I have once before written a blog about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14. In that blog post, I emphasized how Jesus made much of what little the disciples had to work with and how He empowered them to accomplish the task He assigned to them–feeding all those people.
In Mark 6, we will find the same miraculous feeding, and yet I find a different emphasis. It is more so on Jesus, rather than the miracle itself. In chapter 6 verse 34, we read, “and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
I have an ESV Study Bible, and I find it so very helpful when studying the Scriptures because there is so much commentary that helps explain passages, cross-references with other passages, and more. In regards to verse 34 the commentary says:
“Despite his need for rest, Jesus has compassion: he sees the people as being like sheep without a shepherd. In Ezekiel 34:10-16, God promises to shepherd the people again directly, since Israel’s leaders have failed. Jesus continues to teach them, functioning as the good shepherd who calls for repentant submission to the messianic rule of God.”
Jesus saw that the people were helpless and starving and lacking in spiritual guidance–“like sheep without a shepherd” (vs. 34). As a result of His compassion towards them, Jesus feeds them. He feeds them first spiritually by immediately teaching them. Jesus always seems to care more about the spiritual needs of people, before their physical ones. He then would later feed them physically with only 5 loaves and 2 fish (remember this was more than 5,000 people)!
This miracle reveals so much about the reality of the divine nature of God. Again, my commentary excellently explains this miracle’s implications:
“As the true shepherd, he satisfies them. As God provided manna in the desert, so Jesus provides food in a deserted place (6:35). The focus is thus not on the miracle itself but on the one who worked it. Jesus is not merely a prophet; he acts as God acts.”
Jesus is the good Shepherd (John 10:11) and He will always provide for His sheep. What God promised to His people concerning being their Shepherd in Ezekiel 34, He accomplished in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, we lack nothing that we need. It is in Him that we have our protection, our provision, and our guidance (both spiritually and physically).
Psalm 23:1-4 says,
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Jesus, our good Shepherd, be treasured.