About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 6:1-6  ch. 6:7-13   ch. 6:14-29  ch.6:30-44    ch. 6:45-56



A Prophet Without Honour (ch. 6:1-6)


In verse 1 Mark says that Jesus “left there”, meaning the area around Capernaum and went to His home town which would have been Nazareth .


Jesus took His disciples with Him.  How many we don’t know and began to teach in the synagogue.   Everyone was amazed at Jesus because of the things He said and also because of the miracles.  But these people knew Jesus after the flesh.  That is to say, they knew Him as a mere man, the carpenter that once worked with and among them. 


The people in Nazareth wondered how Jesus learned the things He was saying. They just couldn’t figure it out.  And concerning the miracles, Jesus hadn’t done many miracles yet in Nazareth .  They had only heard of these miracles. They became very critical of Jesus and “took offense” to what He said. 


The Greek word that is translated as “offense” here means to be trapped.   These  people became trapped by their unbelief. 


It might well be that Jesus told them to repent as He told others, and they didn’t think a mere carpenter as they knew Him had the authority to say such things to them.


Sometimes those who know us best have a hard time with us when we change and after we give our lives to Jesus.  They still may remember the person we once were and have a hard time shaking that from their memory.  This would have been the case here. They only knew Jesus as a man, and not the Son of God.  They could not get this out of their minds, especially after hearing Jesus say some of the things He said.  Switching their understanding from Jesus the carpenter to Jesus the Son of God was hard for them.  


The people asked, “isn’t this the carpenter”?  We should realize that when they called Jesus a carpenter, he wasn’t a carpenter in the sense of building houses.  This word carpenter in those days was associated with making wooden furniture and not houses since house were made of stone. Jesus wasn’t a stone-smith. 


Also in verse 3 we see that they asked, “ isn’t He Mary’s son”?  Luke writes it as, “isn’t He Joseph’s son”?  It is understood by most scholars that Joseph was no longer living at this time.  Some people could  have easily asked “isn’t He Mary’s son”, while others asked, “isn’t He Joseph’s son”?  There would have been many people there so this should not present a problem.


In verse 3 we note that Jesus had brothers and  sisters.  We’ve seen them in chapter 3 but here the brothers are mentioned by name.  They are James, Joseph, Judas and Simon.  James later became the leader of the Jerusalem church. It is interesting to note that one of His brother’s name was Judas.  This is not the Judas that betrayed Jesus, but I would think that when Jesus saw Judas His betrayer, the name might have reminded Him of His brother. 


Mark doesn’t give us the names of Jesus’ sisters.  They could have well been living in Nazareth with their husbands.    Most scholars believe that Jesus’ brothers moved with Jesus to Capernaum at some point, a city with much more commerce.   Jesus, being the oldest would have been in charge of the family after Joseph died and thus the reason why Mary and the brothers would have moved when Jesus moved.


In verse 4 Jesus says that a prophet does not have any honour in his home town and among his relatives. We commented on this earlier.  Home town people see the home town boy and not the man He has grown up to be. 


This section closes with Jesus being amazed at their “lack of faith”.   For this reason He could only do a few miracles.  Their lack of faith was demonstrated in the fact that these people did not bring many sick folk to Him to be healed.  Why would they bring sick people to Jesus if they didn’t believe He could make them better.  In other towns people may not of understood Jesus as being the Messiah, but at least they knew that He could heal their sick. 


Hyper faith people use this verse to show that one’s lack of faith prevents healing.  But this is a poor interpretation of this verse.  It’s not that these people had just a little faith and needed more.  They had no faith and therefore didn’t bring anyone to Jesus to be healed. So if they didn’t bring the sick, it is clear the sick didn’t get healed.  The issue is not a lack of faith as such but no faith at all.   So the word “lack” should be seen as “no faith”, not little faith.


Jesus Sends Out The Twelve ( ch. 6:7-13)


In verse 7 we see that Jesus calls the Twelve, that is the apostles to Himself in order to send them out on their own.  We note that before Jesus sends anyone out, He brings them to Himself first.  The reason why Jesus called the Twelve to Himself was to give them authority over demons.  Jesus does not send anyone out without first giving them the tools they need to do the job.


