Perfection Through Spiritual Hunger


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.


This is another story where Jesus feeds the hungry crowd. Some wonder whether Mark just had the numbers confused, or whether this is simply the account of the 5000 told again. I doubt that and imagine that there is a deeper principle here and it’s to be found in the number seven. That number is always associated with perfection and we find that there are seven loaves of bread at the beginning of the story, and there are seven baskets full at the end of the story. There has been a multiplication of seven simple loaves that have feed 4000 and with an abundance in return. 

Early church fathers viewed this as a story of spiritual hunger. if we were to look at this through this lens we might just discover that we come to Jesus as a member of the hungry crowd. He takes our small and limited resources and is able to multiply them to meet our spiritual need, but then sends us on our way with so much more. Spiritual perfection, or completion,  seen in the number seven, can come to those who willingly bring their limited resources to Christ. Through bringing our limited resources, added to our spiritual hunger, we can go away with much more than we could have ever imagined. 


I wonder how often I come to the Lord with my spiritual hunger? Or maybe I need to ask, “am I hungry spiritually?” 

The people who followed Jesus wanted to hear what he had to say. They were willing to follow him around, soaking in all of his words. We need to pray that God makes our hearts that hungry for the good news of Jesus Christ. Then, we need to realize that we come to him with very limited resources. We aren’t expected to have all the supply, nor all the answers. It was in recognizing their limitations that the disciples were able to move on to perfection. The disciples couldn’t feed the 4000, and nor can we! 

If we come to the Lord with our spiritual hunger and give him all that we have, he can take it and multiply it to meet our needs, and the needs of others. This is important for every follower of Jesus Christ because often we feel pressure to “perform” for Christ. Over and over again, he tries to teach us dependence. It took some time for the disciples to figure it out, and so it may take time for us as well. Our greatest need may be for spiritual hunger because only then can we be filled to completion, or perfection by the Holy Spirit.


Lord, may I be hungry for you. Amen. 


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