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Faithlife

Mark 6c

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Mark 6:30-34… Then the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come with me privately to an isolated place and rest a while” (for many were coming and going, and there was no time to eat). 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to some remote place. 33 But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of them. 34 As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things.

Commentary

In Mark 6:7-13 Jesus sent the Twelve out throughout the countryside so that they could preach repentance to the masses. They went from casual observers of Jesus’ ministry (disciples) to active participants (apostles) as those sent in Christ’s name to proclaim Christ’s message of repentance. Upon gathering together again the Twelve came to Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. The things they had done refers to the use of their apostolic powers of healing and casting out demons, and the things they taught clearly refers to the message Jesus gave them to teach. The twelve men must have shared an exciting time that day sharing their experiences with their Master and with one another in v. 30. Keep in mind that even Judas Iscariot, who later proved himself to be a traitor, took part in these wonderful evangelistic feats.

Jesus’ response to the Twelve, following their town-to-town evangelistic efforts, was to lead them away for some much needed rest in v. 31. There were so many people following them at this point, they couldn’t even eat. It must have been like a celebrity scene. Up to this point Jesus had made a habit of going out to the people, but now he makes a concerted effort to withdraw from them. The reasons he withdrew might include the following: First, as is clear from the text, the disciples needed rest. Jesus also wanted to get them away for a time of personal instruction. They likely had many questions that Jesus needed to attend to following their first evangelistic tour of duty. Second, Herod Antipas was jealous and frightened that Jesus was John the Baptist back from the dead. This madman would stop short of nothing to keep his power and reputation in tact. Third, there was a false assumption among many of Christ’s followers of that day that he was simply a political messiah sent to deliver Israel from Rome. His withdrawal from the territory was his attempt to keep those who wanted to make him king at bay. Finally, the Jewish hostility was increasing against Jesus. After all, he himself had raised a huge uproar up to that point, but after his disciples went around the country preaching repentance their anger likely increased. Thus, their resolve to kill him, though not at its peak, was steadily increasing.

Now while Jesus and the Twelve were attempting to proceed to a solitary place to rest, the people got wind of where they were going and followed them. By the time Jesus and his men reached the “solitary place” it was anything but solitary, for there were thousands of people waiting for them. Verse 34 says that Jesus had “compassion” on them because they were all like sheep without a shepherd – people without anyone to lead them. So Jesus did exactly what he always did for those he had compassion on: “He taught them many things.”

Food for Thought

            Preaching the Word of God, whether professionally or as a layperson, is a strenuous task. It requires rest, but it also requires continual instruction in order to stay sharp. Sometimes, however, rest alludes God’s servants, and they must press on with compassion toward those who need instruction in God’s Word. After all, Jesus never ignored those in need, and he expressed the compassion he felt for people with inadequate leadership simply by teaching them Truth.

Mark 6:35-34… When it became late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and it is already very late. 36 Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said, “Should we go and buy bread for two hundred silver coins and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five – and two fish.” 39 Then he directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the bread. He gave them to his disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and they picked up the broken pieces and fish left over, twelve baskets full! 44 Now there were five thousand men who ate the bread.

Commentary

After Jesus taught the multitudes into the late afternoon, the disciples, recognizing that the area in which they were in was remote, suggested to Jesus that he send them away so they could depart and eat. But Jesus told them, “You give them something to eat.” This command astonished the weary disciples who responded in dismay about how much it would cost to feed so many people. In their mind it would cost “200 silver coins” to feed so many people. The silver coin is literally a denarius. It had a picture of Tiberius Caesar and was worth one day’s wage for hard labor. Two hundred of these would obviously be many months worth of hard labor, and the Twelve didn’t possess this much money. Jesus’ suggestion to them, however, was his way of teaching them to trust him and him alone, as they grew in their understanding of him.

In v. 38 Jesus sent the disciples to see how many pieces of fish and bread they had with them. Tired and hungry as they were, they probably marched off in frustration wondering what Jesus intended to do with what little they had with them. They found that they had five loaves of bread and two fish – a meal that would have been enough for them but not for the thousands who were in need of food. But they faithfully reported it to Jesus.

