Read Mark 6:30-44. Mum’s picnics were legendary affairs. I remember a battered, old green hamper that came out, with proper China plates and silver cutlery. There were beautiful sandwiches, crisps (which were a treat in those days!), other snacks, cake, and fruit. Each one was an event!
Mothers are generally loving, caring, and feeling people. They want to look after every aspect of their children’s lives. Likewise, Jesus provides this picnic to 5,000 men and their women and children, not because he wanted them to believe in him, not because he had something to teach them, but simply because “he had compassion on them” (Mark 6:34). He saw they were lost, straying from God and in grave danger, “like sheep without a shepherd”. He was deeply moved, and like a mother, simply had to do something about it.
He could have sent them away, of course. But like a mother, Jesus is concerned with every aspect of our lives – the physical as well as the spiritual.
But as well as meeting their physical needs, Jesus did have something to teach his disciples. It’s a lesson we must learn too. When his disciples point out the problem of a large crowd in a remote place, late in the day, needing something to eat, Jesus’ response must have astounded them:
Mark 6:37 NLT
But Jesus said, “You feed them”. “With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”
It is a command we cannot afford to take lightly. Jesus’ compassion for the hungry is such an important lesson that it’s one of those rare events that is recorded in all four gospels. For people who are desperately hungry, there is no better way to show God’s love than simply to feed them. As the consequences of the current global pandemic continue to unfold, I suspect there may be many opportunities to meet people’s physical needs as well as their spiritual ones, in the name of Jesus, who likewise as compassion on them.
If my Mum could supply a feast of a picnic, may I do the same to those who most need God’s love.
Think It Over
Think about the following:
• What excuse might you be tempted to make when God calls you to do something about the human needs in your community?