Mark 6. He Came to His Own and His Own Received Him Not.
Key Notes: Nazareth thinks about Him. The disciples' first trek. Herod killed John. Jesus walked on the Lake. Compassion.
In this chapter, Jesus meets with rejection, but undeterred, goes on to do works of power more amazing than before.
6:1–6 He came to His own country, presumably Nazareth, although the place is not named. He was recognized as a teacher and when He taught, His words were astonishing. Yet there was a slow psychological reaction—perhaps thirty minutes of thinking about Jesus--by the local people.
*They were astonished at His wisdom. His grasp of spiritual things was amazing.
*They tried to figure out how He got to be where He was. He had not studied with the great rabbis--Hillel, Shammai or Gamaliel. He had no academic credentials.
*How did He manage to do miracles? There were magicians around. Acts 13:6
*Wasn’t He a carpenter of Nazareth? “He was considered to be the son of Joseph the carpenter; and He appeared without comeliness, as the Scriptures declared; and He was deemed a carpenter (for He was in the habit of working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes; by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life);” --Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter LXXXVIII. (c.130 A.D.)
*Where did He come from? Wasn’t His family sitting there? Mother and sisters and brothers. [They don’t look like much—poor, dull housewives, laboring men and their unruly kids.]
*It just didn’t make sense. It must be a fraud. They were stumbling over the contradictions— His wisdom and miracles that could not be explained in ordinary human terms.
Jesus was gracious. He shrugged it off, knowing the psychology that says “familiarity breeds contempt.” He was a prophet without honor in His own country. That was normal. Too bad, and too bad for them. He could do nothing except heal a few sick folks.
6:7–13 He was soon on a teaching mission and called together the twelve men previously named (Mk.3:13–19), whom He had trained for preaching and healing. They were sent out in pairs, with minimum supplies, expecting hospitality from the people they ministered to. They were to preach repentance, heal the sick and cast out demons. If they were not received by the people of a village, they were to leave, shaking the dust off their feet in protest. Amazingly, they were successful. Jesus’ power had been granted to them. They taught (6:30), cast out demons and healed the sick. They returned to Jesus and reported success. (6:30). How exciting for Him and for them!
6:14–29 The next episode is upsetting and discouraging, but it illustrates the divided mind of a ruler, the same kind of mind that His own people of Nazareth had exhibited.
Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great and ruler of the Galilean district, heard of Jesus and his guilty conscience was aroused. He believed John the Baptist, whom he had executed, had come back from the dead. He showed his ignorance: John did no miracles. Others thought Elijah or another prophet was at work. Communication was garbled.
Herod’s is the story of sinful living.
*He illegally married his brother’s wife. Herodias was an evil woman-like Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, the enemy of Elijah. IK19:1–3
*When John the Baptist rebuked him, he had John put in jail for safe-keeping.
*He listened to John in prison, alternately pleased and confused, but incapable of change.
*Excited by alcoholic pleasure and lust, he made a stupid offer to his wife’s dancing daughter.
*When the offer was accepted, he refused to back down from killing an innocent man, involving his wife and daughter in the murder.
*A guilty conscience made him fear Jesus as the embodiment of John.
*He finally got a glimpse of Jesus during the trial (Lk.23:6–9), hoping that Jesus would do some miracle for him. Jesus refused to speak to him.
6:30–44 John was dead. The apostles (note the new title calling them: “sent ones”) reported back. It was time for a retreat. They were mobbed, so they took off in the boat. But the crowd made better speed on foot than the disciples did in the boat and they were greeted by the masses again at the landing. We would be irritated and frustrated. Leave us alone! Give us a break! Jesus was compassionate—a Greek word in the NT used only to describe Him—and He began teaching again.
When the sun began to set, the disciples wanted to send the crowds away to get their food. Jesus told them to feed the multitude. They could not think of a solution. It would take money, perhaps two-hundred days’ wages, to feed that many. Jesus asked what they had and the disciples came up with five breads and two fish, enough for one or two people. There were 5000 men, a company of perhaps 20,000 with women and children. He had them sit on the grass in blocks of fifty and a hundred and fed them all, with a dozen baskets left over—more than enough to feed the disciples.
