Mark Chapter Six
In that which follows, the history (properly so called) of His service is resumed (chap. 6). Only we see Him already rejected by a blinded people, in spite of the power which He had manifested, and which bore testimony to the glory of His Person. Nevertheless He pursues His service, and sends forth His disciples in order that no effort might be wanting; but with the testimony of the judgment that awaited those who should be guilty of the rejection of His mission-a rejection that was already taking place. The Lord however continues to give proof in mercy and in goodness that Jehovah, who had compassion on His people, was there; until at length He had to prepare His disciples for the certain result of His work, namely, His death by the hand of the Gentiles, to whom the chief priests would deliver Him.
To the Jews He was the carpenter, the son of Mary. Their unbelief stopped the beneficent hand of God with regard to themselves. Jesus carries on His work elsewhere, and sends forth His disciples-an act which implied the possession of divine power. It was still to Israel that the mission they received from Him directed them, and they were to pronounce judgment upon the land of Emmanuel, the land of Israel, as a polluted land, wherever their testimony should be rejected. They were to go forth resting on the mighty protection of Him who sent them, and they should lack nothing. He was sovereign Lord: all things were at His disposal. Christ can not only communicate blessings as the channel of blessing Himself, but can also confer on His disciples the power of casting out devils. The disciples fulfil their task. This passage shews forth in a remarkable manner the position and glory of Christ. He is the servant-for men, the carpenter's son. In His new service, He takes no place but the filling up of that which God had given Him to do. He could do no mighty works there, because of their unbelief-ever ready to serve, but shut up, straitened in the exercise of His love, where no door opened to receive its influence; and nature judging according to sight never does. Only where a need was, His love, never tired, works-must work. The few sick folk profit by a love that despises none, because it never seeks itself.
But, in the following verse, He who could not work mighty works (because His service was dependent on divine conditions, on which God could found and carry on His intercourse with men, in order to reveal Himself) now gives power to others over all unclean spirits, a power which is divine. Any can work miracles, if God gives the power; but God alone can give it. They are to lack nothing, for Emmanuel was there; and to announce judgment if their message was rejected. Divine love had made Him entirely a dependent Servant; but the dependent Servant was God present in grace and righteousness.
But the effect of all these manifestations of power is, that the conscience of the king who then reigned in Israel is awakened; and the evangelist opens to us the history of the murderous opposition of the authorities in Israel to the witnesses for the truth. Herod had put John to death, in order to gratify the iniquity of a woman who pleased him-iniquity that he shared with her. A dance was worth the life of the prophet of God. Such was the ruler of Israel.
The apostles return. Jesus withdraws them from the inquisitive and needy crowd, by going into a desert place; but the multitude follow Him. Jesus, rejected as He is by the land He loved, has compassion on the poor of the flock, and manifests in their behalf the power of Jehovah to bless them according to Psalm 132. He satisfies the poor with bread. Having sent the people away, He crosses the sea on foot; and, rejoining His disciples, the wind ceases-a figure, of which we have spoken when meditating on Matthew. Their work was finished. As to themselves, in spite of all His miracles, their hearts at that time were still hard, and forgot the miracles, one after the other. The Lord pursues His work of blessing. It was but to touch Him and be healed.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Mark》
Christ despised in his own country. (1-6) The apostles sent forth. (7-13) John the Baptist put to death. (14-29) The apostles return, Five thousand fed by a miracle. (30-44) Christ walks on the sea, He heals those that touch him. (45-56)
Commentary on Mark 6:1-6
(Read Mark 6:1-6)
Our Lord's countrymen tried to prejudice the minds of people against him. Is not this the carpenter? Our Lord Jesus probably had worked in that business with his father. He thus put honour upon mechanics, and encouraged all persons who eat by the labour of their hands. It becomes the followers of Christ to content themselves with the satisfaction of doing good, although they are denied the praise of it. How much did these Nazarenes lose by obstinate prejudices against Jesus! May Divine grace deliver us from that unbelief, which renders Christ a savour of death, rather than of life to the soul. Let us, like our Master, go and teach cottages and peasants the way of salvation.
