Today’s Daily Lesson comes from Mark chapter 6 verses 34 through 46:
34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late;36send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.’ 37But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?’ 38And he said to them, ‘How many loaves have you? Go and see.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’39Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties.41Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42And all ate and were filled; 43and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
Now here is the pastor par excellence.
There are people and there are needs and the needs of the people are both spiritual and physical. The pastor senses the needs so deeply that they mysteriously become a part of his own heart and being. He has “compassion” upon them; literally, he feels with them.
There is teaching — which I am sure is different from “preaching at” — and there is the long stretch of the hot summer’s sun, and then the coming of evening, and the shadows beginning to make their slow march across the land.
And then, there is the surprising, and perhaps even disturbing word to the disciples. “You give them something to eat,” he says. And here, we have the mark of the true teacher — the ability to summon and charge others to find their own resources and take part in the care of the people.
Then there is the miracle. Bread is broken. Meat somehow multiplied. The people sitting down upon the green grass waiting for the like the meek sheep in the pasture Twenty-third Psalm, waiting for the shepherd to restore their soul.
The table is set. A desolate place becomes a green hall of banquet. Five thousand are fed and satisfied, with remainder, twelve baskets full — enough to feed a whole people.
And then, then comes the hard part. There is then the putting back into the boat, the sending off to another place, and the dismissal of the people. They would have wanted the day to last forever. But it was not to be. For the Shepherd gives only the day’s bread at a day’s time. And here is the mystery of the miracle — it can only happen one day at a time and this day of miracle must end before the next can begin.
And receiving the benediction from the pastor then the people turn and go. And they leave not completely gorged, but still very full. For while they would always want more of what they have had together, still they know what they have been given is enough.
Then the sun begins to set, and the dark surrounds the light, and there is evening, and there is quiet, and then, finally, the call to prayer.