In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 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.” And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. Mark 8:1-9
Life has a way of repeating itself. When you’ve gone through tough times or rough patches, you’re well aware of the preliminary signs of the same kind of problem coming on again. It’s like dark skies on the horizon or an aching tooth. Where I live this only means pummeling rain punctuated by simultaneously occurring flashes of lightning and violent claps of thunder. In my mouth it only means a root canal is in my immediate future.
There’s some talk about whether this “feeding of the 4,000” is a restatement of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000, but Mark says “there was again,” and later Jesus himself mentions two separate feedings (Mark 8:19-20). And, by the way, the facts are different.
As an aside, I don’t know why we have to question everything sometimes ad nauseam, but if by scrupulously contemplating scripture we can be assured and confident of what it says, that’s only a good thing.
Since history repeats itself, we can fully expect to be hungry again, as were the followers of Jesus! It’s a good way to test if we learned anything the first time, to be again placed in a position of need. Evidently the disciples needed more practice when it came to what to do with a limited supply of bread! Read on in Mark 8:16.
If we’re honest, we’re just as feeble-minded as they were with the challenges of life. I think of myself and my constant worries about finances or looming deadlines. When will I learn to just watch and pray?
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 43:5
It’s good to know our Lord is conscious of our faithfulness. Here he says, “they’ve remained with me.” There’s a loyalty credit with him. The Lord was also conscious of the people’s needs and the dangers which lay before them. Often we’re in desolate places in our lives, literally and spiritually, and we desperately need the Lord to tell us to “sit down!”
When we’ve got hunger pains and no food in the pantry and little money in our pockets, he’ll take what we have and make it go a long way. From this account, the Lord uses what they have, seven loaves, and what they don’t think they have, some fishes. On the delivery of the seven loaves to him, I’m sure he responded “perfect!”
In the end, in all the vicissitudes of life, His provisions are abundant. More than necessary actually. Just in case you don’t know this verse, out of obligation I must mention it here!
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. Ephesians 3:20
When it comes to us learning that God is faithful, we’re likely going to have to do some remedial work.
On the box in the instructions, I think I remember reading, “Repeat if necessary.”