Welcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 5, where we saw a picture of salvation in the demoniac of Gerasenes, the Authority of Christ over the enemy, the saving of a woman by faith, and we closed with Jesus raising a girl from the dead by simply calling her. All of this points to Christ as the LORD of our Salvation.
Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 6 of the Gospel According to Mark.
Mark 6:1-6 (ESV) | Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
Mark continues demonstrating the Authority of Jesus as the Christ, God the Son. Notice that over the past couple of chapters, the focus has been on the external testimony of Christ’s Authority in the signs and wonders. Here, Jesus begins to teach. Something worth noting here is that during this time the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day preached two forms of the Law, the Written Law and the Oral Law (or the Traditions of the Elders). Jesus flatly rejected their Oral Law, as should we. Now, the way that the Oral Law worked was that it was supposedly a special set of instructions that God had given to Moses that were not written down, but passed down through the Priesthood. It was special revelation regarding the Written Law (supposedly) granting special understanding to the priestly class. Could there have been some merit to some of this teachings about the Written Law? sure, but by the time of the Pharisees these traditions had supplanted the Written Law such that Jesus will be completely and openly rebuking them for doing just this.
Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV) You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
We’ll see it next week covered in Mark 7 and we’ll talk then about the Prophets Jesus is quoting in this rebuke. It’s intense. We have a trustworthy Written Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament. When the LORD went silent after Malachi, not speaking through anymore Prophets until the time of John the Baptist, the “oral law” was still being passed down and written. It is in this time period that we see the rise of the Pharisee sect. That’s why you don’t see them mentioned in the Old Testament. Anyway, the authority in their teaching relied heavily on their ability to trace back their teachers to Moses, like a sort of genealogy. Jesus clearly didn’t play ball. He taught with His own Authority, and it offended them. Notice they questioned first training, then his wisdom, and then the mighty works. Despite confessing the wisdom of His teaching and the mighty works which serve as a Testimony to Him, they reject it all because of their own metric, their own measure of worthiness, their own logic and opinions. But it isn’t enough to just reject what He was teaching, they rejected Him and were offended by Him. Mark records that Jesus marveled because of their unbelief. Marveled. The same word used to describe the reaction of those at the Decapolis who heard the proclamation of the healed demoniac of the Gerasenes. They marveled at the Gospel (Mark 5:14-20), and now Jesus marveled at the unbelief of the men of Nazareth. Ouch. Those who insist on “proof” fail to acknowledge the fundamental basis of unbelief. Their unbelief was irrational, yet it persisted due to their sin.
Jesus then went out among the villages teaching. He moved on after pronouncing judgement on them for their unbelief. Notice what happens next.
Mark 6:7-13 (ESV) | Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
Jesus starting sending out the twelve. Notice how He told them to respond to a place that will not receive them, they were to leave and shake off the dust as a testimony against them, against their unbelief. I think it is this example that the Apostle Paul follows in Acts:
Acts 13:45-48 (ESV) But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Awesome stuff. Let’s continue in Mark.
Mark 6:14-29 (ESV) | The Death of John the Baptist
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Mark gives us a background on Herod and John the Baptist, where we learn of how and why Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. Notice here that Herod was blinded by his guilt regarding John the Baptist so that he didn’t consider Jesus to be anyone but John the Baptist. Reflecting back on the Parable of the Sower, I think this is a key example of the seed falling on the path where the devil snatches it away before it can take root. Word of the Kingdom comes to Herod and he assumes it to be a particular judgement against him. Just a thought, anyway. Herod rejected the preaching of John and had him murdered, now Herod stands condemned in his sin and unbelief.
Mark 6:30-44 (ESV) | Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Here, we see a great report of what the Apostles had done and what they had taught. Very important what they taught, for that is what we are called to do in the Great Commission, that is our charge, to proclaim the Word of God, to preach Law and Gospel. We don’t perform signs and wonders, we proclaim what Christ has done and will do when He returns. Notice how He bids them to go to a desolate place to rest. Seems, odd, right? One doesn’t normally associate desolate places with rest. Rest isn’t the location, it’s the Person of Christ. Christ calls us to enter into His rest, of forgiveness and the Hope of Salvation. They were indeed in a desolate place, but they had their shepherd, they had their King. Notice that Mark records how Jesus took compassion on the crowds, how they were like sheep without a shepherd. In this wilderness we see a reminder of the children of Israel wandering in the desert. Christ was in the pillar and the cloud, and now Christ begins to teach them here in the desolate place. And then we see Christ feed them miraculously, as God fed the Israelites in the wilderness.
Mark 6:45-52 (ESV) | Jesus Walks on the Water
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Fascinating how Mark connects this entire event to their lack of understanding about the loaves. That miracle, as well as the walking in the water, calming of the wind, was pointing to Christ as the Messiah. Their hearts were hardened, they didn’t get it… not yet. The miraculous works of Jesus were about more than just demonstrating great power and authority, they were pointing to Jesus as the Messiah… the Son of God. Mark doesn’t leave room for us to walk away from his account thinking Jesus was just a great Prophet or Teacher… He is God the Son.
Mark 6:53-56 (ESV) | Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
Mark summarizes a lot of ministry here. These people recognized Jesus, ran about the whole region proclaiming Him and bringing the sick to wherever He was and He healed them.
Jesus is LORD over all of creation, over the wind and the waves; the Gentiles and the demons, the living and the dead. He is also the bread from heaven, He is the oasis in the desert, the Savior of all mankind. By His Grace we are saved. Next week, we’ll continue working through the Gospel According to Mark, starting in chapter 7, where Mark seems to open up the next act of his Gospel Account. Until then, we will continue our expanded Discernment in Music work. It is our sincere prayer that you will devote some time to reading and studying God’s word, and researching your church’s confessions and doctrine. Know what you believe and why you believe it… where it is taught in Scripture.
Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
In Christ Jesus,