Mark 8 v 1 - 10

Firstly, this reminds the reader that Jesus often repeated His words and His actions. It was important, as He walked the countryside, for Him to do this in a similar vein to Martin Luther King, who apparently repeated his speech, ''I have a dream'' many times. There are also two things closely intertwined in this incident:

1. We note again the compassion of Jesus, He doesn't remove Himself from the feelings of others and He recalled details. He wasn't swept away with His own feelings of power and largesse so that He ceased to remember that these four thousand people had been with Him for three days. The fascination for Jesus was that strong!

2. Again, there is the challenge of Jesus. He asks the disciples what should be done, His compassion becomes a challenge. If we are in any way compassionate, God will give us plenty to do! I don't think that you can think of yourself as a caring Christian if there are not people constantly on your mind and the thought, 'What can be done for them?' Jesus is in effect saying, ''What have you got with which you can help?'' Don't try to push the responsibility for helping onto someone else, you can't avoid the responsibility by saying that you aren't gifted, trained or experienced. Take what you have and give it and see what happens!

Let's also look at the background to this event: it happened on the far side of the Sea of Galilee in a wilderness area, in the neighbourhood of where the man with a legion of demons was healed. We have read about that incident in Mark 5 v 1-20. You may recall that Jesus sent the man to testify to the people in that area and this was likely the result of that man's witness. Also, we will be aware of the feeding of the five thousand, recorded in Mark 6. However, although the English translation of the things used to gather up the food for both miracles is 'basket' the word in Greek is different. In the feeding of the five thousand, it describes a basket similar to a water pot. In this miracle it describes a hamper, something which Gentiles used. Paul was let down over the city walls of Damascus using one in Acts 9 v 25. So, this helps answer our underlying question which is : ''Why did Mark record both events?'' The solution appears to be that Jesus fed five thousand Jews and, soon after, four thousand Gentiles! Jesus is a gift for the whole world!

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