Gospel of Mark Chapter 6:31-56
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Satisfied Crowds and Failing Disciples
- Jesus suggests that he and the twelve disciples take a little R&R. They've been busy and haven't had time to eat.
- They boat to a deserted place for a private vacation, but many people know exactly where they're headed and beat them there by foot. How about some privacy, please?
- When he sees the crowd, Jesus has compassion, for they are "like sheep without a shepherd" (6:34), a phrase that alludes to Numbers 27:17 and is often read as indicating the need for a Messiah.
- After Jesus instructs them for a long time, his disciples suggest that he dismiss them. It's late in the day, and they'll need to purchase food in the surrounding areas.
- Jesus instructs his disciples to feed the crowd.
- The disciples object that they'd have to spend more than half a year's wages to buy enough food for all these people. Some vacation.
- Jesus asks how much food they have.
- They have five measly loaves of bread and two fish, and that's it. This is ancient Galilee—there's no McDonald's nearby.
- Following Jesus's directions, the disciples arrange the crowd into several groups, who recline on the grass.
- Jesus takes the five loaves and two fishes, looks heavenwards, blesses the food, breaks the bread, and divides the fish.
- He distributes the food to the disciples, who in turn distribute it to the crowd.
- Everyone eats to their satisfaction…yum. They even collect twelve baskets full of leftovers.
- In case you hadn't grasped the magnitude of this miracle, the narrator underlines that 5,000 men enjoyed this abundant picnic (add the women and children for an even greater number).
- Jesus orders the disciples to get on their way to Bethsaida ahead of him.
- After saying goodbye to the crowd, Jesus goes up a mountain to pray.
- From his perch, Jesus sees his disciples in the middle of the lake struggling to row the boat against adverse winds.
- In the wee hours of the mourning, Jesus comes to them—wait for it—walking on water.
- The disciples are like, "Ahh! A ghost!"
- Jesus informs them who it is, gets into the boat, and the winds die down.
- The disciples still think this is really weird. We wonder why.
- They also didn't understand anything about the feeding of the 5,000. The narrator informs us that in general they're getting F's on their report cards.
- They arrive at Gennesaret on the other side of the lake. Whatever happened to Bethsaida (recall 6:45)?
- The narrator summarizes: Jesus was a big success there.