Commentary on Mark 6:7-13
(Read Mark 6:7-13)
Though the apostles were conscious to themselves of great weakness, and expected no wordly advantage, yet, in obedience to their Master, and in dependence upon his strength, they went out. They did not amuse people with curious matters, but told them they must repent of their sins, and turn to God. The servants of Christ may hope to turn many from darkness unto God, and to heal souls by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Commentary on Mark 6:14-29
(Read Mark 6:14-29)
Herod feared John while he lived, and feared him still more when he was dead. Herod did many of those things which John in his preaching taught him; but it is not enough to do many things, we must have respect to all the commandments. Herod respected John, till he touched him in his Herodias. Thus many love good preaching, if it keep far away from their beloved sin. But it is better that sinners persecute ministers now for faithfulness, than curse them eternally for unfaithfulness. The ways of God are unsearchable; but we may be sure he never can be at a loss to repay his servants for what they endure or lose for his sake. Death could not come so as to surprise this holy man; and the triumph of the wicked was short.
Commentary on Mark 6:30-44
(Read Mark 6:30-44)
Let not ministers do any thing or teach any thing, but what they are willing should be told to their Lord. Christ notices the frights of some, and the toils of others of his disciples, and provides rest for those that are tired, and refuge for those that are terrified. The people sought the spiritual food of Christ's word, and then he took care that they should not want bodily food. If Christ and his disciples put up with mean things, surely we may. And this miracle shows that Christ came into the world, not only to restore, but to preserve and nourish spiritual life; in him there is enough for all that come. None are sent empty away from Christ but those who come to him full of themselves. Though Christ had bread enough at command, he teaches us not to waste any of God's bounties, remembering how many are in want. We may, some time, need the fragments that we now throw away.
Commentary on Mark 6:45-56
(Read Mark 6:45-56)
The church is often like a ship at sea, tossed with tempests, and not comforted: we may have Christ for us, yet wind and tide against us; but it is a comfort to Christ's disciples in a storm, that their Master is in the heavenly mount, interceding for them. And no difficulties can hinder Christ's appearance for his people, when the set time is come. He silenced their fears, by making himself known to them. Our fears are soon satisfied, if our mistakes are set right, especially our mistakes as to Christ. Let the disciples have their Master with them, and all is well. It is for want of rightly understanding Christ's former works, that we view his present works as if there never were the like before. If Christ's ministers now could cure people's bodily diseases, what multitudes would flock after them! It is sad to think how much more most care about their bodies than about their souls.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Mark》
 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
Is not this the carpenter? — There can be no doubt, but in his youth he wrought with his supposed father Joseph.
 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
He could do no miracle there — Not consistently with his wisdom and goodness. It being inconsistent with his wisdom to work them there, where it could not promote his great end; and with his goodness, seeing he well knew his countrymen would reject whatever evidence could be given them. And therefore to have given them more evidence, would only have increased their damnation.
 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
He marvelled — As man. As he was God, nothing was strange to him.
 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
He commanded them to take nothing for their journey — That they might be always unincumbered, free, ready for motion.
 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
Be shod with sandals — As you usually are. Sandals were pieces of strong leather or wood, tied under the sole of the foot by thongs, something resembling modern clogs. The shoes which they are in St. Matthew forbidden to take, were a kind of short boots, reaching a little above the mid-leg, which were then commonly used in journeys. Our Lord intended by this mission to initiate them into their apostolic work. And it was doubtless an encouragement to them all their life after, to recollect the care which God took of them, when they had left all they had, and went out quite unfurnished for such an expedition. In this view our Lord himself leads them to consider it, Luke 22:35: When I sent you forth without purse or scrip, lacked ye any thing?
 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.
 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
They anointed with oil many that were sick — Which St. James gives as a general direction, James 5:14,15, adding those peremptory words, And the Lord shall heal him - He shall be restored to health: not by the natural efficacy of the oil, but by the supernatural blessing of God. And it seems this was the great standing means of healing, desperate diseases in the Christian Church, long before extreme unction was used or heard of, which bears scarce any resemblance to it; the former being used only as a means of health; the latter only when life is despaired of.
 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
A prophet, as one of the prophets — Not inferior to one of the ancient prophets.
 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.
But Herod hearing thereof — Of their various judgments concerning him, still said, It is John.
 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
And preserved him — Against all the malice and contrivances of Herodias.
And when he heard him — Probably sending for him, at times, during his imprisonment, which continued a year and a half.
He heard him gladly — Delusive joy! While Herodias lay in his bosom.
 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
A convenient day — Convenient for her purpose.
His lords, captains, and principal men of Galilee — The great men of the court, the army, and the province.
 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.
To the half of my kingdom — A proverbial expression.
 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
Yet for his oath's sake, and for the sake of his guests — Herod's honour was like the conscience of the chief priests, Matthew 27:6. To shed innocent blood wounded neither one nor the other.
