Green Grass in the Desert
Intro: Three times in this passage, the place where they were was described as a “desert place”.
- 30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
- 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
- 32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
- 33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.
- 34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
- 35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:
But when we get to verse 39, we find that Jesus commanded the people to be seated in the “green grass”.
- Mark 6:39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.
In order to fully appreciate this, we need to examine the meaning of the word “desert” in this passage.
- DESERT: solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited, wilderness; deserted places, lonely regions; an uncultivated region fit for pasturage
That part of the definition – an uncultivated region fit for pasturage is what jumps out at me.
Then we get to verse 39 – and they sat down in the green grass.
- GRASS: the place where grass grows and animals graze; grass, herbage, hay, provender; of growing crops
The point is – why/how did a patch of green grass come to be in the middle of a desert place?
I. A Picture of God’s Power
How else can you explain this?
How was it possible for “a place where grass grows; a place for growing crops” to exist in “an uncultivated region fit for pastorage?”
All I can tell you is this – God might direct you through a desert, but there will always be a patch of green grass for you to rest awhile.
No matter how dry – how secluded – how desolate – how solitary – God can grow green grass in a desert place!
- Psalm 78:19 Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
II. A Picture of God’s Provision
This story is about God’s miraculous supply of over 5,000 men’s need for daily bread.
But this green grass is a picture of the “miracle” before the “miracle”.
Talk about provision!!
There were about 5,000 men (vs. 44). An average person sitting down occupies about a 3 feet by 3 feet space (9 square feet). That would be a minimum of 45,000 square feet of green grass just for the men.
That is the area the size of a football field.
If you figure in the women and children, that would greatly increase the area.
Then there had to be spaces between them because they were commanded to sit down in groups of 50 and 100. (vs. 40)
We could be looking at an area of green grass the size of 3 or 4 football fields.
IN THE MIDDLE OF A DESERT PLACE!!
There was enough green grass for everybody.
NOTE: They departed privately – vs. 32 Jesus only called his own personal disciples to come apart.
But in verse 33, the people saw them departing.
Verse 34 says MUCH PEOPLE came out.
When Jesus saw them, he was moved with compassion.
NOTE: The disciples appear to have compassion in verse 36, but it is disguising their own selfishness.
“They have nothing to eat…” Neither did the disciples. They had nothing to offer in verse 38.
Anyway… Jesus had true compassion. He doesn’t lead his sheep into a desert place where there is no green grass.
He didn’t see a bunch of trespassers – he saw them as sheep in need of a shepherd.
David the Psalmist noted that the Lord, as his Shepherd, made him to lie down in green pastures.
David noted that his shepherd was able to prepare a table in the presence of his enemies.
The First Mention Principle of the word “desert” is found in:
- Exodus 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
Just in this one verse alone, we find a shepherd leading a flock of sheep, and even on the backside of the desert, they came to the mountain of God.
God manifested himself to Moses – on the backside of the desert.
No matter how far Moses was from home, God met with him in a life-changing and personal way.
III. A Picture of God’s Planning
It did not take God by surprise that these people would be here.
Jesus directed His disciples to the desert place in verse 31 to “come apart and rest awhile.”
God did not avoid the desert place.
God did not see fit to have his disciples avoid the desert place.
Instead, He led them there.
But He knew that in the middle of that dry, desert, solitary, desolate place, there was a patch of green grass.
The desert place may have caught you by surprise, but not Him.
He knew all along where he was leading you, and He had a plan the whole time.
No matter how dry the desert, God’s got a patch of green grass to sustain you while you’re there!