Mark 6:35-56 (Wednesday Evening Bible Study)

Mark 6:35-56

  • Mark 6:35-44
  • 35 When it grew late, his disciples approached him and said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. 36 Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat.”37 “You give them something to eat,” he responded. They said to him, “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves. He kept giving them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 Everyone ate and was satisfied. 43 They picked up twelve baskets full of pieces of bread and fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.
    • Feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all 4 gospel accounts
    • To read this story, so simply and yet so dramatically told, s to read something that reads like an eyewitness account
      • They sat down on the green grass
        • The only time when the grass would be green would be in the late springtime, around mid-April
        • At that time the sun set at 6 pm, so this must have happened at some time in the late afternoon
      • They sat down in groups of 100 and of 50
        • The word for group is very pictorial
        • It is the normal Greek word for the rows of vegetables in a garden
        • When you looked at the groups as they sat there in their orderly rows, they looked for all the world like the rows of vegetables in a series of garden plots
      • They had 12 baskets left over
        • No orthodox Jew travelled without his basket
        • Romans made fun of the Jew and his basket
        • Two reasons for the basket, which was a wickerwork affair shaped like a narrow-necked pitcher, broadening out as it went down
          • Orthodox Jews carried his own food supplies in his basket, so that he would be certain of eating food that was ceremonially clean and pure
          • Many a jew was an accomplished beggar, and into his basket went the proceeds of his begging
    • The wonderful thing about this story is that all through it runs an implicit contrast between the attitude of Jesus and the attitude of the disciples
      • It shows two reactions to human need
        • Send them away so that they can find something to eat
          • These people are tired and hungry. Get rid of them and let someone else worry about them
        • You give them something to eat
          • These people are tired and hungry. We must do something about it
        • There are always people who are quite aware that others are in difficulty and trouble, but who wish to push the responsibility for doing something about it on to someone else
        • There are always people who when they see someone up against it feel compelled to do something about it themselves.
        • Let others worry
        • I must worry about my brother’s or sister’s need
      • It shows us two reactions to human resources
        • We could not earn enough in more than six months’ work to give this crowd a meal
          • Anything we have got is no use at all
        • What have you got?
          • Five loaves, more like rolls
            • John tells us they were barley loaves
            • Barley loaves were the food of the poorest of the poor
            • Barley bread was the cheapest and the coarsest of all bread
          • Two fish
            • About the size of sardines
            • Tarichaea, which means the salt-is town, was a well-known place on the lake from which salt-fish went out to all over the world
            • The little salt-fish were eaten as relish with the dry rolls
          • In the hands of Jesus, little is always much.
            • We may think that we have little talent or substance to give to Jesus
              • That is no reason for a hopeless pessimism such as the disciples had
            • The one fatal thing to say is, “For all I could do, it is not worth my while trying to do anything.”
            • If we put ourselves in to the hands of Jesus Christ, there is no telling what He can do with us and through us
            • Boy walking the beach throwing starfish back…
  • Mark 6:45-52
  • 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After he said good-bye to them, he went away to the mountain to pray. 47 Well into the night, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Very early in the morning he came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them. 49 When they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, 52 because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.
    • After the huge crowd had been satisfied, Jesus immediately sent His disciples away before He dismissed the crowd
      • Why? 
      • The original language actually alludes to Jesus physically throwing them into the boat to get them away from the crowd
        • John tells us that after the crowd had been fed there was a move to take Jesus and to make Him king
        • 5,000 men, plus women and children gathered out in the wilderness, you get the feel of a revolution
        • Jesus either did’t want His disciples to get caught up in the crowd mentality, or they already had, and He was determined to get them out of the situation before it got worse
        • Galilee was the hotbed of revolution. Nationalistic outbursts commonly formed from Galilee
        • If this movement was not checked, there might well emerge among the excitable people a rebellion which would wreck everything and lead to disaster for all concerned
    • When He was alone, He went up on a mountain to pray
      • There was the hostility of the orthodox people
      • There was the frightened suspicion of Herod Antipas
      • There were the political hotheads who would make Him a nationalistic Messiah against His will
      • At this particular time there were many problems on Jesus’ mind and many burdens on His heart
    • Jewish night ran from 6 pm to 6 am and it was divided into four watches
      • 6-9; 9-midnight; midnight-3; 3-6
      • Our translation tonight doesn’t include it, but others tell us it was during fourth watch
        • So, about 3 am, Jesus looked from the mountainside across the lake
        • It was only about four miles across at that point, and in the light of the moon He could see the disciples’ boat struggling against the wind and the waves
        • Immediately Jesus saw His friends in trouble 
        • The moment for prayer was past
        • The time for action had come
        • He came to them and their storm became a calm
          • With Him beside them nothing mattered any more
          • St. Augustine
            • “He came treading the waves; and so He puts all the swelling tumults of life under His feet. Christians—why afraid?”
          • When Christ is there the storm becomes a calm, the tumult becomes a peace, what cannot be done is done, the unbearable becomes bearable, and we pass the breaking point and do not break
          • To walk with Christ will be for us also the conquest of the storm
  • Mark 6:53-56
  • 53 When they had crossed over, they came to shore at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized him. 55 They hurried throughout that region and began to carry the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 Wherever he went, into villages, towns, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch just the end of his robe. And everyone who touched it was healed.
    • No sooner had Jesus landed on the other side of the lake than once again He was surrounded by crowds
      • They came to get
      • They came with their insistent demands
      • They came—to put in bluntly—to use Him
      • In a way it is natural that we should come to Jesus to get things from Him, for there are so many things that He alone can give
        • But it is always shameful to take everything and to give nothing, and yet it is very characteristic of human nature
          • There are those who simply make use of their friends
            • There are some people from whom we never hear unless they want something from us
            • There are those who regard other people as existing to help them when they need their help, and to be forgotten when they cannot be of use
          • There are those who simply make use of the Church
            • They desire the church to baptize their children, marry their young people, and bury their dead
            • They are seldom seen there unless they wish some service
            • It is their unconscious attitude that the church exists to serve them, but that they have no duty whatever towards it
          • There are this who seek simply to make use of God
            • They never remember Him unless they need Him
            • Their only prayers are requests, or even demands, made of God
            • Vending Machine God
      • If we examine ourselves, we are all, to some extent, guilty of these things
      • It would rejoice the heart of Jesus if more often we came to Him to offer our love, our service, our devotion, and less often to demand from Him the help we need

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