I will cast my cares on You / You’re the anchor of my hope / The only one who’s in control / I will cast my cares on You / I’ll trade the troubles of this world for Your peace inside my soul
- Finding Favour, Cast My Cares, from the 2015 album “Reborn”
Jesus is on the loose in a land of the Gentiles, Phoenicia. It’s a sleepy seaside community consisting of two primary towns: Tyre and Sidon. He’s still indiscriminately healing people even though they are not from the lost tribe of Israel (v. 29-31), when He becomes concerned about them. He says, “’I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry or they will faint along the way’” (v. 32).
First of all, can we blame the people for wanting to be near Jesus? The man is amazing. They’ve basically been having a weekend revival and no one wants to go home. The problem: they are running out of food and Jesus mentions this fact to His disciples. Note: The group is out in the middle of nowhere. Literally. It’s not like there’s a Mickey D’s or Circle K nearby. They are in the wilderness, as stated by the disciples (v. 33), who – for some reason – are at a loss for how to feed so many people. What?
Do they actually not remember the miracle of the fish and loaves from before when Jesus fed over 10,000 people? And yet, how like us. We do the exact same thing. We come to a “problem” in life – we turn to Jesus – He solves it – and we go on our merry way with retrograde amnesia when the next problem surfaces. The disciples literally ask the same question they asked before when in this situation: “’Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?’” (v. 33).
Jesus, ever patient, asks how much bread is available (v. 34) and the disciples report they have seven loaves and a few small fish (v. 35). So Jesus does what He did before: He takes what He is given, He blesses it, and then He multiplies it so there is enough food for everyone to eat as much as they want (v. 35-37a). Again, He satisfies the crowd, which is estimated at 4,000 men (v. 38), not counting the women and the children. It sure sounds a lot like the other story (14:13-21). In fact, some people wonder if authors like Matthew merely got confused and wrote twice about the same situation. This story is also found in Mark 8:1-10. It is confirmed to be two different occasions in Mark 8: 19-20. The primary difference between the two feedings are that one is for a Jewish audience, and the other is for a Gentile audience.
But let’s get back to the disciples reaction. Again, they are perplexed and at first glance, I don’t know why. It’s literally the same problem as before. Yet here they are, throwing their hands up in despair at how to solve it. Really? I mean, come on. If Jesus had just finished feeding over 10K people, why wouldn’t they remember that and act accordingly? I mean, I want to think that I would instantly start to gather up whatever leftover food there was and bring it to Jesus so He can do the multiplying trick again. But no, they give up.
It’s easy to chastise the disciples. It’s easy to criticize them. But in reality, when I really start to think about it, I am just like them. Only with me, it’s not just once or twice that a particular issue surfaces as a problem and I am dumbstruck as to how God is going to work it out this time. No, I mean, literally the same issue will surface over and over and over and I’m at a loss. Got a giant bill to pay and not enough money in the bank account to pay it? All the time. And do I remember that God provided before? Why do I tend to think He will drop me on my head now? Yet I panic. Every. Single. Time.
What’s your issue? What keeps resurfacing over and over and over again? You know God has answered your prayers in the past but for some reason you doubt He’ll answer you this time?
The good news is that He stands ready to act. The disciple known as Peter, who is thought to have probably informed Mark’s gospel, wrote a letter later that said in part, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7, NLT). Literally, the word translated here as give means to cast away, like a net when fishing. Something that is thrown away from the body and towards something else; in this case, God the Father.
Here’s the footnote from my Study Bible: “It takes humility…to recognize that God cares, to admit your need, and to let others in God’s family help you. Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and foolishness are not God’s concern. But when we turn to God in repentance, he will bear the weight of even those struggles. Letting God have your anxieties calls for action, not passivity. Don’t submit to circumstances, but to the Lord who controls the circumstances” (p. 2136).
And let’s let the past inspire us to once again start collecting what little food there is so that Jesus can once again perform the multiplying trick.