The Apostles Feed Five Thousand People

Mark 6:30-44

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[e]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

This story here has the heading in our Bibles, “Jesus Feeds the 5,000.” But if we were there in the crowd, that would not be the obvious reality. We would think that the Apostles fed us, because in our groups of 50 or so as we sat around, it was an Apostle who came with a basket of dried fish and bread for us to eat.

As I have served in church for many years now, this is a story that to me has great importance. It is personal. Many years ago I preached a sermon where I felt strongly that this is meant to be the way that ministry with Jesus works. I believe that all of us are ministers of Jesus. We are a kingdom of priests. We all have a story of trusting and following Jesus. We have a testimony. And as we follow Jesus, seeking to love and serve God and others, we should also have experiences where Jesus works in our lives like he does here in the lives of the Apostles. Let’s talk about ministry with Jesus.


  1. Ministry with Jesus

Jesus has sent out the twelve. They do what He has been doing:

Preaching: Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. (This is      still an appropriate message for us to share with others.) They        were healing folks and they were casting out demons.  They were    ministering to the felt needs of people, serving and caring for     them where they were. This story is a story of caring for the real      needs of people.

As a result of their work, there is growth in the ministry. They      are attracting people. In fact, I believe this is the time in Jesus’ ministry when He is most popular.

  1. Lots of ministry growth

Again, they are preaching a message of repentance.

They are healing people.

They are casting out demons.

They are proclaiming the coming kingdom for those who will        repent.

People are responding.

From the previous story we see that Herod has heard about the   new gatherings of people. They are attracting attention.


  1. The growth makes more work

So many people were coming and going that they didn’t have      time to eat. People see them in small windows of time. The     crowd is paying attention to where they are going and following         them around. There is real interest in what Jesus is doing and saying. In fact, they are so inundated with people, that Jesus calls the Apostles way with Him to rest! Verse 31


  1. Jesus calls them to rest

        Which one is it? Are they to rest or are they to work? Yes. Jesus’ work includes rest. And the rest is defined by Him. Not all work is         fruitful. But if it is done for God it is all meaningful!

After the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus runs many of  these     same people off.

        What is successful ministry? It is to get people to follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ in their personal lives. It         begins at home, extends to work and ultimately to all of their    lives.


  1. The Ministry Work Creates Problems

By problems, perhaps I should say it creates more work. As         service opportunities grow, there become new opportunities.   Resources and time are limited! What is Jesus’ attitude?

“It’s not service until it’s irritating!” Matthew Barnett

  1. Jesus is full of compassion

        Sheep without a shepherd

Uncared for


Weak and fending for themselves

People will take advantage of compassion. Some will just seek to make their situation in life less bad. Jesus seeks to connect   people to God, some just want to have an easier life. We have to       understand that this is the case. Parable of the sower rocky soil.



  1. Jesus teaches the people

        This is the goal of the ministry. Training people in how to live in a manner that maximizes their life. The goal of ministry is not         free food. And while Jesus is against starvation, the goal of His ministry is not that people would avoid the dangers of food insecurity.

Jesus is there to teach the people! What does Jesus want         people to know? Have you read the Sermon on the Mount?

There is a pathway to life that is different from what you would    naturally expect and it is different from what your culture will    exemplify! This may seem like bad news, but is in fact good       news. You will have to trust that this is so because culture will    attack what it disagrees with!

For example: This makes greatness available to all people if they will be yoked with Jesus and serve God whole heartedly!


  1. People can be selfish

Selfish with God

John 6: 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.


24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

Selfish with others. People will compete to get ministry    resources.


Teaching, Training, Correction, Rebuke.

Don’t do that, do that.

So, be cautious with your motivation and

be cautious with your disappointment.

Be careful to entrust people to God and allow God to be God in their lives.

        Jesus speaks to these people in such as way that they        have to decide Who He is. If Jesus is the Only begotten    Son of God, then whatever He says is right regardless of        how we like or dislike it!


        We only need faith when we dislike circumstances or don’t         understand circumstances.


III. A Roadmap for Ministry

  1. The Disciples present the problem to Jesus

What is the problem? What problems do we see in our day that    challenge people and where we can be used by God?


  1. Jesus tells them to solve it

        You give them something to eat.


        What do you have?

        Have them sit down…

        The Disciples don’t have to believe that Jesus is gonna       multiply their resources.

They don’t have to know what Jesus will do ahead of time.

They don’t have to be able to do this on their own.

They don’t have to advertise to the world that Jesus is going   to do this.

It doesn’t require a prayer vigil, no fasting etc.


They just have to do what Jesus says.


  1. Jesus takes what they have and makes it work

        Is it possible that this is what God has to say to us today? Where should we look for ministry? Let’s start on an individual level. How can we serve and help others get to the teaching of Jesus?     How can we get people to life?

  1. Tell people about Jesus personally. Testimonies are good.
  2. Invite people to church
  3. Share messages on Facebook.
  4. Share other resources.
  5. Be careful of defining success. 5,000 fed, and with most of them Jesus is not pleased. They want food. They don’t see the     connection to life. This does not mean the ministry is not meaningful.

Matthew 25 in the context of how we should be ready for Jesus    to return. Why these issues? Well they work on the personal and         corporate levels.