The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But He answered them, “You give them something to eat!” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and spend two hundred denarii on bread and give them something to eat?” And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. There were five thousand men who ate the loaves. Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away. After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. Mark 6:33-46
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Today’s passage gives us the story of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. The attempt of Jesus and his disciples to get away to a secluded place to rest (and grieve over the death of John the Baptist) leads to this amazing event. It seems that before they had even arrived at their destination a significantly large crowd had gathered. When Jesus, very tired and grief-stricken, stepped on shore, he came face to face with this large crowd. There would be no resting or dealing with grief this day. Jesus’ focus immediately turned from the disciples’ and his needs to those of the crowd. Our passage captures it this way, “He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd and he began to teach them many things.” Jesus shepherds these people before he feeds them.
Yes, being there to see the miracle of his feeding this crowd with just five loaves and two fish would be pretty amazing. But how about hearing Jesus teach this spirituality hungry crowd “many things” until it was very late in the day? We must not miss the fact that a spiritual meal preceded the “loaves and fishes” meal. The account of this story in the Gospel of John tells us that the crowds were again seeking Jesus the very next day. Here is what the Gospel of John tells us Jesus said to them, “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal’ …. Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.’”
There was a lot of on the job training for the disciples in the place of seclusion to which Jesus and they retreated. We are struck by how slow the disciples were to comprehend. And now from the Gospel of John we are struck by how slow the crowds were to believe. After being before Jesus, who, with a heart of compassion and the heart of a shepherd, taught them until late in the day, all they remember is “the food which perishes” and not “the food which endures to eternal life.” We would like to think we would have done better if we had been there. Surely we would have believed; surely we would have comprehended. Here we are today, though, and how are we doing now with believing and comprehending? With a heart of compassion and the heart of a shepherd, Jesus bids us to come to him and receive the fullness of what he has to give right here and now so that we will no longer Hunger or thirst.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, thank you for your compassion and thank you for your shepherd’s heart. I come to you. Please draw me close. Speak into my heart and life in such a way that all unbelief and lack of comprehension vanish. I choose “the food that endures to eternal life” over “the food that perishes.” Have your way fully with me that I might live fully for you. Amen!
Posted on Thu, February 15, 2018
by Ken Hart