Mark 8:1-10


Alfred Edersheim suggests that at every transitional point in the ministry of Jesus, He gives the people a meal.

Jesus does that for us today. He gives us a meal before He sends us to work. It is a meal that is sufficient.



In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, 2 "I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.

If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance." (Mark 8:1-3).

Jesus was back! He had been gone on a retreat with His disciples over the past few weeks which took them north to the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon and then across the cedar forests of Lebanon before returning to Decapolis. But now He is back and a crowd quickly gathers. This was a big crowd. It is called a "great multitude." They also seem to have been a mixed crowd.

    • There were Jews and Gentiles.
    • Men and women.
    • Adults and children.

They had only one thing in common. They were hungry. They were hungry for the teachings of Jesus - what else would keep them at that location for three days of preaching? And because of their spiritual hunger, they were now physically hungry.

Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you are hungry for God? Where you desire His company and His fellowship more than the basic necessities of life?

These people had come for a sermon and when the sermon went overtime, they didn't grumble or complain or set their digital watches to start beeping. I've seen people complain when a sermon went three minutes past noon. This sermon went on for three days.

What is more, the crowd had not come prepared for a three day sermon. They had not brought with them three days worth of provisions. And this brought about a problem. It was a very practical problem. There were those who were now so hungry that they might not be able to safely make their way back home.

And so, Jesus calls His disciples together to explain to them the problem. Notice how He begins.

"I feel compassion for the multitude..."

Why does He say this? He says it because He feels compassion for the multitude. He CARES. But that is not all. He tells His disciples of this compassion because He wants them to feel compassion for the multitude, too.

You see, it is one thing to feel compassion for a demon-possessed daughter or a deaf mute or even for a disciple's mother-in-law. But it is hard to feel compassion for an entire multitude. They are the faceless masses. The unknown. The little people. But not to Jesus. To Him there are no little people. He knows each and every one. And He cares.

And so, He turns to His disciples. He speaks to them in such a way so that they will begin to see the crowd through His eyes.

There is a principle here. When the Lord begins to move to meet a need, He often does it by moving His people. He could have bypassed the disciples. He could have merely caused it to rain bread and fish - or even literal cats and dogs. But he used the disciples. His method was MEN. It still is.

Do you see a need in someone’s life? Perhaps the Lord is showing you that need so that you can be His instrument in meeting that need.



And His disciples answered Him, "Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?" (Mark 8:4).

This is simply incredible! These same disciples had recently seen Jesus feed a bigger crowd - a crowd numbering 5,000 (Mark 6:34-44). The scene had been very much the same.

    • A hungry multitude.
    • Jesus had been there.
    • There had been the 12 disciples.
    • There had been a handful of loaves and fishes.

It is now several months later. There is a slightly smaller crowd, a few more loaves and a few more fish than the last time. What makes the disciples think that Jesus is going to do any worse than He did on the previous occasion?

But before we come down too hard on the disciples, perhaps we ought to examine our own lives. We have the record of all of the great works of God. We have the witness of the Scriptures that God is faithful to meet the needs of His people. We have the test of time to see that this is not just a passing fancy. And yet, how often do we fail to come to Him in our need? How often do we hit the panic button and run and yell and scream and forget to turn to the One who is able to meet all of our needs?

All too often, we think of prayer only as a "last resort." When everything else has failed, we turn to the Lord. What we ought to be doing is turning to Him FIRST.



And He was asking them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven."

And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people.

They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. (Mark 8:5-7).

Once again, Jesus calls for the resources of the disciples. Once again, what they have is not enough to meet the need at hand. There is an interesting contrast to be seen between this feeding and the one which took place in chapter 6.

Feeding of the 5,000

Feeding of the 4,000

Mark 6:34-44

Mark 8:1-9

Took place after the multitude had been with Jesus for one day.

Took place after the multitude had been with Jesus for three days.

The multitude was mostly Jewish.

The multitude would have been mostly Gentile.

Took place near Bethsaida Julias on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Took place in the Decapolis on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus used 5 loaves and 2 fish.

Jesus used 7 loaves and a few small fish.

There were 12 small baskets of leftovers.

There were 7 large baskets of leftovers.

In spite of the differences between the two miracles, I am certain that the disciples were struck by the sense of the familiar. What Jesus had done near Bethsaida Julius, He is now doing here in the Decapolis. What He had formerly done among the Jews, He is now doing among the Gentiles.



And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces.

About four thousand were there; and He sent them away.

And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:8-10).

In the feeding of the 5000, there were 12 baskets filled with leftovers. In the description of that first feeding, the word used to describe the "baskets" describes one of the small baskets in which the Jews would have carried food so that they would not have to eat food which had been touched by Gentile hands.

But now a different word is used to describe the basket. This time we see the use of a word that describes a "large basket" which was used for a variety of purposes. It is the same word to describe the basket which was used to lower Paul over the city wall of Damascus in Acts 9:25).

Perhaps Jesus is showing the disciples something in addition to the obvious lesson of His power and His faithfulness and His sufficiency. Perhaps He is teaching them that the ceremonial uncleanliness with which the Jews were so preoccupied is not supposed to be an issue in the Kingdom.

They are going to gather up bread that has been touched by Gentile hands. This bread is no longer kosher. It is ceremonially unclean. What are they going to do with this bread? They are going to eat it!

Jesus is setting the stage for what is to come. In several years, the newborn church will be faced with the question of whether Gentiles can become Christians. And these disciples will remember the principles that Jesus is teaching them - with a little prodding from a heavenly vision.

You see, Jesus is feeding a lot more than the 4000 Gentiles who had gathered from the Decapolis. He is also feeding you and me. He is preparing the way for us to become a part of His church. He is demonstrating His compassion toward us. And He is showing that, even to unclean Gentiles, He is the accessible Jesus.


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