Mark 6:30
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
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(30) And the apostles gathered themselves together.—The return of the Twelve from their first mission is mentioned by St. Luke (Luke 9:10), but not by St. Matthew in this connection.



Mark 6:30 - Mark 6:44

This is the only miracle recorded by all four Evangelists. Matthew brings it into immediate connection with John’s martyrdom, while Mark links it with the Apostles’ return from their first mission. His account is, as usual, full of graphic touches, while John shows more intimate knowledge of the parts played by the Apostles, and sets the whole incident in a clearer light.

I. Mark brings out the preceding events, and especially the seeking for solitude, which was baulked by popular enthusiasm.

The Apostles came back to Jesus full of wondering joy, and were eager to tell what they had done and taught. Note that order, which hints that they thought more of the miracles than of the message. They were flushed and excited by success, and needed calming down even more than physical rest. So Jesus, knowing their need, bids them come with Him into healing solitude, and rest awhile.

After any great effort, the body cries for repose, but still more does the soul’s health demand quiet after exciting and successful work for Christ. Without much solitary communion with Jesus, effort for Him tends to become mechanical, and to lose the elevation of motive and the suppression of self which give it all its power. It is not wasted time which the busiest worker, confronted with the most imperative calls for service, gives to still fellowship in secret with God. There can never be too much activity in Christian work, but there is often disproportioned activity, which is too much for the amount of time given to meditation and communion. That is one reason why there is so much sowing and so little reaping in Christian work to-day.

But, on the other hand, we have sometimes to do as Jesus was driven to do in this incident; namely, to forgo cheerfully, after brief repose, the blessed and strengthening hour of quiet. The motives of the crowds that hurried round the head of the lake while the boat was pulled across, and so got to the other side before it, were not very pure. Curiosity drove them as much as any nobler impulse. But we must not be too particular about the reasons that induce men to resort to Jesus, and if we can give them more than they sought, so much the better. Let us be thankful if, for any reason, we can get them to listen.

Jesus ‘came forth’; that is, probably from a short withdrawal with the Twelve. Brief repose snatched, He turned again to the work. The ‘great multitude’ did not make Him impatient, though, no doubt, some of the Apostles were annoyed. But He saw deeply into their condition, and pity welled in His heart. If we looked on the crowds in our great cities with Christ’s eyes, their spiritual state would be the most prominent thing in sight. And if we saw that as He saw it, disgust, condemnation, indifference, would not be uppermost, as they too often are, but some drop of His great compassion would trickle into our hearts. The masses are still ‘as sheep without a shepherd,’ ignorant of the way, and defenceless against their worst foes. Do we habitually try to cultivate as ours Christ’s way of looking at men, and Christ’s emotions towards men? If we do, we shall imitate Christ’s actions for men, and shall recognise that, to reproduce as well as we can the ‘many things’ which He taught them, is the best contribution which His disciples can make to healing the misery of a Christless world.

II. The difference between John and Mark in regard to the conversation of Jesus with the disciples about finding food for the crowd, is easily harmonised.

John tells us what Jesus said at the first sight of the multitude; Mark takes up the narrative at the close of the day. We owe to John the knowledge that the exigency was not first pointed out by the disciples, but that His calm, loving prescience saw it, and determined to meet it, long before they spoke. No needs arise unforeseen by Christ, and He requires no prompting to help. Difficulties which seem insoluble to us, when we too late wake to perceive them, have long ago been taken into account and solved by Him.

The Apostles, according to Mark, came with a suggestion of helpless embarrassment. They could think of nothing but to disperse the crowd, and so get rid of responsibility. He answers with a paradox of conscious power, which commands a seeming impossibility, and therein prophesies endowment that will make it possible. Has not the Church ever since been but too often faithless enough to let the multitudes drift away to ‘the cities and villages round about,’ and there, amid human remedies for their sore needs, ‘buy themselves,’ with much expenditure, a scanty provision? Are we not all tempted to shuffle off responsibility for the world’s hunger? Do we not often think that our resources are absurdly insufficient, and so, faintheartedly make them still less? Is not His command still, ‘Give ye them to eat’? Let us rise to the height of our duties and of our power, and be sure that whoever has Christ has enough for the world’s hunger, and is bound to call men from ‘that which is not bread,’ and to feed them with Him who is.

