Jesus prayed prior to feeding 4000 people:
Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed.
Reflection from Karen Boesche:Given this scripture for reflection, I was almost giddy! I recalled that ‘bread and fish’ Bible story as a kid and even remembered a song about this that Mrs. Stettner taught the Sunday School Cherub Choir. But, after actually reading and digging into Mark 8, I realized that’s NOT the same story! There are no songs to sing for the feeding of the 4,000!
To me, the miraculous feeding story of the 4,000 seems anticlimactic in many ways. It follows a similar miracle story (yes, the one we’d sing about!) in two of the Gospels, and this story feeds 1,000 less people, with two additional loaves of bread! This miracle takes place not near the Shore of Galilee, but rather in a desert, and in front of an entirely different audience, the gentiles. Different location, different audience, different miracle.
In today’s Bible passage, after three days of listening and learning, Jesus commands the multitude to sit on the ground. And then, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Gave thanks! Gave thanks to the disciples for the seven loaves they just gave Him? Maybe, but to me, Jesus gave thanks to God for what God supplied, as Jesus is before the gentiles teaching them that God is the ultimate provider. And perhaps, also, Jesus was giving thanks for His relationship with God!
The exact words of thanks Jesus prayed are not recorded so obviously not an important detail, otherwise Mark’s Gospel would have included them, I feel. However, what is important is, Jesus immediately gave thanks to God (separately) for each thing supplied. I know sometimes I’m careless with my thanks, not immediately offering up praise thanks for each blessing provided! Quick to say ‘thanks’ for change from the grocery store cashier, e.g., when my first thanks should have been to God as I waited to pay. How about you?
One verse later we read, “They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, …”
To me, Jesus is offering up a blessing before beginning to eat, and Jesus acknowledges ultimately the fish (and bread) are from God. Here too, I believe Jesus’ blessing acknowledges a trust that God has provided enough to feed the 4,000. BTW: God provided more than enough because there were leftovers!
I find the feeding miracle encouraging because Jesus only asks the disciples to give what they have (seven loaves and few small fish). After giving thanks and blessing, Jesus then gave the food to the disciples to distribute. After His blessing, the feeding miracle occurred because the disciples obeyed Him and did as they were asked to distribute the food to the crowd.
I hope this Lenten season is filled with giving to others what God has already blessed, with making a difference by seriously giving Him what we have, letting Him bless what we offer and what He returns to us to distribute for His will. And, let us remember to immediately give Him words of praise and thanks when His miracles unfold before our eyes.
Dear God, thank you for your Word and for your Son Jesus. This miraculous story is a reminder of your compassion for meeting our needs, and your faithfulness in doing so. God, thank you for caring for our well-being, for those at FUMC, for those outside the church walls participating in this online devotional, for loving family, for all friendships, and for Pastor for leading the flock at FUMC. God, thank you for always providing what we lack and even providing some leftovers. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen, Amen and Amen!