Mark 6:52

I. THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD ARE EXPOSED TO OPPOSITION AND DANGER IN CARRYING OUT HIS COMMANDS.

II. WITHOUT THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS PRESENCE DIFFICULTY APPEARS INSURMOUNTABLE.

III. HE IS EVER AT HAND TO BLESS THOSE WHO ARE STRIVING TO OBEY HIS WORD.

IV. WHEN HIS SERVANTS ARE READY TO RECEIVE HIM HE WILL COME TO THEIR RESCUE, AND EVERY OBSTACLE WILL BE OVERCOME.

V. SUCH TEMPTATIONS ARE INTENDED TO DISCOVER THEIR NEED OF HIM, AND TO CONFIRM THEIR FAITH IN HIM. - M.







For they considered not the miracle of the loaves.
The disciples "were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered." Had the miracle of the loaves been duly considered, the inference from it must have been that He who had wrought it must be Lord over the whole system of nature, and could, therefore, whenever He pleased, bend the elements to His rule.

I. There was another occasion on which Christ miraculously fed a great multitude. We read of His sustaining four thousand men, besides women and children, with seven loaves and a few little fishes. THERE WERE ONLY TWO OCCASIONS ON WHICH THIS WAS DONE. He showed Himself ready to heal all manner of sickness; but He showed no readiness to provide food miraculously. The reason is not far to seek. It was altogether one of the consequences of sin that men were afflicted with various maladies and pains, and that disease and death held sway in this creation. But it was not one of those consequences, that men had to labour for subsistence. Labour was God's earliest ordinance, so that Adam, in innocence, was placed in paradise to keep it. Had He dealt with men's want as He dealt with disease, removing it instantly by the exercise of miraculous power, He would have pronounced it a grievance that labour had been made the heritage of man; whereas, by the course which He actually took, He gave all the weight of His testimony to the advantageousness of the existing appointment. Universal plenty, yielded without toil, would generate universal dissoluteness.

II. When He multiplied the scanty provision, and made it satisfy the wants of a famishing multitude, He designed, we may believe, TO FIX ATTENTION ON HIMSELF, AS APPOINTED TO PROVIDE, OR RATHER TO BE THE SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE OF THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE. And how striking, in the first place, the correspondence between Christ, the multiplier of a few loaves and fishes, and Christ the expounder of the commandments of the moral law. It might almost have been excusable, had a man who lived under the legal dispensation, and had nothing before him but the letter of the precepts, imagined the possibility of a perfect obedience to the commandments of the two tables. It was a wonderful amplification. The statute books of a nation are numerous and ponderous volumes; various cases as they arise demand fresh laws, and legislatures are either busy in making new legislations, or modifying old. But the statutes of God, though intended for countless ages, contain only ten short commandments — the whole not so long as the preamble to a single act of human legislation, and these ten commandments, breathed on by Him who spake as never man spake, amplify themselves into innumerable precepts, so that every possible case was provided for, every possible sin, every possible duty enjoined; and who can fail to observe how aptly Christ represented His office as expounder of the law, when He fed a multitude with the slender provision which His disciples had brought into the wilderness? But have not the virtues of the single death, the merits of the one work of expiation, proved ample enough for the innumerable company which have gathered round Christ and applied to Him for deliverance? And are not — if we may use the expression — are not the basketfuls which still remain, sufficient to preclude the necessity for any fresh miracle, though those who should crave spiritual food for ages to come should immeasurably exceed those who have already been satisfied in the wilderness?

III. To the PRECISE EFFECT WHICH A WANT OF CONSIDERATION PRODUCED IN THE CASE OF THE APOSTLES AND WHICH IT IS JUST AS LIKELY TO PRODUCE IN OUR OWN. It is evident that the miracle of the loaves is referred to by the sacred historian, as so signal a display of Christ's power that none who witnessed it ought to have been surprised at any other. The thing charged against the apostles is that they were amazed and confounded at Christ stilling the winds and the waves, though they had just before seen Him produce food for thousands; and the thing implied is — for otherwise there would be no ground for blame — that the miracle of the loaves should have prepared them for any further demonstration of lordship over nature and her laws. Thus the miracle of the loaves should have sufficed to destroy all remains of unbelief, and should have furnished the apostles with motives to confidence under the most trying circumstances, and a simple dependence on the guardianship of the Saviour, whatever the trials to which they were exposed. And why is it that we ourselves adopt not His reasoning? Why is it that we do not similarly argue from the loaves to the storm — from the mighty works of the atonement to the manifold requirements of a state of warfare and pilgrimage? Ah, if we did, could there be that anxiety, that mistrust, those fears, those tremblings, which we too often manifest when pains and troubles come thickly upon us? No, no; it is because we look not on the cross, because we forget the agony and bloody sweat and passion of the Redeemer, that we shrink from the storm and are terrified by the waxes. We consider not the miracle of the loaves, and then, when the sky is dark, and the winds fierce, we are tempted to give ourselves up for lost.

