Mark 6:30-44 Word And Works.
Previously Jesus had sent out the twelve with power to both preach and perform works of healing and deliverance (6:7-13). The word preached and taught was combined with acts giving evidence to the truth spoken. Now that the apostles returned, they “gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught” (v. 30). Jesus then pulled the apostles aside to a deserted place to rest and eat – which they couldn’t do because of the crowds (vv. 31-32). Even so, the crowds knew where they were headed and rushed ahead to get there before them (v. 33).
What is interesting here is Jesus initial response to the crowd, not that he had compassion, but that the expression of this compassion was that he began to teach them many things, because they had no shepherd (v. 34). Compassion is typically taken as evident in physical acts of healing, deliverance, or simply providing basic necessities like food and water. However, these folks did not appear to have been suffering physical want or need at this time, rather their need was to hear the truth. However, this teaching lasted into the night, so that eventually the crowd got hungry and were in need of food (vv. 35-36).
Jesus regarded the need for food for the people as something that his apostles could and should also address. So much of the attention on this passage is on the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fishes that the main point is missed – even in the normal non-apostolic course since that time, the church is called to address both the need to teach the truth, and to care for the whole person as the need requires. Mark noted that there were 5,000 men, and we don’t know if there were women and children. However, with the blessing sought on what they had, they were able to address the needs of those present (vv. 37-44).