What does Mark 6:32 mean?Sometimes, desolate, lonely places provide the most rest. When we are separated from loved ones and have no urgent demands on our time, we can breathe, rest, and reconnect with God. God is everywhere. The modern era offers the internet, and computers in our purses and pockets, meaning we can read the Bible anywhere. And we can certainly always pray. But sometimes we need the quiet of the unfamiliar to hear God.
When we are alone, without friends, families, co-workers, classmates, or kids, we are reminded that God never leaves. His still small voice breaks through the daily noise and reminds us that He is deeply interested in us as individuals. In the wilderness, life becomes very simple. God becomes an integral part of the basics of our lives. We are reminded it has always been so.
The boat has been a staple in Jesus' ministry for some time. He uses it to preach to a mob that crowded a little too close for comfort (Mark 3:9; 4:1) and as an escape (Mark 4:35–41). It may very likely have been Peter and Andrew's boat. They and James and John are fishermen, but unlike James and John, who apparently worked for their father, Peter and Andrew appear to own their boat (Mark 1:16–20).
The parallel passages give confusing accounts of where exactly this "desolate place" is. Jesus and the Twelve most likely start in Capernaum, Jesus' adopted headquarters and the home of Peter and Andrew (Mark 1:29). This desolate place is accessible by sea, has green grass (Mark 6:39), and is on "the other side of the sea of Galilee" (John 6:1) not far from a mountain (Mark 6:46). It is close enough to Capernaum that people can run there faster than the Twelve can row (Mark 6:33) and is at least three or four miles from Gennesaret (John 6:19) which is south and west of Capernaum. "The other side," which is mentioned in several places, can mean any place on the other side of the Jordan River which feeds the Sea of Galilee on the north and drains it on the south. Luke locates the area as at or near Bethsaida (Luke 9:10).
The Plain of Bethsaida matches this except for Mark 6:45. When Jesus wishes to leave, He sends the Twelve to "get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he [dismisses] the crowd." The passage seems to say "the other side" of the desolate place is Bethsaida, itself. However, if the comma after "Bethsaida" is removed, the statement infers that Jesus sends the twelve to Bethsaida to get the boat to take to the other side while He dismisses the crowd.