“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ And they said to Him, ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’ And when they found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. So they all ate and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.”
As described in today’s passage of Scripture, there were many people following Jesus. Moved with compassion for all these people, Jesus preached the Word of life to them personally and taught them, but as the evening approached, there was little food to feed the multitude as they were in a completely deserted place. All that could be gathered together was just two small fish and five barley loaves. Obviously, this was not enough to feed so many people. It was really no more than a light lunch that could barely feed just one or two people at the most. Yet even with such a small amount of food that could be put in a single lunchbox, our Lord performed an amazing miracle. With these fish and barley loaves, He fed the whole multitude that was following Him like starving sheep.
How many people were following Jesus at this time? The Bible says that there were around 5,000 men who ate the loaves. It mentions only 5,000 men. But since there probably were more women than men, it’s not unreasonable to estimate an amount of around 7,000 with the women folk. If we estimate conservatively that there were another 3,000 children, what would be the total number? It would be around 15,000. You can appreciate just how bewildered the disciples must have been when Jesus told them to seat no less than 15,000 people in a deserted field with no food and to feed all these people with just two small fish and five loaves. So the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell these people to go into a nearby village and buy something to eat.” Jesus said to His disciples, “You go to them and give them bread.”
It’s hard to imagine just how much bread would be required to feed 15,000 people. Even if they were to gather all the bread that was in the surrounding villages, they probably would not have found enough bread. Such a large amount of bread would not have materialized even if the disciples emptied every bakery they came across. So it’s not surprising that the disciples were bewildered by this.
When the disciples brought two fish and five loaves to Jesus, He said, “Make them all sit down in groups.” So when the people sat down in groups here and there, Jesus took the fish and the bread, looked up to the sky, and blessed them with His prayer. He then broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples. It’s written in the Word that as the disciples fed this multitude with the loaves that Jesus broke and distributed the fish to them, they all ate till they were full, and there still were twelve baskets left over.
My fellow believers, what is our Lord trying to say to us through this passage? Jesus is bearing witness of the fact that He is God Himself, who fed countless people with just two fish and five barley loaves in the empty wilderness. Who is our Lord? Who really is this Jesus in whom we believe? He is none other than our God who showed such an amazing work while walking on this earth incarnated in the flesh. Who is Jesus? The name “Jesus” means the Savior and the Messiah whom we’ve been waiting for. And the name “Jesus Christ” means that Jesus the Savior is the King, the Priest, and the Prophet. Jesus is your God and my God. He is your Savior and mine who has saved us from all our sins. And Jesus is the Prophet who shows us the road ahead for us. Through the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is showing us that He is the Lord of wonder who fed over 15,000 people by performing the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.
Now then, what is this miraculous passage showing us who have become God’s children by believing in Jesus? It is showing us that God provides everyone in this world with abundant bread of life through His Church. This passage means that His grace is so abundant that it is more than enough to save everyone, and that everyone in this world who is starving for life and salvation can eat this bread of life to his heart’s content and still have twelve basketfuls left over.
The Implication of the Two Fish
The two fish here symbolize the Church. During the Early Church period there was a secret sign known only to Christians, and this was a fish sign. When Christians were persecuted by Roman emperors and risked their lives to defend their faith, they recognized each other through such secret signs. You’ve probably seen a fish sign before, looking like number 8 titled sideways. When Christians saw this fish sign, they understood that whoever showed it was a child of God. Additionally, the “two fish” here also symbolize two common witnesses, as well as unity with the Church. They refer to none other than the Church we are in. In other words, whenever “two people” gather together and pray, God hears this prayer and answers it. It tells us that wherever two people are gathered in the name of the Lord, the Lord is there with them.
My fellow believers, just as a single lunchbox of the five loaves and two fish is far too small to feed 15,000 people, it may seem at first that God’s Church is too small and weak in this world. However, just as Jesus fed 15,000 people with this small lunchbox and still had twelve baskets of leftovers, no matter how many people may be in this world, God still provides them all with abundant bread of life through His Church. No matter where God’s Church is planted, if His people and His servants there work faithfully united together, then everyone in that region will obtain the bread of life, be relieved of the hunger of the soul, attain the remission of sins, become God’s child, and receive and enjoy all His abundant blessings.
This is the work that our God is determined to do. He is willing to do this work continuously. For God has compassion for all sinners, He will continue to feed enough bread of life to feed everyone sufficiently and still have leftovers. There are many liars in this world. Far too many people use religion to exploit their sheep rather than feeding them. So you may wonder how it’s possible to share the bread of life and preach the gospel amongst so many liars. However, when I saw this miraculous work of the Lord recorded in today’s Scripture passage, I came to realize and believe from this passage that even though God’s true Church is small and weak, it will spread the gospel filling the whole wide world and save everyone in it. I also realized that God is more than able to save everyone, and that all these things are more than possible. Do you also believe so?
The power of our Lord and His grace are so abundant that they are more than enough to save everyone in the entire world through us, through the people of God and His Church. In today’s Scripture passage, God is telling us to unite with the Church. He is telling us to go everywhere and anywhere in this wilderness-like world to preach the gospel to everyone. He is telling us to become His instruments that spread the Word of life. When we thus go and preach, everyone will be saved. The five loaves of bread here refer to the grace of God. The bread of life refers to the gospel of salvation.
In the Bible, the number five signifies God’s grace and the bread refers to the Word of life. If we share the five loaves here—that is, if we preach this amazing grace of the Lord and His love and the gospel proclaiming that Jesus Christ has remitted away all our sins—then everyone throughout this whole world will be saved. Our salvation has not been attained by the skin of our teeth, but it has been attained so abundantly that we can share it with others. The salvation of the Lord, His grace, and His love are abundant. My fellow believers, we have no reason to be timid. There is no need for us to worry about how many liars are standing against us, or if we would ever be out of the bread of life. We must become such a Church and such saints that pray to Jesus, who is God incarnate, ask for His amazing power, trust in this power, and just as Jesus the Prophet has commanded us, and preach to every nation that He is God and our Savior.
My dear fellow believers God’s Church has now been planted here in the city of Gangneung, though it’s very small and weak. However, we have Evangelist Lim and his wife here, as well as brother Choi and many others who have joined us. You are gathered together here like a family, and you pray together like a family. Even though your number is small, if you devote your energy and efforts to serve the Lord to the best of your abilities, then I am sure that God will be more than able to save your families’ souls and everyone around you as well. Don’t ever get dispirited and discouraged just because your gathering here is small and weak. I am truly and absolutely convinced that even if only a handful of our brothers and sisters here join their efforts together with our ministry workers to preach the gospel, and if God’s Church and the saints spread the gospel with a united heart then it will be more than enough to share the bread of life with countless people in the whole city of Gangneung.
Even though we are weak right now, we must preach the gospel by faith throughout the whole world. When God’s Church shares His grace, the bread of His gospel, countless people will be saved abundantly. I believe that just as Jesus fed 15,000 people and there were still 12 baskets of leftovers, the bread of the grace of God, the bread of the Word, will be more than enough to fill everyone in abundance. And I believe that by the grace of God, we will be more than able to carry out this work.