by Michael E. Brooks
“In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will falter on the way; for some of them have come from afar'” (Mark 8:1-3).
It is hard to imagine people listening to any preacher for three days with no food. Yet that is what Mark says the huge crowd following Jesus had done. I have never seen that, exactly, but I have seen people walk for three days to attend Gospel meetings and Bible classes. I have even walked that long myself in order to preach to them. And I have been in many situations in Nepal and Bangladesh where people were hungry and where they depended upon me (or someone) to provide food. Hunger in much of the world is not a matter of realizing it is mealtime and being stimulated by the smell of good food. It is the struggle to find enough nutrition to survive. Jesus could not send the people home without feeding them first because there were those among them who might not ever make it back.
There are millions in the world today whose lives are lived on the bare edge of necessity. They are perpetually hungry, never far from “faltering” as they attempt to maintain health and strength. Not only is there never enough food on their tables, there is rarely the medicine they need, nor enough clothing or shelter. There is no heat in their homes, probably not enough fuel with which to cook. Every necessity of life is in short supply. That is reality to much of the world’s population.
In Luke’s account of this story, when the disciples suggested that Jesus send the multitude away so they could find their own food, he responds, “You give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13). I find that to be especially revealing of Jesus’ attitude toward his servants and their mission. We are to do good to all men (Galatians 6:10). Jesus essentially told the disciples that the hungry multitude was their responsibility. “Don’t send them away, feed them yourselves.” What a challenge. But he then gave them the means by which to do it.
The Church is Jesus’ body on earth (Ephesians 1:22-23). It is his eyes with which to see need. It is his heart with which to feel compassion. It is his feet with which to go to all the world to do good. It is his hands with which to minister to those in trouble. It is his lips and tongue with which to tell of the love of God and the means of salvation.
Our world is full of people with great needs. It also contains the people of God, who love the needy and seek to help them whenever, wherever, and however they can. Let us praise God for the opportunities he gives us, and use them to his glory.
by Michael E. Brooks