Jesus was giving them authority that He already had.  They went out in His name, representing Him to the world.  Those He sends out today He also calls to Himself to receive whatever they need to do His work representing Him to the world.


In verse 9 Jesus tells them that they can take a staff with them.  This is a walking stick, not a club for defending themselves from wild animals or robbers. They aren’t to take another pair of sandals or another  tunic.  They’re not even to take any more money.  This may seem strange to the carnal mind, but Jesus is apparently helping them to trust completely in Him and not their own abilities.  They would certainly need to learn this lesson because after Pentecost they would experience many trials that would test their trust in Jesus severely.


In verse 10 Jesus tells them that if they are accepted in a town and people invite them to stay at their house, then stay there until they leave town.  I can only guess why Jesus might say this.  The apostles should be thankful for their lodging and not look for a better place.


If the town does not receive them well, then they are to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against them.  This was a tradition, an outward sign of disgust.  This would basically say to the town that you’ve had your chance.  The gospel was preached and you don’t want to receive it, so we leave for the next town.


Jesus is not telling the Twelve to hang around a town that doesn’t want them.  He’s not telling them to keep on preaching, trying their hardest to prove their point.  There seems to come a time when we speak the good news to people and they continue to reject the gospel, then we stop preaching to them.  This does not mean we will never speak the gospel to them again, but at least for the time being, we stop.


Verse 14 tells us that they “went out and told people to repent”, something that Jesus most likely told them to do.  Repentance is the foundation point to the gospel that Jesus and His apostles taught.  It should be our foundation point as well.  Along with preaching that people should repent, they healed people and cast demons out of people as well.  We should understand that Jesus specifically gave them, and only them the power to do these miracles at this time.  The other disciples of Jesus did not have this power at this time. 


John The Baptist Beheaded  (ch 6:14-30)


In verse 14 we see that King Herod heard of “these things”.  These things refer to the things that Jesus was doing and the things that His disciples were now doing.  It is no longer just Jesus doing the miracles.  You now have 12 other men doing miracles as well.


Mark says that Herod knew of Jesus because of all these things.  Jesus was very popular.  We’d call Him a super-star if He was on earth doing the things He did in today’s society.


There were 3 primary opinions of Jesus floating around the area. Some people thought that He was John the Baptist who had risen from the dead.  Others thought He was Elijah.  They thought this because the Jews believed, from Mal. 4:5, that Elijah would return some day as a fore-runner to the Messiah.  Of course they were wrong.  The fore-runner was actually John the Baptist. 


The third opinion concerning Jesus was that He was a great prophet, maybe like Isaiah.  But all of these opinions were wrong. 


In verse 16 we see Herod’s opinion was that Jesus was John the Baptist who was raised from the dead.  Herod was the one who authorized John to be put to death, although somewhat reluctantly.  Maybe his killing of John had haunted him, thus he may have believed that John had come back to torment him. 


The reason why I say that Herod was reluctant to put John to death is because this wasn’t his idea. As Mark says in verse 17 – 21,  Herodias, Herod’s wife wanted John dead and she tricked Herod into having him be put to death.


Mark also points out John the Baptist had the edacity  to denounce Herod for marrying Herodias because she was Herod’s brother’s wife.  This was against the Law of Moses and John being a prophet made this well known in his preaching to the masses.  


Mark also points out that Herod actually feared John because he believed that he was a righteous man.  So when Herod vowed to do anything his wife wanted, and found out that she wanted John dead, he had to honour that vow, although very reluctantly.  I believe that Herod was bothered by this for a long time after, if not for the rest of his life.  He had killed the fore-runner to the Messiah. 


Verses 21 through 25 tell us the story why Herod had John killed.  Mark says that Herodias’ daughter, probably not Herod’s daughter, but his brother Philip’s daughter, danced before Herod and his invited guests who attended a party.  Herod enjoyed the dance and vowed to do anything this girl wanted.  The girl asked her mother Herodias what she should request of Herod and Herodias said, “the head of John the Baptist”.


