SCRIPTURE: Mark 8:1-10

“In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 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. 7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over; seven baskets full. 9 Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Samantha.”

DEVOTIONAL: In this reading from Mark 8, Jesus is on the eastern shore of Galilee—an area populated by both Jews and Gentiles. It may be that Jesus is there for a time of teaching, and it is remarkable that both Jew and Gentile sit down together to share a meal.

Jesus has entered pagan territory to show his concern for all peoples and the scale of the commission he will give his disciples.  Jesus sees the great need of the people and asks the disciples what could be done. His disciples reply, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?”

Do the disciples lack confidence in Jesus to perform another miracle? I don’t think so. Are they just being cautious? Perhaps. Or maybe they are still trying to figure out who this Jesus is and what it means for him to be at work in the world and their lives.

There is much that we don’t understand about what it means for Jesus to be at work in our lives. Why does God seem to act some of the time but not at other times? What is the connection between our prayer life and God acting upon our requests? We can gain insight into our questions as we try to understand the stories of Jesus in the Gospels.  Can you see yourself in those stories, as the crowds began to gather around Jesus?  They came to him with broken hopes, hearts, and bodies. I believe that we too, are hungry for things that one can find only in Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, as we follow Jesus and commit ourselves to living for Jesus in this world, we pray not only for ourselves, but also all who trust in Jesus. Please hear our prayers on behalf of the people who do not yet know him. May we share God’s love with those we meet each day. Amen.

Max K. Jackson