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Mark 6:36

ESV Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
NIV Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.'
NASB send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.'
CSB Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages to buy themselves something to eat."
NLT Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.'
KJV Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

What does Mark 6:36 mean?

The Twelve have just returned from traveling in pairs, healing people, casting out demons, and preaching repentance (Mark 6:12-–13). They were so busy they had little time to eat (Mark 6:31). What they thought would be a restful trip with Jesus winds up being yet another day of watching Jesus heal and teach. It's possible that the Twelve are thinking of their own hunger and fatigue, but it's also likely that their time spent healing and talking to people directly has softened their hearts to the point that they are sincerely concerned for the great crowd, many of whom followed so quickly they didn't bring food with them (Mark 6:33).

This is a common issue for modern ministry leaders, as well. In the thick of helping others, it can be difficult to determine how much we should consider our own needs. It certainly won't do any good to those we're helping if we collapse from exhaustion. When one has a heart for others, it's hard to resist the urge to go one more hour, take on one more event, or complete one more task that will bless people. It's difficult to know when to pull back, either to let someone else handle things or to give the people a chance to take care of themselves.

On the other hand, as with the Twelve, there are times God wants us to go one step further when we think we're completely spent. The key point to remember is that in those moments, He merely wants to show His power and authority through us. He doesn't expect us to go the distance on our own. He does expect us to come to Him when we are at the end of ourselves. If we're smart, we'll go to Him before we reach that point.
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