Give them something to Eat
Again there is a reference to this sort of “Markan Secret,” which we’ve discussed before. It’s a bit indirect, but the idea is that Jesus and the disciples, having come back together following the death of John the Baptist after they had been sent out, attempt to go off together to have a remote meeting.
Wherever they go, though, the people follow. Rather than send them away, though, Jesus tells his disciples to give them food. The story Jesus is telling is too good for the people to run away, and Jesus is not the sort of person to send them off to fend for themselves. So he asks for the disciples to feed them.
Clearly they were not prepared, but the words hang in the air “Give them something to eat.” Jesus knows the disciples cannot provide such a thing, but that’s part of the point. At the risk of overspiritualizing what I truly believe was a physical miracle, let’s look at today’s churches.
How many pastors are the central figure in their church? How many go to hear this particular pastor or speaker or whomever?
“How do you like that church?” someone asks.
“Oh the pastor is great” we reply. Or “I just didn’t like the sermon today.” or “I really loved the music.”
This is not to say that every pastor about whom this is said is seeking to build some sort of cult of personality. It is to say, though, that humans will naturally create one, and we must, all of us, be on guard.
The disciples have just returned from spreading the Kingdom message. Jesus wants to guard them against the accolades they may have received from other people as a result of their short term mission. “You give them something to eat” Jesus earnestly requests.
Yet is Jesus who takes the meager meal and allows the people to be satisfied. It is Christ who satisfies, not us. Let us, as worshippers, leaders, teachers and musicians remember that. Nothing else will satisfy, nor should we, apart from Christ, seek to provide such satisfaction.