The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:30-31, NIV)
They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. (Mark 6:42-43)
I recently spoke at a chapel service for a Christian school in Madison. The passage I chose to speak on was the feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6. As I was preparing for that message, I noticed something in the story I had never caught before.
At the beginning of the story, the disciples return from the assignment Jesus gave them in Mark 6:7-12. They’re excited to report what they’ve done. Jesus notices they’ve been so busy with people they haven’t even had a chance to eat. So, he invites them to get some rest and, presumably, a meal.
Unfortunately, the crowds follow them, and Jesus, being Jesus, has compassion on them. He continues teaching them until, late in the day, his disciples come and say, “This is a remote place and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (Mark 6:35-36). Translate that: “Jesus, we’re tired and hungry after a long day of ministry. We haven’t even eaten! Can you send the crowds away so we can take a break and get some food?” Remember, “so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat” (Mark 6:31).
Instead of doing what the disciples ask, Jesus sends them on a wild goose chase to find enough food for the crowd. They come back with a few loaves and fish, and Jesus multiplies the food to feed the crowd. Then the disciples go through and pick up twelve baskets of leftovers. Don’t miss that. Twelve baskets of leftovers.
The twelve disciples, who were so busy doing ministry that they hadn’t had a chance to eat, picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. Each disciple got a basket of food!
Jesus didn’t only provide for the hungry crowds. He also provided more than enough food for his hangry disciples! God reminded me through these little details that he will always take care of those who are working for him—and that doesn’t only mean “pastors” or “missionaries.” Every follower of Jesus is called to be a minister, to work for the Lord at school, at our job, in our home, or with our church. God sees you. He knows when you get tired, when you get hungry or hangry, and what your needs are. Don’t worry! He will take care of you.
That reminds me of something else Jesus said.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)