The Perfect Servant in Mark’s Gospel: His Activity

The Lord knows. In the conflict of service, this gives great comfort. He understands our emotional weariness (6:30-32). He knows our material wants (vv33-44). He knows our physical weakness (vv45-52).

In our weariness we have His Pity; in our wants we have His Provision; in our weakness we have His Prayers and Power. In our previous article we considered the Lord’s Pity. We turn now to:

The Lord’s Provision (vv33-44)

A multitude, witnessing the Lord’s departure with His disciples, ran “on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them” (v33 ESV). The Lord arrived on the shore to see a large crowd awaiting Him. Rather than being irritated at this inconvenience, He “was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” (v34).[1] He did not complain about the loss of downtime. Always occupied with the needs of others, He yearned for the blessing of people whom He knew to be shepherd-less, without purpose, provision and protection. Recognising their spiritual need, “he began to teach them many things” (v34). Only by the teaching of God’s Word could the spiritual appetite of the crowd be met.

Afterward, “the day was now far spent” (v35), and another need became apparent. The disciples turned to the Lord, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (vv35-36 ESV). This seemed a wise course of action.

However, the Lord’s response to the physical appetite of the crowd was very similar to His response to their spiritual need. He instructed His disciples, “Give ye them to eat” (v37). They protested that it would take the most of a year’s wages to feed a crowd in excess of 5000 people.

The Lord asked for specifics: “How many loaves have ye? Go and see.” They investigated and returned: “Five, and two fishes” (v38). Their response told a story of complete insufficiency. It would be impossible by any human means to feed so many with so little.

However, the Lord remained unfazed. He “commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass” (v39). Taking the loaves and fish, He looked to heaven, acknowledging the divine source of the provision, and gave thanks. He then divided the loaves and the fish and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They “did all eat, and were filled” (v42). The inadequate, tiny provision gathered up by the disciples had been multiplied in divine hands to satisfy thousands.

However, the provision made was not merely sufficient – it was abundant. After the meal was complete, “they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes” (v43).

If we only had our scant resources, whether spiritual or material, to satisfy the world’s need, we must say as the disciples did, “Send them away.” However, there are limitless resources available. Paul, responding to the kindness of the Philippians, said, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Php 4:19).

These disciples not only had five loaves and two fish – they had the Lord. Their want could be more than offset by His provision. And the Lord is still the same. Place anything into His hands and He can multiply it to the blessing of multitudes.

What a contrast is here indicated between Herod and the Lord. At Herod’s feast in the palace there was cruelty, self-gratification and murder. At the Lord’s feast in the desert there was compassion, self-sacrifice and life-sustaining provision. How blessed to be associated with the true Servant-King. We now look briefly at:

The Lord’s Prayer and Power (vv45-52)

All needs having been met, the disciples were sent “to the other side” and the people were “sent away” (v45). The Lord “departed into a mountain” (v46), and a physical distance was created between Him and His disciples. They were in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land.

The physical distance indicates no disinterest on the Lord’s part. He was on the mountain “to pray” (v46), and while there, “he saw them toiling in rowing” (v48). He was cognisant of their struggles. As they inched their way across the sea against an opposing wind, His eye was upon them. In the very early morning, when they were exhausted from their toil, the Lord “cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them” (v48).

Why would He have “passed by them”? Walking upon the waves revealed His power over the waves. Making unimpeded progress against the wind showed His power over the wind. The disciples were struggling against an opposing force, but the Lord was not similarly affected. He “would have passed by them” (v48).

Glimpsing a figure upon the sea, they cried out in terror, supposing it to be a “spirit.” The Lord calmed their fears, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid” (v50). The Lord’s form of words indicates that this was a claim to deity. The Man who pitied them was the God with power to aid them. He “went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased” (v51). Their amazement and wonder knew no bounds.

He who provides for us in our wants prays for us in our weakness. Not only so, but the problems we face are no problems to Him. He walked upon the waves and He progressed against the wind. May we, while acknowledging our weariness, wants and weaknesses, not forget that the Lord is able for every trial we face.

Every tear, every care,
He’s promised He will share.
And although He’s the Lord of all glory,
Yet He’s only a prayer away.[2]

[1] This and all remaining Scripture quotations are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

[2] Len Magee