-Jesus visited His hometown in Nazareth with His disciples following Him. When Sabbath came, He began to teach in their synagogue, and the many listeners were astonished at His wisdom from above. His miracles too were being noticed, but He could only do a few in this place where He grew up. His famous statement concerning that goes something like this, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” People thought of Him as the good little boy of Mary with normal brothers and sisters. They missed the fact that He was the anointed Son of the Most High God. Their unbelief prevented Him from doing many miracles there in Nazareth. He wondered at their lack of faith and acceptance, and He was therefore going to other villages around the area teaching and ministering (Mark 6:1-6). At around that time, He summoned the twelve and began to make them apostles (sent out ones). He sent them out in pairs and gave them authority to cast out unclean spirits. The work of the Kingdom was beginning to multiply and manifest from the Divine. He instructed them with specific instructions. For this particular mission (not every mission of course, we need to note that) they were to take nothing for their journey. This would be a test of faith and other people’s hospitality. The only things they were allowed to bring with them were a staff, sandals for their feet, and their normal clothes. They were not even allowed to bring along a second tunic (inner garments, what we would call underwear). They were to go into homes that accepted their ministry and stay in that house until they left town. Any place that would not receive their message or listen to them would receive this: they were to “shake the dust off the souls of their feet for a testimony against them (Mark 6:7-11).” Their preaching was on the theme of repentance, the first step towards salvation by the grace of God. The twelve were casting out demons and anointing the sick with oil for healing. Many miracles were now taking place through normal-natural-everyday people (Mark 6:12-13).
-Now when King Herod heard of these things of Jesus, gossip circulated as to who this Man was. Rumors of a resurrection of John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the other prophets of old were being discussed and believed. Herod was convinced that John the Baptist had come back to haunt him. And, in part this was true. John the Baptist was of the Spirit of prophecy, and Jesus certainly was filled with that Presence. This led Mark to recount the back story of John the Baptist’s beheading because of King Herod’s foolish words during a time of pleasure and a vindictive wife of the king who had tremendous influence over her daughter. We see the dichotomy in this earthly king as we read his intrigue with John’s words and the grudge that he held against the prophet of the LORD and forerunner to the Christ. We observe King Herod’s fear of man and capitulation to doing something that grieved him for well past the moment of its occurrence. His guilt was palpable. It probably carried over some years later to when he finally was able to meet this Messiah face to face at the time of His trial and execution (Luke 23:7-12). As the disciples heard the news of John’s death, they came and took his body away to be laid in a proper tomb (Mark 6:14-29).
-The apostles regathered with Jesus to report all they had done and taught. His desire was to go away for some seclusion and recuperation with rest due to all the chaos of ministry and the demands of doing God’s work on earth. They took off in the boat to find this area of privacy, but the people saw them taking off and ran on foot from all the cities and got there ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, He saw the large crowd, and His heart—filled with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a Shepherd—went out to them. The Lord shows great flexibility in this situation as He began once again to teach them many things of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It must have been awesome to be in His presence in such a forum. It was already quite late in the day when all this happened, and the disciples asked if the crowd should be sent away into the nearby countryside and villages to buy some food. Jesus had another idea for provision. He told them matter of factly, “You (disciples) give them something to eat!” Not getting the point at first, they replied with typical concern due to the costs of such a task. Jesus took inventory on what they had on hand. It came to a measly five loaves of bread and two fish. He commanded them to all sit down by groups on the green grass of that place in hundreds and fifties. He took the provision they had, offered a blessing by looking toward Heaven and began breaking the bread and separating the fish, giving it to the disciples for distribution among the crowd. They ALL ate and were satisfied! When the remnants were picked up, twelve full baskets of the broken pieces of bread, and also of the fish, were gathered. How big was this large crowd you may ask? 5,000 men and possibly some women and children as well had been adequately feed. It was a miracle of multiplication (Mark 6:30-44).
-Right after this, Jesus made His disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida as He was sending the crowds away. After giving them farewells, He went up a mountain to pray to His Father in solitude. In the evening, the disciples were in the boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus saw them “straining at the oars” for the wind was blowing hard in their face. He came to them, walking on the sea with the intention of passing them by. However, they saw Him and supposed Him to be a spirit. Of course this terrified them, but He calmed them down, exhorting them to “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” When He finally got in the boat with them and the wind stopped, they were utterly astonished. The text says “they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened (Mark 6:45-52).” We get more insight into this adventure and how one of His disciples, Peter, also stepped onto the water to supernaturally walk on it in faith in another gospel account (Matthew 14:28-31).
-The disciples and Jesus finally landed at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, the Christ was immediately recognized by the people there. They ran about that whole country and began to carry all the sick to Him for a possible healing. Wherever Jesus was heard to be, in the villages, cities, or countryside, people were coming to Him and laying the sick in the market places begging that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; “and as many as touched it were being cured (Matthew 14:53-56).”
-*Application* We see more of the incredible power that Jesus had over the natural realm in this narrative. What amazing things has He performed in your own personal life? Reflect on that today, and it may surprise you just how many miracles you’ve actually experienced yourself. God is amazing, and He is still in the miracle business. He sends each one of us out to do His work in His power with giftings, talents, and abilities that only He could have blessed us with. Use those for His glory every chance you get, and multiply your ministry.
Verses to Memorize: Mark 6:5-6, 12, 16, 26, 52