Gospel of Mark – Feeding 5000 and Walking on Water (6:31-56)

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Jesus Feeds 5000

We go from a Markan sandwich to Jesus feeding 5000. How ironic. The better parallel is pointed out by Witherington (Gospel of Mark, 213) of the two meals – one that led to John’s death and another that shows the miraculous and powerful nature of the kingdom that John preached about and prepared the way for but which now Jesus is putting on display for all to see. Can you imagine how hungry you would be if the Sunday morning service went over by four hours? How many people do you think would stick around waiting for the “closing prayer.” I love how Jesus, who had just give the twelve responsibility when he sent them out now gives them another mission…an impossible one. “You give them something to eat.” Sometimes I wonder if Jesus didn’t want to do that little “George Bush chuckle” where he laughs at the absurdity of his own joke, knowing there was an answer they just couldn’t see yet.

The disciples complain that what Jesus has asked was unreasonable. Jesus’ answer is that what they have at their disposal, paired with God’s help will be enough. Have you ever thought God wanted you to do something that almost seemed absurd? How did you react? Have you ever looked at what resources you had at your disposal and said, “this will never be enough” but God’s response was “just get started and I will take care of the rest.” I am sure the disciples thought they would run out after the first half dozen people but they began to pass the bread and fish. By the end of the meal each was carrying his own basket of left overs. Obviously there are overtones of the wilderness wondering here with food provided in a solitary place, Jesus acting like a shepherd to these people, and the number twelve.

Jesus Walks on Water

I love the very next word, “Immediately.” Mark uses that transitional word 11 times in his gospel. It is almost as if Jesus had compassion on the people, spent time with them over a meal, and left knowing they would all make it home without fainting on the road due to lack of food. Jesus and his disciples part company. The disciples head over the sea of Galilee while Jesus goes to pray. If they didn’t get it after seeing 5000 fed from five loaves and two fish then maybe this next miracle would help them clarify who Jesus is. In the midst of their great difficulty on the sea Jesus walks out to them, offers them the words of encouragement spoken by God to the twelve tribes over and over in the Old Testament – “Take courage…Do not be afraid” with something in the middle – “I am.” Their fear turns to astonishment as Jesus steps off of the waves and into the boat. Instantly they go from the middle of the lake to the shore where Jesus proceeds to heal many people.

What is the most memorable day of your life? I am sure the resurrection trumps this day but this has to be one of the most memorable days in the life of the: Reporting to Jesus the success of their mission, helping feed 5000 from a couple pieces of bread and dried fish, seeing Jesus walk on the water and thinking he is a ghost, and finishing the day off by having the sick brought to Jesus and see him heal multitudes. I am sure if we experienced just one of those things it would rank among the most memorable days of our lives. Jesus didn’t do it to be memorable. He did it because it was a natural extension of who he is. He was just doing what came natural to him.

What an awesome God we serve. Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is so patient with us even when we fail to understand him. Give praise to the Lord who is willing to try again and again to get our attention.

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