Parallel Texts: Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-14
Mark jumps back to Jesus and the disciples, who have just returned after their journey through Galilee, giving us the impression that Herod’s musings about who Jesus was had gone one during the mission of the twelve disciples. Jesus hears their stories and suggests they withdraw to the other shore of the Sea of Galilee, to a place Luke identifies as Bethsaida. Mark has them heading there later that night, but either way, they’ve crossed the border. It strikes me as interesting that Mark has the story of Herod and John the Baptist inserted here, because as soon as the “away team” returns to Jesus, he leads them out of Herod’s jurisdiction…
Of course, the crowds have anticipated their destination and arrive first. That is also interesting; did Jesus have a staff leak? Maybe I was in politics too long, but I can’t help wonder about that. Mark’s reason for their withdrawal was that the crowd was so big, they couldn’t even get a bite to eat, then the crowd, on foot, gets all the way to the other side of the Sea of Galilee before they can row straight across. Jesus, never letting an opportunity get away from Him, begins to teach. Then the disciples, seeing that it’s late in the day, ask Jesus to send the crowd off to get food, and what does Jesus do?
He tells the disciples to feed them. Of course the disciples object, citing the cost, and Jesus has them gather up what food they have and there are five loaves of bread and two fishes. You know the story, with five loaves of bread and two fishes, they feed five thousand people and have more leftovers than they started with.
So, let’s take stock: Jesus teaches the Kingdom, heals the sick and lame, makes the blind see, chases out demons, forgives sins, raises the dead and now provides free meals? If you are a priest, a Pharisee or Herod, your political problems are getting worse!