It’s Lunchtime!

Posted: December 16, 2013 in Mark

Mark 6:30-44, “It’s Lunchtime!”

Hardly anyone gets excited about lunchtime as much as little kids.  Aside from recess, it’s the highlight of their day. It’s easy to understand why: we get to eat!  We get hungry, and as time goes on, we get pretty ravenous.  (Some of us more than others. 🙂 )

Of course, there’s nothing unusual about any of this.  Of course all people get hungry & need to eat – it’s natural & normal.  Yet it’s this “natural” problem that sets the stage for one of the most supernatural events recorded for us in the Bible.  It was lunchtime, not just for a handful of kids – but for a whole town’s worth of people.  They had come to see Jesus, and they were hungry.  Jesus had the option of sending them away, but He had something different in mind for them.  He needed the people (and especially the disciples) to see the power and provision of God.

What’s interesting about this particular miracle is that it is the only miracle other than the Resurrection that is repeated in all four gospels.  Which all begs the question: WHY?  Why not the raising of Lazarus from the dead (which is only in John) – or when Jesus walks on water (which is in Matthew, Mark, and John, but not Luke) – or the raising of Jairus’ daughter (only in the synoptics)?  All of those events (and others) would seem to be far more grand.  Multiplying bread and fish might seem rather minor in comparison to the others.  What’s so important about this particular miracle of feeding the 5000?

Although every miracle Jesus performed demonstrated His power and authority as God, this particular miracle does it in a unique way.  In this, there is a direct tie to the power of God demonstrated among the nation of Israel in the wilderness.  As the people were wandering in the desert for 40 years after their departure from Egyptian slavery, Yahweh God had given them manna from heaven.  Here, Jesus does the same in miniature, as He gives them bread in the wilderness.  This was something with a unique context that was unparalleled by the prophets of the past.  Other prophets had healed the sick, and raised the dead.  Other prophets had even seen miraculous provision of supplies that didn’t seem to run out.  Yet this was unique – this was the act of creation.  Rumors had flown about wondering if Jesus might be Elijah – and Elijah had indeed done similar miracles.  God used Elijah to provide for a widow in Zaraphath during a famine by allowing a bin of flour & jar of oil to continually have provision throughout the time of a drought (1 Kings 17).  Later, the prophet Elisha was able to use 20 loaves of barley bread to feed 100 men, with leftovers (2 Kings 4).  But what Jesus did here was multiple times greater than anything Elijah or Elisha ever did!  The sort of miraculous power that Jesus demonstrated in this event hadn’t been seen since the days of Moses, when manna was produced in the desert & water was brought forth from a rock – enough to feed & water millions of people in the Hebrew nation.

Even in this, there is a distinct difference between Moses & Jesus.  Moses did miracles in the name of God, always seen as a human empowered by God.  (In fact, it’s when Moses confused this in front of the people that he got in trouble with God, and was forbidden from entering the Promised Land.)  On the other hand, although Jesus always showed Himself as being submitted to God, there was no mistaking that He did these things in His own power.  When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes in the wilderness, He did so under His own authority, out of compassion for the people.  It was a clear declaration that Jesus IS the God who brings forth bread in the wilderness!  Jesus didn’t merely act under the authority of God – Jesus IS that God.  Just as the ancient Hebrews were to look to the presence of God in the wilderness (the pillar of cloud), and trust God for His provision (the daily manna), so were the Jews to look to Jesus.  Jesus showed them the presence & compassion of God, and He was their provision for every need.

He still is.

Mark 6:30–44
30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.

  1. The “then” might be somewhat misleading until we look at the broader context.  Mark had just related the history of John the Baptist’s imprisonment & execution, and how John’s disciples had taken his corpse away and given it a proper burial.  At first glance, it may appear that the apostles told Jesus what had happened, and they are all deciding their next move.  However, that’s not the case.  We need to be sure to look at the context beyond the immediate surrounding verses to get an idea of what was actually going on.  The account of John’s death actually interrupted something else Mark was writing about: how Jesus sent the apostles out all over Judea to minister the gospel.  Back at vss. 12-13, we read how after receiving Jesus’ commission, the apostles went out & preached repentance, and how they cast out demons & healed the sick.  Mark interrupted that account with the flashback concerning John the Baptist, but now in vs. 30 Mark picks up where he left off previously.  When he writes, “then the apostles gathered to Jesus,” the apostles aren’t reporting on John the Baptist; they’re reporting on the mission that Jesus had sent them to do.
    1. BTW – why would Mark do this?  Why interrupt the account and seemingly throw John’s death in at random?  We need to remember that nothing in the Bible is there at random.  No matter who the human writer is from book to book, every writer acted under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Thus every word in the Bible is there for a reason, and God the Holy Spirit had a purpose behind even the order in how the books were written and put together.  What might be the reason here?  Obviously the Scripture doesn’t tell us directly, but we can think a few things through, based on the context of what is already there.  The story of John’s death follows on the heels of Jesus’ rejection when He went to His hometown of Nazareth.  So in essence, there are two accounts of rejection placed back-to-back.  First was Jesus in Nazareth, and then was John’s rejection & death at the hands of Herod.  Mark is showing us that things were not always easy for the servants of God.  There were almost always multitudes following Jesus, but they didn’t always receive His message.  There is always an element of resistance to the message and work of God.  It’s seen in the resistance of the Messiah, as well as His herald/forerunner.  The work of the gospel never stops, but it’s not always easy.  Praise God that He will always equip us for the struggles we might face.
    2. Also, just because people rejected Jesus didn’t mean Jesus was weakened in any way.  Certainly Jesus marveled at the lack of faith in Nazareth & did not do many miracles there, but that’s because God chooses to work in the presence of faith.  God definitely is not dependent upon our faith.  God is God, no matter what we might (or might not) believe about Him.  The work of the gospel ministry of Jesus encountered some major resistance – but as we’ll see from the text, it continued in major ways & demonstration of power.
  2. They had come back to Jesus, reporting on two basic things: (1) what they did, and (2) what they said/taught.  Jesus had empowered them to continue the ministry He Himself had begun, and they did around Judea the same things that Jesus had done among Galilee.  They cast out demons, healed the sick, and continued in the same sort of miraculous ministry that Jesus had.  And of course the miracles never came in a vacuum – it was always accompanied by teaching.  The purpose of the miracles was to point to the Giver of the Miracles, and to underscore the fact that God Himself was among His people in the person of the Messiah.  The King had come, and now the people were to repent – to turn away from their sins, and to turn in trust and faith in Jesus as the King.  Those who did would be saved, and those who did not were condemned already. Notice there’s nothing new in any of this.  Again, this was all what Jesus had done & taught already – the apostles simply walked in the footsteps of their Master.  This wasn’t the apostles’ ministry, but Jesus’.  Their responsibility was simply to represent their Master rightly and be faithful of the things that Jesus had entrusted to them.

31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

  1. There have been a lot of invitations to men’s retreats in the past, but nothing quite like this!  Imagine being on a personal retreat with the Lord Jesus! J (Actually every retreat is an opportunity to do much of the same thing.)  As the apostles reported back on everything that God had done through them, Jesus invites them to take some time to rest.  The work of the ministry is often very exciting, but it can still be physically & emotionally taxing.  The apostles had seen incredible miracles take place, but they had also walked the breadth of the land & interacted with many people on a daily basis.  Even at the time of their reporting, the work of the ministry hadn’t slowed – there were so many people around that the apostles didn’t even have time for a lunch break!
  2. Jesus recognized their need for rest & called them to do so.  Sometimes we can treat “rest” as a dirty word, as if rest = laziness.  Not true!  Obviously God calls us to be diligent in our work, and we are to wisely use the time and resources He has entrusted to us.  But part of wisdom is knowing when to rest.  Even God rested on the 7th day of creation!  He wasn’t tired, but He set the example.  We need to be intentional to take time away from our labors (whatever they might be) to spend time in the presence of the Lord, resting.
    1. Ultimately all rest is a reminder to us of how Jesus offers us true rest in our salvation.  We don’t labor and work our way into heaven.  We couldn’t do enough good works to earn our way in if we tried!  No, the work is already completed – Jesus did it all.  The way into the life that God offers is by resting in the work of His Son for us.
  3. The rest Jesus offered the disciples was a rest that He understood they needed.  Jesus knew better than anyone how demanding the work of the kingdom could be, and He knew exactly what the disciples needed most at that moment. God knows us & He cares for us.  It’s not that God cares so much about the things we can do for Him (we can’t do anything for God without God empowering us to do it, anyway); God cares about us as individuals.

33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.

