Jesus Feeds Four Thousand (Reading Tips and Resources in Right Panel)
The Gospel of Mark Chapter 8: About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, 2 “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?”
5 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they replied. 6 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd. 7 A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 They ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. 9 There were about 4,000 men in the crowd that day, and Jesus sent them home after they had eaten. 10 Immediately after this, he got into a boat with his disciples and crossed over to the region of Dalmanutha.
Pharisees Demand a Miraculous Sign
11 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. 12 When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.” 13 So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake.
Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” 16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” “Twelve,” they said. 20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. 21 “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.
About today's contributor . . . Ryan is a media producer and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and dog.
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I am most struck by Jesus' persistent and growing frustration. He repeatedly saves the disciples on the lake, and repeatedly helps them feed thousands of people, performing miracles the whole time, and yet the disciples continually return to fear and anxiety. The Pharisees have seen and heard of Jesus' miracles, but continue to demand he go to greater lengths to prove himself. Yet despite his frustration, Jesus keeps doing good work and spreading good news! He is frustrated but does not give up. I take great comfort knowing that though he may shake his head at me, God will stay by my side and continue to work in my life.
Amidst all that, it's interesting that most (or maybe all) of his frustration is directed at the disciples and the Pharisees –– that's the people with the most faith in him AND the least faith in him. Is this a sign that God concerns himself with all people? Something else? I'm not sure.
What do you think? Do you find God to be persistent in your life? How pervasive do you find God's presence and concern for various communities? What else moves you from this passage?
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Bible Reading Tips . . .
Start by asking God to interact with you
Ask for a fresh perspective
Expect to be challenged in your assumptions
Try imagining yourself in the story
Slow down and pay attention to your feelings, thoughts and reactions
When something bothers you, talk to God about it
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