• Why Least-reached

    Why Least-reached

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
    - Jesus' words in Matthew 28:19-20

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    Why Least-reached

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
    - Jesus' words in Matthew 28:19-20

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Loaves and Fishes

Date: 08/05/23

Category: Devotional General

Tags: Jesus Miracles mission nations

…Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”      

-Mark 8:17-21

Do you still not understand? That’s the question Jesus asked his disciples here in Mark 8.

It came at a very interesting time in his ministry. He had just fed a hungry crowd of about 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few small fish. A few chapters earlier in Mark 6:30-44, we see Jesus feeding 5,000 men (plus women and children) from just five loaves and two fish.

But after the second crowd-feeding miracle, Jesus had some questions for his disciples:

“When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up? They said to him, ‘Twelve.’ And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up? And they said to him, ‘Seven’” (Mark 8:19-20).

Why the numbers quiz?

The more I study and reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus, the more I see his heart for all nations coming through so clearly again and again! He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus’ heart for all peoples was evident from the beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:18-29), and it got him in trouble!

We often miss the powerful global mission emphasis in these miraculous stories of feeding the crowds. The numbers quiz Jesus gave his disciples indicates he was interested in more than filling stomachs.

The first miracle—feeding 5,000 men from five loaves and two fish—took place in a Jewish area. The number five had great significance to this crowd: The Torah, the five books of the law of Moses, was highly revered. And twelve basketfuls were gathered in the end: 12 is significant for the 12 tribes of Israel.

The second miraculous feeding of 4,000 happened near where Jesus had cast demons out of a man living among the tombs, and into a huge herd of pigs that ran into the sea and drowned. In this largely Gentile area, 4,000 people ate from seven loaves and a few fish. Seven basketfuls of leftovers were gathered.

In Scripture, both the numbers four and seven are very significant. Do you know why? Four is commonly used early in the Old Testament to refer to the whole world (i.e. Genesis 28:14): the north, south, east, and west. And seven is the number of completion and perfection.

In John’s account (John 6:22-40), after feeding the 5,000, Jesus explains the real significance is more than filling hungry stomachs: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger.’” Jesus is the bread of life for the Jews first—five loaves for 5,000 and 12 baskets full for 12 tribes.

Jesus is also the bread of life for all people from the north, south, east and west—from all four corners of the world. And there were seven full baskets leftover! Perfect, enough for everyone to complete our God-given mission!

As an interesting note, the Greek word translated “basket” in the feeding of 5,000 is literally a kosher food basket—fully appropriate for the Jewish people. In the story of the 4,000, it’s literally a work basket used in the field—common and appropriate for the Gentiles. And you know us Gentiles, we’ll eat just about anything!  

Do you now understand why Jesus asked the question? He came to seek and save the lost—from every tribe, tongue, and nation!

–Galen Burkholder, President/CEO

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