  1. As it turns out, the only private time the disciples had with Jesus was the boat ride.  (At least they got something!)  When the people saw Jesus and the apostles get in the boat & set sail, they saw where Jesus was going, and they ran ahead of the boat to get there.
  2. The actual location (as with many Biblical locations) is debated.  Luke writes that they sailed to an area connected with Bethsaida (Lk 9:10), and Mark will go on to write that afterwards, they were to go to the other side, to Bethsaida (Mk 6:45).  John says that they went across the Sea of Tiberius/Galilee (Jn 6:1, 23).  There was a Bethsaida fairly close to Capernaum (their likely starting base), but it would seem strange to describe a boat ride there being “over the sea” or on the “other side” of the sea.  There were actually two different villages along the shore of Galilee that were known as Bethsaida, and arguments can be made for either of them.  Ultimately where exactly it happened isn’t nearly as important as the fact that it did happen (which is emphasized by all 4 gospels).  Where it would be interesting is knowing how far and fast the people would have run in order to beat the boat’s arrival. 
  3. Wherever it was, the people knew where Jesus was going, and they weren’t going to let the distance and difficulty get in the way of their time spent with Jesus.  Some have criticized the people for just wanting to watch the miracles that Jesus did.  They didn’t want to miss out on the show.  Perhaps – perhaps not.  Even if we assume the worst motives of the crowd, they still go to great lengths & effort to go to where Jesus was.  They may not have realized all of the truth about Jesus, but they knew this much: they needed to be with Him! 
    1. How far are you willing to go to be with Jesus?  How badly do you need to be with Him?  Some people try to satisfy themselves with just the barest taste of Jesus – they keep Him at arms’-length.  As long as they’ve got the veneer of Christianity about them, it’s enough – they don’t really need to spend time in His presence.  Even the mixed multitude of Galilee knew better than that!  Just seeing Jesus from the outside wasn’t enough – they needed to be around Him as often as possible.  We have a privilege not given to the people of Galilee: the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.  We can know the presence of God anytime, anywhere…yet often we don’t avail ourselves of Him.

34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

  1. Jesus had seen the need of His disciples, and He also saw the need of the multitude.  Jesus didn’t remove Himself from the people; He came out to them.  More than that, He FELT for them – He was inwardly moved on their behalf.
  2. We serve a compassionate God.  Some people have a mental picture or idea of God that is cruel or capricious…but that’s not the reality!  The Bible repeatedly shows God extending mercy, grace, and love towards people.  He states His desire to protect the helpless, and provide justice for the oppressed.  More than all of that – more than extending mercy in action & showing mercy in emotion is the fact that God went to the extremes to actually become one of us.  God gave grace, but He didn’t ONLY give grace from afar – He shared in our suffering and literally walked in our shoes.  This is more than pity; this is true empathy & true compassion.
    1. This is the whole point of the incarnation – exactly what we remember at Christmastime!
  3. Why did Jesus show compassion? “Because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.”  What a vivid description!  Domesticated sheep left alone in the wilderness won’t last long.  They need a shepherd to care for them.  Likewise with the people.  Without a Shepherd: they were lost – they were homeless – they were defenseless.  And worst of all, they didn’t even know it!  They were blind to the fact that they were headed to death, and that they had been led astray by the priests and other teachers that should have been faithful shepherds of God (Eze 34).  But where there need was, God was greater.  God sent His own personal pick as their Shepherd to them: Ezekiel 34:23–24, "(23) I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. (24) And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken." []  As the Son of David, Jesus IS the Good Shepherd come to guide and feed the sheep of Israel.  He had always come to them in love, even though they initially rejected Him.  Yet He will come again, and that time, the sheep of Israel will receive Him as their own.
    1. In the meantime, Jesus continues to call people as His sheep.  There were sheep not of Israel that He needed to gather: us!  The Good Shepherd not only has compassion upon Israel, but upon the entire world.  He knows every individual who has gone astray & is lost & helpless.  He knows you & me – and He has compassion upon us.  He is a wonderful Shepherd who can be trusted – He is the only Shepherd who saves.
  4. So what did Jesus do about the situation?  He had gone out there to have some private time with the 12 disciples, but plans changed quickly.  The disciples needed their rest, but these people also needed the Good Shepherd – and He was it.  He could have dispersed the crowd & sent them away, but He didn’t.  He allowed the crowd to remain & grow, and “He began to teach them many things.”  Consider that for a moment.  These people were LOST.  They were shepherd-less, not even recognizing the God who had called them to Himself and had made ancient covenant promises with them.  These people were lost and dead in their sins, and without some sort of action taking place on their behalf, they would remain lost and dead.  And what did Jesus do?  He taught them.  Where’s the action?  The action will come – Jesus had that all taken care of in the divine plan & timing of God.  And it wasn’t as if Jesus didn’t DO anything in the moment.  Matthew’s account shows Him moving among the people healing them.  Yet Mark doesn’t show any healings at all – what he shows is teaching.  What these people needed most at the moment was right doctrine.  They needed to be able to recognize the God of the Universe standing in front of them.  They would see more demonstration of His power in a moment, but at the moment their most pressing need was for the teaching of God.  Without right doctrine, all the miracles in the world could be misunderstood or misrepresented.  Even cults teach about the cross & resurrection – but they teach lies about it & not the truth.  As a result, people can hear about the cross of Jesus and still not hear about salvation and eternal life.  The work of Jesus at the cross is essential, but without the right teaching about it, we’ll never be able to appropriate His work and actually experience the grace His work makes available.
    1. Sometimes we can hold doctrine & experience to be either/or propositions.  One group just wants to “experience” the power and presence of God.  Another group just wants to learn about the power of God through the Scriptures.  Each tends to neglect what the other can offer.  It’s not either/or – it’s BOTH.  We need to know God, but we need to know RIGHTLY about God if we are to know Him at all.

