Summary of passages: Matthew 14:13-21: Jesus was distraught over word of John the Baptist’s death so he withdrew to a solitary place. The crowds followed him and Jesus had compassion on them and healed the sick. When evening came, the disciples told Jesus to send the people away so they could eat. Jesus told the disciples to feed the people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Jesus took the food, prayed over it, giving thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave the food to the disciples who distributed the food to the people, never running out and having leftovers. They fed 5000.
Mark 6:30-44: Here, Mark reports the press of the crowds so Jesus took the disciples to a quiet place to get some rest. Yet the crowds saw them leave and followed them and Jesus had compassion on them and taught them many things. It was getting late so the disciples urged Jesus to send the crowds away to eat. Jesus told the disciples to feed them themselves. They said that would cost a fortune. Jesus asked for the food they did have, directed the people to sit in groups, and then gave thanks for the food and broke the loaves. The disciples distributed the food, never running out, with some leftover. They fed 5000.
Luke 9:10-17: Only new detail we learn is Jesus and the Twelve retreated to a town called Bethsaida (Great map and Historical background and modern pictures HERE.)
John 6:1-13: Here we are told Jesus retreated to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (where Bethsaida lies) on a mountainside. The Jewish Passover Feast was approaching. Jesus tests Philip by asking him how they were going to feed the people and it is Philip (not they) who said they don’t have enough money to feed them. We learn Andrew, a disciples, sees a boy with a lunch of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish that Jesus blesses.
7a) Mark tells us the press of the crowds around Jesus and his disciples. They retreated to a quiet place to escape the crush of the crowds. Mark records this in 5 places (3:7-9; 6:31; 6:45; 7:24; 9:30).
b) Personal Question. My answer: It is recorded that Jesus had compassion on the crowds and taught them and healed the sick amongst them. We also learn though that Jesus (like any human) needed a break to rest and recharge so we see him going to quiet places to escape the crowd. Good lesson for us as well when we need down time!
8a) So they would have time to go to the villages and buy themselves something to eat.
b) He was showing them that the impossible in their world is not the impossible in God’s world. God can feed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. God will provide even when it seems impossible. God cares for his people in all needs including physical. With faith, they too can provide for others as well.
9a) God provides for all of our needs with faith and in the face of impossibility and hopelessness. He uses others to come alongside us and help us in this world when we are down. The disciples distributed God’s love and provision. So must we.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Jesus’ compassion is infinite. He does not leave his people wanting. He provides for all of his people’s needs. Nothing is impossible with him.
c) Personal Question. My answer: To keep marching towards my life’s purpose despite the hard work and sacrifice. And although I don’t see how God will provide, He will. The how and uncertainty doesn’t matter.
d) Personal Question. My answer: Shine God’s light everywhere I go by being like Jesus: kind, compassionate, helpful, and warm. Speak more about Him with strangers. Give all the credit to Him. Believe. With my family. At Christmas.
Conclusions: When we have 4 sufficiently long Bible passages just for these questions alone, I don’t think a Challenge question is warranted (nor is it appreciated). I answered it only because it was in my study bible in Mark. But overall, much easier than yesterday where history played a major role.
Lots of reading but important and worthy messages. One, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Two, Jesus’ compassion for his people is limitless. Three, take quiet time when you need it to rest and recharge so you may face the crowds with renewed compassion and empathy. Good reminder in this holiday season to remember what’s important (Christ, family, and giving to others) and what’s not all that important (Christmas parties, Black Friday, the latest gadgets and gizmos, and expensive gifts for your kids cause “everyone else has one”).
End Notes: As Jesus said, “They do not need to go away.” There is never any reason to go away from Jesus. We are to run to him. We always need him. The more time we spend with him the better.
We also note the prominence of the disciples in this passage. Jesus uses them to distribute and obtain the food. Jesus could have done all this himself but he wanted to show the important role we all play in his purpose.
This event points to God’s provision of manna to his people as they wandered in the wilderness during the Exodus from Egypt. The Jewish people of the day would have immediately remembered this and this would give more credence to Jesus as Messiah.
We must use what God gives us wisely. Trust God who can do everything. Note how the leftovers were not wasted. We too must also not waste what God has given us, be it food, gifts, talents, etc.
Fun Fact: This is the only story that appears in all 4 gospels, showing the importance this event held for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and God who told them to record it. This story epitomizes just who Jesus is and how he cares for all people. How God holds us all dear and is willing to do anything to prove it.