For any organization, team, business or church to be successful it needs to have a structure of unity within its members. Speaking of this country, Abraham Lincoln said, a house divided against its self cannot stand. Many churches today limp along struggling to get by due to disunity. Some go on for years building resentments and allowing differences to prevent them from operating as God intended. Others after a tiresome struggle just close their doors. Our scripture today gives us an example of a group of Christians working together in unity to overcome an insurmountable obstacle.
Scripture: Mark 6:30-44
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
30 The apostles returned and met with Jesus, and told him all they had done and taught. 31 There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn’t even have time to eat. So he said to them, “Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest a while.” 32 So they started out in a boat by themselves to a lonely place.
33 Many people, however, saw them leave and knew at once who they were; so they went from all the towns and ran ahead by land and arrived at the place ahead of Jesus and his disciples. 34 When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw this large crowd, and his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things. 35 When it was getting late, his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. 36 Send the people away, and let them go to the nearby farms and villages in order to buy themselves something to eat.”
37 “You yourselves give them something to eat,” Jesus answered.
They asked, “Do you want us to go and spend two hundred silver coins[a]on bread in order to feed them?”
38 So Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have? Go and see.”
When they found out, they told him, “Five loaves and also two fish.”
39 Jesus then told his disciples to make all the people divide into groups and sit down on the green grass. 40 So the people sat down in rows, in groups of a hundred and groups of fifty. 41 Then Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate and had enough. 43 Then the disciples took up twelve baskets full of what was left of the bread and the fish. 44 The number of men who were fed was five thousand.
As we begin to examine this scripture it’s important to note, this miracle is the only one recorded in all four Gospels. It’s always a good rule of thumb to remember anytime something is repeated we should pay special attention. Such is the case with the story of Jesus feeding the multitude.
As the ministry of Jesus progressed he and the apostles found themselves very busy. They had a lot going on during this time. Everywhere Jesus went crowds followed and gathered around him.
He was roughly a year remaining before he will die on the cross and Jesus understands the limits of his time. There are Jewish leaders who want him gone and he had to be feeling the pressure. On top of all of this, John the Baptist who was his cousin and friend had just been beheaded.
His disciples had been out working hard on the Mission field and just returned. As they excitedly share all they have been doing and teaching Jesus recognizes they haven’t taken time to eat and to rest. He wants to take them away to a quiet place so they can all get some rest.
Jesus had them all get on a boat to get away for a bit. When they reached their destination there was a large crowd of people waiting for them. Jesus wasn’t upset because his plans were spoiled. Scripture says that when Jesus saw the crown he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus and the Apostles did what they had come accustomed to doing, they started ministering.
Consider what’s going on. 12 men just got back from the mission field, they were tired and hungry. Jesus, who was probably tired and hungry by this time as well, recognizes his exhausted apostles needed a retreat. When Jesus recommended going to an isolated spot they were probably glad to hear him suggest this. However, when they reached their destination they see a crowd waiting for them.
This is when having a united body comes in particularly handy. Can you imagine how this event would have played out if the apostles had not been united?
What we can learn about unity from our scripture
- Consider others and what’s going on with them (Mark 6:31)
- Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have (Mark 6:38)
- Collaborate/ work as a team (Mark 6: 35-37)
Do you know why geese fly in a V shaped formation?
As each goose flaps its wings they create uplift for the birds that follow, by flying in this formation the whole flock adds 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.
When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It then moves quickly back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front of it. When the lead goose tires it rotates back into formation and another goose flies on point.
The geese flying in formation honk to encourage the geese in the front to keep up their speed. When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls, two geese follow it down to help and protect it. They’ll stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they catch up with the flock or launch with another flock.
- Stay organized (Mark 6:39-40)
- Serve others (Mark 6:41, 43)
3 things that can prevent unity in a church