Mark 6.41
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.

Jesus saw the people “as sheep without a shepherd,” Mark explains. He’s setting the context for the miracle where Jesus fed five thousand people. The shepherding language harks back to the book of Numbers where Moses, after being told he will not be permitted to enter the promised land, begs God to provide a new leader for Israel. 

In that moment God provided Joshua. Later God provided kings. But the heart of a king can be corrupted — a theme which repeated incessantly in ancient Israel’s story. The longing for someone greater than an earthly king began to grow — a King of kings.

“Every flock which does not have a shepherd to govern it does, of necessity, meet with great disasters,” recorded Philo in the first century. “It is not able, of its own power, to repel what is injurious to it, and to choose what will be advantageous.” The compassion Jesus felt for the people that day wasn’t simply because they lacked food. It wasn’t limited to their political plight as a people under the pagan culture of Rome. Jesus saw something far more injurious. [1]

The miracle Jesus performed pointed directly to him as their Messiah. The words “taking,” “blessed,” “broke,” and “gave” in the verse above are thematically similar to the blessing said before a Sabbath meal found in Deuteronomy 8. Jesus would use these exact words again during the Last Supper when he pointed to himself as the sacrifice. [2]

The hungry were not fed that day as a party trick to show God had power. They were fed to show that the shepherd had arrived. The One that humanity needed to guide it from the great disaster of a broken relationship with God was bringing his kingdom into reality. He would heal the injury of sin, death, and injustice that humanity had been powerless to repel. [3]

Lord, we confess that we are sheep without a shepherd. Our greatest problem is admitting that there are problems that exceed our greatness. We don’t want to be dependent. Yet, in your love, you’ve offered your Son. Blessed by you, broken for us, and given to all who would trust. We are under your grace.

Christian Identity
Part 2 of 5,

Today’s Readings
Genesis 35-36 (Listen – 9:33)
Mark 6 (Listen – 7:23)



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[1] Yonge, C. D. with Philo of Alexandria. (1995). The works of Philo: complete and unabridged (p. 138). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. [language updated] | [2] See Deuteronomy 8.7-10. The Jewish Annotated New Testament notes that the prayer “developed into the ‘blessing for nourishment’ [“birchat ha-mason”] used at mealtime. | [3] Mark 6.34; Numbers 27.12-17; Mark 14.22-25