B.C.P. Trinity 7 Mark 9:1-9
MK 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 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. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
USA Today reported that more and more
people are travelling extra long miles to see a familiar dentist, hairdresser
or accountant. It featured one woman who travels 2.5 hours to see her
hairdresser and gynecologist. It suggests it's an emerging trend as
Americans seek to retain services they trust.
However, it is clear from today's reading that some two thousand years ago people would travel some distance to see Jesus. We can discover a number of things about Jesus from this passage.
His attraction. Jesus attracted and held the attention of the crowd. They were with him for three days, longer than any of them expected because they ran out of food! Jesus would have been teaching this crowd and it is a testimony to the quality of his teaching and speaking that he held the attention of so many people. He also, clearly interacted with them because he knew that some of them came from a distance, verse 3.
An elderly patient needed a heart transplant and discussed his options with his doctor. The doctor said, "We have three possible donors; tell me which one you want to use. One is a young, healthy athlete who died in an automobile accident. The second is a middle-aged businessman who never drank or smoked and who died in his private plane. The third is an attorney who just died after practicing law for 30 years." "I'll take the lawyer's heart," said the patient.
After a successful transplant, the doctor asked the patient why he had chosen the lawyer's heart. "It was easy," the patient replied. "I wanted one that hadn't been used."
We see Jesus' heart of compassion in response to a need that could only be met supernaturally. The crowd were hungry for Jesus' teaching, but became physically hungry when they ran out of food.
He, again, tests his disciples faith. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?
The disciples are helpless because there were no bread shops around. Their reply could indicate that they had completely forgotten the feeding of the five thousand. It has suggested that:
1. A considerable period of time may have elapsed between the two events.
2. Even mature Christians (which the disciples were not), having experienced God's power and provision, have subsequently acted in unbelief.
3. The reluctance of Jesus to perform miracles might have so impressed itself on the disciples that they did not expect to meet every crisis in that fashion.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. As they lay down for the night, Holmes asked: "Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see".
Watson: "I see millions and millions of stars".
Holmes: "And what does that tell you?"
Watson: "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?"
Holmes: "Elementary, my dear Watson. Someone has stolen our tent."
Sometimes we are looking for the wrong thing. Jesus wanted his disciples to look beyond the physical to the spiritual, and we should do this, too. We read of this later in the Chapter, 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?
This also tells us that this miracle was different from the feeding of the five thousand. This is underlined by the differences between the accounts. The feeding of the five thousand had: more people; less loaves ( 5 vs. 7 ); the people were split into smaller groups; more baskets ( 12 vs. 7 ); a different Greek word for 'basket'; and there was no separate blessing for the fish.
However, just as the disciples couldn't grasp the full significance of the miracles because they concentrated on the physical, we should not fail to understand because we are concerned about the two accounts of miraculous feeding, or indeed any other matter.
The miracles, together with the teaching and the compassion of Jesus, show us who he is. God and man who has come to earth to reveal God to us and deliver his people.
The Jews expected that when the Messiah came that he would duplicate what Moses had done and provide manna, or bread in the wilderness. This was something that Jesus had done twice. Still the disciples failed to grasp who Jesus was. Even the Pharisees couldn't see. 11: And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.
We are to respond in penitence and faith to the signs that Jesus gives. We can only see those signs through the spiritual eyes that God grants us by his undeserved favour.
AMAZING GRACE! how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
A further illustration of grace...
I left work early so I could have some uninterrupted
study time right before the final in my Youth Issues class. When I got
to class, every- body was doing their last minute studying. The teacher
came in and said he would review with us for just a little bit before
the test. We went through the review, most of it right on the study
guide, but there were some things he was reviewing that I had never
When questioned about it, he said that they were in the book and we were responsible for everything in the book. We couldn't really argue with that. Finally it was time to take the test.
"Leave them face down on the desk until everyone has one and I'll tell you to start," our professor instructed.
When we turned them over, every answer on the test was filled in! The bottom of the last page said the following: "This is the end of the Final Exam. All the answers on your test are correct. You will receive an 'A' on the final exam. The reason you passed the test is because the creator of the test took it for you. All the work you did in preparation for this test did not help you get the A. You have just experienced...grAce."
He then went around the room and asked each student individually, "What is your grade? Do you deserve the grade you are receiving? How much did all your studying for this exam help you achieve your final grade?"
Now I am not a crier by any stretch of the imagination, but I had to fight back tears when answering those questions and thinking about how the Creator has passed the test for me.
Let us ask God to open our eyes more fully to what he has done and is doing. Let us pray for those who are spiritually blind, that God will open their eyes to see who Jesus is and what he has done for them, and that he will lead them to repentance and trust in Jesus.