“In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.’ Then His disciples answered Him, ‘How can one satisfy these people with bread here in the wilderness?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’ So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments. Now those who had eaten were about four thousand. And He sent them away, immediately got into the boat with His disciples, and came to the region of Dalmanutha.”
At this hour I want to share with you about God’s work and blessing through the Word of the Gospel of Mark. When Jesus was in this world, many people followed Him because He healed many and gave them food to eat. At that time there was not much to eat in Israel. They were really poor.
Therefore, many people followed Jesus wherever He went. Let’s look at the Word in chapter 8 verses 1-3, “In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.’”
Who Are These Starving People Spiritually?
There might be some people among you who have at some point experienced starvation for any length of time. Such people know well how a person who does not have anything to eat really feels. Many people who were poor at that time followed Jesus because He gave them food and healed the sick. Multitudes of people followed Jesus. Jesus looked at them and saw that they had been following Him for three days. During that time, they were able to get by with the pack of food they brought with or some fruit from the field, but Jesus saw that they were exhausted because they did not have anything more to eat. Jesus looked at these hungry people and had compassion on them and said that He wanted to give them something to eat right now. So He said to His disciples, “And if I send them away hungry to their own houses, they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” Jesus knew the hearts of the people those who did not have anything to eat. Because Jesus came to this world with human flesh, although He is God, He knew these hungry people would faint on the way home because of hunger and if He sent them away without giving them something to eat.
Actually, when one is very hungry he feels very grateful if he gets even a little to eat. Someone who has never experienced such hunger pains holds his head up arrogantly and says, “Why should I take this food from you?” But a person who has actually experienced severe hunger will not do this.
We Koreans ask even the uninvited guests to join us when we have a meal, at least out of courtesy. We usually set another bowl with its utensils on the table and ask them to join us for the meal, but they usually refuse respectfully two or three times to uphold their dignity. They refuse three or four times respectfully, saying, “No, thank you. I had a meal already. I am okay. I just stopped by to ask after your health.” However, if we responded, “Oh, okay. Then we will just go ahead and have the meal by ourselves” just because that person refused a few times, if this happened we would be very uncompassionate people. Of course, these days when food is so abundant, it would not matter much even if we responded like this. Rather, it might even be offensive to offer so many times like that. But how was it some two or three decades ago? During those times it would be very improper to say “Okay, we will have the meal by ourselves” just because the person refused a few times. During those times when someone refused like this, it was proper to bring him to the table and sit him down and make him have the meal. We had to make him eat forcibly like this. It’s because that person would feel ill-treated if we the host did not do this. Why was this so? It is because we all were lacking in food those days.
I think I told you this story. Before I was in elementary school we had no one at home and there was nothing to eat, and I was so very hungry that I picked out the leftover noodles that were in a slop tub on the street. Even though we were in such dire straits, my parents instructed us, “Don’t ever eat at someone else’s home. Never go to their home during meal time.” At that time, my father had believed in Confucianism ardently. Therefore, even though we did not have anything to eat, we put a pot on the furnace and made the smoke go up out of the chimney just so that people would think that we were cooking. Also, no matter how broke we were, my father always put on a sharp white Korean traditional suit and hat whenever he went out. How could we as mere children live in such circumstances? We often starved all day long because we could not even go to a friend’s house during meal times. One day, I saw a slop tub with leftover noodles that someone had eaten and thrown out. At this tender age I calculated this and many thoughts crossed my mind. I thought, “I wish I could at least eat that. But what would the people say if they happened to see me eating it?” I also thought, “That will be embarrassing. And what would my parents say if they found out?” However, I just went for it and ate the leftover noodles in the slop tub because I was so hungry. Of course, it was not enough to fill up my stomach, but I was able to ease my hunger pains momentarily.
That incident came to my mind as we read today’s Scripture passage. Anyway, hunger is a great pain for starving people. Jesus who knew such circumstances very well could not just send these multitudes away with an empty stomach. He knew that they would faint on the way if He just sent them away like that. Therefore, when Jesus told them that He would give them something to eat, His disciples asked him, “How can one satisfy these people with bread here in this wilderness?”
