In today’s focus passage we see that Jesus initially wanted to spend some one on one time with his disciples. However, because of Jesus’ “fame”, for lack of a better word, he and his disciples were not able to get this one on one time that they were looking for and here is how today’s passage starts:
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.
When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.—Mark 6:30-34
The most important thing we need to notice is that Jesus had compassion on this large crowd that had followed him and his disciples. Compassion is a deep, heartfelt emotion that involves feeling deep sorrow for another’s suffering and misfortune. But it goes beyond a feeling of identifying with the afflicted. True compassion is willing to take action to help a person in need. It is a character trait both of God and of his Son, Jesus. And it is for this reason, God expects an attitude of compassion to be a part of the Christian’s life. Now let’s talk about compassion being a trait of Jesus and what it means for us.
Jesus always looked with compassion on the needs and suffering of humanity. Throughout the Gospels, the writers often mention Jesus’ compassion as the motive for his miracles and healings. Jesus still has a deep compassion for human needs and hurts, and he continues to show it by taking care of our needs—often in miraculous ways that are greater than our understanding. In times of troubles, we can always come to him in prayer with assurance that we will receive grace, mercy and help. And we are about to see that in a big way in this last section of today’s passage, which says:
When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.”
“You give them something to eat,” he responded.
They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”
He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”
When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.—Mark 6:35-44
You see when this large crowd, about 15,000 people or more, originally arrived to here Jesus speak their physiological need for food had already been fulfilled, so they were open to Jesus’ teachings. That is why Jesus had compassion on them and began to teach them, because they had come to him looking for something that could fill their deeper need of knowing what their potential in life was and Jesus gave that to them. But as the day wore on their physical bodies began to need physical food again, which is why the disciples approached Jesus to tell him that it was time to send these people away so that they could feed their physical bodies. However, Jesus stunned his disciples by giving them a simple command, “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37).
This simple command from Jesus to his disciples was a challenge to them, in order to see how they would respond. And their response is the same response we would have given Jesus if he had asked us to feed a crowd of 15,000 or more people. For you see the disciples thought that Jesus was telling them to quite literally go out and buy food for 15,000 plus people. However, Jesus response to his disciples failure to understand what he was telling them is classic. He responds by asking this question, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see” (Mark 6:38). Jesus did not want the disciples to feed these people through their own power, but rather he wanted them to feed these people through his power. And the only way they could do that was to bring what they had to Jesus so that he could use it to fulfill the mission that he had given them. You see the only way 15,000 plus people were feed here is because the disciples brought what they had to Jesus to be used for his purposes, but there is one thing that we learn from this passage. And we see that in verse 41-42:
He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and was satisfied.
You see before eating, Christ thanked his heavenly Father for the food. And we as Christians today ought to follow his example and give thanks at every meal as a means of recognizing God’s care and provision for us. It is because Christ expressed his gratitude to God for supplying the means to feed this extremely large crowd of people that they were able to be feed and there still be some left over, in fact there was enough left over for each disciple to take a basket of food home with them. What we must remember is that God will bless what we have when we allow him to use it for his purposes.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Leviticus 15:1-16:28, Mark 7:1-23, Psalm 40:11-17 and Proverbs 10:13-14