Philip’s morning calculation {curiously in keeping with his character} seems to have been repeated by the Apostles, as, no doubt, he had been saying the same thing all day at intervals. They had made a rough calculation of how much would be wanted. It was a sum far beyond their means. It was as much as about ?7. And where was such wealth as that in that company? But calculations which leave out Christ’s power are not quite conclusive. The Apostles had reckoned up the requirement, but they had not taken stock of their resources. So they were sent to hunt up what they could, and John tells us that it was Andrew who found the boy with five barley loaves and two fishes. How came a boy to be so provident? Probably he had come to try a bit of trade on his own account. At all events, the Twelve seem to have been able to buy his little stock, which done, they went back to tell Jesus, no doubt thinking that such a meagre supply would end all talk of their giving the crowd to eat. Jesus would have us count our own resources, not that we may fling up His work in despair, but that we may realise our dependence on Him, and that the consciousness of our own insufficiency may not diminish one jot our sense of obligation to feed the multitude. It is good to learn our own weakness if it drives us to lean on His strength. ‘Five loaves and two fishes,’ plus Jesus Christ, come to a good deal more than ‘two hundred pennyworth of bread.’

III. The miracle is told with beautiful vividness and simplicity.

Mark’s picturesque words show the groups sitting by companies of hundreds or of fifties. He uses a word which means ‘the square garden plots in which herbs are grown.’ So they sat on the green grass, which at that Passover season would be fresh and abundant. What half-amused and more than half-incredulous wonder as to what would come next would be in the people! Many of them would be saying in their hearts, and perhaps some in words, ‘Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?’ {Psalm 78:19}. In that small matter Jesus shows that He is ‘not the Author of confusion,’ but of order. The rush of five thousand hungry men struggling to get a share of what seemed an insufficient supply would have been unseemly and dangerous to the women and children, but the seated groups become as companies of guests, and He the orderer of the feast. To get at the numbers would be easy, while the passage of the Apostles through the groups was facilitated, and none would be likely to remain unsupplied or passed over.

The point at which the miraculous element entered is not definitely stated, but if each portion passed through the hands of Christ to the servers, and from them to the partakers, the multiplication of the bread must have been effected while it lay in His hand; that is to say, the loaves were not diminished by His giving. That is true about all divine gifts. He bestows, and is none the poorer. The streams flow from the golden vase, and, after all outpouring, it is brimful.

Many irrelevant difficulties have been raised about the mode of the miracle, and many lame analogies have been suggested, as if it but hastened ordinary processes. But these need not detain us. Note rather the great lesson which John records that our Lord Himself drew from this miracle. It was a symbol, in the material region, of His work in the spiritual, as all His miracles were. He is the Bread of the world. Ho gives Himself still, and in a yet more wonderful sense He gave His flesh for the life of the world. He gives us Himself for our own nourishment, and also that we may give Him to others. It was an honour to the Twelve that they should be chosen to be His almoners. It should be felt an honour by all Christians that through them Christ wills to feed a hungry world.

A somewhat different application of the miracle reminds us that Jesus uses our resources, scanty and coarse as five barley loaves, for the basis of His wonders. He did not create the bread, but multiplied it. Our small abilities, humbly acknowledged to be small, and laid in His hands, will grow. There is power enough in the Church, if the power were consecrated, to feed the world.

All four Gospels tell the command to gather up the ‘broken pieces’ {not the fragments left by the eaters, but the unused pieces broken by Christ}. This union of economy with creative power could never have been invented. Unused resources are retained. The exercise of Christian powers multiplies them, and after the feeding of thousands more remains than was possessed before. ‘There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.’

