a large crowd awaits their arrival (33). Instead of being annoyed, however, Jesus has compassion because He recognizes that the crowd is but a flock in need of a shepherd (34). Just as a shepherd leads his flock to the best meadows, so Jesus feeds the crowd with His teaching. The actions of Jesus as a Shepherd-Teacher has a rich basis in the Old Testament, where God is presented similarly (Ps 23; Ezek 34).
Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the crowd in a “remote place” (35) should be viewed against the background of God feeding the Israelites in the wilderness. Rather than focusing on the spectacular, we should examine what the miracles show us about who Jesus is. This event reveals that, just as Jesus provides an abundance of physical nourishment, He can similarly provide spiritual nourishment. In today’s text, Jesus’ feeding of the crowd points back to His feeding them with his teaching (34). [Note the leftovers in verse 43; its significance will appear when we consider the story of the Syrophoenician woman.]
Jesus is our compassionate Shepherd-Teacher. Consider how you can feast on His teaching.
Lord, Your people marvel at Your complete mastery over any unexpected situation.