In verse 23 Herod promised the dancing girl anything she wanted, up to half of his kingdom. We need to realize that Herod didn’t really have a kingdom.  Although we see the word “king” in the text, he was more of a governor of a territory, which belonged to Rome .  He had no authority to give away half of this territory.  Commentators say that this is more of a figure of speech than anything else.


We should also remember that this was a birthday party.  The wine was probably flowing.  The men may have been drunk, including Herod.  There would have been great excess that night.  Herod might well have been feeling pretty good and showing off by offering this girl pretty well anything she wanted.  Although we will see later that if he was at all drunk, he sobered up pretty quickly when he heard her request.  


In verse 26 we see Herod’s reaction again.  He was very “distressed”.   He had been tapped.  He made a vow in front of all his guests. He could not change his mind.  He had John beheaded and the head of John was brought to the king on a platter.  Herod gave John’s head to the girl who in turn gave it to her mother.


This section ends with Mark telling us that John’s disciples heard of this and they came to bury John’s body, apparently without his head. How terrible these disciples must have felt when they saw John’s headless body. 


Once again we see a servant of God, and an important one at that, dying a meaningless and terrible death. God does not always do things the way we think they should be done.  As Isaiah says, “his ways are our ways’.  The death of John, the most important prophet of all had a very short ministry and ended in a tragic death.  You certainly can’t say that everything goes great for the servants of God, at least not in this life anyway.


Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand (ch. 6:30-44)


In verses 30 to 32 we see the return of the apostles to Jesus from their first trip.  It’s quite possible that Jesus had set a time limit and told them to meet Him at a  certain place and time.  This time had come, but as they returned to Jesus so a great crowd came along with them.


Jesus suggests that they go to a quieter place and so they did to tell Him all about their trip.  Matthew also adds another reason for this withdrawal to a quiet place and that was the death of John.


I’m sure that the Twelve had all sorts of stories to tell Jesus and each other.  I can just see them interrupting each other with words of joy from their trip.  Yet at the same time there must have been mixed feelings because of John’s death. 


They went to this quiet place by boat, but the problem was that it wasn’t very quiet when they got there.  A crowd of people saw them leave and anticipated where they were heading.  Jesus could not get away from the crowd.


Many commentators say after studying John  and Matthew’s account of this event that Jesus did indeed find a quiet place in the hill country for a few hours, but the crowd  soon found them.


Mark doesn’t tell the whole story. You learn more from Matthew  and John.  Mark only says that the disciples suggested to Jesus that He send the crowd away so they can buy food from the surrounding villages.  We learn elsewhere that Jesus proceeded to teach and heal the sick, seemingly not concerned about what time it was.


In verse 37 Jesus answered the apostles by saying, “you give them something to eat”.  I’m sure that Jesus knew that these twelve men had no food to give them.  In return, the apostles suggested to Jesus that what He was purposing would cost 8 months worth of salary for them to go and buy bread for these people.  In the eyes of these twelve men, that was simply out of the question.  I’m sure Jesus knew it was out of the question as well. Most likely if you put all of the money these men had it would come  no where close to 8 months worth of salary.


This could have been another test.  The Twelve had just told Jesus of all the miracles they’d done in His name on their trip, but now it seems that another miracle, at least this size of a miracle was out of the question.  They still had trouble trusting Jesus. 


In verse 38 Jesus asked them to go and see how many loaves of bread they had, a suggestion that probably seemed just as crazy to the twelve men.  Certainly they couldn’t gather enough bread to feed all these people.  But they did as Jesus told them. At least they did as He said, although maybe reluctantly.


This just goes to show us that sometimes what Jesus requests us to do may not seem logical to us, but He has His reasons.  And He certainly has the ability to come though even with such apparently crazy requests.


The Twelve reported back to Jesus and told Him that they could only find 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, hardly enough to feed one of them let alone this great crowd of people.  They must have thought that this whole exercise Jesus was putting them through was quite futile.


