During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”Mark 8:1-3
Jesus had already fed one large crowd (Mark 6:30-46) with just a few loaves and fishes. Once again He and the disciples found themselves with a large crowd that needed food.
Jesus essentially hosted what, today, we would call a conference. People were there receiving healing and deliverance and listening to Him teach for three days. Some of them had walked a long distance to be there. Most of them had long since run out of the food that they brought with them.
What follows is another incredible miracle of seven loaves of bread being multiplied to feed a crowd of 4000 men plus women and children. Jesus’s compassion for the people sparked another miraculous event. Yet, there is another ingredient in this equation that needs to be recognized.
There is a pattern in the Gospels of God moving powerfully when people make personal sacrifices to get to Jesus. There is something about people traveling long distances, or going without food, or risking their social standing, or digging through a roof that touches the heart of Jesus. The kind of faith that is willing to sacrifice something pleases God.
I have seen this Kingdom principle play out in our own time. I’ve seen people sacrifice time, money and effort in order to get to a conference, and I have watched as God honored that sacrifice by moving powerfully in their lives. I have seen a number of people sacrifice a whole day driving up from Virginia in order to receive prayer from our prayer team. I’ve watched as God honored that sacrifice by moving powerfully in their lives during the prayer times.
There is something about being willing to travel. There is something about being willing to sacrifice time and money for the sake of our pursuit of intimacy with Jesus. There is something about getting out of our comfort zone and being obedient. God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.Hebrews 11:6
King David had sinned against the Lord. He was then instructed by the prophet Gad to go up to the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite and built an altar to the Lord there. When King David got there, Araunah offered to give him the threshing floor rather than have the king purchase it. Araunah was even going to throw in the oxen for the burnt offering for free as well. We learn something important from King David’s response:
…the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”2 Samuel 24:24
We see here again this principle of the Kingdom of God. For it to be an offering to the Lord, it should cost us something. And when it costs us something, God is honored by it. God is moved by sacrificial action that costs us something.
God is not a vending machine where we sacrifice something to get what we want. But He is a loving Father whose heart is moved by people willing to pay the price to pursue Him.