Mark 6:30. The apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus — Namely, at, or quickly after the time of the awful event of the Baptist’s death, related above; and told him all things, &c. — Recounted to him; both what miracles they had done — In his name and by his power; and what doctrine they had taught — According to his direction. And he said, Come ye yourselves apart, &c. — Come with me into the neighbouring desert; and rest a while — After the fatigue of your journey, and let us endeavour to improve this awful dispensation by suitable meditations. For there were many coming and going, &c. — To and from the public place in which they then were; and they had no leisure so much as to eat — Namely, without interruption. And much less had they leisure for religious retirement and recollection. And they departed into a desert place privately — Across a creek of the lake; and the people — Who had been attending on his ministry; saw them departing, and many knew him —

Though he was at some distance; and observing how he steered his course, and guessing right as to the place at which he intended to land, they ran afoot thither out of all cities — By which they passed, thereby increasing their numbers continually. And with such eagerness did they pursue their journey, that they outwent them that had taken ship, and getting round to the shore where he was to land, they stood ready there to receive him in a large body. And Jesus, when he came out — Of the ship; seeing much people — Collected together, and considering what pains they had taken to meet him there, and the strong desire which they had thus manifested to receive religious instruction; and reflecting, likewise, how sadly they were neglected by those who ought to have been their spiritual guides; and how they were forced to wander from place to place, as sheep having no shepherd — To feed and take care of them; he was moved with such compassion toward them — That though he had come thither for retirement, he neither dismissed nor forsook them, but, on the contrary, receiving them in a most kind and condescending manner, began, immediately, to teach them many things — Namely, concerning the kingdom of God, Luke 9:11; healing also as many sick as were brought to him.

6:30-44 Let not ministers do any thing or teach any thing, but what they are willing should be told to their Lord. Christ notices the frights of some, and the toils of others of his disciples, and provides rest for those that are tired, and refuge for those that are terrified. The people sought the spiritual food of Christ's word, and then he took care that they should not want bodily food. If Christ and his disciples put up with mean things, surely we may. And this miracle shows that Christ came into the world, not only to restore, but to preserve and nourish spiritual life; in him there is enough for all that come. None are sent empty away from Christ but those who come to him full of themselves. Though Christ had bread enough at command, he teaches us not to waste any of God's bounties, remembering how many are in want. We may, some time, need the fragments that we now throw away.And the apostles gathered themselves together - That is, those whom he had sent out two and two, Mark 4:7. Having traveled around the country, they returned and met the Saviour at Capernaum. Mr 6:30-56. The Twelve on Their Return, Having Reported the Success of Their Mission, Jesus Crosses the Sea of Galilee with Them, Teaches the People, and Miraculously Feeds Them to the Number of Five Thousand—He Sends His Disciples by Ship Again to the Western Side, While He Himself Returns Afterwards Walking on the Sea—Incidents on Landing. ( = Mt 14:13-36; Lu 9:10-17; Joh 6:1-24).

Here, for the first time, all the four streams of sacred text run parallel. The occasion and all the circumstances of this grand section are thus brought before us with a vividness quite remarkable.

Five Thousand Miraculously Fed (Mr 6:30-44).

30. And the apostles gathered themselves together—probably at Capernaum, on returning from their mission (Mr 6:7-13).

and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught—Observe the various reasons He had for crossing to the other side. First, Matthew (Mt 14:13) says, that "when Jesus heard" of the murder of His faithful forerunner—from those attached disciples of his who had taken up his body and laid it in a sepulchre (see on [1446]Mr 6:29)—"He departed by ship into a desert place apart"; either to avoid some apprehended consequences to Himself, arising from the Baptist's death (Mt 10:23), or more probably to be able to indulge in those feelings which that affecting event had doubtless awakened, and to which the bustle of the multitude around Him was very unfavorable. Next, since He must have heard the report of the Twelve with the deepest interest, and probably with something of the emotion which He experienced on the return of the Seventy (see on [1447]Lu 10:17-22), He sought privacy for undisturbed reflection on this begun preaching and progress of His kingdom. Once more, He was wearied with the multitude of "comers and goers"—depriving Him even of leisure enough to take His food—and wanted rest: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while," &c. Under the combined influence of all these considerations, our Lord sought this change.