Jesus addressed the crowd in v. 39, told them to gather together, and he gave thanks to God for what little they had. What followed was nothing short of a miracle because v. 44 says that there were five thousand men there who ate and were satisfied. Once he prayed, the little became many. By the day’s end, the disciples went around and cleaned up, and they picked up twelve baskets of fish – one basket for each disciple! They actually had more fish after feeding thousands of people than they did before they began.

The God who gave Israel their daily bread in the wilderness for forty years is the same God who gave provisions to Elijah and Elisha during their time in the wilderness. It’s also the same God who provided bread and fish for the thousands who followed Jesus in Mark 6. How God provided is not given, but He did provide daily bread visibly and yet in an unseen way.

Food for Thought

            In the previous passage Jesus viewed the multitudes who came to him as “sheep without a shepherd.” And because he is the Good Shepherd (John 10) he has compassion on those who follow him and seek him. He feeds them, first and foremost, with the bread of life – the words of God that we find today in Scripture. And second, he feeds them physically and cares for them. In the same way that Jesus instructed the disciples to carry no bag with them or extra food so that they wouldn’t worry about such things (6:7-13), Jesus tells his children the same thing today, that is, not to worry about daily provisions. He will provide for those who seek him faithfully.

Mark 6:45-48… And immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the multitude away. 46 And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray. 47 And when it was evening, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. 48 And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.

Commentary

In v. 45, just like the conclusion of a church service where the pastor stays to shake the hands of the congregants, Jesus stayed in the place where he had fed the 5,000 until they had all departed. Prior to this, however, he sent the Twelve away in the boat to the other side of the sea where he would later meet them. What they didn’t know was the trial that lay in store for them.

In v. 46 Jesus took the rare opportunity of being alone to go up onto a mountainside and pray. After he had bid farewell to the last of those who lingered behind he seized the chance to pray while alone. There is little doubt that he was praying predominately for the Twelve whom he was training. Their instruction had gone far deeper in a short amount of time than at any point prior. With all that awaited them in the coming years Jesus’ prayers would sustain them.

In vv. 47-48 the disciples, on the Sea of Galilee, experienced another storm that threatened to overtake them and their boat. They were in the middle of the lake while Jesus was on the land, and while the text says that they were “straining at the oars” – a figure of speech denoting a terrible storm – Jesus was watching them from his location on dry land. Verse 48 says that the “wind was against them.” This time, however, they could not go to their Master in the stern of the boat and ask for help. Previously, Jesus had calmed the storm with a simple rebuke of the wind (4:35-41), but now Jesus has the Twelve in a more difficult circumstance in keeping with his careful training of these men. After having been up all night the disciples were tired and fighting for their lives. But Jesus had them right where he wanted them so he could deliver them.

As always, Jesus waited until the disciples were at the end of their rope before coming to their aid. He came to them “about the fourth watch of the night,” that is between 3 a.m. & 6 a.m. The Jews reckoned their days from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (12 hours) with four “watches of the night” – each watch consisting of three hours. The fourth watch was thus 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. At some point during this time Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. He had already demonstrated his sovereignty over the wind and the sea back in 4:35-41, so it should have come as no surprise to the Twelve that the Creator of the oceans and the seas could also walk on them as if on dry land. All of God’s creation submits to Him, and this was another revelation of Jesus’ deity. But even though Jesus was demonstrating his sovereignty by walking on the water and was coming out to meet them so as to encourage them amidst their struggle, his actions frightened the disciples even more so. The statement “he wanted to pass by them” refers to a an appearance of God (a theophany) and uses the language of the Greek Old Testament (LXX) when God “passed by” Moses at Sinai (cf. Exod 33:19, 22). In other words, Jesus was “passing by” the disciples during their panic and fear, in order to show himself and assure them that he was with them.

Food for Thought

            When God summons his children to service He has a unique way of molding and making us like a potter does with clay. Our difficult experiences must always be viewed through God’s eyes – as tests of endurance given to us to build our faith. Praise Him today as only a faithful servant can for pain and trial. These are meant to draw us closer to God and increase our faith.

Mark 6:49-52… But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were frightened. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”  51 And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.

