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Why feed the crowd?

Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
- Mark 6:36-37
The disciples had a great solution to the problem ahead of them: send the people away to buy themselves something to eat. The solution was efficient (thousands of people looking for food rather than just a dozen), strategic (people going in multiple directions would put less stress on the local economy), and responsible (feeding the crowd one meal isn’t the best use of the mission’s limited resources).
Why did Jesus have his disciples “wait tables” for the crowd? Why did he push them to feed the crowd?
Perhaps he wanted the disciples to see that he cared for people’s bodies as well as their souls. Jesus didn’t just want people to experience spiritual salvation; he also wanted them to thrive in their daily lives.
Perhaps he wanted to awaken his disciples to the depth of the need of the crowd. If feeding them bread is such a big task, how much bigger is the work of providing for their deep soul hunger? The crowd would have known just as well as the disciples that there was no food in the wilderness, but they went anyway. They wanted something more than they wanted food and were willing to endure hunger to seek it.
Perhaps he wanted his disciples to reach the limits of their ability so they would learn in a new and deeper way to depend on him. When they discovered they couldn’t feed the crowd all on their own, they’d have an opportunity to turn to him for help.
Great Bible study involves letting your imagination roam through a text, seeking understanding and insight. Take a few minutes and reflect on today’s passage.
What other explanations could you come up with for Jesus’ command? Which do you find most likely? What does this tell you about God and about yourself?

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