MARK 6:30-44 (NIV – UK)
Jesus feeds the five thousand
30 The apostles gathered round 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 recognised 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 more than half a year’s wages! 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 told them to make 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 distribute to 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.
ABUNDANCE IN JESUS
As Jesus was trying to seek out a quiet place with his disciples so that they could rest, a large crowd came to him. Rather than being irritated by this, Jesus ‘had compassion on them’ (v. 34). Jesus saw that they were ‘like sheep without a shepherd’ – but they had come to the right place – Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-18) – and he begins to teach them.
And, having come to Jesus, what these people experience is truly amazing – one of Jesus’ most famous miracles – the feeding of the five thousand. What we see here is a miracle that is a physical display of a spiritual – a display of the abundance found in Jesus. Jesus is ‘the bread of life, as he declares in John: ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35).
The people had come there to see Jesus – the sheep had found a shepherd – and now the shepherd would feed them. From only five loaves and two fish Jesus demonstrates the endless abundance of life found in him. We find no true sustenance elsewhere – we will always be hungry unless we feed on Jesus. The more we feed on him, the less we will seek empty sustenance elsewhere. He is the bread of life – in him we will have no spiritual hunger. In him all our needs are met.
Question: In what ways are you seeking to feed on Jesus?