Commentary

In v. 49 the disciples thought Jesus was a “ghost” (Greek phantasma) as he approached their boat walking on the sea. This supposed vision the disciples had in the midst of the terrible storm gave them the fright of their lives, for it caused them to “cry out.” The reader can only imagine the scene as Jesus walks out onto the water up and over the waves effortlessly to once again further instruct the disciples as to who he was. Previously, they were astonished at his power to still the storm on the sea, but now they are frightened by his appearance as he walks upon the waves. Whatever the scene may have looked like, it was hair-raising enough for these tough fisherman and the like to “cry out” – a term that signifies a screaming from the throat. Except the disciples weren’t yelling to Jesus; they were terrified over what they saw.

Jesus’ response to his frightened servants was to speak, for his words are the words of life and encouragement. He literally says, “Take courage, I – I am! Do not fear.” In other words, “I’m here, I’m God Almighty, there is nothing to worry about.” The emphasis is on “I am,” and in the Greek text it is emphasized through repetition (“I – I am”). This was the name God gave to Moses at the burning bush: “Tell them I AM sent you” (Ex. 3:14). This is who Jesus is! He is one and the same with the God who spoke to Moses at the burning bush 1,500 years prior to the events on the Sea of Galilee. Of course the disciples had nothing to fear. God was with them.

Once Jesus got into the boat the wind stopped, and the men were “greatly astonished.” Verse 51 is literally, “And very exceedingly, from abundance, they were amazed.” But why would they be so amazed? After all, they had witnessed so much already including the dead rising to life and the miraculous feeding of five thousand. Why would this event “greatly astonish” them? The answer is in v. 52: “For they had not gained any insight from the incident with the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” In other words, they knew that they had witnessed a miracle in the feeding of the five thousand, but they failed to comprehend Jesus and who He really was, namely God Almighty, who “walks upon the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8). And when they saw Him walking on water, because they didn’t really understand him, they were terrified.

Food for Thought

Many so-called believers today know God intellectually but fail to understand Jesus as God – as the Creator in Genesis and the wrathful Lamb in Revelation. Maybe this is why Christianity today, though claimed by a majority of Americans, has little influence on our culture. Most people today don’t refute Jesus’ existence, his miracles, and even his rising from the dead, but that doesn’t make them Christians – any more so than Herod Antipas! The problem of understanding is not intellectual but existential – for it takes faith in God, specifically Jesus Christ, not faith about God and His existence and/or His acts in history, to save a person. The hearts of the disciples were hard, and they did not understand fully about Jesus, but through Jesus’ instruction to them their minds and hearts were later enlightened. And their hearts became fertile soil which produced a mighty harvest. After all, those of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior today know Him through their testimony as found in the Bible. So let your works be so evident to all today that they will know Jesus Christ is living in you.

Observations:

The disciples were confirmed…(and the miracle was predominately for them. We read the miracle that they experienced first-hand).

  • The need for rest (a theme throughout Scripture. What Jesus wanted for the disciples was some time to themselves, to talk to and be instructed by Jesus – a day of worship).
  • The interruption of rest in order to serve more and be pushed. They were tired, but God pushed them to continue to serve more. We must always show compassion to those in need. All of our needs should be expendable in serving others in Christ’s name.
  • Just simply serving others is not preaching the gospel. A social gospel that does not witness to mankind’s need for spiritual salvation is no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6-9).
  • God is generous, giving us far more than we need (12 baskets after the feeding).
  • The supreme lesson is for us to learn to trust God to supply what seems impossible. Jesus was saying to the disciples, “I knew that you did not have sufficient food or money to feed the people, and I knew that you had no way of getting it. I never expected you to feed them from your own resources or by your own power. In asking you to feed them I was asking you to trust Me. Without having to tell you, I was giving you the opportunity to bring to Me what little you had and trust Me for the rest.”
  • God manifests His power through our weaknesses; His abundance through our poverty.

The faithful remnant was confirmed…

  • In John’s gospel the next day they came to Jesus and asked him, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?... Lord evermore give us this bread” (John 6:28, 34).

