Mission To the World
Compassionate Lord, You reach out to me in mercy and understanding. Reorder my life according to Your will.
Read MARK 8:1-13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“We have a great and authentic word of divine sufficiency for our human deficiency. The gospel of redeeming love, which by familiarity to us can lose its edge, is a breathtaking and exciting proclamation” (Gardner C. Taylor). Let us never forget it!
We miss the point of the feeding of the four thousand if we see it merely as a duplicate of feeding the five thousand (6:30-44). If its significance is little different from the earlier feeding, it is unlikely that Mark would have included it. How, then, does it differ? Verse 1 provides a clue: “During those days” alludes to Jesus’ journey through the Decapolis, an area east of the Jordan, narrated in the previous chapter. The Decapolis (literally “Ten Cities”) had a significant Gentile population, so the crowd benefiting from this second feeding was probably mainly non-Jewish. Thus, the feeding of the four thousand anticipates salvation extending to the Gentile world. This interpretation is supported not only by Mark’s inclusion of both miracles, but also, as we shall see in tomorrow’s reading, by Jesus’ focus on the number of baskets of fragments collected in each case.
The two feeding miracles have deep implications for Christian mission. They reveal the compassion of Jesus for the lost (6:34), for the hungry (8:2), for Jews and for Gentiles. His mission is as holistic as it is universal. These miracles are a call to mission. They also provide a lens through which we can interpret the world in terms of God’s purpose for it when we watch the TV news or read the newspaper. The miracles also offer a template for our prayers and witness. The disciples’ distribution to the crowd symbolically anticipates obedience by them–and us–to Christ’s command to offer his compassion to a hurting, lost world by feeding the hungry, healing the hurting and proclaiming the good news. He is relying on us today, as he relied on them then.
How actively involved are you, locally and globally, in obeying the great commandment and the great commission (Matt. 22:37-40; 28:18-20)?
Father, if familiarity to the Good News has dampened my desire to share it, awaken me again to the wonder of it all. Show me opportunities for faith-sharing.
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