v 44. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.
Hunger and famine are not modern phenomena, but Jesus had a unique way of dealing with it. We raise millions of pounds through sponsored activities, send relief teams in by air, and shift massive food aid to hungry people. Threats of mass starvation are countered by huge international efforts to meet the needs. But of course, there was no such thing as Oxfam, or BandAid, or even TEAR Fund. Nor could you find yourself addressing a large gathering of thousands of people and phone up to book a few mobile Burger-Bars. In this story we have thousands of people wanting to hear Jesus, travelling along with Him, and failing to bring picnics with them. This was not an ecological crisis, it was a simple human error, ‘Oooh, we’ve forgotten to bring the sandwiches.’
What strikes you about this story? What does it tell you about Jesus?
See first His huge compassion when faced with human need. No shrug of the shoulders as if to say ‘That’s their problem.’ Right through the pages of this Gospel we encounter Jesus facing a diversity of human problems. Amazingly, He never ignored them; He brought resolution to a whole range of difficult situations. The dead were raised, lepers were restored, the lame made to walk, fevers were cooled and even violent storms were subdued. So faced with a hungry crowd, compassion prompted Him to act. That is the nature of the God/Man, He will not turn His back on human need. In fact, He specialises in prompting His followers to act!
Then reflect on the power He possessed. This was not just a few extra pies or plates of sandwiches. There was sufficient food for 5,000 men and their families – not just a meagre bite, but enough to satisfy them all. He is not mean when it comes to blessing needy people – and nor should we be!
Finally, were you aware of the needs of Jesus and His disciples in this story? They were in the middle of a very busy period in Jesus’ ministry. Mark tells us in v 32 ‘So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone.‘ They were looking for a bit of peace and quiet, but the crowds persisted in following them. It was all very inconvenient, but Jesus could not ignore the needs of these crowds. He gave them His time as well as food. He was looking to meet the variety of needs such a crowd has and by just speaking a word showed that He was a Man meeting need like no other.