The unbelieving rejecters were revealed…

  • By far the greatest amount of soil on which seeds fell that day was hard and thorny.
  • They had their stomachs filled to satisfaction, but they had not taste for the Bread of Life
  • They came for what Jesus could give them, but their self-indulgence prevented them from receiving the greatest gift of all.

The feeding of the 5,000…(Wiersbe)

  • Jesus looked at the situation, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to trust God. An effective leader is someone who sees potential in problems and is willing to act by faith.
  • Acting on the basis of human wisdom, His disciples saw the problem, not the potential.
  • We complain: “If we only had enough money, we could do something!” The first step is not to measure our resources, but to determine God’s will and trust Him to meet the need.
  • The miracle took place in God’s hands, not the faithless disciples.
  • The scene illustrates the situation of God’s people today: We are in the midst of this stormy world, toiling and seemingly ready to sink, but He is in glory interceding for us. When the hour seems the darkest, He will come to us—and we will reach shore!
  • Even a disciple of Jesus Christ can develop a hard heart if he fails to respond to the spiritual lessons that must be learned in the course of life and ministry.
  • In the Book of Acts, it is interesting to note that the “storm” of official persecution began after the disciples had won 5,000 people to Christ (Acts 4:1–4). Perhaps while they were in confinement, the Apostles recalled the storm that followed the feeding of the 5,000, and they must have encouraged themselves with the assurance that Jesus would come to them and see them through.

Mark 6:30-34… A time for rest, instruction, and interruption 

  • Went from disciples to apostles; from observers to participants.
  • They had a need for rest following their ordeal.
    • A time for instruction and Q & A
    • Needed to escape needless danger (a getaway to avoid over-exposure to criticism)
    • (John) to withdraw from the people’s attempt to crown him king (a time to keep from getting big-headed from ministry victories and fellowship w/God)
  • Even though rest is needed, sometimes ministry opportunities must be met.
  • Compassion on lost people translates to teaching them Truth – a time to worship & rest.
  • Simple service w/o the Gospel is only a social “gospel” void of power and truth.

 

Mark 6:35-34… The feeding of the 5,000

  • Jesus wanted his disciples to trust only in him; this is the only way to grow in Christ.
  • Five loaves, two fish… multiplied in God’s hands; thanks given for what they had.
  • 12 baskets: When God blesses us we have more than we imagined we could ever have.
  • He taught them FIRST. God desires His children to be fed the Word first and foremost.

Mark 6:45-48… Our pain for God’s gain (and our strength)

  • At the end of victories lies another test – always more difficult than the former.
  • God takes us to the breaking point so that he can “pass by” – show us His glory.

Mark 6:49-52… Hard-hearted “believers”

  • We can know Jesus, but w/o a proper understanding of Who He is we “cry out” in trial
  • Jesus says, “Be strong, I—I am, do not fear.” The same I AM who was w/Moses.
  • Those who are greatly astonished at Jesus’ work don’t really know Who He is.
  • Many think they know Jesus… but do they really? (as God)
  • Only God can soften the hard heart and make it produce a fertile crop.

Conclusions:

  • The supreme lesson is for us: to learn to trust God to supply what seems impossible. Jesus was saying to the disciples, “I knew that you did not have sufficient food or money to feed the people, and I knew that you had no way of getting it. I never expected you to feed them from your own resources or by your own power. In asking you to feed them I was asking you to trust Me. Without having to tell you, I was giving you the opportunity to bring to Me what little you had and trust Me for the rest.”
  • God manifests His power through our weaknesses; His abundance through our poverty.
  • By far the greatest amount of soil on which seeds fell that day was hard and thorny.
  • WiersbeJesus looked at the situation, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to trust God. Good leaders see potential in problems and are willing to act by faith.
  • Acting on the basis of human wisdom, His disciples saw the problem, not the potential.
  • We complain: “If we only had enough money, we could do something!” The first step is not to measure our resources, but to determine God’s will and trust Him to meet the need.
  • While fighting the storms Jesus intercedes for us. At the darkest hour He comes to us.
  • Even a disciple of Jesus Christ can develop a hard heart if he fails to respond to the spiritual lessons that must be learned in the course of life and ministry.
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