Feeding the Sheep.
I. Feeding the Five Thousand. Mk. 6:30-44
A. The twelve disciples were tired when they returned to Jesus after their first missionary trip.
1. They had preached repentance, cast out demons, and healed the sick-no easy task.
2. Often weary Himself, Jesus under- stood and said to them:
3. "... Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat." v31
4. As they crossed the lake, they looked forward to the peace and quiet they expected to find on the other side.
5. But drawing near to shore, they saw a huge crowd waiting.
a. Can you imagine their disappointment?
b. Jesus, however, looked at the people and "was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd" (Mark 6:34).
c. He began to teach them. Now note the attitude of the disciples:
"And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat." Mark 6:35-36
B. These people were hungry for spiritual food.
1. They wanted to hear Jesus, and He was willing to teach them.
2. But the disciples, thinking only of food that could be bought with money, wanted to send them away.
3. When Jesus suggested that they feed the crowd, they didn't understand.
C. But Jesus was a Master Teacher and immediately planned a lesson for them.
1. He sent His disciples in search of food, and they returned with five loaves and two fish.
a. With these seven items of food, they had all they needed to feed the hungry crowd.
b. Patiently, Jesus directed them to seat the people in groups.
c. Then He took the loaves and fish, looked up to heaven, gave thanks, and broke the loaves.
2. Giving the food to His disciples, Jesus watched as they distributed it to His sheep.
a. The people ate and were satisfied.
b. Then the disciples picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces of bread and fish.
D. What did Jesus want the disciples to learn? What does He want us to learn?
1. These five thousand people were on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast.
a. It was the close of the second year of Jesus' ministry, and Jesus had decided not to go to Jerusalem.
b. The Pharisees were plotting with the Herodians to kill Him.
c. His friends in Nazareth hadn't responded to Him as He had hoped.
d. The dividing of the people had begun.
e. Jesus knew that His time was short and that soon He must leave His disciples to do the work He had begun.
f. He must teach them and all others who would hear, ask and obey.
2. Surely the Passover Feast was on Jesus' mind that day.
a. As He fed the five thousand, He foreshadowed another Passover Feast when He would relinquish His place as the Shepherd to become the Lamb.
b. If the disciples couldn't learn that He was their spiritual food, who would shepherd His sheep?
II. Understanding about the Loaves. 6:45-56
A. Lessons not learned.
1. We often get discouraged when we try to teach our children important lessons and they don't understand.
2. Jesus must have felt like this as he left the disciples, sending them on ahead of Him to Bethsaida.
3. He went up on the mountainside to pray, and later that evening, looking out on the lake, He saw the disciples straining at the oars.
4. Jesus walked out on the water and "would have passed by them" but the disciples saw Him and cried out in terror.
a. Jesus spoke to them immediately saying, "Be of good cheer, it is I; Be not afraid." v50
b. Then He got into the boat with them, and the sea was calm.
c. The disciples were no longer afraid, but Mark tells us that they were "amazed ... beyond measure"
5. Why were they amazed?
a. Because Jesus calmed the sea?
b. Or because He walked on water?
c. They had observed His power over the sea on at least one other occasion.
d. If He could do that, couldn't He walk on water?
6. The root of their reaction, Mark said, was that "they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened" v52
a. The disciples had seen Jesus multiply five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people.
b. If He had the power to do this, then surely He was more than just a man-and His walk on the water should not have amazed them.
c. But there is a deeper truth here.
d. Jesus is the source of spiritual feeding.
e. He had the bread the disciples needed to feed the people.
f. But they didn't understand about the loaves.
g. Because they were focused on the physical, they couldn't understand the spiritual.
h Their hearts were hard and they couldn't see who Jesus was.
7. Isn't it true for us today that when material things become too important in our lives, we have a difficult time seeing Jesus?
a. It's also difficult for us to get where Jesus wants us to go if we aren't moving in the right direction.
b. This was true for the disciples.
c. Jesus had sent them to Bethsaida- but they landed in Gennesaret. v53-56
d. Like all of us, they still had much to learn.
III. Facing the Pharisees. 7:1-23
A. Jesus' Popularity.
1. Wherever Jesus went throughout Galilee, large crowds gathered to hear Him, and His popularity was growing.
2. Many people were even talking of making Him king.
3. Israel's religious leaders were feeling threatened and sent a delegation from Jerusalem to investigate the activities of this rabbi who was drawing such a huge following.
4. No doubt these Pharisees had heard that Jesus had been in the market- place - a place they thought to be defiled.
5. But there Jesus had touched many sick people and made them well.
6. Now, as they came near to Jesus, the Pharisees saw the disciples eating with unclean hands.
7. This was an opportunity to test Jesus.
B. The Confrontation.
1. "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?" V5
2. Jesus rebuked His accusers by calling them hypocrites and quoting the prophet Isaiah:
"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." v6-7
3. The Pharisees were concerned with "religion," the word of man.
a. Things on the "outside" were important to them.
b. But Jesus was concerned with relationships, the Word of God, the things on the "inside" of man.
