Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XXIX: Encouragement And Direction For God's People When Ministry Resources
(Mark 8:1-10)
  1. Introduction
    1. It takes a variety of intangible and tangible resources for a local church to grow stronger in its ministry. It takes good organization, spiritual leadership, adequate natural resources and program.
    2. However, what about local churches where things seem to be in a decline: What if the leaders are backsliding, the resources are dwindling and program is on the wane -- what are God's people to do then?!
    3. Between the first feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6:35-44 and the second feeding of the 4,000 in Mark 8:1-10 was a decline in these resources. God has a lesson of encouragement and direction for us if we face this!
  2. Encouragement And Direction For God's People When Ministry Resources Decline, Mark 8:1-10.
    1. Between the Feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000, the twelve disciples spiritually weakened:
      1. Mark's Gospel openly states that since the twelve disciples did not see the Messianic implications of Christ's feeding of the 5,000, their hearts were hardened, Mark 6:51b-52.
      2. In fact, their hardened condition became worse over time as we can compare the disciples actions at the feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6:35-44 to the feeding of the 4,000 in Mark 8:1-10:
        1. They became increasingly insensitive to the needs of the crowds: (a) though the disciples were probably trying to rid themselves of the crowds to get on with their planned vacation back in Mark 6 (cf. 6:31), they nevertheless noticed t he crowds were in need of food after a single day without meals, Mark 6:35-36. (b) However, in Mark 8:1-2, the disciples took no note of such hunger needs though it had been three days without food for the crowds!
        2. They became increasingly irresponsible: (a) in Mark 6:36, the disciples at least had a plan for ending the problem: they suggested the people be sent back to buy food. (b) However, Mark 8:4 records no suggestion by the disciples to end the crowd's hunger need.
    2. To top off the growing spiritual dullness of the human leaders, there was a decreasing quality in resources:
      1. In Mark 6:39 there at least existed the resource of green grass for the crowds to use while eating.
      2. In Mark 8:6, there was no such grass, but only hard, summer-dried grazing fields.
    3. Additionally, the need of the people became more intense the second time around as this time they had been without food three times as long as they had experienced before, Mk. 6:35-36 versus Mk. 8:1-3.
    4. In spite of these problems, Christ stepped up His role directly to provide more fullness than before:
      1. Where the disciples failed to take the responsible oversight, Jesus assumed it Himself, Mk. 6:35-36; 8:1.
      2. Where the disciples increasingly failed to be sensitive to the people, Jesus was all the more sensitive:
        1. In the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples noted that the people were merely unfed, Mk. 6:36c.
        2. In the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus noted what would happen if the people would not eat: He saw that they would faint as they had a long way to travel back to their various destinations, Mk. 8:3.
      3. Where the disciples decreased in their capacity to be responsible, Jesus was all the more responsible:
        1. When Jesus asked the disciples for what food was available, they had already collected what bread and fish was available, Mk. 6:38.
        2. In the feeding of the 4,000, they did not apparently have the fish accounted for at first, so, when it came to their attention, Jesus had to give a separate prayer for that as well, Mk. 8:5,7.
      4. In spite of the decline in seating resources from the green grass in Mark 6:39 to the ground in Mk. 8:6a, Jesus went ahead with the feeding miracle, Mk. 8:8a.
      5. When the miracle was done, more food remained of the feeding of the 4,000 than with the 5,000!
        1. After the 5,000 were fed, the disciples collected 12 baskets of fragments, Mk. 6:43.
        2. Yet, more was taken after the 4,000 were fed: Ryrie notes that the word "basket" in Mark 8:8 is that of a large rope basket that could hold a man, a much larger basket than the hand-held ones of the Mark 6:43 passage, Ryrie Study Bible, KJV ftn. to Mk. 8:8!
Lesson: God is so committed to ministering to His people that the dwindling spirituality of human leaders or the decline in natural resources are not an obstacle to Almighty God gaining that goal.

Application: When man's resources decline, learn to expect more miracles from God (2 Cor. 12:9-10)