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11: Feeding Five Thousand, Walking on Water (Mk 6:30-56)
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I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

Following John’s death, the narrative cuts back to the excited apostles returning from their mission. However, they still had much to learn. In this passage, Jesus performed two great miracles, but they still did not understand His purpose.

B.     Key Verse

“And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened” (6:51-52).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      “Sheep not having a shepherd” (6:34): Domesticated sheep suffer from a lack of initiative, and so are easily lost and injured. Without a shepherd, they are helpless.

2.      Two hundred denarii/eight months wages (6:37): Not even that amount of money would buy enough bread for all to eat.

3.      Loaves, fish (6:41): Staples in Galilee, especially for the poor. Jn 6:9,13 specifies barley loaves—the cheaper, coarser bread.

4.      Baskets (6:43): A two-gallon basket (kophinos), different from the ones in Mk 8:8. It has a cord for a handle, used for carrying provisions on the back.11

5.      Five thousand (6:44): This does not include women and children, who were grouped separately for the meal, according to Jewish customs. The size of the crowd is amazing in light of the fact that the neighboring towns of Capernaum and Bethsaida had a population of only 2,000 to 3,000 each.

6.      Bethsaida (6:45): Literally, “House of Fishing.” A city on the north coast of Galilee. Like Capernaum, it was a fishing town.

7.      Fourth watch (6:48): 3:00 to 6:00 A.M.

8.      Ghost (6:49): Jewish superstition held that the appearance of spirits during the night brought disaster. The disciples were terrified because they thought they were seeing a water spirit.

9.      Gennesaret (6:53): Literally, “Garden of Riches.” A fertile plain, about four miles long and less than two miles wide, on the northwest side of Galilee.

II.    Observation

A.     Outline











B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. Segment Analysis

A.     6:30-45

1. Describe the apostles’ mood when they reported to Jesus. What had they done and taught?

2. Verse 31 says, “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” How does this explain why Jesus said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”?

3a. Suppose you tried to get some rest, but people still come to you for help, how would you feel?

3b. What did the Lord do when the multitudes disrupted His rest? What can we learn from Him?

4a. On Chart B below, paraphrase the dialog between the disciples and Jesus (35-38).

4b. When you pray to God for help, do you suggest a solution to Him? Why or why not?

4c. The disciples thought Jesus was asking for the impossible when He said, “You give them something to eat” (37). Do you sometimes feel like God makes unreasonable demands of you?

4d. Jesus asked the disciples to count the number of loaves. Why did they also come back with two fish (38)?

5. What does this miracle teach us about what to do when we ask for God’s help?

6. Mark writes that the crowd was “like sheep not having a shepherd” (34), and that they sat down on the “green grass” (39). Compare this scene to Ps 23 and Jn 10:11-14.

7. What did Jesus do after He fed the people? What does this teach us about our responsibilities?

8a. Notice how Jesus “immediately” “made” the disciples get into the boat and sent the multitude away Himself (45). Why such haste, and why did the disciples seem reluctant? (cf. Jn 6:15)

8b. What is the lesson for us today?

B.     6:46-52

9. How long had the disciples been in the boat before Jesus went out to them?

10. When the disciples were terrified, Jesus immediately revealed Himself (50). How does Jesus make Himself known to you when you are afraid?

11. How is this incident different from what happened in Mk 4:35-41?

12. Explain verse 52. What do the loaves have to do with the disciples’ amazement? How is “their hearts were hardened” an explanation to their amazement?

C.     6:53-56

13. Compare the people’s reaction when they recognized Jesus (54) to the Nazarenes’ reaction (6:3).

14. Compare 2:3-4 and 5:27-29 to 6:55-56. What does the similarity of these events teach us?

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