1 In those days when there was again a large crowd without anything to eat, he summoned his disciples and said to them, 2 “I feel sympathy for this crowd, because they have stayed with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away to their homes, having not eaten, they will give out on the way– and some of them have come from a long distance.” 4 His disciples replied, “From where can one satisfy these people with bread here in the desert?” 5 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that they should be distributed also. 8 They ate and were satisfied; and they took up the broken scraps left over, seven baskets full. 9 Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away.
This is not the same event as the feeding of the 5000. It is a separate event, at a different time, with a different crowd. The amounts of bread and fish are different, and the amounts left over are different. Other than that, it is basically a rerun. So, why would the Gospel writer include it, particularly Mark, whose Gospel is the shortest?
Well, if my hypothesis about Mark’s purpose as a ministry manual is correct, he might have included this story to teach us that ministry is usually not a one shot deal. It is OK to do the same thing again and again as long as it is the right thing in the first place. Jesus fed these people because he had compassion on them. Showing compassion for the hungry is ministry, and it is worth repeating.
LORD, give us ministry that works, and the wisdom to keep doing it as long as it is needed.