1. Exposition

Why does Mark mention the presence of green grass?

Mark 6:39 (ESV)

39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass.

The presence of green grass is mentioned as a fact, not as a sudden miracle that would point to the messianic time.1 Green grass in this area indicates springtime (Passover is at hand: John 6:4). Mark, however, does not mention this to point to the time, but as a picture of an important happening. Green grass is not a common “carpet” to sit down for a meal. Yet people are now told to sit down as for a festive meal. This is implied in the double description συμπόσια συμπόσια (transl. “in groups”), a word that originally means “drinking-bout, festive dinner,” and later it is also used to indicate a group of people who have a festive meal together. The word is not commonly used for the normal daily meal. Jesus organizes a festive dinner where the guests form a community. In a desolate area without food, this must have been for those present almost as strange as (at the time) building an ark on land.2