The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Mark 6

Mar 6:1

The commencement of a new missionary journey.

Mar 6:3

THE CARPENTER: Evidently because of the possible offensiveness of designating Jesus a carpenter, several mss harmonize the words 'carpenter, the son' to the parallel passage in Mat 13:55, 'the son of the carpenter.' Almost all the rest of the mss read 'the carpenter, the son'... the explicit designation of Jesus as a carpenter... is most likely correct. The reference to Jesus as the carpenter is probably derogatory, indicating that they knew Jesus only as a common laborer like themselves" (NETn). See Lesson, Carpenter and tentmaker.

Jesus "is described as a 'tekton' or manual worker ('carpenter' in many translations). 'A tekton was at the lower end of the peasant class, more marginalized than a peasant who owned a small piece of land. We should not think of a tekton as being a step up from a subsistence farmer; rather, a tekton belonged to a family that had lost its land" (Geza Vermes, 'Jesus the Jew'). So Jesus was himself marginalized, the poorest of the poor, in one of the poorest corners of the Roman empire.

MARY'S SON: But not the son of Joseph! An innuendo (cp Joh 8:41,48). "A taint of malicious suggestion" (SMk 84). "The reference to him as the son of Mary (even though Jesus' father was probably dead by this point) appears to be somewhat derogatory, for a man was not regarded as his mother's son in Jewish usage unless an insult was intended (cf Jdg 11:1,2; John 6:42; 8:41; 9:29)" (NET notes).

Professor Joseph Gedaliah Klausner: "The illegitimate birth of Jesus was a current idea among the Jews...: (a) Babylonian Talmud, Yebamoth 49b, 324: 'Jesus was a bastard born of adultery'; (b) Yebamoth IV 3; 49a: 'Reb Shimeon ben 'Azzai said [concerning Jesus]: "I found a genealogical roll in Jerusalem wherein was recorded, Such-an-one is a bastard of an adulteress." ' Klauser adds to this: 'Current editions of the Mishnah add: "To support the words of Reb Yhosua (who, in the same Mishnah, says: 'What is a bastard? Everyone whose parents are liable to death by the Beth Din [House of Judgment]): That Jesus is here referred to seems to be beyond doubt'; (c) Shabbath 104b: 'Jesus was a magician and a fool. Mary was an adulteress'; (d) Sanhedrin 106a,b: 'Mary was a whore: Jesus (Balaam) was an evil man.' Origen refers to the tradition (still current in his day during the 4th century), that Christ was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier: 'Mary was turned out by her husband, a carpenter by profession, after she had been convicted of unfaithfulness. Cast off by her spouse, and wandering about in disgrace, she then gave birth in obscurity to Jesus, by a certain soldier, Panthera' " (Refutation 128).

HIS SISTERS: Prob 3 (cp 1Sa 2:5).

Mar 6:4

HOMETOWN... .RELATIVES... HOUSE: Cited generally from Gen 12:1: "Country, kindred, father's house..." Thus, Abraham was a prophet while in Ur.

Mar 6:6

Twice Jesus was amazed: at the unbelief of his neighbors (here), and at the belief of the centurion (Luk 7:6-9).

Mar 6:7

TWELVE: Cp 12 springs at Marah (Exo 15:27). Cp Luk 10:1,2: another "12" and "70"!

Joshua had taken 12 stones out of Jordan, as a token of Israel's dedication to turn the land of promise into God's kingdom.

Jesus ("Joshua") now selects 12 men (the first, Peter, called a "stone"), baptized in Jordan, to become the foundation stones of a new Jerusalem (Rev 21:14).

Mar 6:8

TAKE NOTHING FOR THE JOURNEY: Not so unusual in the East (LB 345). Similar restrictions were put upon Temple worshipers (Temple 65). The disciples were now engaged in the service of the true "temple", Jesus!

A STAFF: The prohibited staff of Mat 10:10 was a weapon; this, an ordinary staff for travel (NMk 54). (But the word is the same -- "rhabdos"!)

