Section 1 Hometown
Read Mark 6:1-6
Question: Why were the people of Nazareth offended by Jesus, as it says in verse 3?
The people of Nazareth had grown up alongside Jesus and seen him work as a carpenter. There seems to be a large element of envy amongst them. They are astonished at his teaching and they recognize that he is able to do mighty works, based on the questions they ask in verse 2, but they are offended by him and do not honour him or have faith in him. And the implication is that they are envious of the way this man, once their equal has been raised above them in authority and power. As a consequence of this it says in verse 6 that Jesus marveled at their unbelief. Most of the time in the New Testament, the people marvel at Jesus, but here Jesus marvels at the people because their lack of belief is so astounding.
Question: Why does Mark tell us Jesus was unable to perform any miracles?
It’s because of the lack of faith that Jesus is unable to do any mighty works in Nazareth. Having said that, it’s important to note there are examples of Jesus doing miracles where there is no faith for the miracle (e.g. feeding of the 5,000, the raising of the widow’s son in Nain). So Jesus ability to do miracles is not dependent on faith in other scenarios. And, of course, even in Nazareth he was able to heal some. If Jesus so willed, I believe he could have done mighty works in Nazareth too, even without faith. However, the people of Nazareth had received sufficient evidence of Jesus identity as Messiah and yet were still without faith. If Jesus had performed mighty works there, it would not have helped them believe, it would have only heaped up more condemnation upon them foe their failure to have faith. Consequently, it was unwise, even unhelpful for Jesus to perform mighty works and in that sense, their lack of faith meant he could not perform mighty works.
For us, there is an important reminder that sometimes lack of faith can hinder God working mighty miracles. It is not appropriate or compassionate to blame an individual for their lack of faith, when a miracle does not happen, but where a church has an atmosphere that lacks faith, it is unlikely that God will work might deeds.
Question: Do you think you live in atmosphere of faith in Christ to do amazing miracles or in an atmosphere of lack of faith like Nazareth?
Section 2 The Apostles
Read Mark 6:7-13
Question: Why is this a significant moment in the New Testament?
The twelve apostles had a unique office in the church. It was they who would establish, lead and grow the church after Christ has ascended into heaven. So, this moment is a moment of training for the Apostles where they first start to execute Jesus mission and exercise authority on his behalf.
Question: Is this passage a good model for our evangelism today?
I think the instructions the Apostles are given in this chapter are unique for this particular moment in history. However, there are useful principles to consider. Firstly, the apostles were sent in twos, rather than alone. We’re called to evangelism together as a team, not as individuals. Secondly, the apostles are sent out with an authority over unclean spirits. There is no doubt that the Apostles had a higher authority than Christians today in this regard, but Christians who carry the Spirit of Power do go with a greater authority than many realise. Satan and his evil spirits fear us because we carry the Spirit of Christ. Thirdly, the disciples were told not to take very much with them. Christians can sometimes trust too much in earthly and human provision, as opposed to going trusting God. This is an excellent lesson in evangelism. We do not need anything other than the help of the Spirit to advance God’s kingdom. Finally, Jesus, gives the Apostles permission to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against places that reject the apostles and the message of Christ. A Christian’s responsibility is to share the Gospel in love and wisdom with someone, but it is not their responsibility to save them. That’s God’s work. Consequently, it is sometimes appropriate for a Christian to metaphorically shake the dust off their feet with some people, thinkingI have done my duty with them, it’s time to move on. We cannot spend all our time trying to persuade one person who always rejects Christians and the message of Christianity.
Section 3 Herod and John the Baptist
Read Mark 6:14-29
Question: What does this passage teach us about the dangers of being a prophet like John the Baptist?
John the Baptist was first imprisoned then killed because he delivered the truth to Herod, that he should not have married his brother’s wife.True prophets, who preach truth, even when it is a difficult truth to deliver and/or receive may well end up being persecuted for their actions.
Question: What does Herod fear in this passage?
Herod fears John the Baptist in verse 20 and now he fears that Jesus is John raised from the dead. This is an important lesson that those who sin will often struggle to live life without fear. Even a man with the power of Herod fears that his past sins have caught up with him and that Jesus is John resurrected to take revenge upon Herod. This passage also clearly shows the danger of oaths. The Bible’s advice let your yes be yes and your no be no is wise advice.