<< Mark VI: Feeding the Five Thousand >>
THE apostles came together again to the Lord by the Gennesaret shore, to tell Him what they had taught, and what they had done, and the Lord took them apart into a desert place, a quiet place away from the towns, to rest. We believe that they crossed the sea by boat to the sunny pastures which rise gently from the shore at the northeast corner of the lake, belonging to the little town Bethsaida Julias, which stood on the east of the Jordan as the river comes near the sea. You see by the map that as they sailed they were not far from land. The people saw them starting from Gennesaret, and hastened on foot along the shore ;others joined the company from the little towns which they passed.
So it was that when the boat with the Lord and the disciples touched the beach, a great multitude were there before them. The Lord pitied them. They seemed to Him like sheep not having a shepherd. He went among them and healed those that were sick, and leading them up on the grassy slopes above the sea, He sat down and taught them. There was much grass there; it was a part of the rich pasture land of Bashan. It was now spring, and the pastures were rich and good, and beautiful with bright llowers. When the day was nearly passed and Ihe people were in need of food, the Lord asked Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" The disciples begged the Lord to send the people away that they might go into the villages and towns, and lodge and buy food. But the Lord said, "They need not depart; give ye them to eat." "How many loaves have ye? go and see." They found five barley loaves and two small fishes. The loaves were thin round cakes of barley bread. Barley is a coarser grain than wheat and is often used as food for animals. The fishes were little dried ones to be eaten as relishes with the bread. The Lord bade the disciples make the people sit down upon the grass. There were five thousand men besides women and children. They sat down in companies, by hundreds and by fifties; and in their bright dresses they looked like flower beds on the green sunny hill-side.
The Lord gives us all our food. Usually He does it by sending sunshine and rain, and making the grain grow in the fields. But that day on the shore of Galilee He gave the bread directly from His own hand, so that we may know that it always is His gift, and thank Him for it.
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.---Mark VI. 30-44.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Pictures: James Tissot ----Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum