Mark 6:30–44—Jesus feeds the masses
30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and what they had taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.” There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. 32 They left by boat for a quieter spot. 33 But many people saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and met them as they landed. 34 A vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things. 35 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and it is getting late. 36 Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy themselves some food.” 37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “With what?” they asked. “It would take a small fortune to buy food for all this crowd!” 38 “How much food do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.” They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.” 39 Then Jesus told the crowd to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat in groups of fifty or a hundred. 41 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God’s blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people. 42 They all ate as much as they wanted, 43 and they picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. 44 Five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves!
Points of Interest:
- ‘many people saw them leaving’—The people recognize the disciples, not just Jesus. That’s because the disciples have been among the people preaching. Many of these people are coming to Jesus because they are responding to the teaching of the disciples.
- ‘he had compassion on them’—Jesus’ intention was to be alone with the disciples to rest, but the crowds get in the way of the plan. Rather than being irritated, Jesus has a heart of compassion for the crowds. When he sees how hungry they are for care and guidance, he can’t help but respond. Jesus is unashamed about seeking rest when he needs it, but he is also not selfish or rigid about his rest. He’s willing to lay aside his rest for the sake of the people. It’s easy to be either too soft or too hard about rest. Often, we don’t get away from the crowds for rest when we really need it. A false sense of responsibility or the ego boost of being needed prevent us from putting aside our busyness to rest with God or a small group of friends. On the other hand, we can also have an attitude of entitlement toward our rest, thinking we deserve our rest and nothing or no one can get in the way. We treat people harshly, because we see them only as impediments to rest. Jesus was quick to recognize his need for rest, and open-handed about serving others instead when he saw a great need.
- ‘You feed them’—Jesus has the heart of a shepherd for these people, and he expects the disciples to have that same attitude. These people are following the disciples too, after all. A shepherd feeds the flock. So, if this flock is hungry, Jesus reasons, the disciples should feed them. The disciples have the exact opposite instinct to the instinct of a shepherd. The shepherd’s biggest job is to keep the flock together, but the disciples want to scatter them everywhere. They have a lot to learn about shepherding.
- ‘With what?’—Jesus has called them to a task that they simply don’t have the resources to do on their own. But that’s okay. They are with Jesus. He will give them what they need. The disciples do, in fact, end up feeding the crowds. Jesus miraculously multiplies the bread, and then he gives it to the disciples to feed the people.
- ‘twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish’—Jesus does really ask a lot of the disciples here. When they are tired and hungry already, he has them give up all their available food to feed a huge crowd of people. But he gives the disciples more than they give the people. They give up 5 loaves and 2 fish. After they feed the crowd, they have 12 baskets of food left over—one entire basket for each disciple.
Taking It Home:
- For you: What is a task to which Jesus has called you for which you don’t have the resources? Is it leading a small group? Praying for your 6? Loving a particular person? Give Jesus everything you have and ask him to multiply it. Jesus will always give us enough resources to complete the mission he’s given us; and he’ll always give us more than we give.
- For your 6: Jesus has the heart of a shepherd for the crowd: he sees their needs, has compassion on them, and does what he can to care for them. Ask Jesus to give you a heart of a shepherd for your 6.
- For our church: Ask God for a miracle of multiplication that would enable us to purchase new technology for the Worship Center, update our children’s area, finish our green space project common area, renovate The Other Room and find solutions to provide more parking spaces.