The Feeding of the Five Thousand

In Mark 6, we read of our Lord’s miraculous feeding of the five thousand men. Amazingly, this is the only miracle recorded by all four gospel writers. The disciples came to Him, telling Him of the multitude’s hunger. Jesus replies to them with a seemingly impossible command, “Give ye them to eat” (v. 37). Whenever there is given a command to obey, there is always given the ability to obey it. But they were confused, asking, “Do we go buy the food?” I’m sure they were thinking “What are we going to use for money?” One of the provision principles of God is to consider what we already possess. When Moses asked, “How will I convince Pharoah to let Your people go?” God answered by asking another question, “What do you have in your hand?” He most often begins where we are, with what we already have at hand and uses it. Here He asks how many loaves they had. After researching His question, they presented Him with five loaves and two fishes. He blessed and multiplied it, and the result was that a multitude was fed. We should note that He commanded them to gather up the leftovers. “And they took up twelve baskets full. (Could this have been one for each disciple?) Immediately after this wonderful provision, Mark records that Jesus commanded His disciples to get into a ship and to go to the other side. Boisterous winds overtook them, and about 3:00 in the morning they saw Him coming toward them, walking on the sea! “And He went up unto them into the ship, and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” Does this not describe us at times? We have seen the goodness, power and provision of the Lord over and over again. And yet when a storm or a mountain of doubt surrounds us, or a deluge of worry overtakes us, how soon we forget the loaves and the fishes. How quickly are our senses dulled and our faith falters. Why? Because we “consider not” what He has done time and time again. The word for “consider” in the Greek means “to comprehend,” “to put together.” They hadn’t “connected the dots.” The One Who had fed the thousands with a lad’s lunch could certainly calm a storm, or come to them in their time of need by unusual means. Jesus is God. Earlier in the chapter Jesus and the disciples went to Nazareth, His hometown. There the people “hearing Him were astonished, saying, ‘From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands?’” (v.2) “And He marveled because of their unbelief” (v. 6). We must constantly build our faith. Faith must be tested. It must be exercised. No blessing from above comes with out faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Let us come before Him in faith and by relentless prayer. Jeremy Taylor so vividly reminds us of this great resource and gift from the Lord: “The prayers of holy men appease God’s wrath, drive away temptation, resist and overcome the devil, procure the ministry and service of angels, and rescind the decrees of God. Prayer cures sickness and obtains pardon. It arrests the sun in its course and stays the wheels of the chariot of the moon; it rules over all gods and opens and shuts the storehouses of rain; it unlocks the cabinet of the womb and quenches the violence of fire; it stops the mouths of lions and reconciles our suffered and weak faculties with the violence of torment and violence of persecution; it pleases God and supplies all our need.” Surely “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

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