Mark 8:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 8:4, NIV: His disciples answered, 'But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?'

Mark 8:4, ESV: And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

Mark 8:4, KJV: And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

Mark 8:4, NASB: And His disciples replied to Him, 'Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?'

Mark 8:4, NLT: His disciples replied, 'How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?'

Mark 8:4, CSB: His disciples answered him, "Where can anyone get enough bread here in this desolate place to feed these people? "

What does Mark 8:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

"Bread" is from the Greek root word artos. It can mean flatbread like pita bread or naan, but it can also refer to food in general. "Desolate" is from the Greek root word eremia. The desolation can refer to population, as in uninhabited or lonely, or the geography, as in a wasteland or wilderness. The use of the word "disciples" indicates that more than just the Twelve have traveled with Jesus.

The question the disciples ask Jesus poses one of the great mysteries of the Bible. Not long before, Jesus had fed a crowd of five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves of bread and two small fish (Mark 6:38)—and the food wasn't even theirs (John 6:9). Why don't the disciples seem to remember?

There are a few possible reasons. If there are more disciples than just the Twelve, it could be that those who asked the question had not been at the earlier feeding outside of Bethsaida. Or, it may be that after three days, the disciples are tired, hungry, and not thinking straight. In those three days, it's very possible they have been busy keeping order, making sure the sick and injured can reach Jesus, and protecting Jesus from getting mobbed. It's possible that they have been working under their own strength for so long they assume Jesus wants them to tackle this issue, as well. Or it may be that facing a crowd of Jews and Gentiles in a Gentile territory has overwhelmed their senses. How do you even feed this many Gentiles? And how can the Jews get clean bread out here?

Although Jesus later rebukes the disciples for forgetting His power (Mark 8:18–21), here He shows grace and patience. It often takes us time to remember that although kingdom work may involve all our concentration and effort, it also requires God's intervention. If He asks us to do something, it doesn't necessarily mean we can; it means He can through us.