Part 12: Hungry People
My three-year-old son, Caleb, is really good at sharing food. Which is proof that kids can break free from the bad habits of their parents. You see, I don't like sharing food, especially dessert because my desserts are always carb-full and I.love.carbs.
One helpful strategy to conserve a "shared dessert" is to talk a lot during a meal until you get to dessert. After the dessert is served, ask your meal companion about something they are really passionate about and then shovel fast. It ensures you maximize your dessert bites. Fourteen years of dating my husband and it still works every time. "Aaron, tell me what's going on in Gator Football this year." Dig into dessert. If you're down to the last bite of dessert and your meal companion is not talking as much or as fast, you can always fake a diversion: "Oh look, is that a Dallas Cowboy?" Swipe the last bite.
When our food supply is limited, we create strategies to conserve, don't we? Here's the thing about the one true living God: His food supply is unlimited. He radicalized bread sharing in the passages we are going to look at today (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13).
A quick Bible concordance search on the word "bread" reveals that a large number of the 300+ times the Bible mentions it are concentrated in the "multiplication passages" which are also known as the "feeding of the five thousand" stories in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Mark 6:30 "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all that they had done and taught."
Jesus had just commissioned His disciples to heal the sick, so that is what they were reporting they had just "done," and what they had just "taught" was repentance.
Mark 6:31-34 "He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.' For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them. People ran there by land from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He began to teach them many things."
Who does not have time to eat?? I used to have a boss like this, and I could never wrap my mind around meal skipping due to being busy. Priorities, people. It appears that the large crowd that had surrounded Jesus to be healed kept everyone busy doing the healing work of God and they skipped meals. John adds some important details to this story...
John 6:3-4 "So Jesus went up a mountain and sat down there with His disciples. Now the Passover, a Jewish festival, was near."
"In the Old Testament, the mountain symbolizes a privileged sphere of communication with God. God is powerfully present on Mount Horeb, where He gives the Law to Moses and on Mount Zion, his holy mountain, where he dwells among his people." - Roch A. Kereszty, Wedding Feast of the Lamb
Y'all, Jesus is the new Moses, His words the new law, and the multiplication is a going to be the new manna. Did you notice the timing of these stories? It was during Passover when the Jews would celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
"Jesus is more than a new Moses; the manna of the New Passover, the bread from heaven He provides, is His very self, it is Widsom itself present in the flesh and blood of Jesus." - Roch A. Kereszty, Wedding Feast of the Lamb
Mark 6:35-37 "When it was already late, His disciples approached Him and said, 'This place is a wilderness, and it is already late! Send them away, so they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.' 'You give them something to eat,' He responded. They said to Him, 'Should we go and buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?'"
I hope "wilderness" jumps out at you. If you've been following along it should be a memory marker for the Exodus of God's people from Egypt, His rescue and liberation of His people from slavery and their 40-year journey through the wilderness where He fed them daily with heavenly bread called manna.
Like any normal human, the disciples look out at over 5,000 people that are all hungry for healing (and now hungry for food) and determine it's lunch break time. Everyone should go and find lunch because obviously no banquet table could provide for their needs.
Jesus' response is an instruction for the disciples to feed the hungry themselves (which would be impossible because that would be too expensive), and there is a connection here I don't want you to miss from the prophet Isaiah.
Isaiah 55:1-3 “Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost! Why do you spend money on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods. Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live."
Our instincts tell us to send hungry people away to buy their own food, and yet Jesus is inviting us to come to Him to be satisfied even when we don't have money. In fact, the food our money can buy won't satisfy us. You know what will? Listening to the Words of Jesus. And this makes sense because...
Deuteronomy 8:3 "He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."
Jesus quotes Moses' words in Deuteronomy 8 in Matthew 4 when He is fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and tempted by Satan to turn rocks into bread. Are you catching the patterns here? Jesus is priming His disciples to understand that He is the manna for the new age. The miracle of manna in the wilderness for the Israelites wandering through the wilderness is about to find fulfillment in Jesus the manna maker. And in doing so Jesus proves He is not just a good prophet, but claiming to be God Himself, the same God who made manna in the wilderness is about to radicalize bread sharing.
Mark 6:38 "And He asked them, 'How many loaves do you have? Go look.' When they found out they said, 'Five, and two fish.'"
I make this nasty "I told you so" look to the hubs when he suggests something ridiculous and I imagine some of the disciples invoking the same facial expressions as they turned up with a few measly loaves of bread and two freaking fish.
Here is the way John describes the scene...
John 6:4-6 "Therefore, when Jesus looked up and noticed a huge crowd coming toward Him, He asked Philip, Where will we buy bread so these people can eat?” He asked this to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do. Philip answered, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread wouldn’t be enough for each of them to have a little.”
Reminds me of that story of Moses so fed up with the grumbling of the Isrealites about only having manna to eat and missing meat that Moses asks God to kill him!!!
Numbers 11:13-14 "Where can I get meat to give all these people? For they are crying to me: ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself. They are too much for me. If You are going to treat me like this, please kill me right now. If You are pleased with me,don’t let me see my misery anymore.”
Moses was right, he can't carry the burden of all the people by himself. Neither could the disciples. Jesus has to fill us to that we can feed others spiritually.
Mark 6:39 "Then He instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks of hundreds and fifties. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to His disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. Everyone ate and was filled.
This project to study the word "bread" in the Bible was self-care for me. As I seek to pour myself out in service for the glory of God and the good of all people I get depleted. The needs around me are overwhelming. Maybe you feel the same way today. Too many people need you and your Jesus.
Friend, come to Jesus to get your fill of bread and use those broken and blessed pieces to share. Everyone will eat and be filled by his presence. There is always enough when Jesus breaks the bread.
In a season of great spiritual hunger, I started to follow the breadcrumb trail through the sacred scriptures to find the most satisfying bread for our soul: Jesus.
This led to an obsession with the 300+ times “bread” is mentioned in the holy scriptures, and you’re reading the results, a 16 part bible study: I.Love.Carbs.
Let's break bread together. You could start from the beginning here & be sure to sign up to get the latest blog post delivered right to your inbox >>>>>