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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Mark 6

Verses 1-13

Divine Service In Mark 4:35 to Mark 6:13 the emphasis moves from indoctrination through preaching the Word of God to preparing the Twelve for divine service, where Jesus begins to train to His disciples about the Kingdom of God. Jesus first trains the Twelve by example (Mark 4:35 to Mark 5:43), then He sends them out preach and heal for themselves (Mark 6:1-13).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Narrative: Demonstrating Preaching & Miracles Mark 4:35 to Mark 5:43

Verses 1-56

The Preaching Ministry of Jesus Christ Mark 1:14 to Mark 13:37 describes the preaching ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as the miracles that accompanying the proclamation of the Gospel. His public ministry can be divided into sections that reflect God’s divine plan of redemption being fulfilled in Jesus’s life.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Indoctrination - The Preaching of Jesus Christ in Galilee Mark 1:14 to Mark 4:34

2. Divine Service Training the Twelve in Galilee Mark 4:35 to Mark 6:13

3. Perseverance: Preaching against Man’s Traditions Mark 6:14 to Mark 7:23

4. Perseverance - Beyond Galilee Mark 7:24 to Mark 9:50

Verses 14-29

Herod’s Reaction to the Spread of the Gospel (Matthew 14:1-12 , Luke 9:7-9 ) Mark 6:14-29 records the reaction of King Herod to the spread of the Gospel as Jesus sends forth His twelve disciples to preach with signs and miracles accompanying them.

The Death of John the Baptist When comparing this story in the Synoptic Gospels, we see that Mark 6:14-29 records the most lengthy account of the death of John the Baptist. Mark gives more detail of the reason for his death, which was because of his preaching a Gospel of repentance to King Herod, and it records Herod’s perplexity of Jesus’ miracles; thus making an emphasis upon preaching and miracles. Luke’s Gospel gives the shortest account by simply noting Herod’s testimony of perplexity as to who Jesus was, having heard so many things about Him. Matthew’s record of this account is placed among a collection of accounts of how to handle offences in the Kingdom of God; for the death of John the Baptist was an opportunity to get offended.

Mark 6:14 “And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:)” Comments - The name of Jesus became widespread when He sent His disciples out to preach and heal the sick and cast out demons in His wonderful Name, as we read in the previous passage (Mark 6:7-13).

Mark 6:18 Comments The part of the Mosaic Law that John the Baptist used to condemn King Herod is found in Leviticus 18:16, “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.”

This type of incestuous sin may have been brought into the family of Herod Antipas (4 b.c. to a.d. 39), as the king was unrepentant, and expressed itself with his grandson, Herod Agrippa II (a.d. 50 100), who is believed to have had an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice (Acts 25:13) (see Josephus, A ntiquities 20.7.2-3). [106]

[106] E. M. B. Green and C. H. Hemer, “Bernice,” in New Bible Dictionary, second edition, ed. J. D. Douglas (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishing, c1962, 1982), 132.

Acts 25:13, “And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.”

Mark 6:19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:

Mark 6:19 Comments - We are told that the spirit of Elijah rested upon John the Baptist in the New Testament (Luke 1:17). Note, however, how the same spirit that raised up Jezebel against Elijah also came against John the Baptist in the form of Herodias; for Herodias sought to kill John the Baptist as Jezebel sought the life of Elijah.

Luke 1:17, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias , to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Naturally, the woman (Herodias) responded with more emotion to John’s rebuke that did the man (Herod). Herodias eventually succeeded in having John killed, while the king was trying to appease both sides in this dispute.

Mark 6:30-56 Jesus Trains His Disciples to Work Miracles In Mark 6:30-56 Jesus trains His disciples to work miracles.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand Mark 6:30-44

2. Jesus Walks on the Water Mark 6:45-52

Verses 14-56

Perseverance: Preaching in the Midst of Offences - In Mark 6:14 to Mark 7:23 the emphasis moves from divine service through preaching the Word of God to perseverance in the midst of persecutions, where Jesus begins to train to His disciples in the midst of rising unrest among the Jews.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Narrative: Persecutions Arise Mark 6:14-56

Verses 30-44

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21 , Luke 9:10-17 , John 6:1-15 ) Mark 6:30-44 gives us the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand men besides women and children. The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand shows that His ministry had reached a peak in the region of Galilee (chapters 1-6). He could no longer enter into the cities because of these crowds. At this point, Jesus begins to move out to nearby regions, such as Tyre and Sidon, Decapolis, Dalmanutha, Bethsaida, and Caesarea Philippi (chapters 7-9). His ministry in Galilee was only as He was passing through to regions that were more distant. Then Jesus leaves Galilee permanently and travels to the coasts of Judea (chapter 10) and finally into Jerusalem (chapter 11-13) to face Calvary (14-15).

