Feeding the 5000 - Mark 6:30-44

Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Mark 6:30-46

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Feeding the 5000 - Mark 6:30-44

Return of the Disciples and the Feeding of the 5,000.

Apostles returned from their mission - Mark 6:30-31

After the apostles returned from their mission Jesus called them to come away. Here and in 3:14 are the only places in his gospel that Mark called them apostles. The stress is on their mission as the ones Jesus has sent out in his authority. Now that they had returned Jesus intended to focus on ministering to them. Being alone with Jesus was a part of the training of the twelve. Throughout this part of the Gospel the crowds and the Jewish leaders were constantly seeking Jesus. The whole time Jesus was trying to get away with his apostles to further prepare them for their future mission.

Deserted place - Mark 6:32

The description of their destination as a deserted place sets the following events in a wilderness context. This word is used three times (6:31, 32, 35) in this short text.

Sheep without a shepherd - Mark 6:34

Jesus' plan to focus on the disciples changed when his heart was touched by the needs of the crowds. He had compassion on them as they were swarming around them. Mark reported that Jesus saw them as sheep without a shepherd. Jesus was fulfilling God's promises from Ezek. 34, especially verses 10-16. Note also Ps. 23 where God himself is the shepherd and Num. 27:17 where God provides a shepherd in the wilderness named Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew form of the name Jesus.

Shepherd the lost sheep - Mark 6:36-37

The disciples saw no way to care for such a large crowd in a deserted, wilderness–like place. Their only solution was to urge Jesus to Send them away. Jesus emphatically put the responsibility on the disciples. They had to learn to shepherd those lost sheep. Jesus told them to feed the crowd. The disciples, who were still probably worn out from their own missionary journey, replied with a hint of sarcasm. Two hundred denarii would have been over half of a year's wages according to Matt. 20:2. Their words were a defensive admission that they couldn't do what Jesus had told them to do.

Blessing before a meal - Mark 6:41

The prayer for God's blessing before a meal was a typical Jewish act. The acknowledgement of God's blessing sets this bountiful provision in strong contrast with the immediately preceding account of Herod's drunken feast. Jesus' compassionate care and sustaining of life is the opposite of Herod's self-centered murderous party.

God's provision went beyond - Mark 6:43

Not only did Jesus feed the crowd; he fed them until they had no more need. There were twelve baskets full of leftover food. God's provision went beyond what they could eat. The whole scene in the deserted wilderness place is reminiscent of God's provision of manna for Israel in the wilderness (Exod. 16).

5,000 - Mark 6:44

Mark gave the total of men fed as 5,000. Matthew (14:21) added that there were also women and children who were fed.

Time to pray alone - Mark 6:45-46

The Greek word translated made is a strong word that can also be translated compelled. In Mark's narrative the reason Jesus forced them to leave seems to be his desire to be alone for time to pray. The Gospel of John (6:14, 15) adds the fact that the crowd was convinced by the miracle that Jesus was the expected messianic prophet of Deut. 18:15. They did not, however, understand what kind of a Messiah he was and they tried to make him king by force.

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