Mark 6: 30-44 (Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand)

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take almost a year’s wages[f]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Note:
The five loaves of bread and two small fish belong to a small boy, probably is Mark, the author of gospel of Mark. (John 6:8-9)

When we have compassion to people, God will provide what is needed to help the needy people. Here Jesus had compassion on them both physically (Jesus, with the help of the apostles fed them) and spiritually (Jesus thought them many things).

– v34 “because they were like sheep without a shepherd” –

  • Sheep without a shepherd are needy, because they have no Shepherd to fill their wants.
  • Sheep without a shepherd are hungry and thirsty, because they have no Shepherd to make them lie down in green pastures or to lead them beside still waters.
  • Sheep without a shepherd hurt, because they have no Shepherd to restore their soul.
  • Sheep without a shepherd wander, because they have no Shepherd to lead them in paths of righteousness.
  • Sheep without a shepherd are vulnerable, because they have no Shepherd to protect them with His rod.

Question: Why initially Jesus ask the apostles to come for rest but then later need to serve the 5 thousands?
Question: Is it too much or out of boundary already end of the day but still continue to serve the five thousands? Will this make us burn out? How to differentiate between selfless/self denial vs setting boundaries?

v37 – They said to him, “That would take almost a year’s wages[f]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

It’s hard to know if the disciples were angry or just couldn’t believe what Jesus said. Clearly, they thought spending about a year’s income to feed this multitude for one meal was not only impossible, but also a waste.

i. Understandably, it never entered into their minds that Jesus might provide for the multitude with a miracle. God has resources that we know nothing about, so we can trust Him and be at peace even when we can’t figure out how He will provide.

ii. Jesus’ suggestion must have seemed so extravagant to the disciples. “Jesus if we had that kind of money, we would never spend it on one meal for this crowd. They would be hungry again in a few hours. Shouldn’t the money be spent on something else?” But Jesus will perform an extravagant miracle because maybe he want to teach the apostles something, perhaps to lift up their faith, about compassionate, about self-denial, about putting other needs above ours and etc.

v39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.

Why did Jesus do this? Because these people were like sheep without a shepherd, and Jesus will be their shepherd. The Good Shepherd makes me lie down in green pastures. (Psalm 23:2)

v40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

Jesus organized the multitude. God likes organization, especially when it comes to managing what He provides for us.

i. The ancient Greek word for groups “is a very pictorial word. It is the normal Greek word for the rows of vegetables in the vegetable garden. When you looked at the little groups, as they sat there in their orderly rows, they looked for all the world like the rows of vegetables in a series of garden plots.” (Barclay)

42 They all ate and were satisfied,

i. It really seems too extravagant. Why feed the multitude until they are filled and can’t eat any more? Why not just give them a little meal? Wouldn’t that be enough? No. Jesus is having people He loves over for dinner, and there will always be more than enough food. That’s how much Jesus loved them and loves us.

ii. Jesus provided extravagantly, yet simply. As long as He was making food miraculously, He could have provided steak and lobster and any number of other great things. But He simply gave people bread and fish. When Jesus provides, don’t be surprised if He provides simply.

iii. If someone left hungry, it was either because they refused the bread from Jesus, or because the apostles didn’t distribute the bread to everyone. Jesus supplied plenty for everybody to eat a good meal. But everybody had to eat for himself. Sometimes when we attend a spiritual meal, we gather food for everyone else except ourselves.

43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

Jesus could have just left this behind, but He didn’t. Jesus generously provides, but He doesn’t want things wasted. It isn’t because Jesus is cheap, or doesn’t trust for future provision; He simply knew that wastefulness didn’t glorify the God of all provision.

We might ask, then why Moses asked the Israelite not to keep the manna (Exodus 16:19)? I think at Exodus 16: 19, God is teaching us to trust in His provision while in Mark 6 here, God is teaching us not to be wasteful. Both are different points.

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