Feeding the five thousand - Page 3



A much-needed break

At Capernaum, with all the comings and goings, there was no time even to eat, and so before setting off in their boat the disciples would no doubt have made sure their baskets were full of provisions, ready for a quiet, relaxing picnic on the hills opposite.  It was springtime, a lovely time of year when just for a short period the grass is green on the hillside. (10) And their much-needed break started as soon as they set off from Capernaum to the shore near Bethsaida, a distance by water of around four miles. (11)

No escape from the crowds

But it was also just before the Passover and the crowds who saw the boat leave Capernaum were not going to let Jesus get away that easily.  He was going by water, but they would go by land round the northern shore of the Lake.  There were sick to be healed and teaching to be heard and so the throng hurried along as fast as they could.  In their haste, some probably didn’t even stock up with provisions, although people with children would no doubt have brought some food with them.  The distance from Capernaum to the shallow place where the River Jordan flows into the Lake of Galilee is a walk of an hour.  Then comes the crossing of the River Jordan and after another hour or so there is a green plain at the foot of the hills.  This is the likely location of the feeding of the 5,000. (12)

As the swelling crowd hurried along they could see the boat on the Lake and if the wind were light or against it, they could easily reach the spot before the boat. (13) And so they were there waiting for Jesus when he arrived (Mark 6:34) and instead of being annoyed he had compassion on them, and welcomed them and taught them and healed those who were sick.