Mark 8:1 In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
Some might argue that this is a repetition of the feeding of the five thousand but that is not the case. This is another test for Jesus’ disciples, an opportunity for them to reveal the ways in which they have grown spiritually. Jesus had provided for the five thousand when they were hungry, surely he would provide again! At least, one would assume this response of the disciples but once again they become anxious about finding enough food for these people. They have very little to bring to Jesus — but that’s all they’ve ever had. He breaks the bread and it becomes the gracious provision for all four thousand. Jesus provides for the physical needs of the people but also, in the breaking of the bread both here and with the five thousand and finally in the Lord’s Supper, he points to provision in the kingdom. The disciples are to live their lives in the kingdom where God provides.
Have you ever wondered why it took so long for the disciples to “get” it? It’s easy to be critical of them and what appears to be a lack of faith. At the same time I’m challenged to think about all the times that God has been faithful and provided in my own life and yet, when faced anew with needs, I display my doubts about his ability to provide. I’m right there with the disciples saying, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?”
Jesus’ provision goes beyond our physical needs for he realizes the depths of our spiritual needs. The people needed earthly food, but they also needed eternal food. The manna which came down from heaven was Jesus and he was the bread which they needed to sustain them. He remains the same today and continues to be available to us on a daily basis. It’s time in his word and prayer which provides for us. He speaks to us, leads us, shapes us, and forms us on a daily basis by his provision.
We may not recognize his provision for we may not be living into the kingdom. At this time in their journey with Jesus the disciples didn’t understand but they certainly did after his resurrection and Pentecost. As we travel our Lenten journey the kingdom has already been opened for us. Christ is risen and the Holy Spirit has been sent. Ours is the opportunity to live and joyfully rest in God’s kingdom provision.
Lord, thank you for the depths of your provision. Amen.
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