4. The Pharisees were like those in the Parable of the Sower who had heard the Word, but they hadn't asked for understanding or obeyed.
a. Therefore, the word had been taken from them; their hearts were hard.
b. Jesus began to teach:
"And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man." v14-15
c. No, these learned teachers didn't understand, but then neither did the disciples.
d. The twelve were doing everything on the "outside" and ignoring the "inside."
e. They had knowingly violated the traditions of the elders; however, they didn't know why they were getting away with it.
5. But, unlike the Pharisees, the disciples wanted to understand.
a. They asked Jesus.
b. And that was the right response.
c. Jesus was disappointed in them, but He answered their questions by giving them more and more.
d. This should encourage us when we fail to understand all we are being taught.
e. Jesus is always willing to repeat the lesson.
IV. Receiving Even the Crumbs. 7:24-30
A. To teach His disciples privately, Jesus left Galilee and went up to Tyre, a Gentile city located in Phoenicia.
1. He didn't want anyone to know where He was, but a Syrophoenician woman heard about Him and came to Him.
2. She fell at Jesus' feet and begged Him to drive an evil spirit out of her little daughter.
3. Since the disciples hadn't learned about the "bread," this was another opportunity for a lesson.
4. Jesus said to the woman:
"...Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs." (Mark 7:27)
B. Strangely enough, the woman understood more than the disciples!
1. And she wasn't afraid.
2. With great humility, she played the game on Jesus' terms.
3. She replied, "...Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs." v28
4. This Gentile woman was willing to acknowledge that Jesus had come first to the Jew-then to her people.
5. She recognized her relationship to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and called Him "Lord."
6. She accepted the crumbs...she wanted them...she wouldn't let go of them!
7. Are we this hungry for even the crumbs that fall from the table of our Lord?
C. Jesus was well pleased with this Gentile woman and said to her, ""And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter." v29
V. Opening the Ears and Mouth. v31-37
A. For more than two years Jesus had been teaching His twelve disciples.
1. There must have been times when He yearned to open their ears that they might really hear what He was saying.
2. He was preparing them to speak His words and teach others about God's covenant plan and His kingdom.
B. When Jesus left Tyre with His disciples and returned to the Decapolis, another opportunity came for an object lesson.
1. A man who could neither hear nor speak was brought to Jesus for healing.
2. Jesus took him away from the crowd, perhaps so that He might better teach His disciples.
3. He put His fingers in the man's ears, and then spit and touched the man's tongue.
4. Looking up to heaven, Jesus said, "Be opened!"
5. And the man heard and spoke.
6. Those in the crowd that day were overwhelmed with amazement, but Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.
7. He knew His time was short, and He wanted to spend time with His disciples.
8. He must continue teaching and training them to be shepherds of His sheep.
VI. Feeding the Four Thousand. 8:1-13
A. Not the same account as before.
1. The five thousand people Jesus fed on the shores of the Sea of Galilee were Jews.
2. Now He was in the Decapolis and the crowd of four thousand gathered around Him were almost all Gentiles.
B. But similar in many ways.
1. Jesus had been feeding the people spiritual food for three days.
2. They were hungry to hear all He had to say.
3. Mark doesn't give us evidence that they had asked for any other bread.
4. Jesus had compassion on them and suggested to the disciples that they should be fed.
5. But the disciples asked where they could find bread in such a remote place.
6. Where, indeed! The lesson about the bread must be repeated.
a. "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked.
b. And they replied, "Seven". v5
c. Once again they had all they needed to feed the sheep.
d. But they couldn't understand the power of the Master they were following-or their part in the kingdom of God.
7. Jesus took the seven loaves, offered thanks, broke them, and gave the bread to the disciples to feed the people.
a. Once again the people, having eaten the bread Jesus offered, were completely satisfied.
b. Afterwards, the disciples picked up seven baskets full of broken bread.
c. Much time would pass, however, before the disciples learned that the bread Jesus was giving them to feed His sheep would never be diminished.
d. No matter how much they gave out, they would still have all they gave away-and more.
VII. Warning About the Leaven. v14-21
A. After Jesus had fed the crowd, some Pharisees came and asked for a sign from heaven to test Him.
1. Jesus refused.
2. He left them, got into the boat, and crossed to the other side.
3. Jesus' thoughts were still on His lesson about the bread.
4. He warned His disciples, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." v15
B. Once again the disciples didn't understand what Jesus was talking about.
1. Mark tells us that they had forgotten to bring bread-except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.
2. Jesus, the source of all their feeding, the bread which gave life, was with them, yet they said, "We have no bread". v16
3. Jesus overheard their discussion and asked: "Why do you reason because you have no bread?" v18
C. How desperately Jesus wanted them to understand His teaching and His mission.
1. How much He wanted them to understand that He was the long- expected Messiah, the Son of God.
2. But their thoughts were so much on the material that they couldn't see the spiritual about the bread.
3. Today, Jesus is still calling shepherds to feed His sheep.
4. Our flock may be our families, our neighbors, our friends.
5. Wherever people are hungry, the Good Shepherd calls us to share the bread we have been given.
6. But are we sometimes as "dull" as the disciples about learning to feed His sheep?
7. Because material things are so much a part of our lives, do we have difficulty focusing on the spiritual?
8. Are we more concerned about feeding our bodies than feeding our spirits?
9. As Jesus warned the disciples, so He warns us "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees!" v15