Actually the disciples were right. At that time, there probably were at least about ten thousand people following Jesus, and how could He feed all these people? Where could they buy all that bread and rice necessary to make that much bread? It was an impossible situation. But Jesus spoke to them in the Gospel of Mark chapter 8 verses 5-6, “He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’ So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude.” As it is written in this Word of God, Jesus asked the disciples, “How many loaves do you have?” They answered, “Seven.” These seven loaves of bread were not sufficient. It was small and only big enough to fit into a lunch box. Nevertheless, the Lord laid hands on this bread and blessed it and gave thanks. Then He gave the bread to the disciples to place it before the multitudes so they could eat.
What do the Scriptures tell us after this? It says that all the 4000 people gathered there ate until they were full. The 4000 mentioned here only included the number of men and not of the women and children who were also gathered there, if everyone was counted it would actually be about ten thousand people. Even so, it records that the Lord gave thanks for this bread and the fish and distributed it to the people and everyone ate until they were full, and when they were satisfied they still had seven large baskets of food left over.
Let’s Now Look at the Meaning of the Seven Large Baskets
The Book of Genesis tells us that God rested on the 7th day. Likewise, the number seven implies the perfection of God. Therefore, these seven large basketful means that God has given abundant blessing to us. God gave the gospel of the water and the Spirit to all the people in this world, and it is a blessing that is more than enough to feed everyone in this world. Furthermore, the two fish mentioned here signifies the Church of God. Therefore, if we interpret it to its fullest content, it means that God has given abundant blessing through God’s Church to the people throughout this entire world who are starving spiritually or physically and that there isn’t anything lacking in that blessing. We could say that the spiritual teaching of today’s Scripture passage is this, “With His work of grace, God bestowed many blessings on everyone throughout the world.” We are doing literature ministry now. And about this ministry I think, “God is working through His Church for all the people who are starving spiritually. He is manifesting His work and really making them have much food until they are full and satisfied, and still have much left over. God works so bountifully like this. God works in this world through His Church like this, and this is such a great blessing. I absolutely believe like this.
We have preached so much about the Book of Genesis, haven’t we? I did this before, and I am still preaching this Word from the Book of Genesis steadily even now when I preach at our Mission School. Of course, our beginning was insignificant and we lacked many things, but how are we now? God has truly done so many things to the spiritually hungry people of this entire world through His Church. God has truly done much work. It is truly amazing to see how much work He has done. The Lord really distributes more than enough food to these hungry people so that they have much left over. Furthermore, we come to believe that this is the blessing of God as we see such a phenomenon. We are translating the sermons on the Book of Genesis even in these days, and there is so much to preach from the Book of Genesis that we could publish three or four more books from just the first chapter. However, we are preparing it so that we can at least publish one book for each chapter.
There really is so much to say about the Word of God and so much that could become our spiritual food. While doing such works, I feel in my heart, “It would really be wonderful if many people would just read these books and received the remission of sins. God will really do this through His Church. People will no longer be hungry. God really is feeding the spiritually starving ones throughout the entire world through His Church in this era. God is doing such amazing works through His Church.” I believe like this.
Today’s Word tells that there were seven large baskets of food left over even after all those people had eaten until they were full. In this era also, those who want to eat God’s food can receive this food as much as they want through our electronic books or printed books. People do not have God’s food because they are not interested, but anyone who is interested in this can really receive the remission of their sins until they are full and also continue to eat to their hearts’ content. They can eat and drink such spiritual food through God who works through His Church. I give sincere thanks to God who does all this for us.
Our Lord fed so many people with just 2 fish and 7 loaves of bread and still had leftovers. God also feeds everyone throughout the entire world more than sufficiently these days by making us preach the gospel through His Church. Because we are doing mission works through the internet and Christian literature diligently, anyone who desires to eat God’s food can continue to eat this food sufficiently. Truly, this has become such an era that anyone can eat God’s food if they really want it. All the peoples dispersed throughout this entire world can receive the remission of their sins and salvation by visiting our website and downloading our electronic books or ordering the printed books. Also, they can continue to receive our books even after receiving salvation if they continue to love God and desire Him. The Lord has done such works through His Church. God gives this spiritual food and blessing to everyone throughout the entire world so that they will not be hungry spiritually. I know this is a truly precious blessing from God. God has given so much physical food and spiritual food and manifested so many amazing works in the world these days where 6.5 billion people live. Therefore, no one can say that they have not received the remission of their sins because they could not find the Truth.
