Mark 6

January Memory Verse: Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34 (NIV)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times—Mark is a master storyteller. Mark offers 7 scenes in this chapter and moves between them fast. Each episode has many lessons, but if we zoom out and look at the chapter, we glimpse what Mark is doing. Read the snipped below about each section.

1). 1–6, Jesus was misunderstood by friends and neighbors. His impact was hindered. “He was amazed at their unbelief” (6)
2).  7–13, Jesus sent out the 12 with nothing and they experienced the power to cast out demons and heal.
3). 14–29, Herod’s folly led to John’s execution. Herod understood John’s wisdom and power from above, yet feared man more than God.
4). 30–32, The disciples return to Jesus to report all that God had done through them with an invitation to rest in his presence.
5). 33–44, Jesus fed more than 5,000 people through multiplying the only food available. A small gift (John 6:0) led to an overflow of blessing. “He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (34)
6). 45–52, Jesus sent the disciples ahead of him and when Jesus displayed his power by walking on water and calming the storm, they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. (51–52)
7). 53–56, Jesus was recognized at Gennesaret and many were healed.

Do you see a pattern? Mark is very possibly using a method of storytelling that we call a “chiasm.” Chi is a Greek letter that looks like “X.” Notice above that #1 and #7 relate to belief, the recognition of Jesus, and the working of miracles. In this example, we should learn that belief often relates directly and proportionally to God’s work and blessing in our lives. Notice also that the disciples experienced Jesus’ power in #2, but that gets paired with their inability to truly know him in #6—highlighting the continued lack of understanding and actual trust.

#3 and #5, I think, do several things. First, a disciple of Christ must understand that we are never promised safety—the one who knew and served God (John) died, while the ones who experienced the full bellies will soon walk away from Jesus. Second, seeing God’s wisdom and experiencing his blessing does not mean you have a relationship with him. And third, Jesus’ compassion is unending. The pairing of 3 and 5 points as much to Herod’s lostness as the shepherd-less crowd. Even after Herod killed Jesus’ cousin and friend, Jesus felt compassion.

Finally, in the middle of the “X” we see #4 stand alone. This is the emphasis and the point. The disciples obey Jesus in #2, but by #6 they’re confused about his person and power. However, #4 sits in the middle as Mark emphasizes that the disciples who obey and trust Jesus, who serve in his power regardless of the risk, will accomplish much and find rest with Jesus. Our belief and recognition may hinder his power and blessing in our lives, but our obedience leads to experiencing his presence—his presence is our reward.

Share in the comments about what stood out or answer one of the questions:
1. In what ways are you tempted to seek Jesus’ blessing instead of his presence?
2. From this chapter, what person or group have you identified the most with recently and why?

By: Tyler Short


Christin - January 11th, 2021 at 3:49am

This verse makes me think of the song “Help me want the Healer more than the healing. Help me want the Savior more than the saving. Help me want the Giver more me want You, Jesus more than anything.” I have found myself in the position of seeking Jesus’ blessing over His presence. I even find myself judging the disciples for their lack of faith and understanding while in the presence of Jesus, but even Jesus’s better that I go, because of the Holy Spirit coming. Thank you for the reminder. It’s better to choose His presence which is the blessing.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:50pm

That's great. How often do we take the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives for granted? It is better that Christ goes so that we may experience the "other helper."

Christy - January 11th, 2021 at 4:49am

Well put, Christin

Thank you Tyler!

That a servant such as John who fulfilled Gods purpose for him could be killed on a whim is shocking and does remind that when God says that those who trust him will be kept safe, is regarding what is most important, our soul. That we will find rest in His presence someday

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:48pm

So true, it's hard for those of us who have been hurt to imagine Jesus' compassion on both sides of this equation. Ultimately, Jesus' perspective goes so far beyond what is temporary.

Korbet Finley - January 11th, 2021 at 5:43am

Believers have been aptly called 'sunflowers'--turning their faces as the sunflower towards the Sun of Righteousness, and hanging their leaves in sadness and sorrow when that Sun is away. It will be in Heaven that the emblem is complete. There, every flower in the heavenly garden will be turned Godwards, bathing its tints of loveliness in the all-excelling glory of God! Reader, may it be yours to know all the marvels contained in these few glowing words, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!" - John MacDuff

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 4:05pm

Great image Korbet. Thanks man.

Mike Pepper - January 11th, 2021 at 6:00am

5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

What could God accomplish at little ol’ Center Point Church if we have total belief as a body of believers? Let’s find out in 2021! Thank you Tyler and CPC staff for Jumpstart.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 2:06pm

I thought the exact same thing. Recognize, believe, and obey---then watch out.

Jordan Hampton - January 11th, 2021 at 6:08am

I think we are predisposed to seek blessing rather than relationship and presence. Blessing is first about me and how to improve my life, which is the norm in today's self-help society. Also, blessing is seen easier and faster. There is a level of instant gratification. With God's presence, this isn't always the case. We go through seasons of waiting on the Lord and our faith wanes often as this season grows longer.

The group that I identify most with is the disciples on the water. Lately, I have seen the Holy Spirit work in insane, rapid, and obvious ways, in some instances mere minutes after praying for that need. I, like the disciples, have seen the Holy Spirit work like this before. I have led people to Christ. However, I am so tempted every time to chalk it up to circumstance and good timing (which would just be divine providence because luck doesn't exist). I am so tempted to discount and turn from the mystical side of our faith. Lord, help my unbelief.

Nick Parsons - January 11th, 2021 at 1:07pm

So true Jordan! Good word.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:53pm

"I think we are predisposed to seek blessing rather than relationship and presence." I wonder why. Everyone has a relational-vacuum that needs filling---which I think describes half the plots in movies and on TV. Yet, even the best of us can accidentally turn relationships into a task list, both personally and with God.

