Mark 8:4

“Where will it be possible,” his disciples answered, “to get sufficient bread for these people in this lonely place?”

what again
there’s nowhere to go
nothing to go with
besides they’re ingrates

they’re never satisfied
rip-off artists
future welfare queens
additionally not tithers

how can we run a PR campaign
if we’re always giving away
our profit on banquets
this is not sustainable

The response of the disciples is also the question we raise about our own lives when we run into a test that leads to wilderness living for a longer or shorter time. While seeking a deeper retreat, we do have concerns about how we will have enough “food” to satisfy at least our basic survival needs.

This question of the disciples will return to haunt as Jesus ritualizes the end of his physical presence with a meal that leaves them befuddled with blood and body images they don’t know how to deal with. Only later will they come to grips with living with a satisfied mind without Jesus’ physical presence.

This existential question is in contrast to Mark’s readers who view how the disciples responded and see it as a repetition of feeding 5,000. Mark’s genius lets us see what the disciples can’t quite grasp on their own.

Fowler in Anderson/69, supposes,

…the meaning of these stories lies less in ancient history and more in how they strike the reader who must encounter them now in the act of reading? As you might anticipate, the reader-response critic will ask, “What happens when the reader reads seemingly repetitious episodes?” And again the reader-response critic will want to consider every instance on its own terms because the rhetorical possibilities of repetition (as with any storytelling strategy) are endless. By repetition, the reader’s insight into the narrative can be built up or solidified; repetition can also weary us, confuse us, or make us suspicious. Repetition giveth and repetition taketh away. It is always wise to consider each moment of reading on its own merits.

Again, this repetition gives opportunity for us to consider our own repetitive response to our experiences to see if we are learning anything. How long have we held on to our narrative of our life and the world around? Will we notice a next opportunity for hospitality?

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