During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” Mark 8:1-3
Jesus must have been tired at this time. Large crowds were with him every day. It was really not what he intended, for large groups of people always be with him. He kept leaving and going to other locations. He’d tried earlier to take his disciples some place quiet to get rest, but the crowd followed him there. He went to Tyre and didn’t want anyone to know where he was.
So here he is again, surrounded by people, surrounded by needs, for three days. These people don’t even seem to have much sense. They’ve gone out to Jesus without giving thought to what this would entail. They don’t plan ahead or provide for their own needs. It’s like they see Jesus and lose their heads. I really want to think less of them for being foolish.
I have a problem sometimes thinking people are foolish. So arrogant.
But Jesus had compassion and met their needs anyway. Oh man, that means I need to have compassion on those who are foolish, those who have made poor choices with their lives. Of course I’ve made a lot of poor choices too, but I can be blind to that.
Jesus sacrificed and kept on giving to the people WITHOUT resentment.
He just took the train God put in front of him and rode it. It’s like he said as recorded by John, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19
And that’s what I want to do when things get busy, when I feel overwhelmed. I want to get on board and ride the train God puts in front of me with a good attitude.
I want to ride the train with TRUST. God gave me that train for a reason.
His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Mark 8:4-7
Jesus didn’t worry about HOW he was going to ride the train, he just went forward and believed God would provide. Only seven loaves for four thousand men? No problem, start handing it out. Only a few fish? Thank God for what we have, and keep on going.
The same is true for us. Only 24 hours in the day? Only so much energy? More needs that resources? No problem. Just go forward, ride the train God has given, and believe God will provide.
And more importantly, it’s vital to THANK GOD for the little fish we DO have. Somehow, as Ann Voscamps writes in “One Thousand Gifts,” the thanks always precedes the miracle. Instead of focusing on the gargantuan thing that needs to be done, focus on the thing God has given us, and thank Him. We think we need something BIG to tackle our day. But God knows what we need, and He’s given it to us. We just need something small, IN CONJUNCTION WITH GOD.
Here’s what happened after Jesus fed the people —
The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Mark 8:11-12
What irony this is. Jesus has just performed a major miracle, and then he goes across the water to another place, and the Pharisees demand a sign. Jesus has already given them all kinds of signs. They just can’t see them.
It’s good for me to read, because I realize I ALWAYS want another sign. Jesus has taken care of me, taken care of my kids, taken care of my marriage, taken care of our church. I could name countless ways he has helped us go forward.
But then, when I’m faced with a new challenge, I get morose. I get anxious. “Show me a sign of your goodness, your willingness to act,” I beg. “I feel surrounded by failure.” But he’s already given me a thousand signs.
That’s why it’s so important to give thanks every day. In thanking, I manifest the signs. I remember how God has acted.
Thanking helps to trust the train. Because many days the train seems scary. I don’t like it. It’s hard. It makes me mad. I want to choose my own train to ride instead!
But the train of God’s will always takes us to the place we need to go.
Tomorrow in church we’re singing a song that Ken and I have been wanting to do, an old classic by Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”
Here is the theme of the song —
People get ready there’s a train comin’
You don’t need no baggage, just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’
You don’t need no ticket, just thank the lord
What does the song say? Just get on board! Don’t get weighed down with baggage — with fears, past hurts, selfish desires, and so on. God gave you a train today. Get on and ride, and trust that He will provide.
What’s the ticket to get on? Thankfulness. Thank God for the “little” we have. When we ride with Him, it will be more than enough.