Mark 6: 30-34; 53-56 8 th Pentecost R.C. Brown
All Saints 18 JUL 21
At first glance, our gospel lesson for today does not seem to reveal much. Sandwiched in between these verses that our lectionary gives us for today, is the famous feeding of the five thousand, which seems to be the main event of this section of the Gospel of Mark. Some say that this account of the miracle of the mass feeding is probably omitted because it is covered in another year of our lectionary. But that, in my mind, seems uncertain.
Mark tells us that the disciples have returned from the mission where Jesus has sent them, to spread his word of repentance and forgiveness, to the villages of the surrounding area. They began to give Jesus details about their time away from him, and to tell him about their preaching and healing ministry. And Jesus suggests that they all go to a quiet and deserted place to get a little rest and relaxation, for people are coming and going about them, even to the point that they do not have time to eat in peace. And they are tired, and need some time of refreshment and recuperation.
But on further reflection and reexamination of these verses, they are, in fact very revealing. They
indicate much about the character of our Lord, and tell both of his humanity, being the incarnate son of
God, and of his divine nature.
These verses reveal that Jesus has a need for rest, that he is compassionate and loving, and that there is
something about his physical presence that makes him recognizable to the crowds. We will attempt to
explore these aspects of the Gospel of Mark.
Everyone must have rest. This is a reality that all of us human creatures know very well. Exhaustion can
be physical, and there is a mental aspect to exhaustion, as well. Jesus and the disciples are tired, and
they need not only to rest physically, but they likely are also suffering from some mental stress and
strain, which recuperation time will cure.
Here we see the humanity of our Lord. Just like the rest of humanity, Jesus, the man, needs rest and
And like Jesus, all of us know this reality. That is why we schedule vacation time, and that is why
weekends are special to those who are in the labor force. Leisure and recreation are big business in all
of the developed world, whether it is in the Americas, Europe, Asia, or the Middle East. We see this
constantly in our society, and we are bombarded with advertisements, in many forms of media, as to
the joys of recreation in various places and in different activities. Restoration can come in many forms,
be it the movies, or fishing, or the beach, or the mountains. Even a short drive in the country seems to
be just the trick for some of us.
As a part time, and semi-retired, minister of the gospel, I can share with you that full time ministry can
have a genuine effect on your mental and physical health. You share the concerns, the joys, and the
sorrows of your congregation, and you sometimes fear for their very souls. It can be physically
demanding, and you go whenever you are called. I have had a season of such ministry, and so I know of
what I speak.
That is why I urge all of you to be understanding of our rector and her staff, and to encourage them to
take care of both their physical, and emotional, welfare.
And we see in this scripture the compassion of Jesus. Just as he and the disciples are about to depart,
he turns back to the crowd, for he sees that they are like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus takes the
time, even in his exhausted state, to teach them, and the explain the love of God, and his message of
repentance and forgiveness.
This reveals yet another aspect of the character of our Lord. And it is one that is emulated by each of
those who have been touched by the Holy Spirit to enter into ministry. Even while on a much needed
vacation, our rector has been in touch with all of the staff concerning the well being of this
This is yet another reason why we all need to be respectful of the time and energy of our rector, for she
will never decline to help any person, who, in the words of our prayers in Rite I, “is in trouble, sorrow,
need, sickness, or any other adversity.”
Finally, Mark tells us that as Jesus and his disciples are leaving for a much deserved rest, the crowd
recognizes Jesus, and that he stops to minister to them.
In all of the Gospel, we have no description of the human Jesus. We don’t know what he looked like,
what his physical characteristics were, such as how tall he was, or anything about his physical aspect.
Contrast this to Moses, who is described as beautiful, or David, who was handsome with a ruddy
complexion, or Zacchaeus, who is so short that he must climb a tree to see Jesus. We only know that he
was male, in the male dominated Jewish society in the first century. His physical appearance has been
left to the imagination of each individual person.
Some people of European ancestry picture Jesus as a tall, fair skinned, blonde haired and blue-eyed
person. We see portraits in churches that reflect this imagination. This is probably doubtful, since he
was a Jewish middle eastern person. Doubtless, others see him as a person that reflects their own
ethnicity and ancestry, and that is not to be discounted.
Perhaps it is purposeful that we do not have a glimpse into the appearance of Jesus, and that all we see
him only in the spiritual sense, as the compassionate and loving savior, that can be known to all of us.
But one thing is sure. Jesus was, and is, the only son of God, and through faith in him we can attain that
everlasting reward of eternal life.