BAG: "Pera", one poss meaning: a bag carried by beggars, to collect offerings/gifts along the way.

Mar 6:9

NOT AN EXTRA TUNIC: Not necessary at all in the East. Merely ostentatious.

Mar 6:10

"Go not from house to house": Luk 10:7.

Mar 6:11

SHAKE THE DUST OFF YOUR FEET: The practice of pious Jews before entering the Holy Land after a journey abroad. Used in Act 13:51. Or, because their feet had not been washed as was custom.

Mar 6:13

ANOINTED MANY SICK PEOPLE WITH OIL AND HEALED THEM: A normal curative operation, to supplement spiritual powers of apostles. Cp Luk 10:34: the good Samaritan.

Mar 6:14

Contrast the two "feasts" of Mark 6: Herod's birthday party (vv 14-29) and Christ's miraculous feeding of the five thousand (vv 30-44). Herod's feast was sumptuous; Christ's was frugal. Herod's guests were captains and rulers; Christ's were the poor. At Herod's feast the "strange woman" -- the "goddess of pleasure" -- flaunted herself; at Christ's meal the "bride" partook with her "husband". Herod served a feast of death; Christ, the bread of life. At Herod's feast a righteous man was slain on a whim; while Christ's feast typified the death of the perfect man -- ordained from the foundation of the world to lay down his life for his friends.

Source of this story: Manaen, former friend of Herod (Act 13:1)?

JOHN... HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD: There is no grave of man's making deep enough to bury his sin.

Mar 6:16

JOHN... HAS BEEN RAISED: Was there a family resemblance between John and Jesus?

Mar 6:17

Herod believed John was fomenting political rebellion in the guise of religious preaching.

Mar 6:18

TO HAVE YOUR BROTHER'S WIFE: Was Philip still legally married to Herodias -- even though she now "lived" with Herod?

Mar 6:19

The pattern of Elijah: John also incurred the ruthless vengeance of the consort (Jezebel) of a weak monarch (Ahab).

Mar 6:20

HE WAS GREATLY PUZZLED (HE DID MANY THINGS): AV has: "he did many things". RSV: "he was much perplexed".

Mar 6:21

ON HIS BIRTHDAY: The only other person whose birthday is recorded in the Bible was another Gentile king, Pharaoh: Gen 40:20.

Mar 6:22

WHEN THE DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS CAME IN AND DANCED, SHE PLEASED HEROD AND HIS DINNER GUESTS: Are we pleased to allow the "goddess of pleasure" to dance before our eyes? "The character of the dance and the quality of the appreciation of it may well be imagined" (WGos 314).

Mar 6:23

UP TO HALF MY KINGDOM: Cp Est 5:3; 5:6; 7:2 -- the same offer Ahasuerus made to Esther (but Herod's was hollow; he did not have the power!). Similarities between two incidents: feasting and drinking, plotting the death of others (ie Esther asking for the "head" of Haman!).

(a) Esther -- an orphan become queen; Salome -- daughter of a queen; (b) Esther -- asking favor in order to deliver God's people; Salome -- asking favor in order to destroy God's prophet; (c) Esther -- asking on behalf of Mordecai; Salome -- asking on behalf of Herodias; (d) Esther -- had her opportunity because of the king's drunken pride; Salome -- ditto; (e) Ahasuerus -- offered the half of the kingdom because he loved her; Herod -- offered it because, drunk, he wanted to show off. (f) Esther -- took the good advice of her uncle ("father?"); Salome -- took the bad advice of her mother.

Thanks to Herodias, Herod later lost all his kingdom and was banished to Gaul.

Mar 6:25

The pattern of Elijah: John also incurred the ruthless vengeance of the consort (Jezebel) of a weak monarch (Ahab).

Mar 6:27

HE SENT AN EXECUTIONER... THE MAN WENT, BEHEADED JOHN IN THE PRISON: "Herod actually did John a good turn, for in one smooth stroke he did for John what John had spent a lifetime trying to do -- that is, to separate a godly mind from a body prone to sin and death" (CY).

