Mark 6:30-44: Lunch on the Lord

It was spring time, about a year before the crucifixion, and the disciples were meeting up in Capernaum beside the sea of Galilee. Verse 30 picks up the story from verse 13 where we learn that the disciples had been sent out to preach and heal the sick. They had just returned with their news. It had been their first ministry experience alone without the Lord. Read 6:30-34. These excited, tired men, were gathering around Jesus, perhaps talking two or three at once, and Jesus is quietly listening, taking note of all they said. If only we would do that more often we would make fewer mistakes and have better success. Work that is left un-reviewed is never learnt from. We cannot tell Jesus anything He doesn't already know, but it is in the telling of everything that we come to see things in a true perspective and with proper value. Knowing their need, Jesus proposes a retreat. Read 6:31.

Jesus knew, as we seem to forget, that the neglect of the body does not promote the health of the soul. We have no more right to overwork as underwork. There is a time to work and a time to rest. That's why I am looking forward to our parish walk on May 3rd. A day out with friends walking through some beautiful countryside around Virginia Water, not visible from a car. It will be a chance to get away from the telephone, and work, to be together as a Church family, alone with the Lord. Join us but leave the mobile phones at home. But for Jesus and the disciples it wasn't to last very long. The crowds may have been inconsiderate but Jesus was never irritated by their intrusion, their enthusiasm. The text tells us that Jesus was deeply moved by the crowd before Him. The Son of God was not remote or cold. Jesus felt pain and genuine anguish at the suffering, the despair, the spiritual blindness all around Him. What did He do? He began not by opening a soup kitchen nor a medical surgery, both useful and necessary. What did He do?

He proceeded to teach them. That's because as always our spiritual need is greater than our physical need. But as the hours ticked by the disciples began to get more and more worried.

1. The Anxious Problem for the Disciples: 6:35-37
Read 6:35-37. What was the problem? Dulled Perspectives. They saw the large number of people flocking to Jesus as a problem. They saw 5000 people as a problem instead of as an opportunity.
If there were 5000 men, we must add a similar figure for the women and the children. That means the crowd was actually perhaps between 20 and 25.000 people. This was a deserted place to the east of Bethsaida, and they had nothing to eat. Instinctively, the disciples urged Jesus to cut the sermon short and send the people home. People are either a problem or a potential. At that moment the disciples saw them as a liability. We are discovering something similar at the moment with our Sunday School. How do we view the number of families and children at Christ Church? As a problem or an opportunity? Is £30,000 needed to complete the Millennium project a problem or an opportunity? Don't let worry over your investments kill you. Let the church help. Whether we see growing numbers as a problem or a potential, will depend upon our perspective. Despite spending two years with Jesus, hearing Him teach God's truth, seeing Jesus demonstrate miraculous power, it was as if they were standing beside Niagara Falls worried where to get a drink of water. They had come face to face with the supreme power of the Universe, yet they could not recognise it. They were looking only with human eyes at human resources. No wonder they had a problem. The anxious problem of the disciples.

2. The Amazing Provision of Jesus : 6:38-44
The problem? Dulled Perspectives. The answer ? Divine Power. This is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels. It is presented as the great climax of the Lord's public ministry. It is the miracle witnessed by the largest gathering of spectators, and in which the greatest number of people took part. Read 6:38 All the Disciples could find was a small boy's lunch box. Inside were five small rolls and two fish. These were not loaves in the sense we would understand. Nor were the fish anything to write home about. They were sprats, the kind a fisherman would throw back because they were too small. But Jesus would have the disciples and us know that He wants and works with what we have, only it must be all we have. Sprats not salmon or trout. Sprats is all Jesus needs for a miracle. He does not expect more but He will not take less. Graham Scroggie said once, "Some people see only difficulties in opportunities, but he who sees opportunities in difficulties thinks with God." How tense with expectation everyone must have been. Read 6:41. Jesus took the bread and the fish, looked up to heaven, blessed the food and began to break it into pieces, and Jesus went on and on breaking the bread and fish until everyone was satisfied.
Jesus had demonstrated God's great generosity, liberally providing more than enough food for everyone. So much so there were twelve baskets full of uneaten food to take home for those who hadn't made it. The Anxious Problem of the Disciples. The Abundant Power of the Lord, and

3. The Abiding Principle of the Story
Why did Jesus feed the crowd? So they were a little hungry but they weren't starving. They had eaten at home a few hours before. They could have endured a little rumbling of the tummy, after all it was Jesus they had come to see. Why did Jesus feed the crowd? His motive for this great miracle can be found in the sermon that He gave the very next day, recorded in John's Gospel. John 6:22ff

"The next day the crowd got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

The feeding of the twenty five thousand was nothing less than a foreshadowing of the cross of Calvary. We see here the heart attitude of the Lord Jesus toward the sinner. Jesus was the Bread from Heaven soon to be broken and given to the world. The multitude could not have been fed had not Jesus first broken the bread. Lets try and apply this specifically. I used to enjoy watching that American detective series based on real life crimes. At the end of the credits they would say "Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent". Well the other day I came across a modern paraphrase that puts back the cutting edge to this rather familiar miracle in the same way. Let me read it to you, from verse 36.

"The Disciples said to Jesus, "there are too many people here Lord, send them away to the surrounding churches so they can find somewhere else for their children to learn about you." But Jesus answered, "You build them an adequate Sunday School". But they said to Him, "It would take at least 8 years of a man's wage. Where are we going to find that kind of money?" "How much have you got?" He asked, "go and see." A small boy came forward clutching his piggy bank. Inside were five pound coins and two premium bonds". So Jesus directed them to sit down in groups and watch. Taking the five pounds and the two premium bonds, and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and began dividing it among them. And when He had finished they gathered it all up and found it came to £275.000. And they were all amazed."

Substituting coins for loaves would put a new slant on this familiar miracle. I believe Jesus may be saying to us precisely what he said to the Disciples. "You provide for the people". Its then we will realise our own inadequacy. You may not feel your contribution in May can do very much for the Millennium Project. But we can all be like the small boy, bringing what we have, willingly giving it to the Lord. He can and will multiply it, but only if we give it to Him first. Before the disciples even knew that there would be enough food left for themselves, they first passed on what the Lord had given them to the multitudes. They must have passed out a lot of food before they ate themselves. Just as the food did not begin to multiply until after the disciples started distributing it, so their own needs were not met until they had satisfied the crowds around them. They would have looked silly hanging onto a scrap of bread when each had to carry a basket of food back to Capernaum. Likewise it is as we are willing to be his servants, wisely managing and distributing what the Lord Jesus has already given us provides, that others will benefit from this project.

The Anxious Problem for the Disciples
The Amazing Provision of Jesus
The Abiding Principle of the Story
Grains of wheat never become bread until they are crushed and broken. Lets pray.