“During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.’ His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied… They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them… About four thousand were present…”
(Mark 8:1-9, NIV).
(Mark 8:1-9, NIV).
I believe that this miracle is different from the feeding of the five thousand as described in Mark 6:33-45. Here are some difference: First, the miracles occurred in two different settings. The place here is seem like at the mountain; on the other hand, the 5,000 were fed near Bethsaida. Secondly, both miracles differ in the following details: number of men, number of loaves, and number of baskets. Thirdly, Hugh Anderson commented: “The twelve baskets in Mark 6:43 (Greek: kophinos) were Jewish provision baskets. The seven baskets in Mark 8:8 (Greek: spyris) were the type used by Gentile merchants, and were large enough to hold a man (Acts 9:35). The difference in baskets may indicate a difference in the composition of the crowds. The five thousand may have been mainly Jewish, and the four thousand mainly Gentile.” Fourthly, there is also an interesting contrast between the two crowds in terms of attitude: the five thousand complained about hunger, but the four thousand sat without any complaint in order to listen to Jesus. I like the crowd in Mark 8 more.
So, if the two miracles are different, then why the disciples still doubted Jesus’ ability to multiply and provide food for them? “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” Well, yesterday’s miracle not necessarily guarantee today’s faith. Jesus was very patience with His disciples. How many times has God provided for us in the past, and we still have trouble trusting and doubt him for whatever we going through in the present? I’ve going through this situation myself. I remember how God has asked me to take a giant step of faith in quitting my job as assistant manager at GSC Times Square many years ago and move to student ministry. God has asked me to do some crazy stuff before and He never (I mean never!) failed me even once. He is faithful. He is patient. He can do – will do – miracles in my life and yours over and over again if only we have faith and continue to believe in Him. My point is: God has always proved faithful in the past, and so I know He will be faithful in this present one as well.
Notice what Jesus said here, “I have compassion for these people.” Why Jesus does miracles? Not because of money, or to show off power (maybe He is), or to gain more followers. He did it because of His compassion for the crowd. The word “compassion” indicates a feeling strong enough to prompt not only deep emotion (“Oh, I feel sorry for them”) but positive action (“What can I do to help them?”). Jesus’ miracles were a demonstration of who He was – the Son of God – but fundamentally, they were an expression of His love-action. The crowd was following Jesus for three days, hungry and weak, and never once complaint about it, so Jesus feeds them and satisfies their need before He “sent them away” (8:9) home. Jesus’ reactions make me think: there are still millions of people in our world who are hungry; what should our response as Christians be? What can I do to provide people’s needs around me?
Trust God for His providence today;
and be compassionate for others of their need too.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.