Hello and welcome to a new week of Foundations podcasts! It’s Dave here, I’ll be taking us through another week of journeying through the Gospels. We’re picking up the narrative where Alan finished last week, in chapter six of Mark’s Gospel.
Specifically today we’re looking at Mark 6:30-44. This is a great passage to start the week, the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5000. We’re actually going to focus on the first part of the passage, verses 30-34, here they are:
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
As you know, we’re currently in the season of Lent. In fact we’re rapidly approaching the end of Lent and soon we’ll be at the climax of the whole season, the Easter weekend. Lent is a season of reflection. A time of abiding, of pruning back the things in our lives that can distract us and learning afresh how to focus on what God is saying to us. A question before we continue: have you learnt anything about abiding in God this Lent? I hope so. If not then there’s still time, why not come to as many of the Holy Week meditations as you can? That space to reflect and seek God is so valuable in our busy lives.
We see in today’s passage that Jesus recognised that He and His disciples needed to take some time to retreat before pushing on. However the crowds didn’t recognise that. They ran ahead of Him, tried to get ahead of his schedule. Tried to force the issue. Now in this case it was because they were so eager to hear from Jesus. Many of them were probably desperate for Him to work miracles in their lives. We often do this as well don’t we? How often can the final few weeks of Lent be just something to get out the way before the real event of Easter? That’s even more the case at Christmas, we forget the power in the season of Advent. The power in pausing and asking God, what would you like to do with me in this moment Lord? Where do I need to hear your voice? What do you need to convict me of? Where do I need to be reminded of your faithfulness?
In the passage the response of Jesus isn’t to scold the people for running ahead of Him but to have compassion for them, calling them sheep without a shepherd. He instantly steps into that role of shepherd, teaching them with words and showing them His new Kingdom with the miraculous act of feeding them en masse. Following Jesus is a lifelong journey. The book of Genesis talks of God as a lifelong shepherd. How often do we run ahead of our shepherd and then realise we didn’t pray about something. Or dive into the day and realise we didn’t invite God to go through the day with us. Following Jesus brings freedom, empowerment, life to the full, but let’s choose today to stay in step with Jesus and truly follow Him, not just turn around and call for Him when we realise we’ve strayed off on our own path.
Father thank you that Jesus is the good shepherd. Our good shepherd. Thank you for this reminder to stay in step with Him. Help us to engage with you during this season of lent. To hit pause where we need to pause, to abide in you. Be with us today we pray, Amen.
READING: Mark 6:30-44
The apostles gathered round Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognised them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’
But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’
They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’
‘How many loaves do you have?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’
When they found out, they said, ‘Five – and two fish.’
Then Jesus told them to make all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.