Kathleen A. Cahalan

Portrait by Ellen Marello

In the story of the feeding of the 5,000, Mark writes: “So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.” On the green grass? What is Mark pointing to in this small detail?

In Scripture, grass symbolizes life’s transient and fleeting quality. “All people are grass; their constancy is like the flower of the field....” (Is 40:6-7) Grass grows and dies, in contrast to God’s promises.

But grass comes back to life each spring. For Isaiah, grass is a symbol of divine rejuvenation. God’s word waters us, quenches our thirst, and makes us alive, as grass rejuvenated in the spring. Grass also promises rest. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. You make me lie down in green pastures; you lead me beside still waters; you restore my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3) Jesus looks upon the “vast crowd” as “sheep without a shepherd.” Of course, this shepherd leads them to rest on the green grass and feeds them. Grass is the promise of life from the beginning, the original lawn in the garden of Eden, and the place we will return.

As we move into Spring, let’s hear God’s invitation to sit on the green grass and be fed.


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