 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
 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.
 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
They departed — Across a creek or corner of the lake.
 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.
Coming out — of the vessel.
 And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.
They sat down in ranks — The word properly signifies a parterre or bed in a garden; by a metaphor, a company of men ranged in order, by hundreds and by fifties - That is, fifty in rank, and a hundred in file. So a hundred multiplied by fifty, make just five thousand.
 And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.
Full of the fragments — of the bread.
 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.
He constrained his disciples — Who did not care to go without him. Matthew 14:22.
 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.
 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.
And he saw them — For the darkness could veil nothing from him.
And would have passed by them — That is, walked, as if he was passing by.
 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
Their heart was hardened — And yet they were not reprobates. It means only, they were slow and dull of apprehension.
 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Mark》
JOHN AND HEROD.
Let us note a few contrasts between John and Herod.
Ⅰ. John was a faithful man; Herod was a faithless man. The faithfulness of John is seen in that he rebuked Herod for living in sin (verse 17,18). John was a man who had looked in the face of God; hence, he did not fear the frown of men. He who can speak with God in holy communion, will not fail in faithfulness to God, to tell men of their sins.
In contrast to John’s faithfulness we have Herod’s faithlessness. In verse 20 we are told that Herod feared and observed John, heard him gladly, and did many things, but after all Herod was only a stony ground, and did many things, but after all Herod was only a stony ground hearer (Mark 4:16,17). Spurgeon says of Herod, “ Herod was a foxy man. We sometimes meet with these foxy people. They want to go to heaven, but a good roaring song they like also, They will give a guinea to the Church, but how many guineas are spent on their own lust. They try and dodge between God and Satan……Herod was like a bird taken with lime-twigs; he wanted to fly; but, sad to say, he was willingly held, limed by his lust.”
Ⅱ. John was a blessed man; Herod was a burdened man. John was blessed in many ways. John was a blessed man because of his character. He was holy in life, like the tabernacle, he was set apart for God’s indwelling and use; and he was righteous in action like an even balance, he did that which was right between men and God, and men and men. Fohn was a blessed man because he suffered for the sake of truth. Those who suffer for the sake of Christ are blessed, as He Himself says (Matt.5:11,12); their very shame is an occasion for rejoicing, as it is illustrated in the early Christians (Acts 5:41); and when any are called to seal their testimony with their death they are blessed indeed, for they receive the martyr’s crown of life (Rev.2:10). Herod was a burdened man. Herod was burdened in many ways. He was a burdened with his sins. He was living a shameful life and he knew it, but for all that he would not quit his sins. A load of guilt was upon him, and his iniquities hung about him like a mill-stone. Herod was burdened with a troubled conscience. When he heard of the miracles that Christ was doing, he thought that John had risen from the dead, and was troubled in consequence (verse 14-17). When a man’s sins haunt him, he has a hose of ghosts which make him afraid, and well they may. Joseph’s brethren could not forget the sins they had committed against their brother. Twenty years after ten stain of blood from her hands. There is one stone in the floor of an old church in Scotland which stares out at you blood-red from the grey stones around it. The legend tells of a murder committed there, and of repeated fruitless attempts to cover the tell-tale colour of that stone. Morally the legend is true; every dead sin sends its ghosts to haunt the souls of the guilty. Committed sin is a scar that cannot be effaced, a diamond-cut that cannot be obliterated, a mark that cannot be rubbed out, a stain that cannot be washed out, an impression that is indelible, a leak that is, from the human standpoint. All thing are possible with God, through faith in the atonement of Christ.
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Chapter 6. Five Loaves and Two Fish
Many Are Coming
Rest a While
I. Offended by the People of His Own Country
II. The Death of John the Baptist
III. Feed Five Thousand
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND.
Christ is the Pivot of Scripture. Take Christ away from the Scripture, and everything falls into confusion. See Christ in the Scripture, and the Key is found to unlock every difficulty, and solve every problem.
Ⅰ. Gathered to Jesus. “ The Apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus” (verse 30). As Abraham came back to Bethel (The House of God, Gen.13:3), and as Israel returned to Gilgal (The rolling away, Josh.5:9), the place where the reproach of Egypt was rolled from them, after their battles with their enemies (Josh.10:43), so the Apostles gathered to Christ. They could not leave Him (John 6:68). He was the centre and circumference of their being.
