What the Feeding of the 5,000 Reveals | Mark 6:35–44
35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Ministry work had grown long for Jesus and the disciples, so they sought out a desolate place for resort. As they stepped out of the boat, however, the crowd gathered again. In v. 34, we read that Jesus, the Great Shepherd, was moved with compassion for these lost sheep. Nothing is said of the disciples’ feeling, however, and after Christ’s extended teaching, they want to send the crowd away. Amid their physical needs of food and rest, Jesus reveals three truths about Himself.
He’s the provider. This is implicit with Him being the Good Shepherd. The thousands are in the wilderness have little provision, and the disciples saw sending them away before it got any later as the only feasible solution. If the Lord chose not to provide, it would have been, for no one could cover roughly eight months’ worth of a day-laborer’s salary to feed the crowd. Yet, as Jesus said in Mt 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
He’s better than Moses. The parallels between Jesus and Moses is undeniable. Moses appointed elders who similarly divided the people (Ex 18:21, 25) and announced the provision of manna in the wilderness (Ex 16). It was the Father providing the bread, though, with Jesus being the true bread that “comes down from heaven and gives life to the world (Jn 6:32–35). The feeding of the 5,000, then, becomes a living illustration that Jesus ushers in the New Covenant, replacing the Old.
He’s the Lord of all creation. Both Mark 6:41 and Luke 9:16 give a tense of the verb “gave” that means He “kept on giving” them food. The miracle took place in His hands as He handed out enough to feed perhaps 20,000 people (counting women and children). This will become clearer in when He walks on water and calms the wind (vv. 47–52).
What incredible truths about our Lord!