Mark 8:1 In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2 “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 Now there were about four thousand people.
There’s a lot going on here, but I’ll focus on one key idea. Note v.1 “there was a great crowd without anything to eat”. It was one thing for people to hear Jesus in a town or village with lots of people. It wouldn’t have taken much to stop for a bit and listen, likely on the way to doing something else. But this crowd is different.
They went for several days without food, in the wilderness, in order to hear Jesus, which suggests they were desperate. In Jesus they are looking for hope, but perhaps not all the same form of home. Hope for healing. Hope for justice. Hope for love. Hope for freedom from the violence of the Romans. Hope that Yahweh had not forgotten them. Hope that their future could be different from their past.
I’m into my first week of sabbatical leave and I too am listening for a word from the Lord. What does the Lord want for me and for the church I lead as we lean into an uncertain future? What does the Lord want for my family, particularly my young adult children as they move into life on their own? What does the Lord want for me and my wife Jana now that she is retired from teaching? What does the Lord want from the war continuing to grow in Ukraine? So many questions and so few answers.
Lord speak for your servants are listening. Amen.