In Mark 6:30, you have the disciples gathering around Jesus and reporting Him all that they had done and taught as He had commanded them to do. They had been busy preaching to people that they should repent. They had been driving out demons and healing the sick (Mark 6:6-13). They were so busy they couldn’t eat so Jesus tells them to go to a solitary place with Him to rest. But many people saw them, recognized them, and began following them by foot. In ancient times only the men were counted, so theologians and historians argue that including women and children, the multitude must have been around 15,000 people.
Matthew actually mentions that there were five thousand men, besides women and children. The Greek in Matthew’s word for children is παιδίον which denotes a little one, a young infant or at least a child younger than seven years old. Oh, boy… I can only picture myself 3 years ago, tagging along my 17 month-old daughter while I carried my newborn son in my arms, because we needed to go grocery shopping.
Can you picture that? Thousands of people running after Jesus because they want to hear Him talk. When Jesus saw the big crowd, He felt moved. He felt compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and so He began to teach them many things.
INTERESTING FACT: Sheep have a natural tendency to wander off and get lost. When sheep go astray, they are in danger of getting lost, being attacked, even killing themselves by drowning or falling off cliffs following one another. Sheep are very slow animals who cannot escape predators, are easily frightened and become easily confused. Shepherds in Bible times faced incredible dangers in caring for their sheep, putting their own lives at risk by battling wild animals such as wolves and lions who threatened the flock. David [Dawood] was just such a shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34–35).
But it was already late. Who knows how long Jesus had been preaching already, and the disciples were hungry. We know they were hungry because the text said they did not have a chance to eat (Mark 6:31). I can relate to this. Sometimes my Muslims and I talk so long about the Quran or any of these things, that I have to look at the clock to see if it’s time for my husband to come pick me up at their place. Other times, when I start talking about Jesus, my mouth never stops. My Muslimah even makes fun of me when I say, “Long story short…“, because it is never short once I start talking.
I am not Jesus, and I can talk for hours. Could you imagine Jesus’ teaching moments? I’m sure they lasted for a long time. So the disciples come to Jesus and ask Him to release the people since it is already very late.
“You know, Jesus, you’ve been preaching for hours, and we are hungry. So just stop talking, tell the people to go toἀγοράζω [literally the market place] to buy something to eat”
To which Jesus responds, “You give them something to eat”. The disciples actually think Jesus is telling them to go to the market place to buy food. But Jesus didn’t mean that. And probably this is where Muslims all around the world might have different opinions, but Christine Caine‘s interpretation of the passage really spoke to me.
Christine says that the fact that Jesus gave them that instruction is very interesting. Sometimes when we pray, Jesus tells us we are the answer to our prayer. We don’t really realize that sometimes – not always – we are the ones supposed to do something about our circumstances. God, I am confused. You do something about it. But God, there are so many people and they are hungry. You do something about it. But God, what about Islam? You do something about it. Sometimes we turn to God, and all we say is I can’t.
In verse 37, they told Jesus they couldn’t feed the crowd, that it would take two hundred denarii to feed them all. But Jesus never asked them how much money it would take to feed them. Jesus’ instruction could not have been clearer: You feed them. It was a directive, not a discussion on their ability to do it.
Sometimes God gives me a directive and I question my ability to make it happen. But God, I’m busy with my children. But God, I am not very eloquent. But God, it’s not convenient… But when I do that what I am actually saying is that my limitations are greater than God’s supernatural ability to do something awesome through my life. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why Jesus ignored the disciples’ excuses. In verse 38, He asked them, “How many loaves do YOU have?”
Jesus clearly taught that the ingredients for a miracle are always in our midst. But God cannot multiply what we don’t recognize. We look at what we don’t have, but God already knows that. It’s like I want the harvest without sowing the seed. But within the seed lies the potential for the harvest. I don’t see the potential come to pass because I never sow it to begin with. Right now I feel God is asking me, “How many loaves do YOU have?”
What if this blog is something like that? I am really bad at many things. I suck at organization. My computer is a mess, dirty spots everywhere. My children are sure to get PB&J’s on a regular basis. I wish I were better at homemade. Oh, boy… but I can talk. A LOT. And I can write. Surprisingly, I am being able to organize my scattered, clumsy brain when I write in here.
God is awesome.
TO BE CONTINUED…