The Gospel According to Mark really is a remarkable work. In our gospel reading for this day we are present at the feeding of the five thousand men – and of course, all the women and children who were there too. Jesus’ intention, as least according to what He said to the disciples, was that they, privately, might withdraw by themselves for rest.
It did not work out that way. And when He saw the crowd “He had compassion on them.” That compassion is a central characteristic of the Christ, God come to earth to minister to and heal and feed and forgive His people. That compassion for them – for us – had its culmination on the cross at Calvary. Compassion unto death, that we might not die the eternal death of the unsaved.
As we watch and listen to Him serve the people in the remarkable way He did, let’s find ourselves in that crowd. Without Him we are in a desolate place. With Him we recline in green grass. Without Him we hunger and thirst; with Him a table is set for us and His blessings are abundant. If, in the story Mark presents, you are seeing reflections of the Old Testament, you are right on. God Himself has come to His earth, fulfilling all that had come before. This isn’t a story of a free lunch. This is the story of salvation played out in that desolate place.