This morning during my quiet coffee time, I read portions of Mark 6, specifically the account of Jesus feeding the 5000 and the subsequent record of Jesus walking on the water. (See Mark 6:30-44 and Mark 6:45-52.)
It is easy to read these two incidents quickly, to zip through them speeding onto the next thing. If you’re like me, you’ve heard these two familiar stories over and over, many times since those early childhood Sunday School classes. I remember coloring activity pages of five bread loaves and two fish, then cutting the shapes out, tearing them up, and putting the tiny, torn pieces into baskets my teacher had conveniently brought along. We then pretended to be amazed at how the bread and fish had multiplied.
But really, what does this story of the feeding of the 5000 tell us today about PROVISION?
Here’s what I think: Jesus provides what we need, when we need it. Miraculously. Period.
And, we usually don’t recognize it.
The feeding miracle as recounted in Mark 6 takes place far from other civilized areas. Jesus had gone there with his guys, after all, to get away from all the chaos surrounding them and to rest. They were in a remote place – no local cafes or restaurants, and certainly no food trucks rolling in right around dinnertime.
Miraculously, using five loaves of bread and two fish, he “cooked” up a satiating meal for thousands! This is not in the same league as Gramma’s Thanksgiving spread for a whopping table of 25. No, Jesus is feeding possibly as many as 15,000 or more, when you add in the women and children to the 5000 recorded men.
I can’t explain how he did this. This is not just some sort of sleight of hand. He doesn't have enough secret pockets in those tunics of his to hide food for thousands.
Those people in the crowd couldn’t have imagined this special meal was going to happen.
The disciples, even though seeing the food pass through their very own hands, didn’t get it. (See later in verses 51b-52, and again at their “retest” in Mark 8.)
Even today, we don’t get it. We don’t look for and expect his miraculous provision.
Yet, he still loves to provide, to bless us.
I know that is true in my own life. Just last week I headed up into the mountains to our family’s lodge for a little getaway, to a “quiet place for some rest.” (See verse 31b.) The lodge is in a remote place – seven miles off the nearest paved road, way back into the woods.
I had $0 cash in my wallet when I arrived there, yet miraculously I left there with $170. No stores, no banks, lousy non-functioning satellite internet - just unexpected PROVISION.
One relative gave me cash to help cover food I had purchased for all of us. I had not requested help, nor had expected it. Another relative gave me cash for a donation for several of my books. I had not been counting on this money, either.
By miraculous, timely PROVISION, I had money then in my wallet to cover me on the next leg of my trip. After leaving the lodge, I made a road trip which required cash turnpike tolls and meals along the way for several days.
Some people might attempt to explain away this miraculous PROVISION. Others might claim I had been irresponsible by not bringing any cash along when I certainly knew I’d need it. Yet others may find alternate ways of explaining away his provision to me.
They can all say what they want. They can believe as they choose. As for me, I want to watch for and recognize these delightful gifts from my Father. I don’t want to miss a thing when it comes to his miraculous PROVISION to me!
Lord, keep my heart from being hardened by what goes on around me in this world. Help me to always seek you and see your ways at work in my life.
The disciples were (as we are too!) dense as doorknobs. They didn't get it. Watch for their "retest" later in Mark 8...