‘You give them something to eat.” (Jesus in Mark 6:37)
Thousands of people have interrupted Jesus’ and the disciples’ R&R because they want to hear the words of life. Jesus teaches them, but the disciples want to send them away ostensibly to let them “get something to eat.” (verse 36).
A lot of people to feed, yet Jesus tells the disciples, “YOU give them something to eat.”
Clearly in the context, Jesus is talking about physical food, and that’s the way the disciples understand him. It would take, they say, a years’ worth of wages to feed everybody, and it is at this point that Jesus performs the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.
But there is something more dynamic happening here than the need for physical food, as important as that is. Jesus is talking to anyone who is in a teaching or preaching ministry.
Earlier in this chapter we see that the disciples have just returned from an exhausting missionary project, and immediately after that they were shocked to learn of the beheading of their friend and mentor John the Baptist. They were likely physically and emotionally drained, and in that context Jesus says (verse 31), “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (NIV)
And then they are besieged by a multitude.
Given our human tendencies, I think we can understand why the disciple wanted to send them away. They needed down time. But then Jesus says, “YOU give them something to eat.” He would not have asked them to do something that they were incapable of doing. He expected them to take care of the needs of the people.
When Jesus says, “YOU give them something to eat", he’s laying a heavy responsibility at the feet of those who are supposed to be teaching.
When people leave the church building, do they go home feeling like they have been fed, or are they still hungry?
Have they been given spiritual junk food, or the words of life?
Did they just get a few crumbs, or maybe just a bite of baby food?
Did the preacher talk more about himself than he did about Jesus Christ?
Preacher, give them something to eat!
Lenny Cacchio is a resident of Lee’s Summit. He blogs at http://morningcompanion. blogspot.com/.