Mark 6

Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary

Spencer W. Kimball

"One of his greatest disappointments was his homecoming. No celebrations for him, only curiosity and rejection. 'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?' (Mark 6:3.) The common boy from their common streets, they said.

"'And he could there do no mighty work ... because of their unbelief' (Mark 6:5-6)-and because of their jealousy and sarcasm. What a homecoming! Poor Nazareth! Poor Nazarenes to reject their own native son, their own Redeemer! They would have thrown him from the precipice at Nazareth but for his quick escape.

"...How difficult it must have been for him, who could wither a fig tree with a single command, to restrain himself from cursing his enemies. Rather, he prayed for them. To retaliate and fight back is human, but to accept indignities, as did the Lord, is divine." ("Jesus of Nazareth," Ensign, Dec. 1984, 5)

Neal A. Maxwell

"The Mortal Messiah willingly lived so modestly...What a contrast to our maneuverings over relative recognition and comparative status. How different, too, from the ways in which some among us mistakenly see the size and response of their audiences as the sole verification of their worth. Yet those fickle galleries we sometimes play to have a way of being constantly emptied. They will surely be empty at the Judgment Day, when everyone will be somewhere else, on their knees.

"As the Creator, Christ constructed the universe, yet in little Galilee He was known merely as 'the carpenter's son.' (Matt. 13:55.) In fact, the Lord of the universe was without honor even in His own Nazarene countryside. Though astonished at His teachings, his neighbors 'were offended at him.' (Mark 6:3.) Even meek Jesus 'marvelled because of their unbelief.' (Mark 6:6.)" ("Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity," Ensign, May 1989, 63)

Mark 6:3-4 the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?

Jesus was raised in a large family with four brothers and at least two sisters. At this point in his ministry, the Lord's siblings did not understand who Jesus really was. Some of his younger half-brothers would become great servants in the kingdom, but not until after the resurrection. James became known as James the Just. It would seem that he replaced James the brother of John in the acting First Presidency. He is credited with the remarkable book of James and became the "bishop of Jerusalem"-a title which meant the leading ecclesiastical authority of the city not a bishop over a small congregation as we would understand it today (see Acts 15). Jesus' brother, Juda, must have been recognized as a general church authority for he is thought to be the author of the book of Jude.

"Mark 6:3 tells us that Jesus had four younger brothers and at least two sisters, the children of Mary and Joseph. The sisters' names have not been preserved, but the brothers were called James (in the Hebrew, Jacob), Joses (in the Hebrew, Joseph, after his father), Simon, and Judas or Juda (also known as Jude). (See also Matt. 13:55.)

"Although there is no scriptural evidence for it, tradition claims that when Mary's husband died, her eldest son, Jesus, took over his business and supported the family until his brothers and sisters were married or independent. Even if that were not true, by the time Jesus was thirty, evidently his mother was a widow, and as the oldest male in the family, Jesus was sought out when there were important family matters to consider, even after he had given up his carpenter tools and engaged full-time in his ministry. (See Matt. 12:46-47.)

"They were a close family. After the marriage at Cana (because of Mary's and Jesus' roles at the feast, the wedding was most likely that of a close relative), the whole family accompanied Jesus and his earliest disciples to nearby Capernaum, where they stayed for a short time. (See John 2:1-12.)

"The first weeks of Jesus' ministry were full of glorious successes. Luke says of the Savior's first missionary journey, 'Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.' (Luke 4:14.)

"Yet, when Jesus returned to Nazareth and declared his Messiahship to his former friends and neighbors, the response was uniformly hostile. The congregation became so angry at his claims that they attempted to cast him off a cliff. He escaped, but it is not recorded that any brother's voice or hand was raised in his defense. (See Luke 4:16-30.) The sad truth is that, despite their exposure to his words and his works, 'neither did his brethren believe in him.' (John 7:5.)

"Months later, during a second missionary journey through Galilee, Jesus revisited Nazareth. Although he had established himself as a prophet and a healer whose name had become well known in the land, the Nazarenes' response was so derisive that he exclaimed, 'A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.' (Mark 6:4; italics added.)

