Summary: Thanksgiving 2005. It’s the story of Jesus feeding the 5000, and 3 things we can see about being thankful.
Mark 6:30-44 – A Thanksgiving Dinner with Barley and Sardines
I’m told of a turkey farmer who was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store get together. "Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!"
They all asked the farmer how it tasted. "I don’t know," said the farmer. "I never could catch the darn thing!"
I don’t know if you eat turkey on Thanksgiving, but today I’d like to share with you a few thoughts about the day set aside to be thankful. We’re going to spend just a few minutes looking at a miracle that Jesus did, that will hopefully encourage us to be more thankful on a regular basis. The story is in Mark 6:30-44. Turn with me there.
This is the only miracle, besides the Resurrection, recorded in all 4 of the Gospels. It happens just after King Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. It seems that Jesus wanted to pull away from people for awhile. Matthew and Luke say that Jesus and His disciples withdrew. Mark paints the picture of just needing to get away from the crowds long enough for Jesus and His disciples to eat: v30-32.
The Gospel writer John says that the boat they got in leads them across the Sea of Galilee, and Luke says the place they end up is somewhere near the town called Bethsaida. Even then, though, the crowds are there. In fact, the crowds that Jesus sailed away from follow Him to a favorite spot of His – v33. Once again, Jesus is not alone. And out of His compassion, He puts His plans on hold to get a few moments to Himself – v34.
Now, the day wears on, and at some point, Jesus’ disciples see the problem – v35-36. What will the people eat? Now, the disciples aren’t telling Jesus so that He can feed the people. They tell Him so that He can send the people away to find food for themselves. They aren’t really counting on Jesus to meet their needs.
So they are shocked when Jesus tells them to feed the people themselves – v37. They have neither the finances nor resources to feed the mass of people, perhaps 20,000 of them. It will take 200 denarii or 8 months’ wages to do it. They figure that what Jesus is telling them to do is impossible. And it is, in their own resources. That’s part of the lesson of this story, which we may look at in the new year, when I preach through the life of Jesus. Jesus commands us to do more than we are humanly able, because He gives us the abilities us to do what He commands.
So the disciples round up some food – v38. I find it hard to think that out of 20,000, the only food is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. That’s not a lot. The bread would be similar to pita bread, small, flat and round. And the fish would be like sardines – just little. That’s all the food they have to work with. I’ve got a hunch that that’s all anyone would share with the rest. There’s a lesson there, too.
Then, Jesus takes action – v39-44. Jesus tells His disciples to line up the people in some organized way, to reach them the fastest way possible. He takes the bread, breaks it up, and sends the disciples off to spread it around. There is enough for everybody – that’s the miracle. There is no way that everybody would even be able to have a taste, unless a miracle happened, which it does, to the point that everybody eats and has enough. Amazing.
Now, today being part of the Thanksgiving weekend, I’d like to gain 3 insights to being thankful from this story. The 1st thing that this story teaches us about thanksgiving is: 1) Be thankful you have more than enough. V42 says that everybody ate and were satisfied. The KJV says they were filled. The NLT says they ate as much as they wanted. Today, we may say, “I couldn’t eat another bite.”
You see? Jesus changed the scene from a not-nearly-enough crisis to a more-than-enough blessing. That’s what we have, too. We may gripe about all the things we don’t have but want. We may gripe about who we are and where we are. But I think this story tells us that we need to be thankful for what we do have. We have so much that none of us here is in need. What often happens is that when a person has too much, he or she forgets that God is part of the reason why.