Mark 6:35

When it grew late, his disciples came up to him, and said, “This is a lonely spot, and it is already late.

it is late in the day
I repeat
it is late in the day
we are on retreat
intended to rest
the crowds
the crowds
a retreat setting
a retreat result
will you stop teaching
and comfort our hunger
it is late in the day
it is late in the day

The Twelve were tired before they began what was to be a time of respite. Another retreat is alright if it must be, but a vacation, O, a vacation, that would be the ticket. Now at the end of a day that revealed there was not going to be a party just for them, the isolation of the crowded place they found themselves in began to grate.

With these few words we shift from the reports of the Victory Tour of the Twelve to an example of how short-lived our high-points are and how easily they are lost.

LaVerdiere172 clarifies this shift:

With the contrasting reaction of Jesus and the disciples, the setting is complete and the story is engaged. Jesus accepted to be shepherd for the crowd, but the disciples, overwhelmed by the size of the crowd and the harsh conditions of the desert, refused. They even asked Jesus the shepherd to send the crowd away.

There is much irony in the contrast. Jesus had sent his disciples to a desert place where they might rest and find nourishment (6:31). The disciples wanted the crowd sent away from the desert back to the farms and villages to find themselves something to eat (6:35–36). It did not occur to them how they would find nourishment for themselves in the desert.

Earlier Jesus had sent the disciples on mission with instructions to take no food, no money, not even a sack for the Exodus journey. Jesus’ intention was that they should not rely on such things to fulfill their mission. But now with the vast crowd in the desert, and without food and money, they felt totally unable to fulfill their mission and were prepared to abandon it.

Readers of Mark are responders to Mark. Pause for a reflection on where you might be on the brag—whine continuum.

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