When Jesus feeds a crowd of more than 5000, from someone’s lunch, we can see that God is capable of miraculous provision. But the well-known story is trying to tell us something more. If we read ahead in Mark’s gospel, Mark makes bread into a powerful symbol. At the last supper, Jesus uses bread as a metaphor for himself. His act of self-sacrifice is the broken bread shared at communion. When we read Mark 6:30-44 with this in mind, we see this story anew. Jesus is giving the disciples (the church) himself. We feed the world with Jesus’ sacrifice. By declaring (in both word and deed) Jesus’ saving work, we are feeding on Jesus and helping others to feed on him too.
Like the disciples, we serve others a feast that comes from Jesus’ self-sacrifice. But too often, we don’t serve Jesus to others. By trying to serve from our own strength, we end up serving the world a steaming dish of…us. When we serve others in our own strength, we burn out, and the meal becomes toxic. When we’re feeding on Jesus, we grow in love for him and for the people we are serving.
Questions for Reflection
- Have I ever felt like God was asking me to do something more when I was already feeling overburdened? How did it make me feel?
- Have I, at different times, experienced ‘religious service’ as an obligation and as a joy? What do I think made the difference?
- Do I ever feed myself to others? How does that go?
- What practices or disciplines have I found helpful to connect me to Jesus? Do I find serving others easier or better when I’m feeling connected?