His Word is so rich and applicable. As a practical person, I love that about the Bible! When I read a passage of Scripture and the Holy Spirit takes the words and applies them to my life, it sinks deep in my soul and satisfies as little else can. I feel as if I am sitting at Jesus’ feet like Mary did in Luke 10:39, learning from Him first-hand. Just as He did back then, He is revealing Himself one truth at a time.
While reading through book of Mark in the New Testament, I came to the familiar passage about Jesus feeding the five thousand in Mark 6:30-44. I have read this many times before but something new was grabbing my attention. That is what is so exciting about studying the Bible. No matter how many times a person reads it, God continues teaching and revealing greater depths of truth/insight progressively. There is no end to it!! How that encourages me to keep diving in for more and more!
At first glance, it seemed odd that Jesus was “giving thanks” in verse 41. That is because the reality of the situation was glaringly obvious, with the need being great, while the supply so little compared to it. Jesus did not give thanks after the supply had been multiplied and met. He gave thanks before!
This insight begs further investigation. Why would He be thankful while still in need, and with no hope on the horizon for the necessary resources? That did not make sense to me. But I kept digging and asking God for clarity anyway. I had a sneaky suspicion He had a lesson for me to learn. This would just happen to apply to a current circumstance in my life.
As I studied, four lessons emerged about what is involved in giving thanks and how it benefits our faith. Jesus teaches us here that giving thanks requires recognition of the Giver. It says in verse 41 that He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. He examples for us the first step in thanksgiving; recognizing to whom we are grateful and owe everything. This reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses. Romans 11:36 says, ” For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Remembering this always benefits our faith, as it reminds us of what our perspective should be continually- God! First and foremost! It is all too easy to make much of His gifts and little of Him, if we are not careful. Therefore, this is a great reminder of Jesus to help focus our attention on what is most important.
Next, rejoicing in the sufficiency is seen as Jesus takes what He has, even though it does not seem enough by any stretch of the imagination, and gives thanks. This lesson is rooted in the sufficiency of the Giver more than the amount of the provision seen or on hand. We see the Son rejoicing in the care and attention of an Almighty Father who loves without limits. He is the supplier of all our needs, from the greatest to the smallest. And no detail is lost on Him. Jesus took what little He had and knew it was enough, because God is trustworthy and ample to provide. We see 2 Corinthiams 12:9 explaining the Lord’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Because of this confidence in the Father, He is responding in faith as He gives thanks and seeks to serve the crowd the food they are needing. He steps forward in ministry, trusting God to provide what is needed for His supply. He does not wait for the miracle before he seeks to serve. The act of giving thanks is an exercise in faith, in and of itself. It requires our dependence on the Lord as we look to Him to provide what we need, as we walk out our beliefs for His Name. Serving others is an act of faith pure and simple.
Lastly, Jesus giving thanks teaches us about relinquishing responsibility. When we give thanks, we are committing ourselves to a greater Authority in our lives and that gives freedom and rest. We are His responsibility. Matthew 6:25-33 teaches us about God knowing our needs and being responsible for them as we seek first His kingdom and righteousness. We are looking to Him to meet our needs as He is our Abba Father.
Giving thanks becomes an act of faith and worship, even as we are in need of “more” in our circumstances. We need not be afraid to recognize the abundance we have as children of God, while we hold out hope for what has yet to be supplied.
In all things, give thanks! (1 Thes.5:18)