Feeding the five thousand




Use your own words to offer this meditation to God.

Bible reading

Read Mark 6 vv. 30 – 44.

Background information/commentary

The return of the twelve apostles

Jesus had sent his twelve apostles out to teach and heal in the territory of Galilee which lies on the west side of the Lake of Galilee (Mark 6. 7-13).  When they returned and reported back to Jesus at his base in Capernaum on the northwest shore of the Lake, he recognised that they were tired out and needed to rest.  There was no chance of resting where they were because, as Mark tells us,”…many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat” (6:31).  So Jesus decided that they must go away to a deserted place for rest.  The chosen spot was an area to the north-east of the Lake of Galilee.

The murder of St John Baptist

The territory of Galilee was governed by Herod Antipas, whose father, Herod the Great, had ruled over the whole of Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth.  This Herod Antipas was an unscrupulous and crafty man whom Jesus aptly summed up as “that fox”.  When Herod murdered St John Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, Galilee suddenly became a dangerous area for Jesus and possibly his disciples.  This may be another reason why Jesus thought he and his apostles should leave Capernaum and sail across to the northeast of the Lake.  For the territory on the eastern side of the Lake was ruled by Philip the Tetrarch.  He was Herod’s brother but was a very different man indeed – gentle, just and civilised.  Apart from the safety issue, the brutal murder of John must have had a huge impact on Jesus and he would have needed some quiet to come to terms with his cousin’s death and to have time to mourn his loss.

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