Joey Stafford - January 11th, 2021 at 6:15am

5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:55pm

When we decided to come back to Kentucky after seminary, I thought a lot about "a prophet having no honor in his own hometown." However, it was in this reading that it stood out how Jesus' ministry was hindered because of unbelief.

Scottie Frans - January 11th, 2021 at 8:39am

Wow, a lot going on here. Thanks for breaking that down for us, Tyler! I’m reading through “Prayer” by Tim Keller right now, and it speaks often about how our prayer is many times a way of asking God for certain things, but rarely a way we experience God or know Him better. I’m guilty of that. I can make prayer my way to make mine or other’s needs known to God, but I forget that prayer is also a way that we can get to know God more intimately. We look to God in times of need so he can do things for us, but we forget to experience who God is. I pray that I will continue to grow in that area and will seek God for who He is, not just what He can do for me.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:55pm

Great word Scottie.

Emily Lavender - January 11th, 2021 at 3:56pm

Scottie, this is good. I so often forget that prayer is a way to know the Lord more intimately...a time to truly experience who God is. Thanks for pointing that out.

Tyler, thanks for breaking Mark 6 down. It was super helpful as I read it again.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 4:03pm

So thankful for you Emily.

Naomi Austin - January 11th, 2021 at 9:38am

Jesus offers His love and blessing to all, but when our hearts are stubborn/unbelieving/argumentative then that hinders us and/or others from receiving the Lord’s kindness.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:58pm

Thanks Naomi. What you said is so true and yet I can get trapped up in functionally ignoring this; especially as it relates to half the things I see in the news. Thanks for the reminder.

Rasheed Flowers - January 11th, 2021 at 10:34am

I hope to be like the disciples and take some time with him and get rest and revelation. I need God's help to want more of Him and who He is rather than what he can do for me! Lord forgive me and help me to seek more of You!

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 3:58pm

Amen Rasheed.

al pelphrey - January 11th, 2021 at 12:31pm

What's somewhat interesting to me is, after all the miracles, healings etc...the disciples still had difficulty believing who Jesus actually was. I would like to think that if I had experienced and seen all the miracles Jesus done first hand I would have been able to believe easily!! But perhaps not..perhaps I would have been more like the disciples. Even currently when God answers a specific prayer I have my doubts if he will actually answer the next prayer I utter. Where is my belief? Lord help my unbelief.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 2:04pm

Al, you're exactly right. I think that's part of Mark's point. Even after everything they'd witness up unto this point, they still struggled. Jesus was more than they could have imagined in every way. Calming the storm was a huge deal because, culturally, things like storms were controlled by the gods and no god had the power to usurp other gods. Mark writing to the Romans showed Jesus had the power to speak storms out of existence---that made him more powerful than any of the Roman gods. When we behold Christ in this way, how could we not be fearful when all we expect of him is a healer and miracle worker? He is so much more!

Nick Parsons - January 11th, 2021 at 1:10pm

I was super encouraged by the last sentence of the chapter... "And as many as touched it (Jesus' garment) were made well..." (v.56). So often we look for healing emotionally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually in other places. But Jesus is the true physician. One we can look to and rest in knowing that when we are with Him there is really only one option... to be made well.

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 4:01pm

That's a great point. It also reminds me of a story element that will appear later toward the end of Mark---spoiler alert, pay attention to cloaks/robes in Mark. He does something cool as a story-telling device toward the end. Right now in Mark people are healed by touching it... after the cross, we'll be clothed in it.

Graham Withers - January 11th, 2021 at 3:51pm

Great perspective on how Mark intentionally uses the structure of the passage to communicate with us!

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 4:04pm

Wayyyyy more than we often take time to realize. We often chalk up the gospel writers structure to happenstance. These guys spent (in some cases) decades telling these stories before they wrote them down. Every word is on purpose.

Reva Lavender - January 11th, 2021 at 4:56pm

Definitely unbelief. Rereading The Mind of Christ now also and showing me again to give my wants over to the Lord and I should just be doing His will! Reading these gospels only helps strengthen my belief!

Tyler Short - January 11th, 2021 at 5:25pm

Thanks Reva. That’s a good word.

Matt Edgar - January 11th, 2021 at 6:09pm

I feel that I often identify with the disciples in the boat. God teaches me time and time again (especially in this last year) that I should expect Him to move in the lives of those around me, yet time and time again I’m surprised when He does. Definitely a point of my faith that needs growth.

Another thing I found interesting when reading was in verse 6. My translation says “He marveled because of their unbelief”. Most of the other times the word “marveled” is used in the Gospel is referring to others marveling at the works or teachings of Jesus. Thinking about how Jesus had the same incredulous response to their unbelief as others had to seeing him perform miracles is a testament to the level of faith that I should be putting in Him.

Norma White - January 11th, 2021 at 6:44pm

Wonderful commentary today! So sad that in Jesus' hometown, he was rejected. Interestingly, he was only able to heal a few people in Nazareth because of their unbelief.

Erin Short - January 11th, 2021 at 9:20pm

Always well-written honey!

Holly Dye - January 12th, 2021 at 10:12am

Verse 6 states, “And he (Jesus) was amazed at their unbelief.” Jesus, knows everything about us and still has hope for us. I wonder if this hope is what left him amazed. Jesus does his work where people recognize their need for him. Perhaps then his amazement is that people would reject the goodness of the person of Christ and the salvation offered through the sacrifice of Christ. May I never amaze Christ in my unbelief but take him at his Word and follow Him daily as he commands.

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