The Training of the Twelve - One important aspect of Mark’s account of Jesus feeding the five thousand is that He is now training them to operate in the miraculous. He has just sent them out to preach the Gospel with signs following (Mark 6:7-13). Jesus now commands His disciples to give food to the five thousand, knowing that it required a miracle (Mark 6:37). He handed the food that He had blessed to the twelve disciples, who in turn handed it out to the people, thus, allowing the disciples to be a part of performing this miracle of multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

Symbolic Meaning of the Bread - Notes these insightful words of Frances J. Roberts regarding the symbolic meaning of the bread:

“It is a joy to My heart when My children rely upon Me. I delight in working things out for thee, but I delight even more in thee thyself than in anything I do to help thee. Even so, I want you to delight in Me just for Myself, rather than in anything ye do for Me. Service is the salvage of love. It is like the twelve baskets of bread that were left over. The bread partaken of was like fellowship mutually given; and the excess and overflow was a symbol of service . I do not expect thee to give to others until ye have first thyself been a partaker. I will provide you with plentiful supply to give if ye first come to receive for thine own needs. This is in no way selfishness. It is the Law of Life. Can the stalk of corn produce the ear unless first it receive its own life from the parent seed? No more can ye produce fruit in thy ministry except ye be impregnated with divine life from its source in God Himself. It was from the hands of the Christ that the multitudes received bread. From His hands ye also must receive thy nurture, the Bread of Life to sustain thy health and thy life.

“Let Him fully satisfy thy soul-hunger, and then thou shalt go forth with a full basket on thine arm. Twelve baskets there were (Matthew 14:20). One for each disciple. There will always be the multitudes to be fed, but the few called to minister. This is by My own arrangement. As the Scripture says: Do not many desire to be teachers, for thereby is attached more heavy responsibility (James 3:1).” [107]

[107] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 153-4.

Jesus’ Touch - As Jesus touched the bread, it brought life to the loaves and they multiplied, much like the rod of Aaron’s that budded when placed into the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ministry of Helps - The principle of the ministry of helps is seen in this story. The twelve disciples were helping Jesus to distribute the bread. As the blessing and anointing was flowing through Jesus Christ to break the bread, so was this anointing imparted unto the disciples as they took of this bread and broke it and saw it multiply by their hands also. Noting that this event took place late in the day, Jesus would not have had time to break enough bread himself to feed the five thousand. The disciples were clearly breaking the bread they had received from Jesus. This story teaches us that there is an anointing imparted as we serve in the ministry of helps.

The Divine Principle of Thankfulness - Today in Israel, tour guides will suggest that there were about 40,000 people present at this time that were feed miraculously. In this story, we see a divine principle that will work in our lives. Jesus took what small provision His Heavenly Father provided and gave God thanks for it. God was then able to bless what He had and cause it to multiply. Our Father will do the same for us. We are to be thankful for what we presently have and serve Him so that He can bless and multiply our provision.

Mark 6:30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

Mark 6:30 Word Study on “apostle” Jesus did not invent the term “apostle” for the Twelve whom He commissioned and sent out to preach the Gospel and heal the sick. Rather, He reached into His culture and chose a word that accurately described the office and anointing for which He had commissioned the Twelve. The Greek word ἀπόστολος (G652) (apostle) was in frequent use during the time of Jesus and it is found throughout Classical Greek literature centuries prior to the birth of Christ. The word ἀπόστολος is associated in ancient literature with the sending out of someone with a commission. It is found as a technical term in secular Greek literature to describe someone who has been send forth with divine authorization. The word ἀπόστολος and its derivatives are used more than 700 times in the LXX, being used as a rendering of the Hebrew word שָׁלַח (H7971) (to send), so that it was a familiar term in Judaism as well as Hellenism, describing a messenger in the Old Testament given a particular task. For example, God says in His commission to Isaiah, “Who shall I send?” (Isaiah 6:8) In the New Testament, the word ἀπόστολος is used 135 times, being found all but 12 times in the Gospels and the book of Acts. As a result of its usage by the early Church and the New Testament writings, the word ἀπόστολος became a theological term to denote one of the five-fold offices of the Church. ( TDNT)

Mark 6:30 Comments Jesus had been ministering while John was in prison (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14). In Mark 6:30 Jesus receives the news of John’s death at the hands of King Herod.

Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31 Comments Such a death probably shook up the disciples, causing them to wonder what their future held.

Mark 6:32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

Mark 6:33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

Mark 6:33 Comments The public ministry of Jesus Christ reached its peak of popularity during the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand, as the multitudes around Galilee followed Him. At the end of the narrative section in John 6:60-66 many disciples forsook Him. Jesus will be left standing in the synagogue of Capernaum asking His closest disciples if they will forsake Him also (John 6:67-71). Jesus’ miracles have brought attention to His message, but not commitment from His followers.

Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

Mark 6:34 “and was moved with compassion toward them” - Comments Mark 6:34 shows the love of Jesus for people. He had tried to leave secretly for a while with disciples to rest. These were sheep without a shepherd who had out ran the boat and met Him at his arrival.

Mark 6:34 “because they were as sheep not having a shepherd” - Comments - During the time of Ezekiel, Israel had no righteous men to lead the children of Israel into holiness. Thus, the prophet uses similar words to describe the children of Israel during his day as being scattered because they had not shepherd. Note Ezekiel 34:5.

Ezekiel 34:5, “And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.”

Mark 6:34 “and he began to teach them many things” Comments - The crowd with Jesus was receptive and open to what He was teaching them. Under these circumstances, it is much easier to teach. In fact, the anointing to teach flows freely when people’s hearts are open. It has been my experience when teaching and preaching the Word of God that the words and anointing flow with a receptive audience. However, in the midst of doubt and unbelief I struggle for words to say. Thus, preaching becomes a struggle. When Mark 6:34 says that Jesus began to teach them many things, we see how He flowed under the teaching anointing. In contrast, when He confronted the Pharisees and Jewish leaders, He had much less to say. What He did say was mostly words of rebuke.

Mark 6:35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:

Mark 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

Mark 6:37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?

Mark 6:38 He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

Mark 6:38 Comments - The Gospel of John tells us that there was a small boy in the crowd who has some food. He was willing to offer it unto Jesus and His disciples. We know that there were others who had brought some small portions of food with them, but had not offered it, probably because they did not think that it was enough to help the situation. God can take our smallest gifts and work mighty miracles with it if we will only be willing to offer it unto Him.

Note these insightful words from Sadhu Sundar Singh regarding the lad with the loaves and fishes.

“Sometimes when there is some great act of service to be done, I choose for My purpose those who are little esteemed in the eyes of the world, for they make no boast of their own power or wisdom, but putting their entire trust in Me, and accounting what little ability they possess as of no great value, they devote all they have and are to My work for men (1 Cor. i.26-30). For instance, when I fed in the wilderness five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, you will remember that I did not perform this miracle by the agency of My disciples, for they were full of doubt and perplexity and wished to send the multitude away hungry (John vi.9). My servant on that occasion was a little lad whom I had cured of the palsy. Filled with a desire to hear My words he determined to follow Me. His poor mother wrapped up in his clothes some barley cakes and dried fish, enough for two or three days journey, so when inquiry was made for food for the multitude this faithful little lad at once brought all that he had and laid it at the disciples’ feet. Though there were wealthy people there who had with them much better food, such as wheaten cakes, they were not prepared to give them up; so it was from the barley cakes of this boy, My namesake, that by My blessing the multitude was fed with the choicest food.” [108]

[108] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master’s Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, “IV Service,” section 2, part 6.

Mark 6:39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

Mark 6:40 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.

Mark 6:41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

Mark 6:41 Word Study on “loaves” The Greek word α ̓́ ρτος means “bread.” Leon Morris describes this bread as the size of a “bun” so that several pieces could be eaten at a single meal. [109]

[109] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, in The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 378.

