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So Much to Learn

17 May

I am not a fan of reruns. I may watch a favorite movie a time or two. I may reread a favorite book every few years. I may revisit a favorite vacation spot. But those tend to be the exceptions not the rule.

I’d rather have a new experience than relive an old one. If we go to a favorite restaurant, I’ll probably order something different or try a new dish.

What I dislike the most about reruns is having to relearn a lesson. I’d prefer to learn something the first time and then move on to new material. I never enjoyed doing poorly on an exam and having to restudy and retake the test.

But there are occasions when God has to teach me a lesson a second or third time. After all, repetition is the mother of learning. On those occasions, I realize I am in good company because Jesus had to do the same with his 12 disciples. He repeated the same miracle twice (Mark 6:30-44; 8:1-10) trying to help them learn that as the bread of life, Jesus satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts.

Because of the similarity of these two feeding miracles, some wonder if there was only one miracle. But if you compare and contrast the two, you discover enough distinctives to recognize they are separate events. Both reveal a significant aspect of Jesus’ character and ministry.

Passage Mark 6:30-44 Mark 8:1-10
Time One day Three days
Location Outside of Capernaum Decapolis region
Towns nearby Desolate place
Green grass (springtime?) No grass
People 5,000 men 4,000 people
Primarily Jews Primarily Gentiles
Organized by 50 Unorganized
Food 5 loaves & 2 fish 7 loaves & a few fish (sardines)
Prayer One Two
Leftovers 12 small baskets 7 large hamper-baskets
Jesus Responds to events Initiates the event
Lesson As the bread of life, Jesus satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts

As chapter 8 opens, a crowd of 4,000 people have been listening to Jesus teach for three days. They were hungry both spiritually and physically. If they came with food, it is now long gone. The location is so remote that Jesus is afraid some folks will pass out from hunger before they reach home.

Jesus demonstrates his compassion by taking the initiative to feed them. Asking his disciples how much bread was available tipped his hand as to his intentions. Scouting out the crowd, the disciples discover seven loaves of bread and few small sardine-sized fish.

Demonstrating his power, Jesus takes what is available and blesses it. He took a little and made much of it. He broke the bread and fish and kept on doing so until all the people were full and satisfied. There were even seven hamper-sized baskets of leftovers at the conclusion of the meal.

Both feeding miracles (Mark 6:30-44 & 8:1-10) are revelations of Jesus’ significance. Whereas Moses brought bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4), Jesus demonstrated he was the bread of life who satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts. However, physical bread was not enough (Matthew 4:4). We need Jesus to truly experience and enjoy life.

The two feedings revealed that Jesus came to save both Jews and Gentiles alike. Jesus was the spiritual bread for the pagan world—including you and me.

The amount of leftovers demonstrates that there is no scarcity when it comes to Christ. He meets all our needs and more besides. While the people may have exhausted their power to eat, Christ’s power to feed was not exhausted. However much God gives us, there is still far more for him to give.

My hope and prayer is that you not settle for substitutes, but let Jesus himself satisfy the desires of your heart.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 17, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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