(See Matthew 15:32-39)
Mark 8:1-9 (NASB)
¹In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, ²I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.
³If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.”
⁴And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?”
⁵And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.”
⁶And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people.
⁷They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well.
⁸And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces.
⁹About four thousand were there; and He sent them away.
Some further information:
● Observe that our Lord Jesus was greatly followed; The multitude was very great (Mark 8:1).
Although the wicked arts of the scribes and Pharisees continued to blemish Him, the common people, who had more honesty, than their leaders, kept up their high thoughts of Him.
We may suppose that this multitude were generally of the meaner sort of people, as the Christ usually conversed with those, and because He was familiar with them.
For He humbled himself to reach the lowest and the weakest, and made himself of no reputation, and thus encouraged the meanest to come to Him for life and grace.
● Observe that those that followed him, underwent a great deal of difficulty in following him; They were with him for three days, and had nothing to eat, that was hard service. Never let the Pharisees say, that Christ’s disciples did not fast.
Probably there were those, that brought some food with them from home; but by this time it was all spent, and they had a great way home; and yet they continued with the Christ, and did not speak of leaving Him till he spoke of dismissing them.
▪︎ Note, that true zeal makes nothing of hardships in the way of duty.
They that have a full feast for their souls may be content with slender provision for their bodies. It was an old saying among the Puritans, Grown bread and the gospel are good fare.
● Observe that the Christ has compassion for all that are in want.
Christ said, I have compassion for the multitude. These were the same people where the proud Pharisees looked down on, but the humble Jesus looked upon them with pity and tenderness; and thus we too must honor all men.
But that which he mainly considers is this: They have been with me three days, and have had nothing to eat.
Whatever losses we sustain, or hardships we go through, for Christ’s sake, and in love to him, he will take care that they shall be made up to us one way or other.
They that seek the Lord, shall not long want any good thing (Psalms 34:10).
● Observe with what sympathy Christ saith, If I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way, for hunger (Mark 8:3).
The Christ knows and considers our frame; and He is for the body, if we glorify Him, verily we shall be fed. He considered that many of them came from afar, and had a long way to travel to go home.
When we see multitudes attending upon the word preached, it is comfortable to think that Christ knows whence they all come, though we do not.
Jesus said: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest” (Revelation 2:13).
Christ would by no means have them go home fasting, for it is not His manner to send those empty way from Him, that in a right manner attend on Him.
● Observe that the doubts of Christians are sometimes made to work for the magnifying of the power of Christ.
The disciples could not imagine, how so many men should be satisfied with bread here in the wilderness (Mark 8:4). The disciples looked upon it as impossible.
● Observe that the Christ’s time to act for the relief of His people, is, when things are brought to the last extremity.
When they were ready to faint, Christ provided for them.
So He would not be followed for the loaves, He did not supply them but when they were utterly reduced, and then He sent them away.
● Observe that the bounty of the Christ is inexhaustible, and, to evidence that, the Christ repeated this miracle, to show that He is still the same for the succour and supply of His people that attend upon Him.
His favours are renewed, as our wants and necessities are.
In the former miracle, Christ used all the bread He had, which was five loaves, and fed all the guests He had, which were five thousand, and so He did now; though He could have said, “If five loaves would feed five thousand, four may feed four thousand’’ He took all the seven loaves, and fed with them, the four thousand, for He would teach us to take things as they are, and accommodate ourselves to them; to use what we have, and make the best of that which is.
Here it was, as in the dispensing of manna, He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.
● Observe that in our Father’s house, in our Master’s house, there is bread enough, and to spare; there is a fulness in the christ, which He communicates to all that passes through His hands; so that from it we receive, and grace for grace (John 1:16). Those need not fear wanting, that have Christ to live upon.
● Observe that it is good for those that follow Jesus, to keep together.
These followers of the christ continued in a body, four thousand of them together, and jesus fed them all. Christ’s sheep must abide by the flock, and go forth by their footsteps, and verily they shall be fed.
Now let us reflect on this
Sometimes it happens that you forget everything around you. You are so absorbed, for example in your work, that you no longer think of anything else. The same must have happened to the people who listened to Jesus. They didn’t take time for anything else anymore. They forgot even the essentials. They have been with Jesus for three days.
The provisions they had taken with with them were now long gone. But they don’t think about leaving. That is how hungry they are for Jesus’ word (Mark 8:1,2).
But it is He Himself who raises the question of bread.
He knows what we need.
If we don’t think about our everyday necessities, He will.
He doesn’t want anyone who leaves Him, to succumb on the way home.
He provides beforehand (Mark 8:3).
The disciples are evidently startled when Jesus shows His concern.
He does not ask or command them, yet they immediately respond in a defensive way. In Mark 8:4 there is no ordinary term for ‘answer’. They had a rebuttal, so it can be better presented.
According to them, it is impossible to give food to all those people.
They probably don’t feel like it either. The last time, tired as they were, it had given them a great deal of work to deliver all the food (See Mark 6:41).
But the Lord Jesus commands them to make a start again.
They shouldn’t say it doesn’t work. When the small beginnings – seven loaves and a few fish – are blessed, everyone gets enough anyway. There even remains. Seven baskets can be filled with it (Mark 8:8).
This event is very similar to the one in which five loaves and two fish were multiplied (Mark 6:30-44). That is why it is good to pay attention to the differences.
▪︎ Earlier, twelve baskets remained, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
▪︎ Now there are seven. Seven is in the Bible, on the basis of the creation of heaven and earth in six days plus the day of rest, the sign of God’s work in and with this world, and shows the number a completeness.
Thus this history also ties in with the reports of Jesus’ activity outside Israel (Mark 7:24-30, 31-37). He is there primarily for Israel, but then for the whole world.
Question for self-reflection
▪︎ What do you do with the little you have?
▪︎ Thank God that He can turn something small into something great.
▪︎ Thank God that He can also use what little you have to reach those who have not yet received Him.
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