Mark 6:40

and they sat down in groups – in hundreds, and in fifties.


by twos
or any other
up to three hundred
we are in a human range

decisions can be reached
care given one-to-one
challenges offered and received
mercy be understood

beyond our limits
holding one another
becomes impersonal
power creeps in

first we argue
then we flare
schism angry split
distanced enough to war

humpty has fallen
a new leader’s plan
fails to pull us together
denies a new “good”


To make it as easy as possible on the Twelve serving such a crowd, the instructions contained another double word πρασιάι πρασιάι. Bratcher207 reminds us:

Prasia (only here in the N.T.) meant originally ‘a garden plot’; when used as here it means ‘in orderly groups’, ‘in rows’, ‘in ranks’ (cf. Moulton & Milligan). The element of order is stressed in the use of this word. The multitude formed orderly rows which could be easily and quickly served by the Disciples.

For a shepherd Jesus makes a good gardener, shaping raised beds to ease maintenance rather than shunting sheep and goats around from feeding patch to feeding patch.

As we watch a mechanism being developed to assist the Twelve, step-by-step, get out of their resistance to Jesus’ invitation to “Feed them yourselves”, reflect on this comment by Wright80-81:

If, then, we repeat Jesus’ command (‘You give them something to eat’) that doesn’t just mean ‘work a bit harder at famine relief’, though that would certainly help. It will also mean that those who discover the living God in and through Jesus must be prepared to face up to the evil structures and powers that still dominate and control so much of God’s world, and to challenge them in the name of Jesus and with the power of his victory on the cross. It isn’t just a matter of ‘he did supernatural things, so why shouldn’t we?’ It’s a matter of the full achievement of Jesus, of which these strange acts were just a part and a signpost, being brought to bear, through prayer and faithful action, on the world that still waits for the kingdom.

William Wilberforce did it with slavery (it took him an entire lifetime, too); who will do it with world poverty and starvation?

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