AN ORDER OF SERVICE FOR DIVINE WORSHIP; DESIGNED FOR PRIVATE DEVOTIONS, FAMILY GATHERINGS AND CHURCH MEETINGS.

Hymn—“Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

Scripture Reading—Mark 6:30-44

”And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”

Opening Prayer

Scripture Meditation—Jesus Feeds Five Thousand (plus)

This passage in Mark 6 and the miracle it contains has become known as the feeding of the five thousand for the simple reason this is the number quoted in the text. However, let us not forget Matthew enlarges this number by pointing out five thousand was the number of men and the total number was much larger. Indeed, the number could easily double when we consider, ‘they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children’.

A little becomes a lot

When Andrew surveyed the crowd then looked down on the five barley loaves and two small fishes his faith was tested and he sighed ‘what are they among so many?’ The wonderful answer is that in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ they are more than adequate. In gospel matters modest is more and a little becomes a lot. Miracles don’t stick to the rules!

A gospel of broad horizons

It seems clear the purpose of this miracle was at the very least to teach the disciples a lesson about scale and scope. The twelve had just returned from their first taste of personal ministry and were clearly excited about what they had done and taught. But lest they rest on their accomplishments the Great Teacher was already opening to their view the possibility of going much, much further to reach many, many more and not to be content with merely a few. These paltry loaves and fishes were derisory amongst so many, and yet all would be fed and all would be satisfied. So, too, the gospel, despised by many, underestimated by most, meets the needs of multitudes, and feeds the souls of men, women and children all over the world.

Let me point you again to v. 41. Do you see what the Saviour did here? He did five things.

Ordinary means

First, the Lord Jesus took what the disciples had, though it was meagre and basic – barley was a cheap and plain cereal – and made it a feast. The disciples were common men; their natural abilities were unremarkable but their apparent weakness was their strength in the service of the Saviour. Paul calls the gospel ‘foolishness’ in the estimation of human reason but carried by sent men and delivered with divine power it satisfies all spiritual hunger.

Divine power

Second, the Lord ‘looked up to heaven’, and by so doing reminded the disciples that all spiritual power comes from above and ‘every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights’. The Saviour did not look to heaven for power, for all power was His already, but here He reminds us that for the preaching of the gospel and to feed hungry souls, God will be called upon because spiritual work needs spiritual power.

A blessed word

Third, Christ blessed the loaves. Many so-called preachers in this world carry a message to men and women that has never been blessed by the Lord Jesus Christ. A natural message to a natural man ends in a natural disaster. Christ’s gospel alone is blessed by God. Only the gospel of sovereign effectual grace and free justifying righteousness satisfies sinners. Freewill preaching has no substance, no nourishment and no value to spiritually dead souls, indeed it mocks them. The Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the bread of life to guilty sinners and except the gospel we preach has been blessed as His very own we are liars and deceivers, and false teachers of damnable heresies.

Plain food but good

Fourth, Christ brake the loaves, as He must to feed so many. This is a beautiful analogy of the purpose and reason for preaching. The Lord Jesus will be tasted, savoured and enjoyed by His people in this world before He takes them to glory. He does not save them to abide in ignorance but to live, grow, mature and develop so the gospel is suited to serve many purposes and meet many needs. It illuminates the blind, liberates the bound, comforts the distressed, nourishes the hungry, quenches the thirsty, encourages the downcast and strengthens the weak all at the hands of those who bear it at Christ’s command. Some ask, ‘is the gospel all you have to preach?’ We reply, ‘we preach what Christ has given into our hands, a food fit for purpose and suitable for the needs of all His sheep’.

Order and purpose

Fifth, Christ gave the bread and fish to His disciples that they might give it to the people. Here the disciples are sent forth with the gospel for the waiting, hungry souls of men. But they did not dispense their gift chaotically, like some frenzied throwing out of loaves to a clamouring crowd, but carefully, thoughtfully, even methodically, according to the Lord’s direction and timing, to those seated in rows, and gathered in fifties and hundreds. The calling of the Lord’s elect is a divinely managed, and meticulously arranged process. The Lord’s covenant is ordered in all things and sure. In the gathering of Christ’s kingdom no one will be missed and nothing will be overlooked.

Peter Meney

Hymn—“Praise Him! Praise Him!”

Sermon—“Jesus Feeds Five Thousand (plus)”

Peter L. Meney is the editor of “New Focus“, a web-based magazine available online. Its purpose and aim is to spread as widely as possible the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of free, sovereign grace found in the Holy Bible, the Word of God.

Hymn—“The Lord Is My Shepherd”

Closing Prayer

Benediction

May the Lord bless you, and keep you; may the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen.



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