Oh God, I praise you for the gift of another day. As I look back on the last fifteen hours or so since I woke up and reflect on the way I spent my time, talents, money, words, and mental energy, I know that you were not glorified or honored in everything I did or said. Forgive me for the ways I dishonor you and your creation, and help me to be more conformed to the image of Christ, in ever-increasing glory.
Tonight I’m moving into Mark 8, beginning with verses 1-10:
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:1-10 ESV)
More crowds. More teaching (for three days straight!) More questions from his disciples. More hungry people. And more evidence of Christ’s compassion: “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.” He didn’t want to send them home hungry, in case they might faint along the way.
So he fed them.
Jesus, the bread of life, fed four thousand people that day, beginning with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. (It’s interesting to me that the writer specifies that the fish were “small.” He was really driving home the point, no?) Jesus, the friend of sinners was a friend to these hungry people that day.
Do you ever wonder whether God has compassion for you? Take some time to meditate on this passage. “I have compassion on the crowd,” Jesus said. But I wonder how many of us believe that God has compassion for us?
I don’t know what is going on in your life today. I don’t know where you’re at. Are you enjoying a season of relative peace and flourishing? Or is this a time of great trial and affliction, either of body, mind, or spirit? Are you having trouble believing that God has compassion for you?
He does. And he will supply your needs, be they material or spiritual. “All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me,” goes the old hymn. And it is true. God will provide what we need—though it might not be what we think we need. As my friend would say, “Open your hands and receive God’s bounty.” This is not a prosperity message, in the “health, wealth, and prosperity” sense of the word. But it is a message about God’s faithfulness to provide, what we need, when we need it.
Just as the crowd stayed with Jesus for three days, knowing that they did not have food, so too should we. Can’t see how God’s going to take care of your needs? Stay with him. I would imagine that this crowd was feeling the hunger on day two. Yet there they were, on day three, still with him. And at the point of their great hunger, Jesus did a great miracle. Moved by compassion, he demonstrated his power over nature and performed an unnatural multiplication.
And the people were not only fed, but they were well-fed. There were leftovers.
Are there leftovers in your life? Has God gone above and beyond in his provision for you? Or do you feel like you’re living on scraps right now? Stay with him. Even while questions swirl (“How will he…?”), stay. Watch and wait. We might grow very hungry, but at just the right time, God will provide.
And we, too, will eat and be satisfied.