"We can only imagine the degree of Jesus' pain at this rejection by those he loved." (Carlfred B. Broderick, "The Brothers of Jesus: Loving the Unbelieving Relative," Ensign, Mar. 1987, 50)

Gerald N. Lund

"Even a quick reading of the Gospels and Acts shows that the New Testament writers did not intend to give a comprehensive picture of the personal life or family of Jesus. Their purpose was to portray Jesus as the Christ and to convey the significance of that fact to the world. This intent partially explains why we have almost no information about the early years of Jesus and why references to his family life are scanty and usually incidental to the main narrative." (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 152.)

Mark 6:4 A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country

Neal A. Maxwell

"Familiarity got in the way of their recognizing Jesus' divinity.

"Instead of truly assessing Him, they used labels-'the carpenter's son'-to classify Him. Past proximity caused townsfolk and kinsmen alike to regard Him with indifference." (Sermons Not Spoken [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1985], 42.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"He was rejected not because of what He said or how He said it-rather, because of who He was perceived to be: 'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?' Then came Jesus' well-known lamentation: 'A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.'

"In short, 'they were offended at him.' No spiritual work, save the healing of a few sick folk, could be done. Then it was recorded of Jesus, who had seen so much disbelief at Nazareth, that 'he marvelled because of their unbelief.' Think upon it! They were His neighbors and had some awareness of at least some of His mighty works-yet all this was dismissed because He was a local individual. Often that which we, too, can do is so limited by the agency and the stereotyping of others.

"May it also be that a whole people can likewise be airily dismissed, even resented, by their contemporaries and fellow citizens for the same reasons? Yes!

"...Satan's stratagems are apparent: If one cannot face truth, then he can merely dismiss it by stereotyping the source. Dismiss the message because of the lowly messengers." (Even As I Am [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 85.)

Mark 6:7-13 he called unto him the send them forth by two and two

The first apostolic missions were remarkable as much for what they didn't do as for what they did. They were ordained as apostles (Mark 3:14-15), and therefore held the Melchizedek priesthood. However, they didn't do the things we would normally expect of apostles. They didn't baptize or confirm; they didn't organize branches; they didn't ordain officers or administer the sacrament. They were given a specific commission to do only three things: 1) cast out devils, 2) heal the sick, and 3) preach the gospel (see Matt. 10:1-8, Mark 3:14-15, Luke 9:1-2).

Their very specific commission teaches us more about the Lord's mortal mission. He was not concerned with organizing a church; he was only concerned with performing the labors assigned to him by the Father. What was his assignment? He was to go about 'preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness...and those which were possessed with devils' (Matt 4:23-24) in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Isa. 61:1). The Twelve were called to do exactly the same thing. The church organization would come later, according to the Father's master plan.

Mark 6:8 He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey

Some people are really upset if they can't take everything with them. You can imagine the natural response to this commandment: "well, what am I going to eat? How will I buy provisions without any money? What if I get cold and only have one coat to wear?" These are all good questions. But Jesus is going to give them a crash course in relying on the Lord. It's one thing to follow the Savior around and let him make the major decisions and do all the teaching. It's quite another to rely completely on the Lord for your every temporal need. What a test of faith! It's a test of faith that most of us would fail. But the mentoring Lord was careful to reinforce the important lesson, asking them after their missions, 'When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing' (Luke 22:35).

If we could only learn to rely on the Lord as they did! How silly we are to always rely on ourselves instead of the Lord. Of course we believe in self-reliance, but in so many ways-especially in our spiritual endeavors-we make the mistake of relying on the puny arm of our own flesh rather than the unfailing strength of the arm of the Lord. Indeed, the spiritual journey must be done, as it were, without purse or scrip.

