My Thoughts. . .
“Then Jesus suggested, ‘Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.’ For so many people were coming and going that they scarcely had time to eat” (Mark 6:31 TLB).
This passage reminds me of the following statement, “That’s enough todaying for today.”
Jesus was not only an excellent speaker but delivered thoughts which people needed. His popularity resulted in crowds beyond comparison. It was tiring just to walk through them. Social distancing was unknown. For some, his miracles were awesome to observe, and thrilling to talk about. Healings were instant and complete. On one occasion the “crowd getter” was his ability to provide a free meal (Mark 6:30-44). Nothing was required except their presence and the ability to eat. Most were there to feast on his words until their stomachs began talking to them. Any modern preacher worth his salt would have set Jesus straight about offering people eatable rather than spiritual food! They would have warned that once the freebies dried up, the multitude would evaporated. Sure enough, thousands once fed walked away reducing Jesus’ followers to its original twelve (John 6:25-68).
What was Jesus thinking? You cannot attract nor keep a crowd when you substitute the fallible for the infallible! If folks can be miraculously healed, why pay a doctor? If fed, why bring food? They wanted a healing circus. A full stomach was a welcomed bonus.
The apostles were correct in their concern for the crowd. Yet these crowds had sapped their strength and rest was needed. Mark acknowledges that they did not have time to eat and the needs of this crowd were draining their strength and questioning their faith. So often, the larger the problem, the more faith seems to shrink. Some would condemn Jesus for feeding their stomachs rather than refreshing their souls!
Mark does not go into detail concerning all of the apostles’ thoughts on that occasion. They were human though! They were tired. They had to push through the crowd and were being pushed by it. Most people would have gone home to eat. Most would have gone home to relax. Under those circumstances it would be easy for anyone to ask, “Why don’t these people go home and give us time to rest and eat?” Then they hear it from Jesus himself. “Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.” Can you not hear the deep sighs of relief being expelled by the twelve, who may have thought, “It is about time?”
When evening came, which we might call “supper time,” rumbling stomachs brought up another question. These people are hungry. What is available? The reply, “Five fish and two loaves of bread” is not a solution. Then the word “how” was introduced. There are more hungry people than available food. How would you and eleven others solve that problem? Why were the apostles so fretful? Was Jesus not there? Had they not seen his miracles? Were they not in awe of his power? Ah, but mankind can pat you on the shoulder in praise one minute and stab you in the back the next one. The thought had been, Let us get away from the crowd and rest.” The following idea is how can we feed so many? Saddled, with a faith that sees a few fish and too little bread produces a much larger “How?”
Problems often arrive to test our faith. One negative seems to covet company and produces others! Humans are never silent when a vacuum exist to be filled with more dead-end opinions. One’s lack of faith produced more questions, pitting five fish and two loaves against the number five thousand. The expression, “O ye of little faith” was a statement used by Jesus on several occasions (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). But before judging the apostles, why not ask, “What about us?”
Long ago each Israelite did “what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Human nature has not changed. There will always be those who see the negatives and feel compelled to criticize the positive. Failure is preached and retreat is the answer of a wavering faith. When life demands surrender, Jesus still invites, “Come to me . . .” (Matthew 11:28). He filled stomachs as well as open minds. Sometimes as disciples, we dwell more with the negative than the positive. We even justify the path we choose. Jesus gave them food because they were hungry. They had the desire to eat, but not to be filled with eternal words. Even one out of the twelve sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. One denied him three times. The rest fled as if they were the defeated leaderless. We will have our own surrenders, questions, doubts, and failures, but we belong to him who liberally loves and cleanses us.