Food shortage? (Mark 8:13-21)

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After refusing to give the Pharisees a sign, Jesus heads off with his disciples across Galilee by boat.  Once again we are faced with a bread crisis. The Disciples have only remembered to bring along one loaf of bread, that’s probably a small loaf so it’s not going to feed all of them. This seems a little careless given that they’d not long back had an abundance of left-overs.  As ever, their minds are on grub and their empty bellies.

Jesus however isn’t finished with the issues arising from their conversation with the Pharisees. He warns them about the yeast of the pharisees.  His point being that they must not let themselves get infected with the same hard hearted pride that led to unbelief.  They were to have faith.

The mention of yeast however makes the disciples think about their bread problem all the more. Is Jesus telling them that they can’t go and get their bread from the Pharisees because there’s a problem with the ingredients? If so, then more fool the idiot who didn’t stock up on supplies, So who is to blame.

Yet, their arguing shows something else. It shows that although not caught up in Pharisaic unbelief and hardness, they were still struggling to believe because they simply didn’t get it. So, Jesus pushes home the point of the miracles. He gets them to remember how many leftovers there had been.

Now incidentally, numbers in the Bible tend to be symbolic. Seven, relating back to creation speaks of completeness and perfection. Twelve reminds us of the 12 tribes and again points to the complete inclusion of God’s people. The miracles offered big clues about Jesus’ ability to provide completely for God’s people all that they needed.

The disciples were worrying about having enough sandwiches when they knew that Jesus could give them a feast.  Jesus wanted them to see that not only could he provide physical food but as the bread of life could provide everything they needed spiritually so satisfying their hunger and thirst for God.

Our attitude to showing love to others and sharing the good news will be shaped by our ability to grasp this point. I’ve found that often churches set in tension two things -reaching out to those outside of the church and showing love and care for those already within the church family. We don’t have to prioritise one at the expense of the other.

Your grace is enough, more than I need
At your word I will believe
I wait for you, draw near again
Let your spirit make me new….

… Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear me
The chief of sinners, spare?

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