When Christ chose the twelve, it is said, Luke 3:14,15, that he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. So that till Christ’s ascension, though they went out from him to preach and work miracles, yet they ordinarily were with him, receiving further instructions. When they had preached, and in his name wrought many miracles, they again returned to Christ, and gave him account both of their doctrine and of the cures they had wrought.

And the apostles gathered themselves together,.... The twelve apostles of Christ, whom he had sent out, two by two, into different parts, having gone through them, and finished the embassy, they were sent about, met together in one place, and came in a body together,

unto Jesus; their Lord and master, who had sent them, and to whom they were accountable, as all the ministers of the Gospel are:

and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught; they gave him an exact and full account of what miracles were wrought by them, what diseases they had cured, and what a number of devils they had cast out; and also what doctrines they had preached, and what success in all they had had: so every Gospel minister must give an account of his ministrations to Christ.

And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
Mark 6:30-44. See on Matthew 14:13-21. Comp. Luke 9:10-17. The latter, but not Matthew, follows Mark also in connecting it with what goes before; Matthew in dealing with it abridges very much, still more than Luke. On the connection of the narrative in Matthew, which altogether deviates from Mark, see on Matthew 14:13. Mark has filled up the gap, which presented itself in the continuity of the history by the absence of the disciples who were sent forth, with the episode of the death of John, and now makes the disciples return, for whom, after the performance and report of their work, Jesus has contemplated some rest in privacy, but is hampered as to this by the thronging crowd.

ἀπόστολοι] only used here in Mark, but “apta huic loco appellatio,” Bengel.

συνάγονται] returning from their mission, Mark 6:7.

πάντα] What? is told by the following καίκαί: as well … as also.

Mark 6:31. ὑμεῖς αὐτοί] vos ipsi (Stallb. ad Plat. Phaed. p. 63 C; Kühner, § 630, A 3), ye for yourselves, ye for your own persons, without the attendance of the people. Comp. on Romans 7:25. See the following ἦσαν γὰρ κ.τ.λ.

καὶ οὐδὲ φαγεῖν] Comp. Mark 2:2, Mark 3:20.

Mark 6:33. And many saw them depart and perceived it, namely, what was the object in this ὑπάγειν, whither the ὑπάγουτες wished to go (Mark 6:31-32), so that thereby the intention of remaining alone was thwarted. πολλοί is the subject of both verbs.

πεζῇ] emphatically prefixed. They came partly round the lake, partly from its sides, by land.

ἐκεῖ] namely, to the ἔρημος τόπος, whither Jesus with the disciples directed His course.

προῆλθον αὐτούς] they anticipated them. Comp. Luke 22:47. Not so used among the Greeks, with whom, nevertheless, φθάνειν τινά (Valck. ad Eur. Phoen. 982), and even προθεῖν τινά (Ael. N. A. vii. 26; Oppian. Hal. iv. 431) is analogously used.

Mark 6:34. ἐξελθών] not as in Matthew 14:14, but from the ship, as is required by the previous προῆλθον αὐτούς. In Mark 6:32 there was not as yet reported the arrival at the retired place, but the direction of the course thither.

ἤρξατο] His sympathy outweighed the intention, under which He had repaired with the disciples to this place, and He began to teach.

Mark 6:35 ff. καὶ ἤδη ὥρας πολλ. γενομ.] and when much of the day-time had already passed (comp. subsequently: καὶ ἤδη ὥρα πολλή), that is, when the day-time was already far advanced, τῆς ὥρας ἐγένετο ὀψέ, Dem. 541 pen. Πολύς, according to very frequent usage, applied to time. Comp. Dion. Hal. ii. 54: ἐμάχοντοἄχρι πολλῆς ὥρας; Polyb. v. 8. 3; Joseph. Antt. viii. 4. 3.

