Devotional #18 (1/28/13). Jesus feeds more than 5,000 people.
Intro: Last week we discussed the murder of John the Baptist just because he stood for good and godly things. We talked about how it wasn’t fair but took comfort in knowing that God had a plan. Remember Jesus didn’t come just to heal people from physical pain and death but He came to save people from spiritual death in hell. This week we get back into the story of how the disciples had gone out (from Devotional #16) in a practice run of helping other people as Jesus did.
This Week’s Reading: Mark 6:30-44.
vv. 30-32. Jesus sees His disciples are tired from going out and doing many of the things Jesus did every day. We see an amazing thing here: Jesus was tired every single day but never lost His patience and never thought about Himself. He didn’t remind them that He did these types of healings and teachings all day every day but He comforted them and let them rest. Since anywhere they went on land people would bug them they go out into a boat by themselves.
vv. 33-34. Notice that people “ran there” so they were in a hurry to see Jesus and obviously didn’t think about bringing food [out of 5,000 people only one brought food (v. 38)]. Notice Jesus was “moved with compassion”, time and again, instead of thinking about Himself, Jesus sees men and has compassion on the lost. So when it says they were “like sheep without a shepherd” not only does this show these people were searching for guidance but also implies the utter failure of the religious leaders in providing spiritual leadership for them.
vv. 35-36. This starts the famous story of Jesus feeding the (more than) 5,000 people, which is the only story found in all four gospels (see Matthew 14:15-27, Luke 9:12-17 and John 6:5-1). So why do all four gospels record this story? Because it is very important that we understand what was done! The disciples seem genuinely concerned for the people and not just annoyed but it seems that they didn’t actually learn the lesson of feeding them (see Mark 6:52).
vv. 37-38. What is Jesus’ response? He says, ‘you guys feed them with the food you brought.’ But the disciples miss the opportunity given by Jesus to be unselfish servants and instead asked how He expected them to pay for all that food. How much was “two hundred denarii”? Well, one denarii was a day’s wage so this was around 8 months worth (Source 1). Then Jesus tells them to go find some bread. They come back and tell him they have five rolls and two fish. Isn’t it interesting that since Jesus is God He created the flour and fish in the first place? He could have made all this food from nothing but he chose to use actual bread and fish that many people saw. No one could say it was from the devil or magic but it was simply a miracle from God.
vv. 39-41. So Jesus has everyone sit down in groups, probably so there would be order but also because it would be easy to count. Interestingly Mark mentions the “green grass” which shows “it was the spring rainy season, before the hot summer would have turned the grass dry and brown” (Source 2). Notice that Jesus “blessed” the food. He is saying ‘thank you’ for the food provided. Not just because it was a miracle but because God had provided food. We Americans usually have three meals a day, regardless, humans need food and water every day. It is important to thank God for something that, if lacking, could so easily kill us quickly.
vv. 42-44. I especially love this part because everyone was filled. Above I said this was (more than) 5,000 people because it was common in this time to only count the men (notice verse 44 says “men”). So with women and children it was many more but every single person was full and they still ended up with leftovers! There is actually a major point when you compare the story of Jesus feeding the 4,000 in Mark 8:1-9 (and also in Matthew 15:32-38). But I won’t tell you what it is until we get to Mark 8!!!
So here we see Jesus feeds more than 5,000 people but He also gives them leftovers! He gives them way more than they need. Jesus will always give more than we could ever dream. This story of physical food which will rot is a dim picture of the spiritual food Jesus desires to give us. If you want to understand this a little more read John 4: 5-42 (specifically verses 13-14). Jesus is moved with compassion to feed us, once we know what accepting this means we are called to go and share this with others. This means both helping others with physical needs (like feeding the homeless) and with spiritual needs (like sharing the gospel).
Source 1: MacArthur, p. 1472.
Source 2: MacArthur, p. 1473.