Mark 6


‘Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.’ Mark 6:1-6

Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth, but it seems the teaching and the miracles that Jesus did were too much for those who knew Him from childhood. They weren’t prepared to accept Him for who He actually was.

Notice they don’t call Jesus the carpenter’s son, but ‘the carpenter’, this suggests by the time of this event, Jesus’ father, Joseph has already died. In Greek, the word ‘carpenter’ is ‘builder.’ He was the ‘local boy’ the village or town fathers couldn’t accept to be the Messiah at this time in His ministry, John 4:44. He could do no miracles because the people weren’t driven by faith to go to Him.

Since they considered Him only a local personality, they didn’t accept Him as one who had authority over the supernatural, Genesis 19:22 / Genesis 32:25. This event explains the faith that one had to have in order to be healed.

The faith was in the one through whom God worked to heal. In this case, it was faith in Jesus to heal. Because those of Jesus’ home country wouldn’t accept Him, He didn’t have the opportunity to heal many people, for few believed in Him. And so, once again Jesus is being rejected. The people in Nazareth forfeited an ideal opportunity to have the Lord with them.

Jesus went around the villages teaching, Matthew 9:35-38, this one statement explains the ministry of Jesus, and thus gives an example to teachers who would function in following the example of Jesus’ ministry.

In the early part of His ministry, He wanted to do much teaching. He wanted emphasis placed on teaching in order to prepare people for His kingdom’s reign that was to come. For this reason, He asked those who were touched by healing not to speak concerning their healing, lest people be drawn to Him simply for the purpose of being healed, Mark 5:43.

His going about in a circuit to teach is certainly a good example for evangelists today who want to teach a great number of people in a specific region, Luke 4:42-44.

Great opportunities

It is tragic to see people discarding the fantastic opportunity to be blessed by Jesus. In the country of the Gadarenes, they simply asked Jesus to leave, Mark 5:1-20. Here in Nazareth, they refused to believe and therefore didn’t even bring their sick for Jesus to heal. As a result, they missed out on the opportunities that others, like Jairus and the woman with the bleeding, benefited from.

What about us? Do we take advantage of the opportunity to know Jesus and to be blessed by Him?

‘Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.’ Mark 6:7-13

In this section, Jesus sent His twelve apostles out in pairs on a preaching tour. This marked the fourth stage in their career. Earlier, they had heard Jesus, been called by Him, and been chosen as apostles. Here they were sent out as His representatives to proclaim the message of repentance.

This was one of many preaching trips that Jesus commissioned the twelve to do, Matthew 10:1-15. They were given the power to heal as well as to cast out impure spirits. The purpose of the trips was to accomplish the mission of teaching as many people as possible before the event of the cross and resurrection in Jerusalem.

The teaching prepared the minds of the people to accept Jesus’ kingship that would later be proclaimed by the disciples on and after the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.

The preaching trips also prepared the disciples to face rejection by those to whom they went. Jesus had commissioned them to preach what would be ‘new wine.’ They were going to people of ‘old wineskins.’

The preaching trips gave them an opportunity to face the rejection of a misguided religious world into which they would go after Acts 2.

While Jesus was still with them, they could return for His counsel concerning problems they encountered on their preaching trips, Mark 6:12-13 / Matthew 11:1. The mission was urgent, so Jesus forbade them to take extra provisions.

This restriction wasn’t intended to be permanent, Luke 22:35-36, but was appropriate for this brief mission, Mark 6:30. Sending out six pairs of preachers both facilitated the spread of Jesus’ message and gave the apostles valuable practical experience.

‘King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Others said, ‘He is Elijah.’ And still others claimed, ‘He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.’ But when Herod heard this, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!’ For Herod, himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John, had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ So, Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him. Finally, the opportune time came. On his birthday, Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.’ And he promised her with an oath, ‘Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’ ‘The head of John the Baptist,’ she answered. At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: ‘I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So, he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. Mark 6:14-29

At this time in Jesus’ ministry, people were trying to determine who He was, Matthew 14:1-12. Because of the miracles, they knew that He was more than a good teacher of Israel, John 3:2. Perhaps because of the additional groups of preachers being sent out, Herod, the governor, heard about Jesus.

