35 When it was late in the day, his followers came to him and said, “No one lives in this place, and it is already very late. 36 Send the people away so they can go to the countryside and towns around here to buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We would all have to work a month to earn enough money to buy that much bread!” 38 Jesus asked them, “How many loaves of bread do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” ~ Mark 6:35-38
Today, we return to our study of Mark 6 where the Lord Jesus has just expressed His compassion toward the huge crowd that had made such a huge effort to run around the Lake eight miles to get to where the Lord Jesus and His disciples had gone.
We are told by Matthew, the Lord Jesus saw the crowd as sheep without a shepherd. Sheep need a shepherd. They will die without a shepherd. They can’t feed themselves, nor can they protect themselves. There are times when they somehow end up on their backs and are unable to get back on their feet. They are always in the need of someone to clean them and pick the bugs and the thorns out of their wool coats. They must be led to safe places and protected. Sheep are very dependent animals.
In several Old Testament passages, God pictures Israel as sheep without a shepherd. This is the way the Lord Jesus viewed the crowd that day on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, and so, He taught them first. Then, even though there were many obstacles, He eventually fed them.
Human suffering hurts the Lord. This is what gets Him deep down in His gut. Since He is merciful, He feels for and with us when we reach those times of our greatest pain and need. He feels the pain when and where we feel pain. He has compassion on our souls, and, He has compassion for our physical needs. But, He is most concerned about our spiritual needs, and, this is why He allows us to venture off into scary situations. He is skillful at using the trials of our lives to hone our heart's ability to see Him more clearly and to know Him more deeply.
In v.35-36 of today's passage we read, "35 When it was late in the day, his followers came to him and said, “No one lives in this place, and it is already very late."36 Send the people away so they can go to the countryside and towns around here to buy themselves something to eat.”
The disciples came to the Lord Jesus and suggested the crowd be sent away. But, the very large crowd was very hungry. Many have estimated that this crowd was as large as twenty-five thousand people, maybe even more than that.
The place where they were that evening was desolate and lonely. No one lived there. It was an isolated place. And, the crowd lacked the capability of feeding itself. In the eyes of all, except the Lord Jesus, it was an impossible situation. It is in these contexts that God shows His uniqueness.
In v.37-38 of today's passage we read, "But Jesus answered, 'You give them something to eat.' They said to him, 'We would all have to work a month to earn enough money to buy that much bread!' Jesus asked them, “How many loaves of bread do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five loaves and two fish."
We do well to be aware of the needs that are around us. The two greatest commands in the Bible are: Love God and love people. It is at this point where ministry truly begins. Most often people do not care what we know until they know that we care.
To their credit, the disciples recognized the need around them. When we have been trained by the Lord Jesus, we will recognize the needs of others around us. The sensitivity of the disciples to the needs of others had been heightened when the Lord had sent them out on their overnight treks throughout the villages in the area. This is why they not only recognized the needs of the people, but this is also why they brought the needs to the Lord Jesus.
After the Lord told them to take care of it, they expressed they were not up to the impossible task. Previously, the disciples had healed the sick and cast out demons of those who had been possessed. Due to how many people were there this particular day, the disciples admitted it would require a years wages to feed the crowd. The disciples saw the situation as an obstacle instead of an opportunity. Sometimes the Lord puts us in impossible situations in order to open our souls to the greatest of possibilities which come on the heels of us being convinced that we must have His intervention.
The Lord Jesus sometimes calls us into a lonely place, knowing full well that we will not have enough resources to meet the need at hand. This is a part of His curriculum for us in a given period of time. The wilderness is not necessarily a desert. It may be a lonely place but it is never without its purpose. And, it was Springtime which obviously factors into the whole point of the lessons being taught.
Clearly, we have come to a turning point in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. The Lord at this point was now expanding His ministry beyond Galilee into new areas. Consider that the villages of Capernaum and Bethsaida had populations of no more than 2000 people. Out in this wilderness, the Lord Jesus fed at least 5000, probably up to 25,000, which was a task that was totally impossible for the disciples. This was so by design. We are at our best when we are most dependent upon the Lord. Stay tuned to tomorrows message as we will consider how this story rolls out.