Jesus comes into His hometown of Nazareth. The people there were familiar with Him. They'd watched Him grow up. But now He's preaching with this new wisdom and performing these great miracles.
But instead of receiving the wisdom and miracles, they are looking at Him through natural eyes. We know that...
1Cor. 2:14 ...a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
So they could not receive Him as a man of God.
Contrary to the "perpetual virginity" teaching regarding Mary, Jesus did in fact have siblings. In John 7 we read,
John 7:5 ..Not even His brothers were believing in Him.
After the resurrection, they not only ended up believing in Him, but became leaders in the church. Paul tells the Galatians of his trip to Jerusalem, saying,
Gal. 1:19 ...I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.
Jesus' brother James becomes a leader in the church at Jerusalem. Another of Jesus' brothers names was Judas, or Jude. Jude writes in his epistle,
Jude 1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James...
Jude claimed brotherhood with James to validate his authority, but servanthood of Jesus to validate his ministry.
We also see in 1Corinthians that the Lord's brothers were married, and apparently were missionaries.
1Cor. 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
There is too much Scriptural weight to believe that Mary did not have other children, who were half brothers and sisters of Jesus.
Now because of their unbelief, Mark tells us that Jesus "could do no miracle there." This does not mean that He physically couldn't, but that He morally couldn't.
I have the physical ability to walk downtown into a bar and drink until I pass out. But I can't morally do that. It's not an option, and I have no desire to. Here Jesus is in much the same boat. Of course he could physically perform the miracles, just as we see Him laying His hands on and healing a few sick people, but He couldn't morally perform miracles among the unbelieving Nazarenes. Remember that Jesus taught us,
Matt. 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet...
Here He is basically refusing to attempt to prove Himself to people that refuse to have faith. "God may work with no belief, but not with unbelief." (Guzik)
This is an interesting word. "Thou-MAD-zo" in the Greek, it means, "amazed, astonished, surprised, marveled." In all the Bible, we only find Jesus wondering twice. And both times were at the state of people's faith.
Here, He wonders at their lack of faith. In Matthew 8:10 and Luke 7:9, He wonders at a man's abundance of faith. You remember the story: A Roman centurion approached Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant. When Jesus says, "I will come," the man said,
Matt. 8:8-10 ..."Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.
So Jesus wonders and marvels at peoples' belief and unbelief. You see, we know that...
Rom. 12:3 ... God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
Ephesians 2:8 tells us that faith is a gift of God. But what we do with that faith is up to us. We can let our faith grow and increase by hearing the word of Christ, as Romans 10:17 tells us,
Rom. 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Or we can reject the Word of God and continue in sin. This hardens our hearts into unbelief. The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Israelites heard His voice, yet hardened their hearts, and they were not able to enter into the promised land because of unbelief. Jesus was among the Nazarenes, and they hardened their hearts against Him.
At this point, the disciples become apostles. A disciple is a follower, but an apostle is a delegate, one who is sent out.
Notice that before Jesus told them to go, He first said "follow me." It is always a mistake to plug people into ministry right after they get saved. It happens all too often with celebrities. Someone famous gets saved, and we immediately think that God saved them to be an evangelist, because they have a huge audience.
Whether we are putting them on the worship team, in a leadership position, teaching in the Sunday School, it is always a mistake. Paul told Timothy that an overseer must not be...
1Tim. 3:6 ...a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
There is no foundation in a newly-saved Christian. They are a baby that needs to be nourished, to grow and mature.
Jesus sends them out two by two for several reasons. Ecclesiastes says,
Eccl. 4:9-12 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him...
So they were sent out in twos for companionship, protection, and support. But there was also a Levitical reason. The testimony of Christ would not have been acceptable to the Jews if there was only one apostle testifying. The Law said,
Deut. 19:15 "...On the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed."
