‘Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.’ Mark 6:39
This verse does not seem to have much of doctrinal importance about it, but it is important for our current thoughts on Biblical meditation. It is taken from Mark’s account of the feeding of the five thousand: read the whole story in Mark 6:35-44. The reason we are looking at it today is that it contains something comparatively rare in the Bible – description. Not only does the passage say that the people sat on the grass, but it tells us that it was green! The word ‘green’ is, of course, an adjective, but if you think about it, there are very few adjectives in the Bible, and the narrative is largely one of facts about where people went and what they said and did.
This can make the Bible a difficult book to access for us, as we are used to a lot of description in almost all the modern books that we read, especially novels. Whilst the Biblical books were written with an immediate audience in mind, we are separated from that by 2000 years of history and culture, and yet must still discern the voice of God from its pages. This means that our meditation must be accompanied by imagination.
Many people will immediately respond, ‘But I don’t have an imagination!’ This is almost certainly because you have been told that you don’t have an imagination by a teacher, parent or other influential person, or that you have convinced yourself this is so because attempts at creativity have gone wrong. But God made us in His image, He is the Creator, and so we all have a creative spark within us. That doesn’t mean that we can all paint the Mona Lisa, but then nor could da Vinci when he first started painting!
Let’s come back to the green grass of Mark 6:39. Most of us don’t think of grass being any other colour, but the fact that Mark specifically mentions it means that it was a feature of this particular place (John calls it a place where there was ‘plenty of grass’, John 6:10), and that perhaps it was more fertile than most in the region. It’s one descriptive detail that we can latch onto, which might help us with other imaginative details – the colour of the lake of Galilee, of the sky, of the beach if there was one (you decide). It was late in the day (v35), so the sun was dropping towards the horizon, and maybe the golden colour of its rays had begun to intensify colours and pick out shadows. Continue thinking about the scene, and then, when you are satisfied that the setting is ready, re-read the story (Mark 6:35-44), adding further details as the text suggests them to your mind. Did you find something new in this familiar story this time round? Or have you taken comfort after being in Jesus’ presence, having spent more time with Him in His world?