Mark 6:42 And they did all eat, and were filled.

Mark 6:42 “and were filled” - Comments - Note: Mark 7:27, “let the children first be filled.” All Israel was to have the opportunity first to receive Jesus, then afterwards, the world.

Mark 6:43 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.

Mark 6:43 Comments - Why did the disciples have twelve baskets of bread fragments left over? I believe it was because Jesus was in the process of training the twelve to walk in faith for the miraculous. We know that Jesus gave the bread that he broke unto the twelve, and they in turn broke it for the people. Each of the twelve would have gathered the fragments from his own group of people where he was distributing the bread. Thus, these twelve baskets would have been a sign to the twelve that the Heavenly Father was working a miracle through each one of them.

These twelve baskets of bread served as physical evidence of the miracle of feeding five thousand. The small boy had given so little, yet the returns were enormous. It is the same way in our lives when we give to Jesus. Jesus may have offered these twelve baskets of bread to the little boy who first gave his food to Jesus.

Mark 6:44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.

Verses 45-52

Jesus Walks on the Water (Matthew 14:22-33 , John 6:16-21 ) Mark 6:45-52 gives us the account of Jesus walking on the water. We find an interesting statement in Mark 6:48 when the Evangelist tells us that Jesus was intending on passing by His disciples who were in the boat and continuing His walk on the water. However, He turned and came to them to comfort them when they became fearful. We must remember that the context of this story is during a phase of Jesus’ ministry when He was training His disciples how to walk in faith for divine miracles. As with the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44), which had just taken place, Jesus was giving His disciples an opportunity to overcome their doubt and fear and to walk in faith. Thus, this story of Jesus walking on the water ends by referring to the miracle of the loaves and the hardness of their hearts (Mark 6:52), which reflects their process of training for the ministry.

Comparison of Parallel Passages - When we compare Mark’s account to the one in Matthew, we read about Peter’s attempt to walk in the water. Matthew’s account reveals that the disciples were learning how to walk as Jesus walked. When they failed, Jesus rebuked them because of their unbelief.

Mark 6:45 And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

Mark 6:45 Comments Had Jesus embarked into the boat with His disciples, the multitudes may have followed them again to their new destination, as they did earlier in Mark 6:32-33, meeting Jesus at Bethsaida. In Mark 6:45 Jesus appears to stay behind in order to allow the disciples to get away from the crowds.

Mark 6:48 Comments - The Lord revealed Himself to Isaiah as “a God that hidest thyself” (Isaiah 45:15). When Hezekiah began his reign as king over Israel, the Scriptures tell us that the Lord was with him (2 Kings 18:7). However, there came a season in his life when Hezekiah’s heart was lifted up with pride (2 Chronicles 32:24-26). Therefore, the Lord had to bring about circumstances that humbled the king. God chose to remove Himself for a season so that Hezekiah would realize his need and dependence upon the Lord, and repent and turn back to Him (2 Chronicles 32:31).

2 Kings 18:7, “And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.”

2 Chronicles 32:31, “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”

God wants us to pursue Him, which is a sign of our love and devotion and dependence upon Him; for God wants our fellowship. The angel of the Lord pull away from Jacob, but the patriarch wrestled with the angel until he received a blessing (Genesis 32:24-30). Jesus did not stay with the Samaritans until they urged Him (John 4:40). When Jesus came walking on the water towards the disciples in the boat during a storm, He made as if He were going to pas by them. They cried out to Him and He came (Mark 6:48).

Isaiah 45:15, “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.”

John 4:40, “So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.”

Mark 6:48, “And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.”

Verses 53-56

Jesus Heals the Multitudes in the Land of Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34-36 ) Mark 6:53-56 gives us the account of Jesus healing the multitudes in the land of Gennesaret.

Mark 6:56 “and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment” - Comments - The woman with the issue of blood was the first who sought to touch the hem of His garment and was healed (Mark 5:28). The testimony by Jesus Christ of the woman’s faith resulting in her healing sparked faith in many others as they too came to touch Jesus’ garments and were healed (Mark 6:56). Many sought to touch him because of the anointing that healed them (Luke 6:19).

Mark 5:28, “For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.”

Luke 6:19, “And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.”

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No distribution beyond personal use without permission.
Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Mark 6". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/mark-6.html. 2013.