They had at this time speculated that He might be the resurrected Elijah, or the Prophet who was to come in Israel as the Deliverer. They possibly believed that He would be like one of the other Old Testament prophets.

Herod’s conscience may have been bothering him because he had killed John. He thought Jesus might be John the Baptist raised from the dead, Luke 3:19.

Herod at least concluded one thing that was right. If John had been raised from the dead, then the power of the supernatural was at work in the resurrected John. The supernatural was at work, but it wasn’t at work through a resurrected John. It was at work through the One about whom John prophesied and the One in whom all the world must believe.

Herod feared that if he acted against John, then something dreadful would happen to him. To some extent, therefore, Herod accepted John as a just and holy man of God. It seems that his acceptance of John was greater than the self-righteous religious leaders of Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, Herod’s pride to maintain face among his peers moved him to overcome his fear and carry out a rash promise he had made in response to the lustful dance of Herodias’ daughter.

John’s physical death thus manifested Herod’s spiritual death because he loved his position in this world more than the power of God.

Mark 6:14-29 tells why Herod had killed John. John had been preaching against his marriage telling him that it wasn’t right for him to have Herodias, who had been his brother’s wife. As a result, he imprisoned John, but didn’t wish to kill him, Herodias did.

One day, he had a party with many important guests and his stepdaughter provided ‘live entertainment.’ Because of her provocative dance, Herod rashly vowed to give her anything she asked, up to half of his kingdom.

Upon receiving instructions from her mother, the girl requested that John’s head be served to her on a platter. Herod hated to do it, but he didn’t want to lose face in front of his dinner guests, so he obliged the girl’s request and John was murdered.

Sins that beheaded John the Baptist

John was a righteous preacher who was murdered because of several sins.

1. An unlawful marriage.

2. Resentment and bitterness on the part of Herodias.

3. A lustful dance.

4. A rash promise.

5. Herod’s lack of courage in not breaking the sinful vow.

Actions that produced such bitter fruit should be carefully avoided by Christians today.

1. Despite the frequency of divorce and remarriage in our society, Christians must not act against the Lord’s instructions, Mark 10:2-10 / Matthew 19:9.

2. All disciples must rid their lives of resentment and bitterness because they build up and lead to hatred, harsh words and revengeful actions.

3. Lustful behaviour provokes every form of sexual sin in our society. Followers of Christ should avoid activities that encourage sensual feelings.

4. No one should make any promise without careful thought.

5. All should have the courage to do what is right regardless of the presence of others.

‘The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So, they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed, and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began teaching them many things. By this time, it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ When they found out, they said, ‘Five—and two fish.’ Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So, they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.’ Mark 6:30-44

We don’t know the time that transpired between the sending of the twelve in Mark 6:12 and their reporting back to Jesus. They here reported to Him what they had taught the people and also the miraculous deeds that were done by their hands.

It’s important to notice here that the twelve had been given authority to command the miraculous power of God before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on them in Acts 2. The Spirit was here working through them, in the same way, He would work through them after Acts 2.

This preaching trip of the twelve, therefore, was a training exercise for the apostles. When the time came to preach in the near future, they would know what to do.

Mark lists at least eleven instances when Jesus went to a place of rest. This is a good example for any evangelist who has given himself to periods of intensive evangelistic efforts. Because these worthy evangelists worked hard, they needed the rest. They needed time to talk among themselves and with God about the great things God had done through them. This was a retreat for prayer, thanksgiving and discussion.

The people saw that Jesus entered a boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Matthew 14:13-21. When Jesus arrived at the other side, the multitudes had already arrived there on foot. Therefore, when He saw their zeal to follow Him, He was moved with compassion. They were a nation of people who hadn’t been spiritually led for years, and thus, they sought someone to give them guidance. They flocked to the godliness of John.

Now they were coming to Jesus. They were looking for spiritual leadership. This was the leadership that the religious leaders of the day weren’t giving. It was in the context of their searching for someone to lead them that Jesus worked this miracle of creation.