6:45–52 Jesus sent the disciples back in the boat, dismissed the crowd and went alone into the mountain to pray. It was all that was left of the retreat. After midnight, the disciples were laboring painfully against a head-wind and Jesus came to them on the water. How could the disciples not be terrified? In the middle of the night, a visible figure of a man with his robes whipped by the wind was walking toward them on the water. Such a thing had never been seen before, nor ever would be seen again. He diverted His path to pass them by, but when they cried out, He came to them, calmed their fear, got into the boat and the storm stopped. This is the second time that He calmed the storm for the disciples. 4:36–41
The disciples were astounded—again. They did not understand about the loaves? What is the connection between the storm and the bread? The issue of the disciples’ reaction to the feeding of 5000 will come up again in connection with the provision for their daily needs. (8:17). Jesus will express concern that their hearts were hardened. Mercifully, a hard heart in not necessarily a permanent condition. We can hardly imagine ourselves in their situation and trying to integrate, to metabolize what they have been exposed to. Neither the people of Nazareth, nor Herod, were able to make the right choices; now the disciples, too, seem overwhelmed.
6:53–56 The work goes on. In Gennessaret swarms of people came, bringing the sick, laying them out in the public squares, reaching out for His cloak They were healed.
All of us have what the psychologists call “ambivalence.” We are of two minds, yes and no. We are optimistic and pessimistic, loving and hateful, skeptical and believing, angry and peaceful, believing in God yet denying His power: "...having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof." (IITim.3: 5 KJV). We see this in the people of Nazareth saying yes and no to Jesus. Yes, He is a great teacher. No, He cannot be because He comes from no place. We watch Herod listening to John, then to Herodias, wrestling with his conscience and finally failing. We even see the disciples getting hard hearts in the middle of breath-taking miracles. We see our scientists finally reading the DNA code (“the language of God”) and still declaring that creation is by chance. We straddle the fence. In slang, it is called “mug-wumping”: our mug is on one side, our wump on the other. We can die in indecision unless God intervenes and grants His Holy Spirit to give us conviction.
I cared for a young man in a singles group, who could always think of some pseudoscientific reason why my teaching might not be right. I begged him to get off the fence, but he died young, in indecision, unchanged.
Why did Jesus walk on water ? To this day, it defines anyone who would be a Jesus-equivalent. His singularity dominates this scene. Why did Jesus walk on water? He got to the disciples as quickly as possible, in a staggering display of power. We have not other explanation.
Why did Jesus act as if He would go by the disciples struggling in the adverse winds? First, we note that He came to their rescue in the dark of night, in their painful struggle with the wind and sea. But His bypass action was not unprecedented. He did the same walking with the two on the road to Emmaus (Lk.24:28). They had to beg Him to stay with them. Blind Bartimaeus begged for Jesus’ help while the crowd tried to silence him. (Lk10:37–38). The Syro-phoenician woman begged Jesus for her daughter (Mk.7:27) when Jesus turned His back to her. Jacob had to hang onto God all night for a blessing. Gen.32:26
Sometimes God pours out His blessing above and beyond what we could ask or think. But God also wants us to acknowledge our need for Him and encourages us to pray without ceasing. Lk.18:1–8; Lk.11:5–13
A friend of mine thinks Jesus was harsh with people. But no one in the NT is said to “have compassion” except Jesus. The Greek word for compassion ("splangchna") comes from the word the abdominal organs, the guts. The feeling is hard to describe.
I went with my pastor father to visit my sixteen-year-old- girlfriend in the hospital recovering from surgery for appendicitis. She looked beautiful. She was quiet, murmuring softly, but convalescing well. Neither of us could not say anything. As we walked quietly back to the car, my dad asked “How do you feel?” I said “ I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach.” That is the idea. We feel it in our gut.
Three times in Mark “He had compassion on them.” (1:47; 6:34; 8:20). We can make an emotional intensity series: friendly, sympathetic, caring, pitying, merciful, compassionate. It is the most intense of positive interpersonal feelings. Paul uses the noun form in his encouragement of believers, but does not say that he or anyone else has it. Jesus has it. No one else in the NT claims it. He is compassionate, more than anyone. It is part of His singularity. And He has compassion for us.