This study, taught by pastor Barry Forder, was recorded at our Sunday morning family service on 15th July 2018.
In Mark chapter 8 the feeding of the 4000 is a different event from the incredible feeding of the 5000 that Mark recorded back in chapter 6. In chapter 6 it was a Jewish audience, here in chapter 8, Jesus is in the Decapolis (on the Eastern side of the Sea of Galilee) which was a largely gentile area. In chapter 6 the crowd that had gathered had only been with Jesus for that day. In the account Mark records for us here we find that the crowd had following Jesus for 3 days! That is incredible in itself. Imagine the excitement and fascination that would keep over 10,000 people (Mark only counts the men) away from their homes and other commitments for three days!
We read in v2 that Jesus ‘had compassion’ on this multitude, knowing that they needed sustenance. Generally, after three intense days, you and I would want to unwind and would crave our own space! But Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and did not tire of showing love, grace and compassion. You and I can also show that kind of love and compassion, regardless of how weary and physically tired we may become IF we too are walking in His Spirit. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
Then Jesus presents His dilemma to the disciples: He doesn’t want to send the multitude away hungry, because some of them had traveled a long way, so what should He do? When Jesus presents us with a dilemma it is not a test of our resources! It is a test of our trust in Him! Immediately the disciples do what we tend to do, and assume responsibility for something they were unable to solve. As Oswald Chambers has said: “If we undertake work for God and get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility will be overwhelmingly crushing; but if we roll back on God that which He has put upon us, He takes away the sense of responsibility by bringing in the realization of Himself”.
Imagine Peter’s surprise when he went up to Jesus and walked away with a full basket of food to give to the multitude! Then John followed Peter, no doubt thinking “Great Peter! Now there’s nothing left for me!” Only to find that his basket was full to overflowing also! Then Andrew, then James, then Matthew…. Then Peter came back for a second time. He had given away all he had, but the more he gave away, the more Jesus replenished. This is the model of Christian ministry!
- We recognise the need of the people to be fed
- We come to Christ
- He fills us to overflowing
- We go out and give out the bread He has given us
- We go back to Christ empty
- He fills us all over again!
- We go back out….
There are so many around us that will not make it home without the bread that Christ gives. But you and I are the vessels that Christ uses to take that bread and give it out freely.
Pray this week that God gives you opportunity to give out from the abundance He has given you…then go back to Him and be filled to overflowing again!
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study
The Powerpoint slides used in this study are also available for free download, and the audio can be streamed or downloaded for future use.