“And his disciples answered him, ‘How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?’ And he asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven.’ And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them.” - Mark 8:4-8
“How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” (v. 4). Instead of trusting Jesus to provide as he had before, the disciples remained mired in their doubt and unbelief. How could one feed, heal, restore, renew, and resurrect? The real question was not how, but who could do such mighty works. And the answer was only Jesus!
Despite the disciples’ lingering doubts, Jesus continued with his plan to nourish and provide for the people. As before, he asked how much food was available. How he must have longed for the disciples to believe and respond, “Plenty!” Instead, they told him there were seven loaves and a few small fish (sardines in Greek). Remember, the loaves were the size of dinner rolls. There was barely enough food to feed the Twelve, much less a crowd of 4,000. Or so they thought. The disciples were so focused on the material limitations that they forgot about Jesus’ boundless power.
Once again, Jesus gave thanks for the food before instructing the disciples to distribute it. And once again, every single person was fed and satisfied. Seven loaves and two fish nourished 4,000 people. That is a miracle! Jesus took what was available, blessed it, broke it, and created abundance from it. He was in no way limited by the lack of food or the lack of faith amongst his followers. The disciples must have marveled as they once more carried around baskets overflowing with food. Jesus had clearly answered the how and the who, leaving them to wonder why. Why did he care so much about 4,000 Gentiles? Why had he spent three days teaching them and then worked a miracle on their behalf?
Again, the answer lies in the abundance of Jesus. He had more than enough love and power to pour out on the nation of Israel and the Gentiles. Salvation began with the Jews, but Jesus had begun extending it to all believers. His ministry was not limited by religious laws, geography, background, or ethnicity. When he looked at the crowd around him, he did not see Gentiles. He saw children, sheep in need of a shepherd. He saw disciples in the making, people who would continue to expand his kingdom.
Jesus viewed people and events from a divine perspective. The disciples, on the other hand, still saw things through an earthly lens. They were slow to believe and understand that nothing was impossible for Jesus. Despite their hard-heartedness, Jesus continued to love them, teach them, challenge them, and call them to embrace his divine perspective. He knew that his ministry and work would eventually fall to these twelve men, and he wanted them be ready. He wanted them to remember his power, authority, and compassion.
Jesus invited the disciples to join in his abundant kingdom work, and now he invites you to do the same. Do you have spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear him? Or are you too focused on worldly constraints – the seven small loaves and two tiny sardines? The mighty works of Jesus have no limitation! May we allow the Lord to give us his divine perspective so that we don’t ask how or why. Instead, may we respond like the prophet Isaiah: “Here I am, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
Reflect and Respond:
How do you view the Lord’s work – from his divine perspective or your earthly perspective? How is he inviting you to participate in his abundant kingdom work today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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