35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”

  1. One has to wonder if the disciples weren’t a bit glad for the day to be done, and for an excuse to have the people leave.  And honestly, it’s hard to blame them.  They were physically & emotionally exhausted already, and this had turned out to be a far busier day than what they had originally planned.  At the same time, this was indeed a legitimate problem.  Jesus and the disciples had purposefully gone to a “deserted place,” for the specific reason of being alone.  But now there were thousands in this no-longer-deserted place.  There’s no grocery store, no restaurant, not even a hotdog stand anywhere in sight, and the people needed to eat (as did the disciples themselves).  It would take time for them to walk somewhere to get something, and if they were going to get anything at all, Jesus needed to get the people moving.  What the disciples suggest isn’t cruel; it’s logical.  It’s simply the most reasonable natural solution to the problem they faced.  However, Jesus didn’t have the natural in mind; He had the supernatural.

37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”

  1. That’s quite a challenge from Jesus to the disciples!  Place yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine looking upon a crowd large enough to fill a small stadium.  You’ve got no supplies with you – barely even enough for yourselves.  You weren’t sure what you were going to have for dinner that night (IF you would have dinner), and now your Lord challenges you to go and feed the multitude.  No doubt, we’d be just as overwhelmed and dumbfounded as were the apostles!  They didn’t quite know what to think.  Looking at the size of the crowd, they estimated it would take over 200 days’ worth of wages to buy even the barest amount of supplies.  When Peter was approached to pay the temple tax, he didn’t even have the money to do that, and Jesus had to provide it for him through the mouth of a fish.  They certainly didn’t have 8 months’ worth of salary on them!  And even if they did, where would they go?  How would they transport it?  They would need far more people than the 12 of them to do it all.  Jesus’ challenge seemed to raise far more questions than answers.
  2. The one question that should have been raised seems to never have been asked: “How, Lord?”  Obviously we cannot determine too much from silence, in that we don’t have a word-by-word transcript of everything that was said that day.  However, it’s interesting that none of the four gospel accounts of this event ever show the disciples asking Jesus how they might fulfill His command.  John shows Jesus asking the disciples about where they might buy food, but how Jesus asked this as a test (Jn 6:5) – that detail doesn’t come out in any of the other gospels at all.  Mark specifically shows Jesus emphasizing the idea that they themselves were to give the food to the people to eat.  Faced with such a challenge, it seems that the best question would be to ask, “How?”  If the Messiah had given them an impossible task, it would only seem reasonable to ask their God how He would be the one to make it possible.  This is the God who calmed the sea – this is the God who raised the dead – this is the God who cast out legions of demons.  Surely when this God asked them to do the impossible, He would give them a way to make it possible.  Yet it never seems that they asked.  It never seems to have crossed their minds.  (How often do we do the same thing?)

