30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, 33 but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things. 35 When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. 36 Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.” 37 “You give them something to eat,” he responded. They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate and was satisfied. 43 They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men. — Mark 6:30-44
by Sally Cressman
Lockeland Springs Campus
In the mid- to late 1800s, George Mueller observed his surroundings and discovered orphans in abject poverty. Moved by the myriad of needs, he opened an orphanage, never asking for a cent. Whenever there was a lack, he would pray. Many times, God answered his prayer just when the children sat down to a meal where in reality there was no meal.
Similarly, in today’s text, the disciples scoured the immense crowd and observed a gigantic demand. Unlike Mueller, they reasoned the problem unsolvable. The disciples interrupted Jesus’ day-long teaching. “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper” (vv. 35-36 MSG).
Weary from ministering, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, and anxious over the extent of food required, the disciples counted too many dollar signs to buy enough food. Jesus put the responsibility back on them, “You do it.” They took inventory and reported: “Five loaves of bread, two fish.”
Earlier in this chapter of Mark, the disciples had preached, driven out demons, and anointed the sick with oil and healed them. But this day, they accepted defeat—no miracle today. Send everyone home.
Jesus accepted the pitiful lunch, looked up, and blessed it. The disciples then handed out basket after basket of supper to the 5000 plus. (Some commentators calculate the number of people fed close to 15,000. Think Bridgestone arena.) The disciples’ eyes must have bulged with incredulity as everyone was fed and full—in addition to 12 baskets of leftovers, one for each disciple. A reminder of God’s provision.
When Jesus observed these hungry “sheep without a shepherd,” He looked up and blessed the insufficient dinner. God not only provided what was needed, but He supplied above and beyond, abundantly.
Mueller saw impossibility day after day. But when he looked up and prayed, people who didn’t know Mueller or who weren’t aware of the needs gave money. Year after year, God provided for the buildings, staff, and thousands of orphans.
Whatever in our life is deficient, we can follow Jesus’ lead to look up and pray. God will provide just enough; but sometimes, when a miracle is needed—more than enough.
- What circumstance in your life looks desolate, too late, or impossible? Spend time today looking up and praying.
- Who in your sphere of influence is like a sheep without a shepherd? Look up and pray for this person to know the Good Shepherd.
- Do you need to get away and rest for a while? Plan to do it this year.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.