Mark 6:13 they...anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them

"Although Jesus healed many people without anointing them with oil-sometimes even healed a person without touching him or her-it was a general practice for priesthood holders in the Church to anoint the sick with oil. While performing their first missionary labors, the Twelve Apostles 'anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.' (Mark 6:13.)" ("I Have a Question," Ensign, Oct. 1991, 61)

Mark 6:16 when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead

Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment chronicles the demented and tortured mind of a man who has committed murder. In the book, he is obsessed with his own deed; his mind darkens; his paranoia escalates. Herod's behavior mirrors the twisted torture of a guilty conscience as if in a classic psychological study. Is there any logical reason to think that John has come back from the dead? No. Has any prophet ever come back to life so they could return to preaching the gospel as a mortal? No. There is no precedent for Herod's suggestion. It makes no sense. That is unless you consider what must be going on in the murderer's mind. He is obsessed with what he has done. He can't get the sight of John's decapitated head out of his head. He's paranoid, expecting God's punishment at any minute, and he knows he deserves it. Perhaps his paranoia is well-founded, for it's hard to imagine the punishment for killing a prophet as great as any 'that are born of women' (Matt 11:11). Eventually, Herod Antipas will find out-if he doesn't know already.

Mark 6:17-29 The imprisonment and murder of John

Mark's rendition of this story is more complete than any other gospel writer. He records details that would have only been known to someone who was present in Herod's court. We might ask, "how did Mark learn of the plot to kill John if he wasn't there?" The detailed account likely comes from a believer who served on Herod's court. The most likely source would be the nobleman described in John 4:46-53. The Savior healed his dying son by merely saying, 'Go thy way; thy son liveth.' Afterwhich, the man 'believed, and his whole house.' "That this nobleman was an officer, either civil or military, in the court of Herod Antipas is reasonably certain." (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 11.) Perhaps this nobleman was also the one who told Herod of Jesus' mighty miracles (v. 14).

Mark 6:18 It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife

'And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing' (Lev. 20:21)

"Herod's marital situation, to which John objected, was somewhat complex. Herod was originally married to the daughter of Aretas, the king of Arabia, but on a visit to Rome he stayed with his half-brother Philip and had an interest in Philip's wife, Herodias. This was an opportunity for Herodias. Her husband, Philip, had no title and ruled no province. In her estimation he was a 'nobody' and, while married to him, she was simply a housewife. As Herod's wife she would be a queen. So she agreed to marry Herod on condition that he divorce his first wife. With her daughter Salome, Herodias left Philip and their residence in Rome and became the wife of Herod Antipas the King, ruler of Galilee and Perea.

"To further complicate the relationship, Herodias was not only Herod's sister-in-law, but also his niece, being the daughter of Aristobulus, Herod's half-brother. She was married, therefore, first to one uncle and now to another uncle. Such close-relation marriage was forbidden in the law of Moses." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 57.)

Mark 6:22 the daughter of...Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod

In the real world, lusting over your step-daughter is just sick and wrong. In Herod's family, incestuous marriages and arrangements were so common as to be the rule more than the exception. Most in the family were married to their uncle, cousin, niece, or nephew (See Josephus, Antiquities XVIII, 5:4-5). In the royal family, romantic escapades were common in spite of all propriety and nearness of kin. But if Herod's depravity isn't enough, think of Herodias! How sick do you have to be to use your own daughter's sex appeal to seduce your husband?

"It is interesting that Herod, the king, should be outmaneuvered by his wife and by a dancing girl. His appetite and lust for the girl's bodily charms snared him into a compromising situation for which he afterward was very sorry. The whole caper was brought about in the first place because of his libidinous desire for Herodias, whom he had spirited away from Philip, and whom it was not lawful for him to have. It was bodily lust and passion that had caused him to forsake his wife, the daughter of Aretas, for Herodias, and now it was more of the same that made him vulnerable to the scheming of Herodias in her plan to make him destroy the very man he had previously protected. Herodias, above all others, knew what kind of a man Herod was. She knew his weakness for the flesh.

"Since Herodias wished to kill John but could not because Herod protected him, she set about to devise a method not only to get John killed, but to get Herod to do it. Herod had shown himself to be a man of much passion, with fleeting moments of good intention but with little self-control and even less manly discipline. Herodias herself had beguiled him in their days at Rome, and now she again played upon his weaknesses. But this time she would use a younger woman: Salome would be the bait." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 69.)

Mark 6:26 yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her

"If a single touch of manliness had been left in him he would have repudiated the request as one which did not fall either under the letter or spirit of his oath, since the life of one cannot be made the gift to another; or he would have boldly declared that if such was her choice, his oath was more honoured by being broken than by being kept. But a despicable pride and fear of man prevailed over his better impulses. More afraid of the criticisms of his guests than of the future torment of such conscience as was left him, he immediately sent an executioner to the prison, and so at the bidding of a dissolute coward, and to please the loathly fancies of a shameless girl, the axe fell, and the head of the noblest of the prophets was shorn away." (Farrar, Frederic, Life of Christ, as quoted by Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 335.)

