Hunkered Down Devotion

Mark 8:1-6 (Voice)
Once again a huge crowd had followed them, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called His disciples together.
Jesus: 2 These people have been with Me for three days without food. They’re hungry, and I am concerned for them. 3 If I try to send them home now, they’ll faint along the way because many of them have come a long, long way to hear and see Me.
Disciples: 4 Where can we find enough bread for these people in this desolate place?
Jesus: 5 How much bread do we have left?
Disciples: Seven rounds of flatbread.
6 So, as before, He commanded the people to sit down; and He took the rounds of flatbread, gave thanks for them, and broke them. His disciples took what He gave them and fed the people.

There are few miracle stories more familiar or more beloved than this story, found in all three synoptic gospels, but shared here from Mark of Jesus feeding the multitudes with a few loaves and some fish.  We love this story for a number of reasons.  We love it because it demonstrates God’s care and providence for us.  We love this story because it highlights the supernatural source of God’s power to meet our needs.  We love it because it reminds us that even if we seem small or insignificant, Jesus knows and cares about us.

Those are good, important, and true things.  There can be no doubt about that.  But as I was reading this passage today, those aren’t the things that stood out to me.  Instead, what caught my attention was one – seemingly insignificant – phrase, at the beginning of the last sentence of the final verse of the passage: So as before.  

What is it about that phrase that caught my attention?  What does it mean?  Why does it matter?  The plain meaning of the phrase, as simple as it is, also points to the importance and deeper significance of what is going on.  In the basest terms, it can be understood to mean that miraculous elements aside (or maybe even including the miracle – this is Jesus after all), this was something that had happened before.  

Those around Jesus were reacting and responding to him: who he was and what he was doing. I think I had always read this story and thought about what Jesus did – feeding all of the hungry people – as something extraordinary.  And, of course, in a very real way it is.  It is both supernatural and miraculous.  At the same time, it was simple and clear: Jesus was just doing what he could do to meet the needs of the people he cared about.  

Having seen those words: So as before, it became so clear how wonderful that was.  How beautiful that was.  It was miraculous, yes.  It was amazing, yes.  But it was also simple and commonplace.  It was mac and cheese or meatloaf – familiar comfort food that Jesus had provided before, that the disciples were used to and that, just maybe, they had even begun to expect, trust, and rely on.  

Sharing God’s Love

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for a love that is both miraculous and reliable.  Amen.

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