“But He answered, ‘You give them something to eat’.”
Our text tells us about an impossible yet encouraging and promising meal. By feeding this crowd of more than 5,000 people, Jesus shows that God’s power alone sustains life.
But Jesus also requires the involvement of his disciples as He multiplies this food. Note that Jesus does not say: “Don’t worry, I will give them something to eat.” He says: “You give them something to eat.” Imagine how perplexed they must’ve been. “What do you mean? Us?” They don’t get it. Do they have to go out and buy bread? You’d need a few transport trucks to bring it here! And it’s not in the budget either. “Impossible,” they say, “Jesus is asking us to put an impossible meal on the table.”
But He wasn’t asking them to go out and buy things. He was just asking for food: “Have a look and tell me what’s available.” And it’s not much. How does Jesus think so little will feed so many? His disciples were quite skeptical, but they don’t have to worry. If they trust Him and follow his instructions, they’ll see how He is going to fill their empty hands.
Again and again, we also must learn to depend on God’s grace. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything, or that we can sit back and watch what God is doing. Trusting in Jesus requires at the same time our commitment to be fully active and obedient.
Jesus’ disciples end up doing a lot of running around, for He puts them to work. They don’t know what is going to happen, but they do what He tells them anyway. They trust Him. And all these people? They don’t know what’s going to happen either, but they cooperate and sit down. Here already is the glorious power of God’s Son. You won’t be disappointed if you just trust in Him. Just trust his Word and He will surprise you.
Is this how you trust your God? If God asks you to do something, don’t say: “What God wants me to do doesn’t make sense to me. It’s impossible. It won’t work.” Do you trust Jesus Christ to take care of all your needs and to protect your life? Do you, even at those times when common sense tells you such trust is ridiculous?
Then Jesus takes the loaves and the fish and, after offering a blessing and thanksgiving, He puts his disciples to work once again. But what an experience: Jesus kept going! There was more bread and fish, and more, and more. . . .What flowed from the powerful hands of the Son of God continued to fill the hands of his disciples, enabling them to share the abundance of God’s grace.
They all ate and were satisfied. Let’s recognize the compassion of the Good Shepherd in this. He gives hope. He guarantees life. He’ll take care of you in a manner that you would never expect or imagine.
Through the power of God’s Son, the disciples can do what Jesus had told them to do: “You give them something to eat.” An impossible meal turns out to be an encouraging meal! Later, Jesus’ disciples will be sent out as apostles to proclaim the gospel of salvation. It’s a big job, but as the Son of God enables them to go around and distribute generously what comes out of his hands; He teaches them to let Him do the actual work.
This also gives encouragement to the church today. We are called to feed others and to share the gospel. But our hands are empty. Jesus says, “You give them something to eat,” even though we don’t have anything to offer. This is the power of Jesus Christ: He who calls also provides. By filling our empty hands with his Word, He distributes the bread of life.
What we see in Mark 6 is also a promising meal. For at the end, there is more left over than what they started with. God provides beyond any expectation! It’s with good reason that the perfect salvation at the end of history is often described as a festive meal. In Jesus Christ the way to eternal joy and satisfaction is open. The amazing meal for this crowd of more than 5000 is a reminder of the abundant festivities that are coming. Then, at the wedding banquet of the Lamb, we may gather with the great multitude which no one can count, to share in the joy that will last forever. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Rev. J. DeGelder is retired minister of the Flamborough Canadian Reformed Church in Ontario
Source: Clarion 58:20 (Sep 25, 2009)