It seems we’ve heard this story before (see The Big Picnic, March 15, 2009, Mark 6:30-44). But this is a different occasion altogether. The growing crowd – about four thousand – had been with Jesus for three days, and were in a remote place where there wasn’t enough food available.
Jesus had compassion for them (Mark 8:2) and expressed concern over the distance they would have to travel without food (Mark 8:3) It’s comforting to know that Jesus has compassion for people – that He concerns Himself with our welfare.
In both of these accounts of feeding large groups we can see some parallels:
|Parallel||Mark 6:30-44||Mark 8:1-9|
|Organized the Crowds||Mark 6:39-40||Mark 8:6-7|
|Gave Thanks||Mark 6:41||Mark 8:6-7|
|Disciples Distributed the Food||Mark 6:41||Mark 8:6-7|
|The People were Satisfied||Mark 6:2||Mark 8:8|
|Disciples Collected Leftovers||Mark 6:43||Mark 8:8|
A certain orderliness becomes apparent as we compare these passages. I know that when I feel compassionate, I’m not thinking much about being organized, systematic or efficient. But Jesus was. Certainly a miracle showing God’s abundance was taking place, but it wasn’t without order; rather it was done in such a way as to teach us to multiply God’s abundance even more:
- by organizing the crowds, there was no rush, gluttony or waste
- by giving thanks, Jesus demonstrated expectant faith – no doubt that God would bless these 4,000 people abundantly
- by appointing the disciples to distribute the food, Jesus taught the importance of obediently following instructions, while simultaneously developing their leadership skills
- the fact that the people were satisfied – 4,000 of them with seven loaves and a few small fish – proves God’s hand in miraculously filling this need
- and the orderly collection and accounting for the leftovers demonstrates the respect for God’s provision by permitting no waste of the abundant blessing
How will you bring order and efficiency to God’s abundance in order to multiply its reach and effect?