World English Bible translation
6:33They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him. 6:34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. 6:35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is a desert, and it is late in the day. 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
6:37But he answered them, "You give them something to eat."
They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
6:38He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see."
When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
6:39He commanded those that all should sit down by companies on the green grass. 6:40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties. 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all. 6:42 They all ate, and were filled. 6:43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish. 6:44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Jesus had sent out the Twelve apostles two-by-two to the towns in Galilee to spread the good news of the kingdom. They had been gone for some time and when they returned and told Jesus of everything that had happened to them they were excited and exhausted. So, Jesus told them that it was time for them all to go away to somewhere quiet where they could have some time to relax after their adventure. But, in Today's Scripture we see that these plans were not to be fulfilled because the crowd that had been with them followed them out into the wilderness.
The event that results from this is one of the best known in the New Testament. It is usually referred to as the feeding of the Five Thousand because Mark and the other gospel writers all tell us that five thousand men were fed on this occasion. Actually there may have been even more people there because only men were counted. Though the crowd would have mainly consisted of men, there was no doubt some women and children present. One of the gospel writers tells us that the food that was brought to Jesus came from a little boy.
Though this story is very familiar and can teach us many lessons, one of the things that strikes me on reading this passage again is one of the first things that Mark comments on when Jesus sees this multitude of people. "Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like a sheep without a shepherd." The crowd had ruined His plans and some people might have resented their arrival. When Jesus saw them, He had compassion. We are not an intrusion in God's affairs. We are the objects of His compassion. Even when we make mistakes. Even when we get in His way.
There is another obvious lesson here that should not be overlooked simply because it is so obvious. The desire of Jesus was to feed these hungry people. Jesus did not want them to be without, to be hungry. They had come to hear Him speak. He wanted them to be full, both in Spirit and in stomach. There is the connection between this event and the sacrament of Communion, but the purpose of the feeding was not primarily spiritual, it was physical. The people were hungry, so Christ fed them.
They were certainly in need of spiritual food as well. And He fed them in this way also. But let us not overlook that He demonstrated this by providing them something tangible for their stomachs along with the feast for their ears. The fare was simple, barley loaves and fish. He did not give them a gourmet meal, though He could have done so just as easily. He gave them of the basic necessity of life.
Are you prepared to sit at the table that Christ will provide? The food will be simple, but filling and the fellowship will be truly divine. Are you willing to be the object of His compassion? Are you willing to be the sheep of the Good Shepherd?
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