The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late.36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider
1. Since this is the second half of chapter 6, you may wish to review lesson 8 (link above), which covered the first half of chapter 6. Notice again Mark’s use of the word “immediately.” How many times does he use this word in chapter 6? Recall how “immediately” gives a sense of urgency to Jesus’ message and mission.
2. In Mark 6:7-13, we saw Jesus send the disciples out two by two on history’s first mission trip. What is happening with regard to that mission trip in verses 30-32? What, according to verses 12-13, would the disciples have reported back to Jesus that “they had done and taught”? (30) Why was it important for the disciples to get some rest? (31) Why is it important today that we help guard our pastors’ down time so they can be well rested?
3. Re-read verses 30-44, noting the imagery of Jesus as the Good Shepherd – of both the crowd and the disciples – and the disciples as under shepherds (pastors) of the people. How does Jesus shepherd – provide for, teach, etc. – the disciples in this passage? In what ways does He shepherd of the entire crowd of people (compare 39 to Psalm 23:1-2a, and 34 to Psalm 23:3 for a couple of nifty examples)? How do the disciples foreshadow the New Testament pastors they will become (and the ones to follow them) in these verses? Could Jesus separating the crowd into groups of hundreds and fifities (40) with different disciples serving each group point ahead to the multiplicity of New Testament local churches, each with its own under shepherd?
4. Examine verse 34. Why did Jesus feel compassion for the people? What were they needing that they weren’t getting from their current “shepherds” (the scribes, Pharisees, and teachers)? What did He do for the people? Considering what Jesus did for them, did He think their greatest need was for health, wealth, a better political situation, a stronger economy, entertainment, or self-esteem? What did Jesus think was their greatest need? As followers of Christ, is our greatest need the same?
5. In verses 33-44, why were the people hungry? What had Jesus been doing for the hours the crowd had been with Him? (34) Perhaps some had come for a miracle (as was the case with many who sought Jesus out), but those who stayed so late, stayed for what? (34) Examine this passage in light of Matthew 5:6 and James 2:15-16. In what two ways were the people hungry, and in what two ways did Jesus fill them?
6. What might Jesus have been trying to teach the disciples – His under shepherds – about feeding His sheep (pastoring) in verses 35-42? Did Jesus know they wouldn’t be able to physically feed the crowd with what little they had? (37) How did Jesus demonstrate to the disciples how much they lacked in and of themselves to provide for the flock, and how they needed to depend completely on Him to be the Bread of Life to the sheep they were tending? (37-38) Do you notice in these verses that the disciples (under shepherds/pastors) did not make or provide the food? They merely served the people what Christ had given them. What does this tell you about the job of a pastor today? Is he to create his own food (extra-biblical doctrine) and feed it to the people, or is he merely to serve the people what Christ has given him (rightly handled Scripture)?
7. If even Jesus needed alone time to pray, what does that tell us about our need for prayer? (46)
8. What do the stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (33-44) and walking on the water (45-52) tell us, as well as Mark’s original Gentile audience, about Jesus’ deity and His role as Creator? Why did the disciples not already understand these things from Jesus creating food out of thin air? (52) How did Jesus’ actions on the sea demonstrate that the disciples (and we) could trust Him and put their faith in Him to care for them?
9. Which aspect of Jesus’ character is showcased when he heals people in Scripture? (53-56)
10. What three miracles take place in 30-56, and what is a central truth that can be gleaned from each? The first half of chapter 6 has a theme of rejection of Christ and His message running through it. Do you sense that same theme running through this second half of the chapter? Why or why not?
In verses 30-32, we see what a huge job it was for the disciples to both preach the gospel and return to the “office” and handle regular “church business”. And there were twelve of them, plus Jesus!
Is your pastor getting enough down time to be well rested? To be the husband and father he needs to be? Most pastors work 50-60 hours per week, and they are on call 24/7 for emergencies like deaths in the church family or the security alarm going off at church after hours.
Is there any way you and members of your church could do something to lighten his load? In small churches pastors often must take care of tasks such as typing up the bulletin or cleaning the bathrooms that could easily be taken care of by a church member. Or perhaps you could give your pastor and his wife a gift card to their favorite restaurant and offer to keep their children one evening so they could have a date night. Maybe the personnel committee could offer your pastor an extra week of vacation. Contact your pastor this week and find out what would be most helpful to him – then do it with joy!
Suggested Memory Verse
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.