“You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37)

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The central verse of this sermon is “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37).

The verse comes from the story of Jesus’ miraculously providing food for a crowd of 5,000 people. When he looked on this crowd, Jesus felt deep compassion for them as they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he taught them many things. Then he challenged his disciples to provide food for the hungry crowd. Their logical response: It would take some 200 denarii (equivalent to today’s 2 million yen) and they didn’t have that kind of money to buy so much food. You can read the rest of the story in Mark 6:34-44.

What Jesus was really asking of his disciples was not to come up with money but to have faith in God. And to realize that God would bless and use the offering of the willing believer. Verse 41 records that Jesus took the offering of five loaves and two fish, broke them into pieces, and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the crowd. The crowd ate and was satisfied. And not only that. There were 12 baskets full of leftover bread–an astonishing account.

Before this all took place, Jesus had sent out his disciples in pairs to preach the good news. Through this he was training his disciples and entrusting the work of evangelism to them. You can read about this in Mark 6:7-13, 30. This is how Jesus trained his disciples: First, by setting the example of depending on the power of God; next, by having his disciples work together with him; third, by supporting the disciples as they did God’s work. The disciples are then able to conduct ministry on their own–with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course. With this in mind, we can see that the feeding of the 5,000 was part of that training. Jesus involved them in the work, grew their faith through it, and let them experience the power of God that meets our needs.

Church ministry is not the work of the pastor alone. Even pastors are discipled by Christ and follow the example of Christ when doing God’s work. When individual believers work together, church ministry and evangelism are made possible. I hope to see the work of the Church grow as we follow Christ’s example as Christ’s servants.