Wednesday 17 November 2021

Bible Book:

'...they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.' (v. 2)

Mark 8:1-10 Wednesday 17 November 2021

Psalm 37:30-40


This story bears a remarkable similarity to Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6. Why has Mark included two such similar stories within a couple of chapters of his gospel? Scholars have pondered this for well over 1,000 years and, as one might expect, there are different opinions! For the purposes of the theme of this week’s readings, let us try to put it in context of 'Signs of the Kingdom'.

First, today’s story follows Jesus’ healing of the deaf and mute man, which is a story of great compassion; and here Jesus demonstrates again his wonderful care for this crowd around him (v. 2). Secondly, in spite of Jesus’ attempts to stop people talking so openly about him, a crowd of 4,000 had gathered; clearly they thought him a man worth following around. Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, the story takes place in the Decapolis on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, with Jesus in predominantly Gentile territory.

The feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6 is set in northern Galilee, where Jesus was among Jews, his own people. The setting for the miraculous feeding in today’s reading  is in a very different environment, with Jesus among Gentiles. What Mark is enabling his readers to see is that Jesus may well have come first to the Jews as Messiah, but that his ministry was not confined to one group and is actually for all people. This is in a similar vein to Jesus' interaction with the Syrian-Phoenician woman in Mark 7 which we studied on Monday.

There is also huge symbolism in the reported number of loaves available and the amount of baskets full of leftovers; seven was a significant number in those times. However, much more important is the geographical location, along with the people involved, in this lovely and compassionate story. It is a story for all people. “For God so loved the world” and, no matter how different groups might want to capture or own or label themselves as possessors of the truth, God’s love and compassion know no boundaries that have been determined by humankind.

This story is a signpost to a universal kingdom.


To Ponder:

  • Think about someone that you rarely pray for, or someone with a different belief system, or who is avowedly atheist. Jesus has “compassion for the crowd” (v. 2) and provides food for all.
  • The hymn StF 696 ('For the healing of the nations') includes the words “dogmas that obscure your plan”. God’s heart is for justice and healing amongst all the nations.


We pray today that we may take care not to label other people who superficially are not like us, as we are all loved by God.

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