A reflection by Hetty Stok on Mark 6:30-44.
It’s been a busy morning. We started with a debriefing, telling Jesus what’s been going on. The teaching, the healing, the people. Oh, the people! They just keep coming! I was relieved when Jesus suggested going over the lake to a quiet field and just relax for a spell. But from the water we could see the crowds following us along the shoreline. My heart sank; couldn’t we have a moment to ourselves?
As we stepped onto the shore the people caught up with us. Jesus kept walking as if he could shake them off, or perhaps hoping they would realise we wanted some time away from them. I know that’s what the rest of us were hoping.
No he wasn’t walking from them. He was leading them. He wasn’t trying to shake them off. He was gathering them closer. When we reached the quiet green-grassy hill where we should have had our restful afternoon, Jesus directed the crowd to sit. Then he taught them. Not the “rules and regulations” kind of teaching you can usually get from the rabbis, but stories. Stories about ordinary folk – shepherds, widows, arguing brothers and the like. My favourite was the good shepherd one. Imagine leaving 99 sheep and going off after one stupid lamb! I guess it’s like that Psalm King David wrote – the good shepherd will always care for his sheep; even the stupid little ones.
Well, I reckon it’s time to send this lot home. It’s getting onto dinner time and if they’re like us they won’t have had lunch either. Peter is talking to Jesus. I can’t believe it! He wants us to feed everyone!
James is scouting around in case someone’s brought enough food for 5000 people. Well that’s not going to happen. He comes back with a meager 5 loaves and 2 fish, and hands them to Jesus. As if it were a banquet spread out for a king, Jesus holds them up to the sky and thanks God for the bounty.
I’m calculating that every man woman and child might get a crumb each and they’ll probably start a riot to get that much.
Jesus gives me a handful of bread – no, it’s more than an armful. I walk among the people who calmly take what they need. Some take a bit more, and when I get back to Jesus he again fills my arms with provisions. The people have eaten all they want. Now they are lounging in the grass patting their bellies with satisfaction. “No thanks mate,” they say, as we collect the leftovers and bring it back to Jesus.
Jesus, like a shepherd, lead us.
Much we need thy tender care.
In pleasant pastures feed us.
All our sin and grief to bear.
Today I was a stupid little lamb. I started well – focused on Jesus, following him, listening to him. But I wandered: I focused on myself – my need for rest, my hunger, me, me, me. I stopped listening even when He was speaking loudly with His actions. I was hungry even when I had my arms full of food. Lord, forgive me my blind stupidly. Hook your shepherd’s staff around my neck and bring me close to you again. Because that’s where I want to be.