Mark: According to
Twelve Baskets of Leftovers
Perhaps calling this section the “Twelve Baskets of Leftovers” is inappropriate. Most call this the feeding of the 5000, but there is a great spiritual blessing in the leftover baskets.
30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told him all things both what they had done and what they had taught.
My wife and friends claim I have problems doing what Jesus told his disciples to do next. They claim that I think it must mean it is time to work even harder. But Jesus invited the disciples saying: 31 “’Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.”
I realize we must all rest, and if we get 8 hours of sleep each night, then we spend 1/3 of our life sleeping. This means I have 2/3 of my life to accomplish something worthwhile. Yet I have am also the one that has stated that sleep and rest is highly overrated. Yet I usually seem to work till I drop only to get right back at it until I drop again. But I really do understand what Jesus is saying.
Now, when the disciples had returned from their mission trip, they came back to Jesus and he wanted them to rest, debrief, speak of their successes and learn from their failures.
It is a lesson that all good church administrators need to learn, myself included, in that often we use volunteer help who are busy with their everyday lives and so working for the church is something extra, over and above what their normal day to day responsibilities are. Therefore, to keep them rested and refreshed and to keep from wasting their valuable time, it is necessary to allow time for rest, relaxation, but this time can also be filled with instruction and learning from past successes and failures. Although it is true the power of God will sustain those who are faithful servants, it is still a good idea, to follow the example of Christ where he invited the disciples to rest a while, come let us learn together not only from our successes but our failures as well.
Jesus heart was moved with compassion as he saw the multitude that now rushed to be with him. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So, he began to teach them many things.
They were like sheep not having a shepherd. For the Pastor or teacher, those that are part of our class or congregation they are wandering, searching, and in many circumstances looking for something but they are unsure what it is they are looking for. They wander like sheep without a shepherd and sheep that wander are often subject to being devoured by animals of prey.
Mark makes certain his reader understands that the day is well spent, night was drawing on and the disciples came to Jesus saying, 36 “Send them away that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But he answered and said to 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 them something to eat?”
Now, one denarii was equal to one days wage and according to the disciples it would take 200 denarii to buy enough bread for them to be fed all those that had gathered to listen to Jesus. But Jesus told the disciples, “You feed them.” There was a chance a decent chance that the disciples meager supply of money did not contain 200 denarii, for most of the time Jesus ministry relied on the hospitality and generosity of those he ministered to.
It seems for all the talk of faith that has taken place between Jesus and the disciples, his disciples once again lacked faith. The original Greek put emphasis on the work “You” meaning Jesus intended that the disciples should exercise their faith and that through their faith, they could supply the food necessary for the large crowd.
Then he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” Faith is accompanied by action. We can have all the faith in the world, but if our faith is not accompanied by action, then nothing will be accomplished.
I am sure the disciples thought, “Ok, Jesus is going to do another miracle and feed these people from nothing.” But Jesus wanted them to exercise their faith. “Go he said and find how many loaves do you have?” What good does it do for God to fulfill all our needs if we are not willing to first exercise our faith? It does no good.
38b and when they found out they said, Give, and two fish. 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 so they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish he divided among them all. 42 so they all ate and they were filled.
And now comes the true miracle within this miracle of God multiplying the five loaves and two fishes, but when they were all done they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.
Can you imagine? The next verse says there was about five thousand men, and that would not include women and children, just the men and they all ate and were filled which would have included all the men, women and children.
So why take up baskets and put the left-over food within the baskets. Why Jesus the first environmentalist? Well actually, yes but that really has nothing to do with this miracle and the remaining food.
The five loaves and two fish represent physical food that was multiplied to several times over to meet the physical needs of the people. But the application of the miracle goes beyond the mere meeting of the physical needs of the people. For the food shared and that gathered also represented spiritual food that is daily given out by our heavenly father. Each day he bountifully supplies our spiritual bread and then more.
Like the manna that fell upon the wilderness before the children of Israel, that which was not used spoils. Here Jesus had his disciples collect what was left and it filled 12 baskets, much more than he and his disciples could possibly have eaten before it spoiled. Therefore, the food was once again redistributed among the people, so that they could take some with to share with their neighbors and friends while they traveled back to their homes and places of business.
The gospel message should never be kept to one’s self, upon receiving the bread of life, it should be shared with others, lest it spoil.
Think of the impact this had upon others as they heard about how this meal they now partook in came to be. All were blessed even those who were not present to hear Jesus speak.
After the death, resurrection, and ascension, of Christ, what would have been the result if the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the disciples and they failed to take action. Of course, the gospel would not have turned the whole world upside down.
But think about it a second. They heard, saw, shared and from their sharing you, me and millions of others are followers of Jesus from them sharing the bread of life with others.
The feeding of the five thousand should be a lesson to us all that even though what we have is small in measure, all heaven can multiply our effort and the results of what seems small can turn our neighborhoods, our cities, our countries upside down, just as the disciples and apostles turned the world upside down nearly 2000 years ago.
Do not let the wonderful bread of the gospel message go to waste, share it freely and God will restore to you the amount you have shared with others.
Just as the disciples had to look for the food, so must you and I look for those to share the gospel with.
On the evening of the first day of the week, two disciples of Jesus were returning from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a distance of about 10 miles. They were sad for Jesus had been crucified. Upon the road they met up with another and this person began, starting with Moses and then through all the prophets to explain the events which had just taken place. Upon entering their home and Jesus breaking bread with them that they realized who it was. Jesus took the bread in his hands before giving thanks for it. It was then because of the breaking of the bread that they knew it was Jesus. Is there a chance, that perhaps they recognized Jesus breaking of the bread because they may have been upon that 5000 that saw Jesus break the bread and fishes (see Luke 24:35).
We may never know the influence we have upon others. It is by faith that we break the bread of the gospel to others and it is by faith we continue to do it knowing that all heaven is there aiding us, striving with the hearts of men and women so they will be open to the bread of life.
May they know us by the bread we break. Amen.