Monday, 26 July 2021
Title: Meagre Meal Multiplied to Feed a Multitude.
Ong Hwee Soo
In my Devotional (Mark 5:1-20), fortnight ago, we have seen the healed Gentile demoniac, going back “to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him” (5:20a). Apparently, he did such an incredible job that not only “everyone marvelled” (5:20b), but when Jesus returned to the Decapolis, the people being already aware of His healing power now “brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment” for Him to heal (7:31-32). Once again, Jesus immediately obliged and healed that man (7:33-35).
Mark narrates the episode in such a way, that it gives the impression, Jesus intentionally went out of His way, entered into this Gentile enclave a second time, to heal the man. However, our focus today is not on individual Gentiles (as in my previous four Devotionals) but on the Gentile multitude.
After healing the deaf man, Jesus remained in the region and continued ministering to the Gentiles there (8:1a). Having been with Jesus three days, the crowd was hungry but “had nothing to eat” (8:1b-2). According to Mark, it was here in the Decapolis where Jesus miraculously fed the four thousand. Earlier, in Mark 6:30-44, Jesus had fed five thousand Jews, and presently four thousand Gentiles.
Though both miracles were motivated by Jesus’ compassion (6:34; 8:2), undoubtedly, in this case, Jesus desired to demonstrate having compassion to the Gentiles, as an object lesson for His disciples.
In this anecdote, Jesus miraculously multiplied a meagre meal of ‘seven loaves’ (8:5) and “a few small fish” (8:7) to feed a multitude of four thousand. The loaves in those days were flat, round bread (like our local ‘roti canai’ and the fish were the small anchovy-variety.
It is significant to note that Jesus “having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people” (8:6). It must have dramatically dawned on Jesus’ disciples that He had no qualms about breaking bread with Gentiles.
In my Devotional (Matthew 8:5-13), last month, we have seen that in commending the Roman Centurion for his faith, Jesus declared that in heaven many Gentiles will dine together with the Jewish Patriarchs at the Messianic feast (Matthew 8:11), breaking into His disciples’ Jewish exclusiveness. Jesus’ encounters with the Gentiles not only anticipate a future Gentile mission, but also prepared His disciples for breaking bread with the Gentiles.
From my previous four Devotionals, we have seen Jesus going out of His way traversing to Gentile territories thrice, each time healing a Gentile on their home ground, pointing to us that we should be willing to leave our comfort zones and cross racial barriers to compassionately reach out to people of different ethnicities.
How intentional are we in bringing the Good News to our neighbourhood migrant communities, with word and deed? What ‘little loaves’ can we bring for Jesus to multiply them to massive impact?
When Jesus had healed the deaf man, the people were “astonished beyond measure” saying “He has done all things well” (7:37). When Jesus had providentially fed the populace, “they ate and were satisfied … they took up the broken pieces left over ,seven baskets full ” (8:8), representing one basket for every loaf. Come to Jesus, with your needs and the hunger of your heart, for He who does all things well will satisfy you to overflowing.
Dear Jesus, we beseech You say “Ephphatha” (7:34) to us, that our ears “Be opened” to hear Your voice, whereby in obedience we can Live the Life beyond measure. Amen.
【马可福音7:31 – 8:10】
在我两周前的灵修(马可福音5:1-20)中，我们看到已治愈的被污鬼所附的外邦人，返回 “在低加波利传讲耶稣为他所作的大事” (5:20上)。明显地，他做了一件令人难以置信的工作，不仅 “众人都希奇” (5:20下)，而且当耶稣回到低加波利时，人们已经知晓祂的治愈能力，“有人带着一个又聋又哑的人到他那里” 求祂医治(7:31-32)。再一次，耶稣立即答应并医治了那个人(7:33-35)。
马可以这样的方式叙述这事件，给人的印象是，耶稣 “刻意” 地第二次进入这个外邦人的领土，来医治这个人。然而，我们今天的焦点不是个别的外邦人(如我之前的四篇灵修那般)，而是外邦人的群众。
治愈了聋子之后，耶稣留在该地区，继续服事那里的外邦人(8:1上)。和耶稣在一起三天后，群众饿了，但 “没有什么东西吃” (8:1下-2)。根据马可福音，正是在低加波利，耶稣行了使四千人吃饱的神迹。早些时候，在马可福音6:30-44中，耶稣已经使五千犹太人吃饱，现在是四千外邦人。
虽然这两个神迹都是出于 耶稣的怜悯 (6:34；8:2)，但毫无疑问，在这种情况下，耶稣希望表现出对外邦人的怜恤，作为祂门徒的实物教训。
在这则轶事中，耶稣行神迹将微薄的一餐 “七个饼” (8:5)和 “几条小鱼” (8:7)倍增，以喂饱四千人。那时的饼是扁平、圆形的（就像我们本地的印度煎饼 “roti canai”，鱼是小鳀鱼品种。
值得注意的是，耶稣 “祝谢了，擘开递给门徒，叫他们摆在众人面前” (8:6)。耶稣的门徒一定戏剧性地意识到，祂对与外邦人一起进餐没有丝毫的不安。
我们有多用心通过言行将福音带给我们附近的移民社区？我们能带些什么 “小饼” 给耶稣，让祂使它们倍增，产生巨大的影响？
耶稣治好耳聋舌结的人后，众人 “非常惊讶”，说 “他所作的一切事都好极了” (7:37)。当耶稣恩赐喂饱群众时，“众人都吃了，并 吃饱了 ”… 。他们把 剩下 的 零碎 收拾起来，装 满 了 七个大篮子 ”(8:8)，相当于一个篮子对应一个面包。带着您的需要和您内心的饥渴来到耶稣面前吧，因为祂所作的一切事都好极了，必使您饱足。
亲爱的耶稣，我们恳求祢对我们说 “以法大” (7:34)，求祢 “开” 我们的耳朵，聆听祢的声音，让我们在顺服中无限地 活出生命 。阿们。