Mark 6:29 they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb

"Thus ended the mortal ministry of one of God's noblest men. His earthly mission was completed; he had kept himself unspotted from the world and had testified against the evils of his day. He had made straight the highway of his God, announced the presence of the Messiah, baptized the very Son of God and suffered a martyr's violent death.

"Soon, in perhaps about a year and a half, the Messiah himself would be slain and his body placed in a tomb. But the Messiah would have power over the grave, would break the bands of death, and would come forth out of the tomb with his resurrected, glorified body, no more to be maimed or bruised. And the Messiah's resurrection would bring to pass the resurrection of all men, including John.

"As recorded in a divine communication to Joseph Smith (D&C 133:55), John came forth from the tomb at a time immediately following Jesus' own resurrection, and John is referred to as being 'with Christ in his resurrection.'" (Robert J. Matthews, "John the Baptist: A Burning and a Shining Light," Ensign, Sept. 1972, 79)

Mark 6:31 rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat

Neal A. Maxwell

"On my office wall is a quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: 'My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.' For me, it is a needed reminder. A few years ago, already weary, I foolishly went late one afternoon to two different hospitals to give blessings to three individuals who were dying of cancer. Not only was I worn out, but worse, the last person really didn't get much from me. Things had not been done in 'wisdom and order.' I was running faster than my supply of strength and energy on that occasion. Those blessings would have been better given over two or three days, and I would have had more empathy and energy.

'And he said unto [the Twelve], 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' (Mark 6:31-32).

"Jesus clearly recognized the weariness of His disciples brought on by their conscientiousness. A renewing retreat can be difficult to arrange. But informal, brief retreats can be fashioned by providing greenbelts of time between busyness, even if these are only a few minutes long.

"After one of the Brethren made a report to President Brigham Young, he was anxious to leave so as not to impose. But President Young said, 'Please sit a spell with me. I am weary of men and things.' How often do we 'sit a spell' with spouse, children, colleagues, or friends? Unhurried time seems to be worth more than the same amount of time spent hectically." ("Wisdom and Order," Ensign, June 1994, 41)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Happily, we have had preserved for us, through the writings of Mark, an episode in which the press of the crowd was so great on the Savior and His disciples that there was 'no leisure so much as to eat.' (Mark 6:30-32) It was, therefore, the Savior's desire to take His disciples privately by ship to a desert place, so that they could obtain much-needed respite, illustrating that where the pace is brisk and people are giving much and constantly, a time of refreshing and renewal is needed...

"Striking the proper balance is one of the keenest tests of our agency. Therefore, we need to ask regularly for inspiration in the use of our time and in the making of our daily decisions. So often our hardest choices are between competing and desirable alternatives (each with righteous consequences), when there is not time to do both at once. Indeed, it is at the mortal intersections-where time and talent and opportunities meet-that priorities, like traffic lights, are sorely needed. Quiet, sustained goodness is the order of heaven, not conspicuous but episodic busyness...

"When our pace exceeds our strength and means, the result is prostration instead of sustained dedication...Pace, which requires diligent, sustained effort, is not the way of those who fling themselves into a single task and quickly become depleted and, therefore, cannot help again for a season." (Notwithstanding My Weakness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 4-7.)

Mark 6:37 Give ye them to eat

Not surprisingly, the Lord shows an example of how he blesses his children. He could have single handedly passed out the loaves and fishes. But he was trying to teach his disciples how to bless the lost sheep. They were to feed the multitude. The food, whether physical or spiritual, would seem inadequate at first, but he would multiply available resources to meet demand. The task was to be performed by the disciples, but the miracle-as always-comes from the Lord. "Many people are hungry-not just for food but for love, for acceptance, for support. Some are starving spiritually. Jesus knew how to feed every kind of hunger. In our small way we can do the same." ("Come, Let Us Adore Him: An Advent Calendar," New Era, Dec. 1989, 21)

