In our study of Mark chapter six, we will look at relationships and how they may change when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. We will look at the friends and family of Jesus and examine how the relationship changed when He began His ministry.
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Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.
After demonstrating His authority to the people of Galilee as we saw in chapter five, Jesus went back to Nazareth. This is where He would have grown up and so many people would know Him.
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, that he even does miracles! 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.
When Jesus taught in the synagogue, the people were amazed at His teaching and even knew of the miracles but they could not see Him for who He was. Many of them would have grown up alongside Him in the town and all knew His family.
Jesus said to them, 'Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.'
Jesus had just come from having massive crowds follow Him wherever He went. Now, when He gets back to His hometown, He faces this opposition because the people had seen Him grow up from a child. We, as Christians, may face the same type of thing when we come to Christ. There may be some old friends that remember you from the old days and they may not be able to accept the new creation that you are in Christ. There may even be family members that call you things like "Jesus Freak" because they do not know Him but they remember you.
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Jesus was not able to do much work in His hometown because of their unbelief. We have seen that faith is the key that unlocks the power of God and most of the people just could not accept Jesus as the Son of God.
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
We see that Jesus did not stay there and try to force them to believe in Him. Instead, He moved on to other villages and many times we, as Christians, need to do the same. It seems that many today will stay in the same place doing the same thing "for Jesus" but there is no fruit produced from their labor. Many will also go so far as to criticize a Christian who moves on to more fertile soil and productive work. We must remember that the plant is judged by the crop it produces not by the amount of its growth.
Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
Jesus sent the apostles out in groups of two and gave them the authority to demonstrate His authority and power. We might ask why he sent them in groups of two instead of alone or as one big group. We are reminded that, throughout the Bible, the number two is associated with the number of legal witnesses required to make something be accepted as truth.
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 tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.'
Jesus' instructions for the apostles were specific but have been misunderstood by many. They were going to nearby villages and were not to settle there but to complete their work so they would have not required a big suitcase of belongings. They were to proclaim the gospel and, if the people did not listen, their blood would be on their own heads. This is a reminder for us that, like the apostles, our job is to clearly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ but it is God's work to bring people to Himself. On the day of judgment, those that do not heed His call will not be able to say that they never heard.
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
We see, here, that they did preach the gospel and it was backed up by signs and wonders. Today, it seems that there is a kind of divorce between the two in parts of the world. There are some who preach the gospel but there is no display of God's power and very little happens in the lives of the people. There are others who get so caught up in signs and wonders that they do not clearly present the gospel and tell people how they can be saved. The preaching and the signs are designed by God to work together just as it did in the days of the apostles.
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.'
The name of Jesus became well known and even the king heard about what was going on. All kinds of people were trying to figure out who He was and the same thing happens today. There are those who say that Jesus was a "good man" and some that say He was a prophet or even Elijah.
But when Herod heard this, he said, 'John, the man 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.'
Herod was convinced that John the Baptist had returned from the dead. He had been arrested by Herod for calling him to repent for taking his brother's wife for himself. As the herald for Jesus, John went first calling people to repent and he did so for all men. It didn't make any difference whether it was a common man or even the king as John simply focused on his purpose. There are a great many people, today, who will loudly proclaim the gospel as long as it is in a church. Many times, they will not stand up and preach the truth in the streets or in the halls of power. If we want to be true heralds for the return of Jesus Christ, we must faithfully proclaim the gospel even to people that don't want to hear it.
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.
Herodias wanted to kill John because she wanted to change husbands for wealth and power. Herod protected him because he new that he was holy and wanted to hear more of the gospel. God was simply giving John time to reach the king.
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.'
We saw before that Herod tried to protect John the Baptist because he wanted to hear more about God but, as we see here, Satan was at work as well. At this party, Herod made a promise expecting to give away money and riches but instead was forced to make a choice for good or evil. Herod had heard about the things of God and, instead of repenting and sending Herodias back to her husband, kept her around. We all have that same choice to make when confronted with the truth about God and our choice has consequences.
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.
Now, we see the details of John the Baptist's death. The king had boasted in his pride and ordered the death of John. We see that he did not want to do it but, as it is with sin, one thing leads to another.
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.'
When the apostles returned to Jesus they were excited to report all that had happened. We have to ask ourselves whether we are excited, like the apostles, about what God is doing in and through us. If we are not excited, then, we may not be doing what He has planned for us. We also see that Jesus urged them to spend time alone with Him and that is something that we all need.
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.
They left expecting a little peace and quiet but were met by a crowd looking for help. We see that they put aside their plans and had compassion on the crowd. We may ask ourselves if we would do the same thing or do we get upset when people interfere with our plans. We may also ask how they could show compassion when they were so tired. We see that it is only by and through Jesus that they were able to put their needs and plans aside for the good of others. As Christians, we have to do this continually in hopes of teaching people about Jesus.
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 they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.'
It was late in the day and so the disciples were worried about feeding the people. This has often been pointed out as a lack of faith but, in fact, they were trying to imitate Jesus in showing compassion for the people. They were still a little confused and focused on the flesh but they were growing in their faith.
But he answered, 'You give them something to eat.' They said to him, 'That would take eight months of a man'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.
We are let in on this conversation between the disciples and Jesus and we can guess at how puzzled they would have been. They had seen Jesus perform miracles and they had themselves performed many but this was going to be something else. Jesus gave simple instructions for them to inventory the food they had and to then have the people sit down. We grow in our faith when we see God do things that we have never seen Him do before. We exercise our faith when we trust in what we have seen Him do and act accordingly.
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 set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied,
Jesus demonstrated faith to His disciples by simply thanking the Father for His provision and passing out the food. He did not give a long prayer and hope that it would be answered. Imagine the looks on the faces of the disciples as they kept passing out the food until everyone had enough. Faith works in the same manner today and this demonstration is for us as well as the disciples. He has promised to provide for His people and we can simply trust that He will do so. This is going to get more difficult in these last days but His promises never fail.
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.
We see that God does not provide just the bare minimum as they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. We are reminded that the number twelve is associated with divine authority and that authority had produced enough to feed more than five thousand people.
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 on a mountainside to pray.
Jesus sent the men on ahead while He went to pray. Although we are not told about what His prayers contained, we can be sure that He was lifting up these disciples as they had become His family and were heading for their next lesson in faith.
When evening came, 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. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them,
Why would Jesus see the disciples "straining at the oars" and yet be "about to pass by them"? Jesus will not barge in and do anything in our lives. If we want to continue straining and struggling to do things on our own, He will let us.
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.
The disciples did not recognize Jesus and so cried out in fear. The same type of thing happens in our lives many times. If we are not looking to see God at work in our lives, we will not recognize His hand and we may think that we are alone. He calmed them and the wind down but we see they did not understand what had happened. A hardened heart can not feel and we see here that their hearts were hardened concerning the things that they had seen Jesus do. They had seen the multiplication of the loaves and fishes but did not let it sink into their hearts and change their understanding of Jesus and the natural world.
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 him were healed.
People brought their loved ones from all over the region to be healed. Everyone that touched Jesus was healed and it reminds us that all who come to Jesus will be healed spiritually and saved for eternity. These people did not understand this yet but they acted in faith with what they knew. They had heard that this man could heal their loved ones physically and they believed it and took action. This, too, would have been a lesson and an encouragement to the disciples as they were being stretched in their faith. Likewise, Jesus asks us to live out our faith because when we put it into action we will grow.