Summary: It is easy to see the Lord work in a mighty way and yet forget as soon as a similar situation comes along. The disciples witnessed Jesus feed a multitude, and yet when facing another multitude that needed fed, they doubted. We must walk by faith,
Another Feast in the Desert
Mark 8: 1-9
In our text today we read of the second time our Lord miraculously fed thousands of people with a meager supply of food. Like the previous encounter, a multitude had followed Jesus and were in desperate need of a meal. They were in an isolated area, outside the city, unable to provide for themselves. Like before, Jesus met their need through His grace and power.
While there are many similarities, there are also a few differences. We must remember that Jesus and the disciples remain in the region of Decapolis, an area largely populated by Gentiles. Although this may appear to be a small detail, it reveals great significance. Prior to coming to this area, Jesus had granted a request for a Gentile woman in the region of Tyre and Sidon. When they arrived in Decapolis, He healed a man there. It seems apparent that Jesus is beginning to instill in His disciples the need to minister to all men, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. The feeding of this multitude takes place in that predominately Gentile area.
As we examine this encounter in relation to the pervious feeding of the multitude, I hope we will see the similarities and be challenged to share our faith with all we can, regardless of their background. I want to preach on the thought: Another Feast in the Desert.
I. The Prompting of the Miracle (1-3) – As the passage opens, we find the details that prompted this great miracle. Notice:
A. The Circumstances (1) – In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him. Like the previous encounter, a large multitude had followed Jesus. We know through Jesus’ statement in the following verse that they had now been with Him for three days. While the text doesn’t specifically say, it seems apparent that Jesus had been teaching the crowd, and quite possibly continuing to heal the afflicted among them. They were in an area outside of town, and had no way or providing for themselves.
The circumstances surrounding this miracle are comforting and challenging as well. Regardless of the need we have, Jesus is well able to provide. He is able to our needs, according to His divine will. Also the multitude remained faithfully with Jesus for three days. Many today have trouble committing an hour on Sunday morning. We must abide with the Lord, continuing in faith and prayer, if we desire to have our needs met. I know I grow impatient at times, and fail to remain as committed as I should.
B. The Compassion (2) – I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat. As Jesus encountered the 5,000, we find that He was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd. Here Jesus declared that he had compassion on this multitude as well. Jesus used the same word in both situations. This has the idea of “feeling deeply, to yearn; feeling sympathy while showing compassion and sympathy.” Again, Jesus didn’t just sense their need, He actually felt their need and was compelled to act on their behalf. He was moved with compassion toward the spiritual needs of a predominately Jewish multitude and He was also moved with compassion for the physical needs of a predominately Gentile multitude. Jesus is able and willing to meet whatever need men have, regardless of their race.
We typically feel compassion for those who are similar to us, but we tend to allow prejudice and preconceived notions hinder our compassion for others. We must see people as our Lord does. He provided redemption from sin for the human race, not just white, middle-class Americans. We need to do all we can to minister to the need of people, as much as possible, spiritually and physically, regardless of who they are!
C. The Conclusion (3) – And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. Jesus knew the need was great and immediate. Many of them had traveled a great distance from home to follow Him. He could not send them away without providing something for them to eat. They would not have been able to endure the journey physically without having a nourishing meal before they left. He knew their need and fully intended to provide for them.
I have said many times that Jesus knows exactly where we are in the journey and the specific needs we have. Passages like these affirm that line of thought. He knows where we are today and exactly what we need. You may feel at times as if no one knows or cares, but Jesus always knows and He cares for you. If He was willing to meet the physical needs of this multitude, how much more willing would He be to meet the varied needs of the redeemed? You are never alone or beyond His ability to reach.