Wednesday, January 6, 2010
1/6/10 (Epiphany) Mark 8:1-13 Feeding of the Four Thousand
Feeding of the Four Thousand (Epiphany)
1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance." 4 His disciples answered, "But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?" 5 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied. 6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. And having sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it." 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
Calvin Abridged: Jesus is returning from Sidon. Matthew and Mark differ about where he was (Magdala and Dalmanutha) but the cities are adjacent to each other on the Sea of Galilee, and the area between them was called by both names. The five thousand were fed earlier with five loaves and two fish-with twelve baskets left over, while the four thousand were fed with seven loaves and a few small fish and a smaller portion is left over. We can learn from this that the power of God is not restricted to what we offer, and that it is all the same to Him whether there is much or little to work with. Jonathan said this when speaking of his own small army facing a vast enemy- “there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few” (1 Sam 14:6). By God’s blessing a little can satisfy a multitude; but without God’s blessing a hundred loaves will not satisfy ten people. 8:4- “where in this remote place can anyone find enough?” The disciples show their denseness in not remembering the earlier proof of Christ’s power and grace. They forgot to ask him for help. But there is not a day in which we similarly show indifference toward God. We ought not to forget his benefits, that the experience of the past may lead us to expect the same assistance in the future.
Thoughts: Today is Epiphany. Epiphany is a celebration of Christ’s coming out and showing himself to the world. Certainly the feeding of 4,000 early in his ministry was one way Christ showed his compassion, power and divinity to the world. Ironically, right after he feeds 4,000 from nothing the Pharisees ask him for a sign from heaven. John records that after the feeding of 5,000 some wanted him to be king by force, and then there are those who still don’t get it. Calvin has a great comment (above) saying God can satisfy a multitude with a little with his blessing, but without his blessing ten can’t ever be satisfied. The death of Johnson and Johnson heiress Casey Johnson alone, God-forsaken, craving publicity is such a contrast from Jesus- who refused earthly kingship and sought to be known only to help people. Jesus was no fame-craver. But the Pharisees would not believe even the very evident signs he gave. When people ask for proof of God’s existence or proof of the divinity of Christ or the resurrection, there is no end to skepticism. I remember my father snored a lot, and kept telling me he didn’t. As a child, I wanted to prove to him that he did, so I recorded his snoring. But when I played it back to him he told me “That’s someone else’s snoring, not mine!” If we don’t want to believe, we can always find a way to rationalize ourselves away from Christ. Christ has manifest himself. Let us give Him glory!
Prayer: Thank you for revealing your light, your truth to the world, Jesus. Help us not to close our minds, but open our hearts to you. May your peace fill us with satisfaction this day.