Ⅱ. Speaking with Jesus. “ Told Him” (verse 30). To have the ear of Jesus to listen to our words, is to have the hand of Jesus to bless us in our work. Prayer is the key to open the storehouse of blessing (Matt.15:25-28), the eye salve to open the eyes (11.Kings 6:17), the harbinger of peace (Phil.4:6,7), the swift messenger in temptation (Eph.8:18), the encourager in persecution (Neh.4:9), the dynamo for power (Acts 4:31-33), and the succourer of others (Acts 12:5).
Ⅲ. Invited by Jesus. “ He said: Come,” ＆c.(verse 31). The disciples were so busy that they had neither time to eat, nor leisure to commune with Christ. It is possible to be occupied with work for Christ, and lose sight of the Christ of the work. There should be the activity of Martha without her anxiety, blended with the attention of Mary and her restfulness; but the Mary character must precede the Martha. We must go inside the veil to worship, before we go outside the camp to work.
Ⅳ. Running after Jesus ( verse 33). The people were determined not to lose sight of Christ. So anxious were they to see and hear Him, that they “ ran” after Him. O that every Christian was as desirous to keep Christ in view! Let the prayer of the bride be ours, namely, “ Draw me, we will run after Thee” (Solomon’s Song 1:4). If we are drawn we shall draw someone else, as is indicated in the change of the singular pronoun “ me” to the plural “we,”
Ⅴ. Compassion of Jesus (verse 34). Christ has the compassion of a Shepherd to find (Matt.9:36); the compassion of a Provider to supply (Matt.15:32); the compassion of Healer to give sight (Matt.20:34); the compassion of a Cleanser to cleanse (Mark 1:41); the compassion of Power to deliver (Mark 5:19); the compassion of a Deliverer to emancipate (Mark 9:22,25); the compassion of a Comforter to console (Luke 7:13); the compassion of a Father to love (Luke 15:20); and the compassion of God to bless. Note the five times God is said to be “full of compassion” in Ps. 78:38; 86:15; 112:4; 145:8).
Ⅵ. Instruction from Jesus. “ He began to teach them many things” (verse 34). We are not told what the “ many things” were that Jesus taught the people. Doubtless He would teach them what they were, namely, sheep without a shepherd (Isa.53:6); and what He was, 6z., the Good Shepherd seeking the wandering sheep (Luke 15.).
Ⅶ. Directed by Jesus (verse 37). The Lord Jesus bids His disciples to give the multitude to eat. In like manner believers now are bidden to care for the hungry (Heb.13:16), and, above all, to supply famishing beings with the Gospel of the Bread of Life.
Ⅷ. Questioned by Jesus. “ How many loaves have ye?” The Lord asks for what the disciples have got, and uses what they have to accomplish His purpose. “ What is that in thine hand?” (Ex.4:2) was the question that the Lord put to Moses, and through that rod God did wondrous things. In like manner, if we only place ourselves and what we have at the disposal of the Lord, He can multiply and use them to His glory and other’s good.
Ⅸ. Commanded by Jesus. “ He commanded them to make all sit down” (verse 39,40). There must be quiet and order before Christ can meet the need of the people. In like manner there must be quietness before the Lord (Psalm 62:1, margin), and a willingness to receive from the Lord (John 1:12), before there can be satisfaction in the Lord (Psalm 16:2, R.V.).
Ⅹ. Look of Jesus. “ He looked up to heaven’ (verse 41). That look of faith expresses His absolute dependence on His Father. What an Example for us! If we look to heaven before our actions, we shall be guided as to our actions, and in them.
Ⅺ. Blessing of Jesus (verse 41). The blessing of Jesus made the bread to multiply to the satisfying of the need of the people. Verily the blessing of the Lord maketh rich (Proverbs 10:22). The blessing of His grace will make us rich unto salvation (Eph.2:6-8); the blessing of His sanctification will make us holy in life (1. Cor.1:30); the blessing of His strength will make us strong to endure in the time of trial (11.Cor.12:9); and the blessing of Himself will meet every need (Col.2:10).
Ⅻ. Action of Jesus (verse 41). Jesus “brake” the bread before He gave. In like manner His body was broken and bruised in death for us, before the blessing of His grace came to us.
XIII. Gift of Jesus (verse 41). As Christ gave the bread to the disciples to give to the multitude, so the Word of the Gospel is committed to believers to give to the unsaved (11. Cor.5:19,20)
XIV. Divided by Jesus. “ Divided He among them all” (verse 41). The Lord saw that everyone got his portion. He overlooked none. He acts in the same way now. His desire is to bless, “ whosoever” (John 3:16)—“ any man” (John 10:9).
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》