38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”

  1. At this point, we can almost see the disciples’ disappointment.  Things are getting worse and worse by the minute.  In their minds, their only hope would have been if the people had brought food with them (which would have been typical), that they could collect and distribute among all.  However, looking around, they found nothing.  The 12 didn’t even have any food among them & the meager lunch comes from a small boy that they found (Jn 6:9).  Quite the contrast to the debauched feast enjoyed by King Herod!  Herod enjoyed platter after platter in a fine dining hall whereas the true King of the Jews was in the wilderness with the snack of a peasant boy.
  2. Yet Jesus was about to do something mighty with that very little lunch!  What the disciples brought to Jesus would have seemed absolutely insignificant to any of us.  These weren’t large loaves that we might buy from the store – these would have been more like thick tortillas.  Nor were the fish large – they would have been more like sardines.  It would be as if we walked into Rose Stadium filled with people to feed, and all we had was a 6-inch sandwich from Subway.  Surely even what they had with them was useless.  Right?  Wrong.  God can do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think (Eph 3:20).  There is no limit as to what our God can do with even a very little.  If only a little faith is needed to cause a mountain to jump into the ocean, imagine what God can do with just a small lunch at His disposal!
  3. Keep in mind, Jesus didn’t even need the lunch.  No doubt, He could have made food materialize from the thin air, as the manna in the wilderness (which is what this event closely parallels).  Or He could have caused a flock of birds to descend that they could have killed and eaten (as He did with the ancient Hebrews).  Or Jesus could have done any multitude of things – as God, Jesus had no limits placed upon Him by the barren wilderness or austere circumstances.  But Jesus wanted the disciples to at least bring what they could to Him.  Whatever it was that they had – whatever they could scrounge up – that’s what it was Jesus planned to use.  IOW, Jesus wanted them involved.  Could God the Son have done the whole event without them?  Yes.  But Jesus wanted to use them, and He wanted them to see how He could do much from little.  They needed to see the miraculous multiplying power of God, and they needed to be involved to do so.
    1. God often already has a plan for how He’s going to work, but often He first wants us to give what we have.  God’s plan is never dependent on our abilities to accomplish it – He’s got that all under control.  But He does want us involved.
    2. Have we given everything yet?  Have we even offered what meager things we DO have to the Lord?

39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.

  1. Two things are so striking here.  It’s so orderly, and Jesus goes about it in such a normal fashion.  With the need in front of us, and the lack of the supplies, the last thing we might envision is orderly normalcy.  Panic, sure – but normal?  Not a chance!  Yet that is exactly what Jesus does.  Without having yet a single morsel of food to pass out aside from the boy’s lunch, Jesus has all the thousands of people sit on the grass in a nice, orderly fashion.  They’re all arranged neatly so that the disciples can easily walk among them and distribute the food (which they still don’t have).  It’s as if Jesus tells them to all sit down and picnic tables in the park and prepares them all to eat.  Yet there’s still nothing to eat!  Of course, the people don’t likely know that, but the disciples do.  They likely still have no idea what is on the mind of their Master.
    1. If we are obedient in the little things we don’t understand, we might more often see the work of God in larger ways.
  2. And again, Jesus is so normal about it all.  He just takes the food, gives thanks, and hands it out.  The blessing He spoke is not recorded for us, though a traditional Jewish meal-time prayer is “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King/Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” (Something we might learn from our Jewish friends: they declare the blessings of God, rather than asking God to bless the food.  It might be good for us to do both!)  In any case, there seems to have been nothing special about the prayer.  Jesus doesn’t make a big deal about it, nor do the heavens open up with the glory of God falling upon them.  The whole picture is Jesus taking the boy’s lunch, giving thanks for it, and passing it out.  This is the same thing that Jesus would have done every day for every meal.  Except that they were about to find out this was no ordinary meal!
    1. This is such a contrast to how we often see people trying to work supposed miracles today.  They herald themselves & put on a big show.  They try to make things as abnormal as possible, trying to highlight how special they are, that they would be empowered by God in such a way.  And of course, that defeats the whole purpose of miracles.  Miracles are never given to give glory to people; they’re given to give glory to God.  It showcases HIS Person, HIS power, HIS might, HIS gospel.  Those are the things we are to look for in miracles today.  And (just as it did on this particular day), they might occur in seemingly the most normal of ways without much fanfare…  God often uses ordinary people for His extraordinary glory.
  3. Jesus gave the bread in the fish to the disciples, and they were the ones to hand it out to the masses.  From the very first handout Jesus gave, the disciples would have witnessed the miraculous.  Remember that there had originally only been enough food for one person (and barely enough for that!) – yet immediately there was enough to hand to multiple people.  And Jesus kept giving & giving.  There was no end to the supply that Jesus provided for them.  How much so?  See vs. 42…

