Shepherd and Sheep
Gracious God, I look forward to this time with You, in Your presence. Energize me with Your Spirit now, I pray.
Read MARK 6:30-44
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.
What attracted people to Jesus? Make a list of possible factors. What was the most significant? What attracts you to him?
His availability may have been one factor: here was a rabbi who didn’t keep aloof, but allowed all comers to crowd around so that he had no time to eat (31)! Still, it wasn’t his availability that drew them in this story. Jesus tried to get away but the crowds ran after him. It wasn’t his healing power; only the fit could undertake that high-speed hike. No, it was his teaching that drew them: “he began teaching them many things” (34). He offered rich teaching and nourishment for the mind and the soul! People will travel for miles if someone offers insight and answers to the big questions they’re asking. Other things will attract, too, but good teaching and real wisdom are probably top of the list in most cultures.
This makes the feeding miracle all the more strange! These men didn’t need it. In Mark 8:2, Jesus waits until day three before raising the issue of food for the crowds. Here the disciples raise it, but not because there’s any real problem. So why does Jesus perform this amazing feeding?
He responds to the disciples in a way which pulls them out of the shadows, and makes them the main actors. He sets the problem before them, gets them to find the resources, and puts them out front, organizing the crowd into groups and distributing the bread and fish. Suddenly, instead of Jesus feeding the crowd with teaching, the disciples are doing it ― literally. “Bread” in the Old Testament was a symbol of God’s Law, his teaching for his people (for example, see Deut. 8:3; Isa. 55:10,11). Jesus has engineered a wonderful symbol of what he wants his disciples to do permanently: to feed the world with his Word.
How do you think Christians could offer wisdom which pulls crowds today? Pray about what would pull your neighbors and friends to hear about Jesus.
Lord, as You have been a shepherd to me, may I be a shepherd to those connected with me. Give me words of wisdom and acts of love for them.