Mark 6:1-6 Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath. The people questioned where Jesus got his wisdom, power to heal, and authority. They argued that he was only Joseph’s son, and his brothers (James and Joses and Judas and Simon) and sisters were there too, for Jesus couldn’t be anything but a mere man and not the Messiah, and they were offended. Jesus said that the saying was true, that a prophet is honored everywhere except his home town, among his own relatives and close family. Because of their unbelief, Jesus did only a few small miracles.
Notes: Until he began his ministry, his deity was so hidden that even people in his hometown, who had known him well since childhood, had no idea that he was also fully God. The common earthly position of Jesus and his family caused the townspeople to stumble—they refused to see him as higher than themselves and found it impossible to accept him as the Son of God and Messiah.
Mark 6:7-13 Jesus then sent his 12 apostles out, two by two, to spread the good news and cast out demons. They were to take nothing with them except a staff, 1 tunic, and a pair of sandals. (No bread, bag, or money). They were to remain as a guest in a home they were welcomed into, and if anyone person at a home did not receive them, they were to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against them. The disciples went, told the people to repent of their sins, and cast out demons. They anointed with oil those that were sick and healed them.
Notes: Bread, bag, money in their belts, and two tunics all represent that which secures life; the provisions are to come from people who repent upon hearing the disciples’ message. nothing … except a staff … but to wear sandals. The act of shaking off the dust is an illustration of the fact that their rejection of God’s message leaves the town accountable to God. Oil was commonly used in prayer for healing. In Jesus’ day olive oil was often used medicinally (cf. Luke 10:34). But here it represented the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and was used symbolically in relation to supernatural healing. Men of comparative wealth would wear two tunics, but Jesus wanted the disciples to identify with common people and travel with just minimum clothing.
Mark 6:14-29 King Herod Antipas heard of Jesus’ fame, and some said that He was John the Baptist raised from the dead (for Herod had John the Baptist put to death) which explained the reason that Jesus could do miracles (being supernatural). John the Baptist spoke against Herod’s wife, who was actually his brother’s wife (for Herod took her and married her against the Mosaic Moral Law). Herod’s wife, Herodias, wanted to silence John, but Herod revered John. In the end, Herodias won out (by means of a plot devised with her daughter), and Herod had John beheaded. You can read the actual story in verses 21 through 29.
Mark 6:30-38 The apostles returned from their mission and told Jesus all that transpired. Jesus commanded them to retreat and rest for awhile and eat something. When they arrived by boat to a desolate place, the crowds got wind of it and thronged them. Jesus had compassion on the people, but the apostles asked Jesus to send them away to find something to eat (for the crowds were used to Jesus feeding them), for it was late in the day and the apostles were looking forward to some rest. Jesus told the apostles that they should feed the people. Now the apostles, fresh off their mission trip, should have been thinking spiritually when providing something for people to eat, but instead said with sarcasm they said they didn’t have enough money to buy food for all the people. Jesus instead showed them how He would feed the people by taking what little food the apostles had, which was five loaves of bread and two fish.
Notes: How many loaves do you have? Jesus clearly intends for the disciples to do what he says and to trust him for the outcome.
Mark 6:39-44 Jesus had the apostles arrange the crowd to sit in groups by hundreds and fifties. Jesus blessed the loaves and fish, broke the bread, gave them to His apostles to give to the people along with the fish. All of the people ate (5,000 men plus women and children, which would have around 20,000 all together). Jesus multiplied the bread and fish so that there was even 12 baskets of leftovers.
Notes: As God provided manna in the desert (cf. Deut. 8:3, 16), so Jesus provides food in a deserted place. Once again the question of Jesus’ true identity is raised; and once again (on account of their hard-heartedness), the disciples do not understand.
Mark 6:45-52 Jesus had the apostles get into a boat and go back to the other side to Bethsaida while he stayed behind to dismiss the crowd. Jesus then went up to a mountain to pray. Later that night, between 3 to 6 AM, Jesus saw the apostles struggling to get to the other side to Bethsaida for there were strong winds on the sea working against them. Jesus came to them walking on the water. They saw the figure and thought Jesus was a ghost and were afraid. Jesus revealed that it was He and to not be afraid. Jesus approached the boat, and when he got in, the wind stopped. The apostles were astounded for they still did not understand the multiplying of the bread or how Jesus could simply walk on water.
Notes: Jesus meant to pass by them, not so that they would fail to see him (in which case he would have stayed farther away from them), but so that they would see him “pass by”, walking on the water, thus giving visible evidence of his deity (and thus answering the question they asked after he stilled the sea in Mark 4:41. Mark explains that multiplying the loaves should have demonstrated Jesus’ true identity to them (cf. 8:18–21), but neither that miracle nor the appearance of Jesus on the water could open their hearts to the reality of his divine nature.
Mark 6:53-56 When they reached the other side, they landed at Gennesaret instead of Bethsaida because of the winds where people greeted them, coming from all over as the news spread of their arrival. They brought their sick on their beds to be healed. No matter where Jesus went, people came believing that if they just touched the hem of His robe they would be healed, and so they were.
Notes: The northeasterly wind had caused the ship to drift southwestward, bringing them to Gennesaret (see note on Matt. 14:34) instead of their intended destination of Bethsaida.