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. He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. Mark 8, verses 1-10
We’ve been here before, right? Not quite. And even if we have, what’s the underlying issue?
I’ll admit: I had to do some research on the differences between the feeding of the 5000 (as you’ll remember, in Mark 6) and the feeding of the 4000 (here). One site said it was merely a numerical difference. Another site said they were the same thing. Another site, still, said that the differences were in the audience that was fed: the 5000 were primarily Jewish while the 4000 were Gentile. Yet another site talks about the differences in the original Greek words used to record the events (and there are many). There are hundreds, probably thousands, of sites on the Interwebs that talk about this topic. One thing is for sure: the episodes were, to a point, quite similar.
Yet that underlying question is still there: what’s the big deal?
One site (http://www.angelfire.com/nt/theology/mk08-01.html ) said it best: “Jesus is setting the stage for what is to come. In several years, the newborn church will be faced with the question of whether Gentiles can become Christians. And these disciples will remember the principles that Jesus is teaching them.” That’s no small matter.
Whether we believe the accounts are one or two (or many others), the lesson is that Jesus provides for ALL of us, no matter who we are. Maybe in our world today it’s incomprehensible to think of people who don’t know about Jesus. Yet I in my life alone I have personally met thousands. I’m betting you have too and we already live in a world where, thousands of years ago, Jesus Himself declared all foods clean and all people to be God’s children. In reality, if we know Jesus (or even know of Him) you and I have no excuse for not introducing people to Him. We don’t do the conversion; we aren’t the ones feeding them. It’s our job to simply use our talents to facilitate the introduction and get out of the way for Jesus’ Spirit to do the rest.
If you consider that, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s 4000, 5000 or 100,000. The number that matters is one: one Savior.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the accounts of all the people You fed. Thank You for providing so much for all of us.
Read Mark 8, verses 1-13.