Sermon: “How Many Loaves Do You Have?”

Mark 6:13-21

John 6:1-13

Luke 9:10-17

Matthew 14:13-21

 Looking at the context of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 the world of Jesus, his disciples, and the crowd, was shattered by the execution of John the Baptist by King Herold. And though they continued to preach the good news of the kingdom, Jesus understood that they need to find a place to recharge their spiritual and emotional batteries.

 Dr. William Barclay, in his commentary on this part of Mark, says that these words of scripture describe “the rhythm of the Christian life.” It is not possible to be all that Christ asks us to be without moments of retreat and renewal. It is not possible to be all of the time at the tasks of feeding the hungry and healing the ill and clothing the naked and comforting the dying – without stepping back into times of renewing our resources.

 Jesus and the disciples sought the solitude, that sanctuary on the other side of the lake, the plight of the crowd was very evident. You can picture it geographically. Jesus and the disciples left the people at one point on the Galilee shoreline. They took the boat across, but the people saw the direction they were sailing. They followed the boat, running along the shoreline. With little wind upon the sea to speed the boat, the crowds met the tired Jesus and the tired disciples as their boat was beached upon the far shore.

What should they do? What would you do? This scripture gives a wonderful little window into Jesus’ psyche. Despite the need for rest, he is “moved to the depths of his being with pity for them.” Those are Mark’s words. There was such compassion about Jesus. The image is of a shepherd sensing his responsibility for the sheep. The crowds that again clustered around were “like sheep who had no shepherd.” Jesus knew as evening approached that the people needed to be fed. He asked a simple and yet profound question to his disciples and to us; “How many loaves do you have?”

 What can we learn from Jesus feeding the 5,000?

1.We Need Compassion- As Jesus looked at the people with the eyes of compassion, we are called to do the same. In Jesus’ miracle he proceeds to teach the people, then to feed them, then to comfort his disciples and allay their fears, and then to heal people who are sick. The work appears to be never-ending. Those first century disciples experienced firsthand the mission and ministry of Jesus. They learned by observation what compassion meant. Then they were called to put it into practice. So, are we. If we are to put compassion into practice, we need to know what is involved. 

2.    Christ Cares- No matter our circumstance in life Christ cares and he becomes our example in caring for others. The word “compassion” means to “suffer with.” Throughout his ministry, Jesus involved himself in the sufferings of others. The passage we are considering reminds us that he fed the hungry, healed the sick, and taught the ignorant. He put his hand out and touched lepers. Even Sunday school children know the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept,” which reminds us that Jesus not only saw, but entered into the sorrows of others. 

In his book The Human Comedy, William Saroyan noted: “Unless a man has pity, he is inhuman and not yet truly a man, for out of pity comes the balm which heals. Only good men weep. If a man has not yet wept at the world’s pain, he is less than the dirt he walks upon, because dirt will nourish seed, root, stalk, leaf, and flower, but the spirit of a man without pity is barren and will bring forth nothing….” Good people feel the pain of others, and they weep. When we walk in the shoes of another, and we show that we care, a part of Christ lives within us.

3.    Miracles Happen– When ever God intervenes there is a miracle. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. One doesn’t have to part the Red Sea in order to experience a miracle. It happens to us every day, particularly in the ordinary things in life. Miracles can be experienced when lives are touch by the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation. Let your life be a miracle to others.

You see, we are that crowd that ran around the edge of the sea. We still come to Jesus for healing. We want only to reach out to him in spirit-touch. We still seek him that we might be forgiven for the sins we have done. In that forgiveness we can be healed. In that forgiveness we have loaves to share.