When the disciples returned from their preaching trip, Jesus sought to leave the multitude in order to spend time with them privately. They had been so busy they hadn’t even had time for meals.

The five loaves of bread and two fish fed about five thousand men plus the women. Everyone ate, was filled and more leftovers were gathered than the amount they had started with. Once again, we see Jesus as the One who had the authority to handle every situation.

Twelve baskets full of fragments were left over. This multitude of seekers came looking for one who would lead them. They found the Chief Shepherd and the Son of God who would lead them to victory through the cross.

The proof of the miracle was magnified in the baskets of leftovers they took up. The power of the One who was in their midst was measured by the leftovers. He was truly the Son of God who had the power of creation, John 1:1-2.

Jesus here set the stage for the miracle to prove His power over the physical laws of nature. He sent the disciples on by themselves by boat on the sea, knowing that a storm would develop that would engulf them. Matthew 14:22-23.

‘Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up to a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.’ Mark 6:45-56

The disciples were rowing against the wind in the late evening, Matthew 14:24-33. They didn’t think that their lives were in danger, they were simply struggling against the wind. In the early morning from 3:00 am to 6:00 am, the fourth watch, Jesus was walking by them on the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus was passing by them not in the sense of leaving them in their predicament, but in order to present the situation that would truly manifest His deity, but Jesus may have been exercising a sense of humour. They were struggling against the wind and He with ease was simply walking by on the water. There would come a time, however, when they would have the faith to move mountains.

When Jesus says, ‘it is I’ this could be translated, ‘I am’, Exodus 3:14 / John 8:24 / John 8:28 / John 8:58.

Their superstitious nature led them to think that they were seeing a ghost, but Jesus reassured them that it was He.

Mark adds the statement here to associate these two miraculous wonders of Jesus. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand and the walking on the water proved that Jesus was Deity, John 1:1-3, He had the power to create, Colossians 1:16, He also had the power to control that which He had created, Hebrews 1:3.

It was at this time in the ministry of Jesus that the disciples were beginning to realise who He was. At the time of the feeding of the five thousand, they were slow to understand who He was, Mark 3:5 / Mark 16:14. They hadn’t understood from the miracle that He was God.

Therefore, the statement that their hearts were hardened must be understood in the context of what Jesus wanted them to understand concerning who He really was. They had accepted Him as a good teacher who could work miracles as Elijah or one of the prophets, but Jesus was more than a prophet, He was the Son of God who had the power of creation, Matthew 16:18-19. Jesus wanted them to realise that He was the Son of God.

At this time in Jesus’ ministry, many of the people were coming primarily for healing, Matthew 14:34-36. Though the works of healing provided a teaching opportunity, it seems that the masses were more concerned over their physical problems than their spiritual problems. And so, it is in a world where men have allowed the physical and temporal to distract them from the spiritual that will extend far beyond the destruction of this physical environment.

In Mark 6:56 it is stated that they first begged Jesus that He might heal them. However, it seems that the number of those who were seeking healing was so great that Jesus simply allowed them to touch Him in order to be healed.

It would certainly have been an amazing experience just to have been there. It would have been exciting to see the reaction of the multitudes to the presence of the Son of God among so many who sought healing.

Though the disciples had seen Jesus do many amazing things, every new incident seemed to surprise them. When they landed on the shore, many recognised Jesus and began to bring sick folks for Him to heal.

As usual, the Lord healed all that were brought to Him. On this occasion, Jesus at least manifested a small glimpse of what heaven will be.

The redeemed will be in the presence of God, and thus, there can be no sickness there. They will be in an environment of continual well-being, Revelation 21:4. The redeemed will be in an environment where the power of the supernatural will not allow sickness and pain to exist.

It’s difficult for us to understand such an environment in this world of pain and suffering. However, since God is above this physical world, then we must conclude that He will provide an environment of perfect well-being that is above and beyond this present world.

This is the hope of the Christian. It’s in this environment we continually long to dwell.

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