And they all ate and were satisfied. Mark 6:42
It doesn’t take long to be involved in a church to realize that any church event must be accompanied by food. The old McDonald’s slogan “food, folks, and fun” was often applied to church life. There is nothing wrong with eating at church events- it is very Biblical (consider that the Lord’s supper was just that- a meal shared together vs. bits of cracker and half a swallow of juice). But sometimes food can get in the way of ministry.
In the gospel of Mark the story of the feeding of the 5,000 is presented with some subtle but important Marcan peculiarities. Most notably Mark adds a crucial piece of background information at the beginning of his (Peter’s?) version: And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they h
ad no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:31). The disciples were worn out. They had just returned from their first two by two preaching mission. The entire reason they headed to an unpopulated site on the Sea of Galilee was to eat and get some rest. Jesus’ popularity was peaking, however, and they would get no such chance. Indeed, people from near Capernaum literally tracked on land where Jesus and the disciples were headed by boat. The crowd only grew.
By the time we get to the miracle itself, the disciples are frustrated that they won’t be able to eat. They are not interested in hosting an impromptu banquet. On the contrary, they just want a quiet meal! Jesus, however, had compassion on the crowd. He gave them spiritual instruction, with no regard for food. As you no doubt know, a talking stomach is hard to ignore. The disciples could not focus on the spiritual because they were concerned about temporal matters… in this case food.
Is this not our battle? Temporal concerns, like food, cause us to miss the spiritual. We are distracted. Jesus realized the issue, and did not miss an opportunity to teach an eternal truth through a temporal medium. 5 loaves, 2 fish, and over 10,000 happy customers later the point was made. When we focus on the spiritual with Jesus, he takes care of the temporal issues. That’s a real banquet.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).