In verse 39 Jesus tells the Twelve to have the people sit down on the green grass in groups.  So they did.  They sat down in groups of 100 and 50.  Once again, I think the apostles were wondering why they were going through all this.  The night was upon them and now it was too late to even send them to the nearest town.


Jesus then gives thanks to His Father for this small amount of food and begins to divide the loaves first and then the fish.  Some have wondered about this miracle.  Where did the miracle take place?  Did it take place with Jesus when He gave the food to the Twelve, or did it take place when the Twelve distributed it to the crowd.  I think the context shows us that the miracle took place as Jesus divided the food among the twelve apostles.  He most likely gave each of them some bread and fish. They could only carry so much and so they came back for more and Jesus gave them more.  How astounded they must have been.


This section ends with the disciples gathering up the leftovers, which was 12 baskets. Each one got a basket full of food.  Some have said the number 12 is important because each apostle got to eat, but the text doesn’t say that.  It might well be that the apostles did not have to eat the leftovers.  Maybe they got to eat some of the food Jesus passed out.  Twelve baskets could just as easily be seen as each apostle having a basket of  leftovers that they collected.  


In verse 44 Mark says that the number of men was 5,000, meaning there were many more if they had counted women and children.


Jesus Walks On The Water (ch.6:45-56)


In verse 45 we see that Jesus told the disciples to get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to Bethsaida .  When John tells this story he does not say Bethsaida but Capernaum .  There’s no real discrepancy here. Bethsaida is actually a suburb of Capernaum .


John also states that at this time the crowd was so excited about Jesus that they wanted to kidnap Him and take Him to Jerusalem and make Him their King. 


Jesus sends the crowd away and goes up into the mountains to pray.  This seems to be a marked turning point in Jesus’ thinking.  According to John, many people began to turn away from Jesus the next day and Jesus speaks of one of His disciples betraying Him.  The change in Jesus’ thinking might well begun at the death of John.  I’m sure that John’s death had a great impact on Jesus.


In verse 47 and 48 Mark tells us that evening had now come and that Jesus saw the disciples having a hard time rowing their boat because of the strong wind.  Jesus saw these men having a hard time so He went to help them.  He had to have seen them in the Spirit.  It was night.  They would have been a distance away, and it was stormy.  There’s ho way He’d see them in the boat with His physical eyes.


John tells us that Jesus had to walk about 25 to 30 stadia, almost 4 miles to get to the shore. This too would tell us that Jesus could not see the boat.  Also Mark tells us that this was at the fourth watch.  Scholars tell us that the first watch is from 6 to  9 PM, the second from 9 to 12, the third from 12 to 3 AM and the fourth watch from 3 to 6 PM.  These men had been on the lake a long time and went hardly any distance.


Jesus had told the disciples that He’d meet them later on, but everyone expected this to be on dry land.  Jesus was in the process of actually walking passed the boat. Why did He go past the boat, you might ask?  It is quite possible that He went passed the boat so they’d see Him in front of the boat and invite Him in.


In verses 49 and 50 we see the disciples being very terrified,.  They thought they saw a ghost.  Jesus gets into the boat and the wind and storm calms.  Once again the disciples see another great miracle where Jesus demonstrates His authority over the weather.


Verse 51 says that the disciples were “completely amazed”.  The Greek verb tense suggests that even after Jesus got into the boat they continued to be amazed.  Mark tells us the reason for this amazement is due to the fact that they failed to understand the miracle of the loaves and fish that just took place hours before because their hearts were still hard. 


I don’t believe these men had hard hearts as the Pharisees had.  They had some faith, some trust in Jesus, but as yet their trust was still lacking greatly.  I really don’t believe this changed until they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The coming of the Spirit into their lives gave them the inner understanding they needed to fully trust Jesus.


As soon as the boat reached shore a new crowd was waiting again for Jesus.  This chapter ends with Mark telling us that everywhere Jesus went the crowds were their just wanting to touch His cloak so they’d receive a miracle.  Once again, Jesus was truly a super-star at this moment of time.  But things would soon begin to change.

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