42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

  1. ALL of them “ate and were filled.”  Not a single person went hungry that day, and the people numbered in the thousands.  The Greek is specific that this was 5000 “men,” so the number did not include the women and children who were present (which Matthew notes – Mt 14:21).  How much was the exact number?  It’s impossible to know – but it could have easily have been 7-10,000 people that day.  (More people than what would have been in the surrounding towns!)  And all of them were fed by the Lord Jesus from one boy’s lunch through the hands of the disciples.
  2. Did the people ever know all of the details?  Perhaps – perhaps not.  But the disciples did.  They were the ones serving the multitudes, and they witnessed the miracle of Jesus first-hand.  Interestingly enough, even with all four gospel accounts including this event, not a single gospel writer tells us how Jesus did the miracle.  There are no details about Jesus reaching into a basket to keep bringing out bread, or whether the loaves materialized in His hand, or whether as He broke off pieces of bread how the loaves never got smaller, or anything.  All of that remains mystery to us – but not to the 12 who witnessed it with their own eyes.  Apparently they were so astounded by it, that not one of them could put it into words later on.  Whatever had happened that day, they were the ones blessed to see it because they were the ones actively serving that day.
    1. There is a blessing that comes from service that only those who serve will ever experience.  Those who are in the trenches of service witness the work of God in ways that other people never do.
  3. How much was given out?  Enough to have leftovers for the apostles themselves.  Not a single person went hungry that day – not even the 12 men who had originally not had time even to eat their lunch.  Jesus’ provision was MORE than abundant!  No doubt there were 12 baskets for a reason.  There were 12 disciples, but also 12 tribes of Israel.  The provision of Jesus was enough for the nation.  The bread from heaven that He provided (in Himself) was exactly what the people needed in their provision from God.

When the disciples went out with Jesus that day, there’s no way they could have envisioned what would take place.  They had already experienced a lot of ministry, and they were ready for some R&R at the invitation of Jesus.  They didn’t quite get the retreat they were expecting, but they got to witness something far greater: the power and compassion of the Creator God in action.

Whether they came out for the miracles or something more is unknown, but what we do know is that the multitudes flocked to Jesus that day.  Thousands upon thousands of people poured out from every corner in Galilee to see this Prophet, who had repeatedly showed Himself to be greater than any prophet of the past.  Nazareth may have rejected Him – Herod may have rejected His ministry (via John) – but there was no mistaking the desire of the people for Him.  They knew that there was something about Jesus that rivaled even the days of Moses, and they didn’t want to miss a minute of it.  (Sadly, even these people would later turn on Jesus when He taught things too difficult for them to hear and understand.)

Jesus saw the needs of the people in front of Him, and despite all the exhaustion & all of the work that had already been done, He had compassion upon the multitudes.  He loved them as individuals, and gave them first the spiritual food they most desperately needed through His teaching, and then gave them the physical food in a way that demonstrated His divine power and authority.  ALL of their sustenance could be satisfied in Jesus, which is exactly what He demonstrated when He fulfilled the basic need of lunchtime.

Do we find OUR satisfaction in Him?  Do we look to our Good Shepherd to give us the things that we need in the ways that He provides?  Speaking to born-again believers in Jesus Christ…do we trust Him as the God that He is?  On one hand, it’s amazing that the 12 disciples could have witnessed as much as they had already, and even participated in supernatural miracles themselves, and still have been left clueless as to what Jesus could do in a situation that seemed impossible.  On the other hand, it’s completely understandable…after all, we have the same doubts all the time.  We know how Jesus has saved us eternally – we’ve seen His provision and wisdom on a regular basis – and yet we still doubt Him regarding the same problems we always have.  We wonder how God will ever make it work, or IF God is even listening to us at all.  But this is JESUS we’re talking about!  This is the God who is so compassionate towards us that He actually BECAME one of us.  This is the same God who can speak something into existence from nothing.

All He asks from us is a bit of faith – a mustard seed’s worth.  Just bring to Him what you have & see what He will do with it.  Truly trust Him as the sovereign God that He is – trust in the compassion of the Good Shepherd and the provision of the Almighty Creator.

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