Thursday, January 26, 2017
Feeding the Four Thousand
“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.” (Mark 8:1-3)
When Jesus returned from Tyre and Sidon, to the area south of the Sea of Galilee, there were very few towns nearby, but a huge multitude came out to hear him. For three days he had been teaching and no one had gone to buy food. Jesus became concerned that some of them might be weakened by their lack of food and find it difficult to make it home if he sent them away because some would need several days to walk home.
“And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?” (Mark 8:4)
They were in rural area with no major towns, and his disciples asked where they could go that would have enough food to feed such a crowd on short notice. Most of the nearby stores would have only a few things for the local population.
“And he asked them, How many loaves have ye?
And they said, Seven.
And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.” (Mark 8:5-8)
Jesus asked the disciples how much food they had with them, and they told him they had seven loaves of bread. Jesus then told the people to sit on the ground. He then took the bread, and after praying, began to break it into pieces into baskets for the disciples to serve the people just as he had done a month or so earlier with the little boy’s lunch. In the process they also discovered a few small fish and he prayed and broke them in to pieces as well. It must have been somewhat like the oil in the story in II Kings 4:1-7. As long as Jesus kept breaking the bread they never ran out of bread.
“So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.” (Mark 8:8-9)
Those seven loaves of bread and the few fishes yielded enough to satiate about four thousand people, leaving seven baskets full for the disciples. When they had all been fed, Jesus sent them home to their families.
“And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.” (Mark 8:10)
As soon as the crowd left, Jesus and the disciples got onto a boat and headed for the area known as Dalmanutha, a somewhat more populous area.