Review of Mark 6

by Victor Fawole

What an exciting journey we’ve had through the book of Mark! We’ve seen beautiful displays of power and preeminence. God walked the streets of this earth, giving blessings, granting healings and easing burdens. Join me as we review Mark 6 under five subheadings.

Mark 6:3-5 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.And he was amazed at their unbelief.

By the time Jesus came back into his hometown (Nazareth) with His disciples, the people must have heard about His miracles, mighty works and wonderful wisdom in other towns. Sabbath came and Jesus taught in their synagogue – most likely His first public teaching in his hometown. The people were surprised by His preaching. They had seen and known Jesus as the son of a carpenter for three decades, but this was their first time hearing the Greatest Teacher that ever lived. But their astonishment did not lead to acceptance or transformation, because their hearts were hardened by their steadfast unbelief (v. 6). That is why we must not assume that miracles are all we need. Miracles may surprise, captivate and excite people but that is not enough.

The people also stumbled over His Person. They were too engrossed in what they knew about Him, and neglected Who He actually is. They elevated His humanity over His divinity. In the entire gospel accounts, this was the only instance Jesus was called “a carpenter” or “the son of Mary”. This level of over-familiarity was disgusting. Nigerians call it “see finish”. They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him (v. 3b NLT). Hmm… Jesus became a stumbling block to them!

Romans 9:33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. (v. 5 NLT) The people were shunned by His power. Just as we read in Mark 4, the problem is not with the seed or the sower, but with the soil. Jesus wouldn’t force His goodness down their throats. He never needed their validation.

Mark 6:3-5 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Jesus sent his disciples on evangelism with very detailed instructions. He split them into groups of twos, gave them authority to cast out evil spirits, told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick — no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes. He charged them that upon entering a village/town, once they find a home whose owner was ready to accommodate them, they should stay there throughout their time in that village/town. It was pointless changing homes. Then He moved on to tell them the possibility of some households or villages/towns rejecting them. It shouldn’t surprise them, after all, they just witnessed how He was treated by His own people.

Rejecting the gospel of peace means accepting God’s wrath. If Sodom and Gomorrah, who didn’t hear the gospel, were judged, those who hear and reject will be judged more severely on the day of judgment. It is fatal!

Jesus’ fame had gone widespread like fire in the harmattan, and it troubled King Herod, as he thought that John the Baptist had resurrected. This king ordered the beheading of John, and it is noteworthy to consider the event around it.

Mark 6:17-19 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him.

Herodias had a grudge against John, but she could do nothing without the authority of King Herod, who respected John; and knowing that John was a good and holy man, he protected him. (v. 20 NLT) Herodias continued to premeditate her “assassination” plan for John, and a day came for her to strike.

Mark 6:21-23 Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. “Ask me for anything you like,” the king said to the girl, “and I will give it to you.” He even vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!”

We can safely infer that this was a full-blown revelry. The girl’s dance was so enticing that even her stepfather (Herod) got “pleased”. His emotions took over him and he gave her a blank cheque, without thinking at all.

Mark 6:24 She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!”

That was it! His eyes “cleared up”. He did the abominable because of a rash and irrational promise. He felt “sorry” but not repentant. He couldn’t see that even his whole kingdom is nothing compared to the true prophet of God. His oath was more important to him than the ministry of John. His reputation before his guests was more important than his record before God.

Some Christian denominations forbid birthday celebrations, and they refer to the beheadings done at Herod’s and Pharaoh’s birthdays (Gen. 40:20-22) as their basis, but there is no clear biblical prohibition against it. We should note that this event is descriptive and while there are lessons we can learn and apply from it, we should not go to the extreme of demonizing birthday celebrations. These are clear New Testament on such celebrations…

Romans 14:5–6 “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord”

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The important thing for us as believers is to totally avoid revelry and wild partying; they are works of the flesh. Our birthday celebrations should be a true appreciation to God and should reflect godly values.

Mark 6:35-38 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.” But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!” “How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.” They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”

Jesus had a retreat with the people, teaching them many things (v. 34b NLT) in an area far from the community. There was no McDonald’s, Chicken Republic, Sweet Sensation, The Place, Halaga anywhere near. The disciples identified three problems: (1) the people were hungry (2) there was no restaurant nearby (3) it was getting late already. Both the disciples and Jesus saw the same need, but they had completely different reactions and solutions. As far as the disciples were concerned, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and nothing could be done. They panicked, but Jesus was planning. They wanted to send the people away, while He wanted them to feast. Jesus cares for both spiritual and physical needs, but their hearts focused on the insufficiency instead of the sufficiency in Christ.

Jesus ensured they had an organized feasting. He made them to stand still (actually, “sit down”) and see the goodness of God. Gazing towards heaven, He took the five loaves of bread and two fishes available, gave thanks and started multiplying them. The miracle was spontaneous and continuous. “He kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.” (vs. 41) The God of Sufficiency satisfied them! His supply abounded beyond their needs. They gathered 12 full baskets of leftovers. Feasting with Jesus is really a sweet experience.

Mark 6:47-49
Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost.

These guys were eyewitnesses of the miracle of stilling the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and this was their “perfect chance” to work out what they learnt from their Master; but they “failed”. They trusted in their flesh (professional expertise) to navigate the storm, and it failed them. Yet, Jesus did not condemn them for “not reaching the pass mark”. This is an encouragement to us in our spiritual journey. There are moments when we “fail”, moments when we do not exercise faith, moments when we crumble under trials, moments when we fall into temptations. In all of these moments, our Lord is just and faithful to continue to sustain us.

Mark 6:51-52 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

The disciples didn’t take in the most important lesson in the miracle of the loaves, which is that Jesus is a specialist of impossible emergencies. If Christ could handle the hunger of thousands so perfectly, then this distress should be taken as another billboard to display His power! This is a very common fault with believers. Too often, we forget what the Lord has done for us in times past. We don’t store His past provisions in our memories. I urge us all to take some time today to sing of the goodness of our God, remember His many and daily benefits, and recount His deliverances and provisions. Please dedicate time to do this today.

And whenever we are faced with a troubling situation, let us repeatedly declare our benediction: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Amen!

Grace to you. Amen!

Leave a Reply