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The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 6

Analysis and Commentary

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Jesus Walks on Water During a Storm

Jesus Walks on Water During a Storm

In the sixth chapter of Mark’s gospel, Jesus continues his ministry, his healing, and his preaching. Now, though, Jesus also sends out his apostles to try to do the same things on their own. Jesus also visits his family where he receives something less than a warm welcome.

Jesus and his Kin: Is Jesus a Bastard? (Mark 6:1-6)
Here Jesus returns to his home — perhaps his home village, or perhaps it merely signals a return to Galilee from more Gentile areas, but it isn’t clear. It also isn’t clear whether he went home very often, but the welcome he receives this time suggests he didn’t. He preaches once again in the synagogue, and just as when he preached in Capernaum in chapter 1, people are astonished.

Jesus Gives the Apostles Their Assignments (Mark 6:7-13)
Thus far, Jesus’ twelve apostles have been following him from place to place, witnessing the miracles he performed and learning about his teachings. This included not only the teachings he has made openly to the crowds, but also secret teachings delivered only to them as we saw in chapter 4 of Mark. Now, however, Jesus is telling them that they will have to go out to teach on their own and work their own miracles.

The Fate of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29)
When we last saw John the Baptist back in chapter 1, he was on a religious mission similar to that of Jesus: baptizing people, forgiving their sins, and exhorting them to have faith in God. In Mark 1:14 we learned that John was put in prison, but not informed by whom or for what reason. Now, we learn the rest of the story (though not one that is consistent with the account in Josephus).

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (Mark 6:30-44)
The story of how Jesus fed five thousand men (were there no women or children there, or did they just not get anything to eat?) with just five loaves of bread and two fishes has always been one of the most popular gospel tales. It is certainly an engaging and visual tale — and the traditional interpretation of people seeking “spiritual” food also receiving sufficient material food is naturally appealing to ministers and preachers.

Jesus Walks on Water (Mark 6:45-52)
Here we have another popular and visual story of Jesus, this time with him walking on water. It is common for artists to portray Jesus on the water, stilling the storm as he did in chapter 4. The combination of Jesus’ calmness in the face of the power of nature along with his working another miracle that amazes his disciples has long been appealing to believers.

Jesus’ Further Healings (Mark 6:53-56)
Eventually Jesus and his disciples make it across the Sea of Galilee and arrive at Gennesaret, a town believed to have been located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Once there, however, they don’t escape being recognized. Although we have seen before that Jesus isn’t very well known among those in power, he is very popular among the poor and sick. Everyone sees in him a miraculous healer, and everyone who is sick is brought to him so that they can be healed.

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