At first Jesus intentions was to take his disciples away for a brief “staff retreat”. They had just returned from their preaching mission and “met with Jesus, and told him all they had done and taught” (Mark 6:30, GNB) and they were tired. Jesus understand their fatigue and said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest for a while” (6:31). So they started out in a boat by themselves for a lonely place. But the crowd followed them by land and arrived ahead of them. Then Jesus was filled with compassion. So he gathered them around and taught them.
By late afternoon the disciples interrupted Jesus to tell him that “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away, and let them go to the nearby farms and villages in order to buy themselves something to eat” (Mark 6:35-36). How considerate his disciples were to their Master and the people’s welfare. There was no food available, so it is practical to let the people go and find something to eat. But Jesus commanded them a very unpractical command, “You yourselves give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37). Doesn’t he knew that they were tired, a bit irritated by the people, and broke? Why would he asked them to give the multitude of crowd something to eat? What was in Jesus’ mind?
I think Jesus want to teach his disciples some lessons here. First, as it is also apply to us, that sometime we have to sacrifice our rest in order to attend the immediate needs. My number one priority in student ministry is to teach students to read and to live out the Gospel. There were time when I was very tired that I want my personal quiet, solitude and rest, then suddenly student leaders asked me to share God’s Word in their camp or Christian fellowship at campus (obviously because the initial speaker doesn’t turned up). What should I do? Say no and let the opportunity goes by? Never! First thing first. God first, personal second. People first, program second. “Sheep without shepherd” (6:34) first, be alone and rest second. Sometimes it’s the other way round. Use God-given wisdom and conscious.
Secondly, Jesus wants to teach them and us that success in the ministry (and life!) is dependence on Him. I think when they “met with Jesus, and told him all they had done and taught” (6:30) there was some proud moments involved. During the mission, they were casting out demons and healed people. What can be more excited than that? Sometime accomplishments and successes in ministry can intoxicated us with pride and sense of superiority. Overtime, if we’re not careful, we will think that all the things that we have done and achieved are due to our own efforts and independent from God. That’s why Jesus said, “You yourselves give them something to eat.”
Since they can’t do miracle on their own, to feed more than 5,000 men, they gave the most practical and calculative respond, “Do you want us to go and spend two hundred silver coins on bread in order to feed them?” (6:37). Peter and the gang why so cynical in your response, since you all had casting out demons and healing the sick, can you all perform some miracle here? No, Jesus will. He will show them and all of the people and us who the Boss is. Who is the source of success in God’s Kingdom and the Person in whom should we dependent upon.
So Jesus asked them, “How much bread have you got? Go and see” They told him, “Five loaves and also two fish” (Mark 6:38). Forget about logical thinking, mathematic equations and the law of physic, Jesus the Lord of all creation will defy all of them. “Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people… Everyone ate and had enough… the number of men who were fed was 5,000” (Mark 41-44). Thirdly, Jesus teaches them and us that nothing is impossible for God. It doesn’t matter how much we have but how much we know who our God is. Even the situation may seem hopeless and impossible – 5 loaves and 2 fish vs. 5,000 hungry men – God of the Bible can make thing happen! Here Jesus also showed (forth lessons) that God not only cares for our spiritual needs (Jesus taught God’s Word) but also for our physical needs as well (Jesus feeds his people). Just like Jesus, we should care for people’s spiritual and physical needs around us too. Awesome Jesus! Thank you Lord.
Fifthly, by performing this miracle, Jesus showed himself to be the Messiah.
The Jew expected the Messiah to bring manna down from heaven
just as Moses had done in the wilderness. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.