Summary: Jesus has a way of always challenging us to go forward. Just when we think we know Him, He reveals something new that forces us into faith.
Just when you think you know who Jesus is – He reveals something else that throws you completely off. Just when you have a handle on your life, something happens to upset everything you’ve come to rely on. We think that describes someone who is young in the Lord or who should know better. But in reality, Jesus made a regular practice of doing just these things with the men who were closest to Him.
In reality – there are so many layers to knowing Jesus and Him working in and through us that we can never know it all. But the wonderful thing is that He wants us to know Him and wants us to be drawn more and more into a relationship where He controls the shots and works incredible miracles through us.
We are in the middle of Mark 6. Two events occurred in the beginning of this chapter – Jesus visited His home town of Nazareth where a lack of faith precluded miracles – and John the Baptist was killed by Herod.
Neither of these events stopped people from coming to Jesus – even though the people of Nazareth thought he was just a hometown boy – people crowded around for healing. Even though John’s death could have sent a message of fear – the people came anyway. That’s how powerful the message of Jesus is.
But the Lord is doing something more here – He is gradually moving His disciples from one situation to another – letting them get to know slowly the magnitude of their commitment and the true nature of His character. It’s interesting how Jesus starts out:
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
Now Jesus I’m sure knew that rest was the last thing they were going to get. But it is good after a time of heavy ministry to take time out to recharge – rest in the Lord and get your bearings again. Our problem is we really get to enjoying the rest and don’t want to get up again!
But look what happens:
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
The crowds just figured out where they went and followed. Jesus had “compassion.” He never rejects a person who honestly comes to Him in need. And, once again – Jesus’ priority was teaching. Yes, He heals, yes, He performs miracles – but His number one goal was to teach about His Word and His kingdom. That’s why it’s our number one priority too.
So Jesus teaches until the afternoon stretches into evening:
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."
So the guys were probably nervously glancing about at the size of the group – looking at their watches and thinking – “we better get these people to McDonalds or something quick!” So they tug on Jesus coat sleeve – as if Jesus just didn’t care about the important details of event planning!
So watch how Jesus responds.
37 But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
“Excuse me, Lord – you want us to give them something to eat?” Instead of focusing on the Lord’s command, they focused on what they didn’t have.
They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
They were thinking that Jesus wanted them to raise 200 Denarii’s – a Roman coin equivalent to a day’s wage. Then they would travel around to remote villages, scarf up a bunch of bread and somehow haul it back. They were so busy calculating how impossible it was to do Jesus command that they missed what He was trying to do.
38 "How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."
When they found out, they said, "Five-and two fish."
John’s gospel tells us that this came from a little boy’s lunch. Some Jewish mom had made sure that her son didn’t go out to the big rally without a nutritious lunch. I think it’s wonderful that the Lord uses something from such an unlikely source – but I also wonder – did no one think to bring something for themselves? Or maybe it was that they were unwilling to share what they brought – this “I want” attitude creeps up again in the crowds that follow Jesus.