Summary: Even in rejection, greif and exhaustion, Jesus gives thanks for meager resources
Apprenticing under the Master Thanksgiving Sunday 2005
The Feeding of the Five Thousand
In the beginning of the chapter, Jesus goes back to his hometown, and the people he grew up with rejected him and his ministry – it says he was amazed at their lack of faith. After they leave town Jesus sends his 12 disciples out to minister – they teach, and drive out demons and heal the sick. But as they are out and Jesus is alone and without his friends, his cousin, and friend John the Baptist is murdered by King Herod. It is a dirty murder – Herod had stole his brother’s wife and married her, John was teaching that this was wrong. The queen wasn’t to pleased about being told how to run her life & she god their daughter to manipulate the King into killing John.
Jesus finds out about his holy friend’s death when his disciples are away. The death of John and the evil in the leadership must have grieved him greatly.
When the disciples come back, they have little time to talk – people are still coming for healing and deliverance; so much so that Jesus and the disciples can’t even eat.
Do you ever have days like that – the kids are talking to you all at once about different things, the phone won’t stop ringing, the computer is moaning about all the email you haven’t responded to, the project list at work goes into 2007 and you’re still working on 2003, everywhere you look at home there is another job that you have to get to, and your starting to recognize that funny feeling in your belly as hunger since you haven’t had a thing to eat since when?
Jesus says to the disciples, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
“lets get away, we can talk about your experiences, John’s death, we can eat and sleep.”
So they get into a boat and start sailing to a quiet place on the other side of the lake.
Have you ever gone somewhere to get away from everyone, and found that everyone has got their first? That is what happens to Jesus and the boys. Some track star saw them getting in the boat, guessed where they were going and ran through all the towns all the way encouraging people to come run to catch them.
When they arrive onshore, there is a crowd of people – just the men number 5,000 (it could be that there were only men, since no one packed a lunch)
Jesus sees the crowd and has compassion on them. That blows me away – he and the disciples are exhausted, he is grieving, they just want some rest, and the people will not leave me alone. For most of us, our predominant emotion would not be compassion. If that was me, I’d be back in the boat looking for a quiet place, but Jesus had compassion on them.
If this tells us anything about God, it teaches is that we are never a bother to him. I know people that do not pray because they do not want to bother God with their troubles. Jesus is exhausted, grieving and hungry, and he has compassion on the crowd that ruins his holiday! You cannot “bother” God with your troubles – he will always have compassion on you.
His compassion is because they are like sheep without a shepherd. It is a common image in Scripture. Jeremiah writes in 50:6
"My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.”
Here in Mark 6, their supposed king is a self-serving despot and a murderer, the religious leaders are more concerned with appearing religious than knowing God. So, out of compassion, Jesus begins to teach them many things.
We are not told what Jesus teaches them, but it would have been things about the Kingdom of God, possibly similar to the Sermon on the Mount. I find it interesting that he teaches them out of compassion. In our age we often look at teaching someone the things of God as being something that would be good for them, like cod-liver oil, but not something that is compassionate. We are often afraid to teach people about the things of God because we feel that they might think we are harping on them. But the Gospel is supposed to be freeing, it is supposed to be life giving! It is supposed to be received as love. When people have no leader, no direction in life, the compassionate thing to do is to explain the Gospel to them!
He doesn’t just give them a five minute homily, he teaches them into late in the day. The exhausted disciples finally come to him and say, “It’s late, send them away so they can get something to eat (and we can get some rest).