"In addition to showing his miraculous power over the elements, Jesus also demonstrated an important gospel principle on this occasion. When he gave food to his apostles and then commanded them to give it to others, he was teaching the order of priesthood government. (See Matt. 14:19) The Lord's pattern is to call and instruct individuals to whom he gives responsibility and through whom he then works for the benefit of all. So it is with priesthood, with temple ordinances, with church administration, and with parenthood. Jesus blessed and divided the food, but perhaps the miraculous proliferation of it took place while it was in the hands of the apostles. Their distributing of the food, blessed and prepared as it was by divine power, typified their service in the church in other ways, as the Master gave into the hands of these mortals a portion of his mission and a portion of his authority, and sanctified their labors of righteousness." (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 290.)

Mark 6:42 they did all eat and were filled

The Lord could have given them every meal they ever wanted. He could have repeated this miracle on a daily basis and thereby become the most popular man in the world. He could have been the eternal provider of the ultimate "free lunch." Hugh Nibley commented on their natural excitement:

"The Lord gave lunch to the people in the first place simply because they were hungry, they needed it, and he 'was moved with compassion' (Matthew 14:14, 15:32). He both fed them and taught them, but the knowledge was worth far more than the food-he told them not to labor for that (John 6:27). When he miraculously produced the lunch, they wanted to accept him as their prophet and king (John 6:14-15), even as the Nephites, who when they had eaten and were filled all burst out in one joyful chorus of praise and thanksgiving (3 Nephi 20:9). Why the excitement? Hadn't they ever eaten dinner before? That had nothing to do with it; what thrilled them was seeing clearly and unmistakably the hand of the giver, and knowing for themselves exactly where it all comes from and that it can never fail." (Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 230 - 231.)

But obviously his mission was to assuage spiritual hunger not physical hunger. Therefore, when they tried to make him their "free lunch" king (John 6:15), he made a quick getaway.

Ironically, those who understand Christ's mission, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who take no thought for their life, what they shall eat, or what they shall drink, who understand that Jesus provides a daily feast of spiritual food, shall one day be daily fed by his miraculous power. The celestial kingdom will include a never-ending supply of such nourishment. There the saints will partake of the tree of life, as it bears a different fruit every month; there they will drink freely from the waters of life that flow as 'a pure river...clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb' (Rev 22:1-2). Such is the invitation for all: 'let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely' (Rev. 22:17). Then will the promise again be fulfilled, 'I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst' (Jn. 6:35).

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

When the Lord blesses us, our cup runneth over. In feeding the 5,000, we should not be surprised that there were twelve leftover baskets. Whenever the Lord blesses us, he opens the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing so great that there is not room enough to receive it (Mal 3:10).

James E. Faust

"In our time, we seem to have forgotten the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes in favor of the miracles wrought by the mind and hand of men. I refer to the marvels of modern transportation and the increasing sophistication of all scientific knowledge, including the new electronic highway. We have forgotten that this amazing knowledge comes to mankind only as God chooses to reveal it, and it should be used for purposes nobler and wiser than mere entertainment....A miracle even greater than that of the loaves and the fishes was the vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who saw the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York. Subsequently the keys, the priesthood, and the saving ordinances were restored in their fulness, and Christ's church was reestablished in our time. Thus God has again 'fed' us and filled our 'baskets' to overflowing." ("Five Loaves and Two Fishes," Ensign, May 1994, 4-5)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Only by persisting in His questioning did Jesus succeed in getting His disciples to remember that there were actually twelve baskets of 'leftovers' after the miracle of the loaves (see Matthew 14:15-21; 16:9-10). The Bread of Life always gives 'enough and to spare' (D&C 104:17), but we're so forgetful." (That Ye May Believe, 199.)

Mark 6:53 They came into the land of Gennesaret

Bruce R. McConkie

"This region-a rich, fertile, and productive plain-extended southward along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum on the north to the region around Magdala and Tiberias. Though having set out for Capernaum, apparently because of the storm, Jesus and the apostles landed somewhat south of that city. It was while traveling northward to Capernaum that the sick and diseased from the cities, villages, and whole region of Gennesaret were brought to him to be healed." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 350.)