Reading the Word
Mark 8:1–10 (ESV)
1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
Parallel Text: Matthew 15:32-39
Understanding and Applying the Word
Once again we read an account of Jesus feeding a large crowd. The first was a crowd of five thousand men plus women and children. This time we have four thousand. Matthew’s account tells us it was also four thousand men plus women and children. It is interesting to note the response of the disciples when they were told by Jesus to feed the people. Even after witnessing the first feeding, they still did not know how they were going to feed such a large crowd with so little food!
Of particular interest, though, is the motivation Jesus had for feeding the crowd. We often put on special events or free meals in our churches with the hopes that they will draw larger crowds. This gives us the opportunity to communicate with people we would otherwise have no opportunity to speak to. This was not Jesus’ motivation. He was not hoping to draw a greater crowd to hear him preach. We read that he was moved with compassion for the crowd. He cared about the people and desired to meet their need of food. He simply cared.
As believers, we do well to desire to share the Good News with people and to look for opportunities to do that. Special events and dinners are good things. However, we must first care about the people we desire to reach. Otherwise, our motivation is simply to draw a bigger crowd. We must be careful not to get caught up in chasing numbers. Let us seek to minister to others because we care about them and let us point them to Jesus because he is the source of true life and joy.
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