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April 16, 2017: Five Loaves and Two Fish

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Today’s Bible Reading: Judges 9Psalm 86Mark 6:30-441 Corinthians 11:1-16

Mark 6:30-44:

The humanity and divinity of Jesus is here on display. First, he recognizes the tiredness facing his disciples. They had been on mission. They returned and gave their report. And now they needed to rest. So busy were they, so impactful was their ministry, that they did not even have time to eat. The pressures of work and the pressures of Christian ministry, whether salaried or not, can be intense. The businessman can face huge challenges in his office, massive opportunities for witness at work, and then come home and face leadership needs in his home church—before repeating the same cycle starting early the next morning. The preacher can face massive pastoral challenges, leadership challenges, preaching opportunities, and the pressure can build and build and build. Take note that Jesus does not expect his servants to be superhuman. He understands that they sometimes simply need a break. They need to come away and be quiet and alone with him, to come away before they come apart at the seams. Take a break before you have a breakdown.

But then, Jesus, facing the huge needs of not just his leadership team, the core disciples, but also the massive crowd, exerts his divine power once again. He has compassion on them, for they are like sheep without a shepherd. Such today, too, are the huddled masses in our great cities, in our great universities, in the slums and elite corridors of the world alike. Being described as “sheep” does not flatter the human condition. Sheep need looking after. They get sick easily, they wander off easily, they follow as a herd into danger—or follow a good shepherd away from danger into green pastures. God does not grow tired or weary, and he is ever there to supply resources in our hour of need.

The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is a great one. The real difficulty, though, is not understanding that Jesus could feed so many with so little (five loaves and two fish) but why he required five loaves and two fish at all. He could have made food appear out of thin air, yet he chose to use the little offered as the basis for his multiplied provision. So it often is: God does not need our faith, but he loves to respond to it. He does not require our prayers, but without them how great are the comforts and mercies we lack. He does not in his divine sufficiency need anything at all from us, but as a father with a child, he trains us to trust him by asking us to put our hand in his and follow him. What five loaves and two fish could you offer to Jesus today? What apparently small, tiny, a mere drop-in-the-ocean act of service, gift of resource, contribution of time or talent, could you offer to a crucial kingdom need today? Think what Jesus can do with a mere five loaves and two fish.

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