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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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11/13/2004

Study of Mark: Mark 6:33-44 

Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
(Mark 6:33-44 ESV)

This is probably the most familiar parable of them all. Five thousand men (and who knows how many women and children) fed with a few loaves of bread, and a few fish. It's parallels are in Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14 -- one of the few miracles that are mentioned in all four Gospels. I think that should show us the importance of what happened here.

Something bigger happened than just a bunch of people pooling their lunches so that everyone could have enough to eat. This is Jesus making sure that the people who had followed Him had enough to meet their needs.

Most of the people hadn't left their houses planning on following Christ that day. They saw Him, and decided they wanted to hear what He had to say. He could have easilly decided that the crowd was too big to deal with, and gone back to where He and the disciples had been for their retreat. But He was moved with compassion on them, because they were "like sheep without a shepherd." They had no real leadership, no instruction, nobody to take care of their real needs, and they didn't even realize it. They were just wandering around, and they saw in Jesus someone who might be able to meet their needs, and take care of them. They didn't realize who He realy was, but they knew that they could count on Him to meet their needs.

And then the test came. After listening to this guy teach all day long, they got a little hungry. They hadn't planned on sitting in on his teaching -- they were out running errands, maybe shopping. It was late, and they had to get some food. Jesus could have turned them loose, sent them out to buy their dinner, but He was their shepherd. He was taking responsibility to meet their needs. And He did it in a way that helped show them all the kind of power He had.

How often do we have needs, and panic? How often does the car break down right when funds are at their lowest, and we have no clue how we're going to pay for it? And how often do we sit calmly back and say "God will handle it. He's in charge, not me."

As familiar as this passage is, I think we often forget the message. My God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.




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