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Mark 6:39

ESV Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass.
NIV Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
NASB And He ordered them all to recline by groups on the green grass.
CSB Then he instructed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
NLT Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
KJV And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

What does Mark 6:39 mean?

The note about the green grass continues the sheep and shepherd motif (Mark 6:34). Jesus had intended to take the Twelve away to rest, but He can't abandon the crowd. As our shepherd, Jesus gives us nourishment, safety, and peace (Psalm 23). He sacrifices Himself for His sheep and defends us against enemies (John 10:11–12).

It is no coincidence that the greatest earthly king Israel ever had started as a shepherd boy (1 Samuel 16:11). David's years in the fields taught him responsibility and leadership. He learned how to calm his charges (1 Samuel 16:14–23) and how to protect them (1 Samuel 17:34–36). Most importantly, as a boy responsible for a good part of his family's livelihood that was regularly threatened by lions and bears, he learned to rely on God (1 Samuel 17:37).

Ministry leaders should take David's example. To strive toward God's heart (Acts 13:22), to fight for others both spiritually (James 5:19–20) and practically (Luke 6:38), and to find ways to provide guidance and relief for those who are struggling or spiritually wandering (1 Peter 5:1–3).

Just as members of the body of Christ have different roles, we also have different responsibilities. Even though He provides all the food, Jesus does not expect one disciple to distribute it all to thousands of people. Jesus splits the crowd into groups of hundreds and fifties, and all twelve disciples have a hand in the work. God does not intend each of us to fill every single need we see around us—we simply can't. Instead, we should seek the Holy Spirit's wisdom when it comes to which needs to meet, and to what extent. To take on too much not only risks burn-out, it deprives others whom God wants to raise up as leaders.
What is the Gospel?
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