If you remember, Jesus was beginning to expand his ministry throughout the region surrounding the Sea of Galilee. He had been working in Capernaum up to this point, but now has gone to Nazareth where he was rejected by the people he grew up with in his home town. So he continues on to the surrounding villages. He also sends out his 12 disciples to preach this message of God’s coming Kingdom. After an unknown period of time goes by, the disciples rejoin Jesus on his mission and the story picks up in Mark 6:30-32. The disciples recount to Jesus their success in preaching throughout the region and it is presumed from their positivity that many people responded to their message in belief and repentance. Jesus has continued in his preaching and healing ministry as well, so when they all get back together, there is a crowd gathered as usual. Jesus recognizes that they all need to find rest and at least find time to eat, so he says, let’s get out of here and go where no one else is.
We live in a fast paced world and we are always moving. Even if we aren’t moving physically, we are moving socially or emotionally. We are under a constant barrage from TV, Phones, and computers. So if we are alone, even then we are not by ourselves because of these devices. Just think about the questions and “what-if’s” that run through our minds if we are to turn off our phones. A lot of people leave their phones on all night, just in case. But at some point, we need to unplug for an hour, an afternoon, or some extended period of time. In our day, perhaps more than any time in history, silence and solitude is difficult to find for extended periods. After these disciples worked and helped people, Jesus saw they needed rest. I wonder how many of us need to rest? In verse 31 Jesus says “Come with me, by yourselves.” We must make time to turn off the phone, computer, and TV and simply be alone and silent with Jesus. It is commonly recognized how taking a vacation will help you return to work more productive. Well, taking time to be alone, and silent and just sit and speak with Jesus is about more than simply relaxing. It’s about allowing him to restore our souls. To inform our perspective on life, and to refresh our minds, emotions, and wills. Some people have called this devotional time, or quiet times. Where you wake up early and read your bible. This a good practice, but we also need to take extended time to be quiet and alone, and unplugged. This is a very difficult thing to do in our day because of our technology. But it wasn’t easy in Jesus’ day either. He tries to go to a deserted place with his disciples, but people find out about it. If he had a phone it would have been ringing like crazy.
This story and the story of the resurrection are the only two miracles recorded in all four Gospel accounts. All the numerical details are the same – 5000 people, 5 loaves, and 2 fish. One of the reasons for this story is to highlight Jesus’ greatness and authority. There is a similar story found in 2 kings 4 where a man brings the prophet Elisha 20 loaves of bread and he says to give them to the man’s army of 100 men. When he obeys the prophet, all the men are filled and there is bread leftover. If the great prophet Elisha could multiply 20 loaves for 100 men, look how Jesus multiplies 5 loaves and 2 fish for 5000 men. Jesus’ greatness is disproportionate to Elisha’s and he was a great prophet. And if he was a great prophet, then who must Jesus be?!
There are also echoes of Psalm 23. The idea of a shepherd is in verse 34, there is green pastures mentioned in verse 39 and everyone is satisfied or restored in verse 42. As I have mentioned before, in the Biblical times, Shepherd has a royal quality to it. Jesus has compassion on the people because they have no King and they do not yet fully understand that he is their true King. The kings ruling over Israel are false Kings who do not provide for their sheep, their people. This story highlights how the True King, Jesus, will meet every need of his people. We have seen Jesus demonstrate his authority over demons, and weather, and even death. He demonstrates his authority here too, but in a new way. Here, it helps people.
When Jesus says, the time is fulfilled, and God’s Kingdom has come, there is a personal component to it. It impacts all of creation, it overwhelms the dominion of Satan, and it sets the Kingdoms of man in their proper place of submission. But it also affects normal people. These people follow Jesus around the lake so they can be with him. They may not understand all of what he is saying, but they are walking great distances and doing without food to follow Jesus. We should strive to know more about Jesus, but there will always be lots we don’t understand. But look at the lengths these people went through to simply be with him. To hear him. To see him. How uncomfortable are you willing to be to follow Jesus? These people hadn’t even eaten and they were nowhere near their homes. But they were near to Jesus. They were near to their Shepherd. Jesus understood all of this, and having compassion upon them, he fed them. He multiplied the bread and the fish to sustain his people. nd look what happens. The people aren’t merely sustained. They weren’t just kept from starving. Verse 42 says “They were satisfied”. It says all of them were.
Anyone who comes to Jesus on his terms will be satisfied. Psalm 23 says that the Lord restores our souls. People often think they can find satisfaction in so many other things, and then when you add Jesus, it will make it better. But these people had to leave town and find Jesus in a desolate and solitary place. But when they did, they were satisfied. What do you need to leave behind in order to pursue Jesus and be satisfied? Our careers cannot satisfy. Demanding that our marriages and families revolve around our needs and our desires cannot satisfy. Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”
On this day around 5000 people found this out. Verse 43 says there were even leftovers. This means there is more than enough for anyone who will come. He fed them in a desolate place that day when they came to him. He will do the same today. He satisfies the hungry soul.
Have you come to Jesus or are you still seeking after the things this world has to offer in order to be satisfied. Only he can satisfy, and he says if you come to him, it must be by belief and repentance. You must come to him on his terms. He is the King and we must align our lives with him. Will you believe and repent today?