(H. Melvill.)

Hard hearts and painful unbeliefs spring up in the waste places where we bury our forgotten mercies.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Neither earth nor heaven, time nor eternity, yields choicer gems of thought than the achievements of our Lord.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, what He did at one time ought to be well top, sidereal, because it is the index of what He is prepared to do again should need arise. His accomplished wonders have not spent His strength, He has the dew of His youth still upon Him. Our Samson's locks are not shorn, our Solomon has not lost His wisdom, our Immanuel has not ceased to be, "God with us."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

"They considered not the miracle of the loaves." — At first sight this may seem almost as marvellous as the miracle itself.

I. IT IS BY NO MEANS DIFFICULT TO DISCOVER A VERY SATISFACTORY REASON WHY THE DISCIPLES SHOULD BE MUCH LESS AFFECTED BY THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND, THAN BY THE WALKING UPON THE WATER AND THE SUDDEN STILLING OF THE TEMPEST.

1. The former was a miracle wrought in the open day, when there was nothing to disturb the imagination, or to awaken fear. It was, moreover, not a sudden effect, but a gradual operation; not a shock upon the senses, but a gentle and continuous appeal to them; and would thus be far too calm and quiet in its general character to produce anything like that turbulence of emotion which the latter miracles would excite, aided as they were by the presence of danger, the confusion of the storm, the horror of darkness, and all that sublimity of circumstance with which they were accompanied. This, however, though it may afford an explanation of their excessive amazement, is far from explaining their total inadvertency to that great miracle at which they had so recently been present; and which, had it occurred to their memory, as it manifestly ought, would speedily have recalled them from their transport.

2. The evangelist accounts for this, by saying that their heart was hardened. They had become so accustomed to the sight of their Master's mighty works that they had ceased to regard them with any peculiar interest, or to attach to them any peculiar importance. Everyone is aware of the influence of familiarity with the great and astonishing, in abating the impressions they originally produce. How little, for instance, are any of us affected by the sublime spectacle of the universe around us! Even the conclusion which, beyond all others, one would have thought it impossible to escape — the conviction of His omnipotence — they seem far from having practically realized. Some exception from the full weight of this censure may perhaps be made in favour of Peter, who, on various occasions, discovered a certain boldness and force of apprehension, which we look in vain for in his fellow disciples.

3. Our Lord knew all this, and felt the necessity of reviving their early feeling of wonder, in order to rouse them from that mental inactivity, that slumberous inconsideration, into which they had fallen. Hence He sent them away, etc. Astonishment opens the eyes of their understanding to at least some temporary recognition of His greatness, for now, says St. Matthew, they "came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth, Thou art the Son of God!" But they speedily relapsed into their old habit of inconsideration. To this, accordingly, He frequently addressed Himself, and sometimes in a tone of the strongest expostulation and reproof (Mark 8:15-21).

II. THE PRACTICAL IMPORT OF THE SUBJECT IN APPLICATION TO OURSELVES.

1. We ought to derive a strong corroboration of our faith in the gospel. How unfit were the disciples for the great work for which, nevertheless, they were set apart. What can we say to the story of their success, etc, but "This is the hand of God."

2. Their heedlessness of mind ought to come directly home to our own bosoms, and awaken us to the necessity of earnest and serious reflection. Familiarity has produced the same effects upon many of us. So with respect to the volume of Scripture generally.

3. There are methods in the order of Divine grace by which we are at times roused from that insensibility and heedlessness to which we are prone, and the remedy which the Lord adopted in the case of the disciples is strikingly symbolical of the manner in which He still condescends at times to deal with us. Affliction and fear, under the gracious direction of the Divine Spirit, are at times the most efficient of all interpreters of Scripture.

4. The gospel, when it does not soften the heart, hardens it, etc.

(J. H. Smith.)

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