Again with the loaves & fishes?!?
This morning at our Men’s Bible Study, we got into the 8th chapter of the Gospel of Mark. It’s kind of a strange chapter, because it begins with ANOTHER “feeding of the multitude” story. In Mark 6, we JUST read about the first “feeding of the multitude”. What’s the deal? Did Mark forget he JUST told one of these? Do we really need two of them, especially so similar – and so close to one another?
In Mark 6, Jesus takes five loaves and two fish, blesses and breaks them, and then gives them back to the disciples to feed the people – and it feeds all 5,000 men (plus all of the women and children there….that’s like 10-15,000 people!). The issue in Mark 6 was that the disciples couldn’t imagine how their meager five loaves and two fish could feed that many, except that it does – because of Jesus.
When Jesus is present, there is more than enough – even when it doesn’t seem like it.
This morning, in Mark 8, there’s another crowd to be fed. But this time, it’s only about 4,000 people total – AND – they have seven loaves and “a few” fish to work with. Jesus is present, he can obviously handle this. Easy-peasy, right? Slam dunk. This should be a no-brainer.
But not for his disciples (the closest followers of Jesus!).
Look at how they respond to this new challenge:
His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
Palm, meet face.
The disciples JUST saw Jesus take the five loaves and two fish and feed upwards of 15,000 people with them! They JUST learned the lesson that when Jesus is present, there is more than enough.
How quickly they forget! How quickly WE forget.
I’m pretty sure this is why Mark put these two stories in his Gospel. One of the men this morning spoke up and made Mark’s point: no matter how close we are to Jesus, we are met with all kinds of real challenges in life (hungry multitudes, illnesses, friendship difficulties, financial struggle, new Sunday school plans, and on and on and on), and we are so quick to forget how Jesus has already shown himself able, powerful, and willing to help in the face of similar past challenges.
He’s already proven himself mighty and faithful in so many of our lives – and in our life together as a church – and yet we fear, we doubt his help, or worse.
For better or worse, we will continue to face challenges in our lives (both as a church and as individuals). This side of eternity, that won’t change. Some are simply difficult. Some are necessary for our growth. Some prove to be both.
My friends, remember Jesus’ faithfulness. Remember the lesson that the disciples could not: when Jesus is present, there’s always enough. As Jesus himself said in the very last line on Matthew, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Let’s be a community that remembers this. Remind one another of it. Write it on your mirror. Put it on your fridge.
And let’s live like it. Let’s live by faith.
Pastor, Central Baptist Church