In the beginning verses of Mark 8, Jesus, for the second time, provides food for a huge crowd of people with very meager means.
About this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some have come a long distance.”
Mark 8:1-3 (NLT)
After Jesus tells his disciples that, his disciples tell him they only have seven loaves of bread. Just to put that into perspective, there were about four thousand people there.
But Jesus isn’t intimidated by those numbers. He doesn’t despair at their lack of means.
Rather, Jesus simply takes the bread, thanks God for it, and distributes it amongst the people. Scripture says, “They ate as much as they wanted,” with leftovers.
A few things hit me while I was reading that passage:
- God knows what our needs are.
- God cares about our needs.
- God will provide for our needs, no matter the circumstance.
As I was reflecting on this passage, I thought of Matthew 6:24-24. Specifically I thought of verse 25, where Jesus talks about not worrying about everyday life, like food, drink, and clothing. But let me back up a bit and start with verse 24.
It says: “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
It’s pretty clear, I’d say. We’re either serving God, or we’re serving money (material things of this world). We can’t have it both ways.
After this, Jesus continues to say, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” (Emphasis added).
See, many of us would probably nod and agree wholeheartedly with verse 24, or at least I would. Of course we aren’t supposed to be serving money. That’s a pretty common theme throughout scripture.
But verse 25 puts that into perspective for us. Jesus isn’t just talking about wealth and excess. He’s talking about our basic necessities. Woah.
So, Jesus, you’re telling me that my basic necessities, like food and water, can become an idol in my life?
That’s pretty eye-opening.
Then, Jesus gives examples using the birds and the flowers to illustrate how much God cares for us. He says, now in verse 30, “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”
Why do you have so little faith?
It strikes a chord in me every time Jesus uses a phrase or question like that in the gospels. You of little faith. Have faith. Why do you have so little faith?
Jesus is just sitting there, giving a group of hard-headed people lessons about God, and while we are trying to grasp it and believe it, Jesus is just stating it matter-of-factly. Why do you have so little faith, Jesus asks, when all I’m doing is giving you the facts about God?
Fact: God cares deeply and immeasurably about us. He sees our needs, and He cares about them. He has the ability to provide for us, and He will provide us. We need only to trust in Him.
After the illustrations with the birds and the flowers, Jesus continues, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
This command reminds me of the way the disciples reacted when Jesus sent them out to preach repentance. They left with nothing but a walking stick: no money, no food, and no change of clothes. And they didn’t question Jesus, or say he was crazy for expecting them to leave with no food and no money.
They simply went. Fully trusting Jesus with all of their most basic needs.
Just like the disciples, we, too, need to trust Jesus with our most basic needs. He will provide, just like he did with the disciples. Just like he did with the crowd of four thousand.