Today’s Text is Mark 6:30-44. Yes, this is that famous passage in the Bible that says:
FEED a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; TEACH a man to fish, and you make him go away.
Yes. Jesus really said that. Of course you have to know the Aramaic behind the Greek to really get that out of there, but yes, he said it for sure. (Okay, maybe he didn’t really say it, but he should have.)
Open your Bible, and let’s dive in!
As you can see, the Apostles, in vs. 30, return from their first mission trip which must have been successful, because they now have hordes of followers chasing after them like groupies following a Bon Jovi tour. And these poor bastards – ahem, I mean sheep – don’t bring any lunch with them. It’s not like they should expect Jesus to get something for them to eat. The ancient Hebrews who followed Moses did this same thing, and God gave them a miraculous meal, and look what has happened… They keep coming back hoping he will produce for them again and again! It’s like they never learn.
Jesus, in vs. 37, really has got to break this trend. God, the Father, read a great little book called When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert, and now he knows that you can’t give your love and wealth to the poor like that; it only hurts them in the end. So, he lent his copy to Jesus, who now is going to teach these sheep to fish so that they will finally go away! (It’s exactly what a GOOD shepherd is supposed to do with a flock.)
Jesus is now going to teach this to his disciples, which you can plainly see in vs. 35, where the disciples come to Jesus and suggest sending these people away to get something to eat. And of course that is the end goal for Jesus too (to send them away), but he knows that if you don’t teach them to fish, they will be back again before you know it. I mean, what about tomorrow? If they find out you feed them today, they will expect it again tomorrow. This is just basic conditioning according to the psych books.
Jesus wants to empower these people to live independent of him forever, not just for a day or two. And he does NOT want to “enable” them to come back for more. This is an important difference, you see: empower or enable. You gotta get this right.
(Now, just so you are clear on this: If you read Corbett and Fikkert, you know that they warn against having a “savior complex”. And that is exactly right. You definitely want to avoid that, just like Jesus should have! This is like the one big mistake Jesus makes, and he really should have read Corbett and Fikkert more attentively! What ever you do, don’t try to be like Jesus and have a savior complex. After all, it could get you killed, and you might have to take up a cross and follow Jesus! But that is just a free bit of advice on the side.)
So, of course the disciples do like Jesus says, and they make fishers of men. After all, several of these disciples were fishers in their former careers. They now make excellent teachers for this lesson! It is practically divine the way God works that out.
As it turns out, one of the former fishermen is carrying a couple of loaves of bread in his old tackle box. Jesus has the great idea to use it as miracle bait. So they split up the bait between them all, and this is truly miraculous because there are 5000 men they turn into fishers with those two loaves that day! And sure enough, they start catching fish! Once the fish are caught, twelve of these guys form a 501c3 homeless ministry and start teaching street bums to fish so they will learn NOT to have to depend on Jesus.
And they went away satisfied and never came back.
(At least that is what Mark 6 should have said.)