1. Exposition

Why did Jesus choose the boat, since one could arrive by foot at the desolate area at approximately the same time (as the crowds did)?

Mark 6:32 (ESV)

32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.

Jesus does not choose the boat because the trip is long and the other coast far away, but because he wants to travel alone. He leaves the crowd and sails to the desert area of Bethsaida. The people, however, can also reach that same area by land quite quickly, when the starting point for boat and crowds was Bethsaida. This must have been the case because the next day these same crowds see no chance to reach without boats the more distant places on the west shore (Tiberias and Capernaum: John 6:23–24). We therefore explain Mark 6:32 in such a way that Jesus left by boat from Bethsaida where he was at the time and where the disciples returned to him, in order to free himself from the crowds and to sail to a lonely area (at the other side of the bending coastal strip).1