GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
Mark brings us back to the present day of his account, which is to say, just as the apostles returned after being sent out to preach, heal, and drive out demons (Mark 6:7-13). This is the second and last time the word “apostle” is used in Mark. It means someone who has been sent out on a specific mission and with the authority to accomplish that mission. Jesus himself is called an apostle once, in Hebrews 3:1-2, as “the apostle and high priest we confess, faithful to the one who appointed him.” Now, his own apostles, the men through whom he worked and accomplished his design, returned to him to tell him in breathless excitement about everything they had done.
31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” He said this because so many people were coming and going, and they had not even had a chance to eat. 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Jesus had heard about John’s death (Matthew 14:13). Now he wanted to take a break with his followers to rest. They were evidently someplace west of Bethsaida on the north end of the Sea of Galilee (Luke 9:10) and it was almost time for the Passover (John 6:4). But because the crowds kept coming, seemingly without end, Jesus and the Twelve got into a boat and headed across the north end, to the shore on the other side of Bethsaida. They were looking for a quiet spot to eat a meal together and relax.
33 But many people saw them leave. They recognized them and ran on foot together from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
Here would be a miracle for us to ponder if only the Scriptures would call it such. What a spectacle this race would make! A crowd of ordinary people, by no means the great athletes of the Olympic games, sees a boat scoot away under full sails and handled by expert professional boatmen. The crowd guesses where the boat is going, and runs together on foot around the north end of the lake. What is perhaps two miles by water is perhaps twice as far, about three, four, or five miles on land, over rough ground with no single path, And yet the crowd “got there ahead of them,” winning the race! Surely they were hungry for Jesus, for his words, for his healing miracles, for anything he had to offer to them.
It is wise to allow each of the Gospel accounts to speak for itself, but we will notice that in John 6:5 Jesus was already sitting on a high hill or mountain when he saw a crowd coming. This was probably in addition to the runners who got there first. Jesus was surrounded by a sea of humanity, not hundreds nor even a few thousand but nearly countless thousands. When the disciples grouped them into ranks to sit on the green grass of the Galilean spring they counted five thousand men in this group, apart from the women and children. Even modest family groups immediately brings a number in excess of twenty thousand people to mind. Who in all of Galilee was not here, holding out their hands, their needs, their hearts, to the Savior?
Who among all of us does not hold out their needs to the Savior? But do not hold back as if being polite is a virtue in this case. He invites us to ask and then to be patient for the answer. But do not hold back in your asking. “Come to me,” he says, “all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). And we respond: “May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise” (Psalm 119:41), and “Let your compassion come to me that I may live” (Psalm 119:77). He sees to our needs that way a righteous man cares for the needs of his animals (Proverbs 12:10) but with even more compassion; infinite compassion! With more concern; infinite concern! And with his divine goal of bringing us home with him to everlasting life.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
God’s Word for You – Mark 6:30-33 A secluded, solitary place