Reading the Word
Mark 6:30–44 (ESV)
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered 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 it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13
Understanding and Applying the Word
In this account, Jesus and his disciples retreat to a private place only to be followed by a large crowd that wanted to be near Jesus. Jesus taught the crowd until it became late in the day. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away so they could find food before the day was over. Instead, Jesus told his disciples to feed the people, which numbered five thousand men plus women and children. Of course, the disciples had no idea how it was going to be possible to feed so many people since all they had was five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus asked for the loaves and fish and broke them up and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. The people ate until they were full and there was even enough left over to fill twelve baskets. An amazing miracle!
Through this miraculous event, Jesus was teaching both the crowd and his disciples. He was teaching through the demonstration of his power that he was able to supply the daily need of mankind. As the the one who created all things and upholds all things through his word, our daily provision comes through the Lord and is overflowing in measure!
Jesus also taught his disciples through this event. The disciples were told by Jesus to meet the needs of the people, but they did not know how they could do so with so little. Jesus, working through the service of the disciples, fed the people until they were full. Jesus used this physical example of food for the people to teach about spiritual matters. Jesus’ disciples, then and now, are called on to bring spiritual food to the people. If we are honest, we probably feel inadequate and lacking in resources for such a monumental task, but Jesus works through us in his power to meet the needs of others. We are simply called to be faithful and ready to serve where he calls.
Such an amazing miracle and such amazing lessons!
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