λέγουσιν] more exactly in John 6:7.

δηναρ-g0-. διακοσ-g0-.] Comp. John 6:7, by whom this trait of the history, passed over by Matthew and Luke, not a mere addition of Mark (Bleek, Hilgenfeld), is confirmed. That the contents of the treasure-chest consisted exactly of two hundred denarii (Grotius and others) is not clear from the text. The disciples, on an approximate hasty estimate, certainly much too small (amounting to about £7, 13s., and consequently not quite one-third of a penny per man), specify a sum as that which would be required. It is otherwise at John 6:7. Moreover, the answer of the disciples bears the stamp of a certain irritated surprise at the suggestion δότε αὐτοῖς κ.τ.λ.,—a giving, however, which was afterwards to be realized, Mark 6:41.

With the reading δώσομεν, Mark 6:37 (see the critical remarks), the note of interrogation is to be placed, with Lachmann, after ἄρτους, so that καί is then the consecutive; and so shall we, etc. The reading ἀπελθόντες on to φαγεῖν together without interrogation (Ewald, Tischendorf), is less in keeping with the whole very vivid colouring, which in Mark 6:37-40 exhibits a very circumstantial graphic representation, but not a paraphrase (Weiss).

Mark 6:39 f. συμπόσια συμπόσια] Accusatives: after the fashion of a meal, so that the whole were distributed into companies for the meal. The distributive designation, as also πρασιαὶ πρασιαί (areolatim, so that they were arranged like beds in the garden), is a Hebraism, as at Mark 6:7. The individual divisions consisted partly of a hundred, partly of fifty (not 150, Heupel, Wetstein).

χλωρῷ] Mark depicts; it was spring (John 6:4).

εὐλόγησε] refers to the prayer at a meal. It is otherwise in Luke. See on Matthew 14:19.

Mark 6:41. καὶ τ. δύο ἰχθ.] also the two fishes.

ἐμέρισε πᾶσι] namely, by means of the apostles, as with the loaves.

Mark 6:43. And they took up of fragments twelve full baskets, in which, however, κλασμάτων is emphatically prefixed. Yet probably Mark wrote κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα (so Tischendorf), which, indeed, is only attested fully by B, and incompletely by L, Δ, min. (which read κοφίνους), as well as by א, which has κλασμάτων δώδ, κοφίνων πληρώματα, but was very easily subjected to gloss and alteration from the five parallel passages. This reading is to be explained: and they took up as fragments fillings of twelve baskets, i.e. they took up in fragments twelve baskets full

καὶ ἀπὸ τ. ἰχθ.] also of the fishes, that it might not be thought that the κλάσματα had been merely fragments of bread. Fritzsche without probability goes beyond the twelve baskets, and imports the idea: “and further in addition some remnants of the fishes,” so that τί is supplied (so also Grotius and Bleek).

Why Mark 6:44 should have been copied, not from Mark, but from Matthew 14:21 (Holtzmann), it is no easy to see.

τοὺς ἄρτους] These had been the principal food (comp. Mark 6:52); to their number corresponded also that of those who were satisfied.

Mark 6:30-33. Return of the Twelve (Matthew 14:13, Luke 9:10-11).

30–44. Return of the Twelve. Feeding of the Five Thousand

30. gathered themselves together] Their brief tentative mission was now over, and they returned to Capernaum.

Mark 6:30. Συνάγονται, gather themselves) together.—οἱ ἀπόστολοι, the apostles) an appropriate appellation in this place.—πάντα, all things) The distribution of the all things follows, viz. both what—and what (ὃσακαὶ ὅσα). A most noble narration.

Verse 30. - The narrative, which had been interrupted by this parenthesis relating to John the Baptist, is now taken up again. The apostles. This is the only place where St. Mark calls them apostles. In the parallel passage, St. Luke (Luke 9:10) says that they told him all that they had done. St. Mark adds, with more detail, and whatsoever (ὅσα) they had taught. They gave him a full account of their mission. Mark 6:30
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