Brothers and sisters, the international situation around the Korean peninsula is really going awry these days. On one map of the United States, the Dokdo Island, a Korean island off the east coast of Korea, is designated as Japanese territory as the Dakesima Island. Actually, what did Rumsfeld, the Minister of Defense of the United States, say? He said, “Korea is an economic superpower. Therefore, we will move towards the military sovereignty of Korea so that they can defend their own country. Actually, the United States had control of the united forces of the Korean military, and they refused to give up that control even when Korea requested to proceed with the program facilitating military sovereignty of itself, and it is really baffling that Rumsfeld said such things.
Actually, the Korean War has not ended in this country. Even now, Korea is in a state of an armistice, a temporary suspension of this War. Strictly speaking, if North Korea or any other army invaded this country again and took control of this country, they would become the owners of this country. And the Japanese are taking steps towards such things now, aren’t they? There is so much commotion these days about Japanese claims that Dokdo is their island, and we say it is not, but the truth is we cannot even claim that our mainland is our land, let alone the Dokdo Island. Because the war has not ended in Korea, any superior country with absolutely powerful military can invade this country and become the owner of this country.
But they cannot do as they wish for God’s Church preaches the gospel in this land. God does not want such a thing to happen in this land because His children are here. You may think that it would be better for us to just give up our sovereignty and become one of the states of the United States quickly, saying, “Accept us as one of the states of the United States. We want to become the citizens of the United States.” I also think that would be the best thing. However, the political leaders of our country do not think like this. What is the reason? It’s because nationalism that is prevalent throughout the entire world is also prevalent in Korea. We think that North Korea is an axis of evil because of such nationalism. However, what is the truth. North Korea is neither an axis of evil nor our hatred enemy. They are our people the same as us. They are of the same race and origin. Rather, we can say that North Korea is actually a closer country to South Korea than the United States. This is the reason we are now supporting North Korea, aren’t we? This is the so-called “Sunshine Policy.”
The international political atmosphere is truly mysterious. South Korea can be invaded by North Korea or Japan if we resorted to humanistic methods and ways. And we do all we can so that we would not lose our sovereignty again. Japanese people say that we must think objectively. They say, “Objectively speaking, Korea is our country. We civilized the Korean people and we taught them all the modern technologies during the colonial period, hadn’t we?” However, God does not let any nation invade this land where God’s Church is located.
This country would really be in a laughable position if it did not have God’s Church that distributes the Lord’s food abundantly. Military sovereignty? What military sovereignty? Both North and South Korea would not have anything to boast about. Brothers and sisters, think about it. Would you be scared if some homeless person attacked you? Korea is like such a homeless person if it stands against the powerful countries. Our country would be nothing if it were not for God’s Church. Japan has three fleets of Aegis warships. It means that Japan has these great fleets that can attack this country. They can invade this country within a few days if they utilized just these three fleets. We don’t have the firepower to effectively resist Japan if we battle against them with the weapons of this world right now. Some people who do not know such political realities say all kinds of things based on the present situation, but they probably would have nothing to say when such a tragedy really happened. Actually, the international political climate is such that it can be construed to have started already.
However, the mysterious thing is that we have still maintained control of our country and even sustained economic development as one of the major economic powers. The IMF that took control of the Korean Economy was induced by the United States and bankrupted a number of significant companies in our country. This means that they tried to make Korea a country out from nothing. Simply put, they tried to buy some leading companies in Korea so that we could not sustain our own economic potential. For example, we have to now import all seeds for strawberries from a foreign country because we sold out all our nursery companies while our economy was under the control of the IMF. Therefore, farmers have to pay a royalty to foreign countries whenever they sell one box of strawberries. Our farmers must indeed give them money when we sell to them even though we worked and grew them in our farms.
From such a perspective we know that we are a funny country that has always been invaded by the other countries. But how is it spiritually? God has given us so much spiritual food now that everyone throughout the entire world can come and visit our website and eat this spiritual food to their hearts’ content. And therefore there is no one who can say they are hungry. Thanks to the Lord, we have more than enough food to feed everyone. We have bountiful food in God’s Church.
These days, we just have to upload our electronic books on the internet and anyone can read it for free. It means that we have set up the basis for anyone to receive the remission of sins if they just want to receive it. Although we cannot send out sufficient books because of our weak financial situation, I still give sincere thanks to God. God has truly blessed us and has upheld our Church and blessed our country as well. God has done amazing work throughout the entire world through you and me, that is, through God’s Church. I give thanks to God.