We’re just a few days away from Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays—it’s a wonderful time to remember the blessings we’ve been shown throughout the year and to express our gratitude for them. It’s also a time for feasting with friends, family, and those less fortunate. Across the nation people will gather to share a meal together.
And all of that puts me in mind of a sequence of powerful scenes from the Gospels in which Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people. Let’s read Mark’s account of these events in Mark 6:31-44 and Mark 8:1-9 and see how the generosity of a few members was multiplied by Jesus:
Mark 6:31-44 — The Feeding of the Five Thousand
He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat). So they went away by themselves in a boat to some remote place. But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them. As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things.
When it was already late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and it is already very late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “Should we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins and give it to them to eat?” He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” Then he directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He gave them to his disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces and fish that were left over, twelve baskets full. Now there were five thousand men who ate the bread. Mark 6:31-44 (NET)
Mark 8:1-9 — The Feeding of the Four Thousand
In those days there was another large crowd with nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint on the way, and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can someone get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” Then he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. After he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples to serve. So they served the crowd. They also had a few small fish. After giving thanks for these, he told them to serve these as well. Everyone ate and was satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. There were about four thousand who ate. Then he dismissed them. — Mark 8:1-9 (NET)
- Think back to a time you experienced someone’s generosity. How did it make you feel? How do you think the people who were fed by Jesus felt?
- In the accounts above, Jesus is shown to have compassion for the crowd. What are ways you could show compassion to those around you this Thanksgiving holiday?
- Can you imagine being so excited to see and hear Jesus that you would leave home on foot without provisions? For me, this is incredibly convicting. Take a bit of time this week to read the gospels with a renewed sense of excitement.