Jesus sent them out as they were. Not to pack a bag or take provisions. Imagine that the Lord told you right now to drive to Alaska to minister. "Great Lord, let me fill up the gas tank, stop by the ATM to get some cash, and the grocery store to stock up for the trip." But the Lord tells you, "No, go right now, just as you are. No bank, no gas station, no grocery store." Would you go? The apostles did.
What was God trying to show them?He was teaching them that He would take care of them. Hebrews 11 tells us,
Hebr. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him...
No better way to learn faith and dependence on God than to have to live by faith and dependence. This was no small challenge or lesson.
Repentance is the beginning of the gospel. Preaching salvation apart from repentance is to tell people you must be saved from nothing.
People had been saying that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets. Why? They thought He was John because He preached repentance. They thought He was Elijah because of the miracles. They thought He was one of the other prophets because He was powerfully preaching the Word of God.
Now, John was fine back in chapter one. The only thing we'd heard is that...
Mark 1:14 ...John had been taken into custody...
What happened? Mark fills us in here. King Herod had arrested John because John had rebuked him over his marrying his brother's wife Herodias.
Herodias despised John and seized this opportunity to have John killed. Now Herod's guilt overrides his common sense and believes,
Mark 6:16 ..."John, whom I beheaded, has risen!"
Things were so busy that Jesus and the apostles hadn't even had time to eat. I find that in ministry, you will never have time unless you make time. There are constant demands for your attention, and if you let them dominate you seven days a week, 24 hours a day, they will.
And while Jesus had a merciful heart of ministry, He also knew the importance of quiet time. He knew how necessary it was to get away, to enjoy a Sabbath, to have a retreat. So he calls the apostles to come away to a lonely place by themselves.
Some miscellaneous thoughts on this miracle:
*When Mark says here in verse 42 that they all ate and were satisfied, that word is "khor-TAD-zo," meaning stuffed, filled. A post-Thanksgiving feast full if you will.
*Notice that there were 5,000 men. That number does not include the women and children who were also present.
*The parallels to Psalm 23 here are amazing.
Ps. 23:1 THE LORD is my shepherd...
Mark 6:34 ... He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd...
Ps. 23:1 ...I shall not want.
Mark 6:42 ... they all ate and were satisfied.
Ps. 23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures...
Mark 6:39 And He commanded them all to recline by groups on the green grass.
Ps. 23:2 ...He leads me beside quiet waters.
Mark 6:34 And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude...
Ps. 23:3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.
Mark 6:34 ...He began to teach them many things.
This miracle happens to me three times a week. In my own inadequacy and insufficiency, I am like one of the disciples. I go to the Lord and say, "God, there's these people, Your sheep, who need to be fed." And He tells me that it's my job to feed them. "But Lord, all I have is this meager little portion - barely enough for me." He tells me to feed them anyway. And amazingly, He takes the little that I have, the little that I know, the little that's barely enough for me, and miraculously multiplies it to feed every one of His sheep.
Now the great thing about it is, when it's all said and done, I walk away with more than I started with. And I believe that's why there were twelve baskets full left over from this feast. One basket for each of the apostles. They were faithful to feed the sheep, and God made sure that they too were provided for.
People's tendency is to look to the one who handed out the food rather than the One who provided it. That's why we always tip the waiter instead of the cook - we don't see the cook, so he's not the one we think to tip.
After the Lord had done this miracle, he sent the disciples away. Why? I believe it was so that they wouldn't have 5,000+ people profusely thanking them and exalting them. He sent them away to avoid the possibility of stumbling.
The apostles are fighting the wind, straining against the oars. Now in the middle of the storm, here is something even more frightening - a ghost! But it wasn't another thing to freak out about, it was the Lord coming to rescue them.
How important to appropriate this truth to the storms of our lives! When we feel alone in the storm, and suddenly something seemingly even worse looms on the horizon, take courage, it very well may be the Lord coming to your rescue!
Again, we see the healing power of the Lord. Able to heal physical, mental, and spiritual maladies.