Mar 6:30

Contrast the two feasts: (1) Herod's: sumptuous, captains and kings, a "strange woman", a feast of death. A righteous man is slain on a whim. (2) Christ's: frugal, for the poor, Christ's "bride", bread of life. The typical death of one who lays down his life for his friends.

Mar 6:31

The time of this incident: the 3rd of 4 Passovers in Christ's ministry (Joh 6:4n).

Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50;4; Psa 119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38; 6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.

"During our leisure hours we can fulfil some of our true 'desires and pleasures' which are comprehended in the will of the Father; and as one grows more mature in the life of the spirit, the more active one becomes in the Father's 'business' until there is little time for anything else. Such time spent now is invested for eternal life. As soon as the message of Jesus and the disciples became known, and their works were made manifest we are told that on one occasion 'they had no leisure so much as to eat', so that Jesus had to say to them: 'Come ye yourselves apart unto a desert place, and rest a while' " (NL 114).

Mar 6:32

He separates his disciples unto himself from the world, by water. Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50;4; Psa 119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38; 6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.

Mar 6:33

Ct Herod's feast (vv 21-28) with Christ's feast (vv 33-44): (1) Herod's: sumptuous, captains and kings, "a strange woman", feast of death. (2) Christ's: frugal, for the poor, his "bride", bread of life. In Herod's feast, a righteous man is slain on a whim. In Christ's feast, typ death of one who lays down his life for his friends.

Mar 6:34

He submerged his personal sorrows (at the death of John the Baptist) by ministering to others.

HE HAD COMPASSION ON THEM: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses" (Heb 4:15).

Mar 6:39

Cp special ordering of wilderness encampments (Num 2).

ON THE GREEN GRASS: Indicating the time as near Passover. This was 3rd of 4 passovers (Joh 2:13n).

Mar 6:41

The language of the Last Supper.

Mar 6:42

SATISFIED: "Satisfied with the bread of heaven" (Psa 105:40). Cp Psa 22:26; 132:13-16; Isa 25:6-8.

Mar 6:43

AND THE DISCIPLES PICKED UP TWELVE BASKETFULS OF BROKEN PIECES: Twelve baskets = twelve apostles! In ministering to others, they lost nothing themselves. (In the atonement of Christ, there is ample provision for all.)

TWELVE BASKETFULS: "Kophinos" = small basket. 12 full baskets, ie, the 12 apostles, full of the "bread" of life. In ministering to others, they lost nothing themselves. In the atonement of Christ, there is ample provision for all.

BROKEN PIECES: Which the Canaanite woman, like a "dog" under the Jewish "table", was only too willing to eat (Mat 15:27; Mar 7:28).

Mar 6:45

From the "mountain" [ie heaven], Christ could see his disciples on the troubled sea [ie the world]. At the appropriate time, ie when they were in the greatest need, he could go to them.

Christ first breaks bread -- signifying his own body in death -- and then, when his disciples are in distress on a troubled sea, comes to calm and save them -- his second coming!

BETHSAIDA: "House of fishing".

WHILE HE DISMISSED THE CROWD: Why? Because they intended to make him king (Joh 6:15).

Mar 6:46

AFTER LEAVING THEM, HE WENT UP ON A MOUNTAINSIDE TO PRAY: He knew that they intended to make him king by force (Joh 6:15). "The waves of popular acclaim might have drowned him in a glory which was suffocation in the sea of men" (NMk 63).

Instances of Jesus withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer, and sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15; 8:1.

Mar 6:48

STRAINING AT THE OARS: They had rowed 3 or 3 1/2 miles (Joh 6:19).

HE WAS ABOUT TO PASS THEM BY: 'As though he would have passed them by': We must realize our need for help. God never gives us the "go-by" -- though sometimes it seems He will.

Mar 6:50

Mark (the amanuensis/secretary/scribe of Peter?) completely omits Peter's walking on the water (Mat 14:29-32).

Mar 6:52

Christ first breaks bread (body, death), then comes to the disciples on the troubled sea (second coming).

Mar 6:56

Mar 6:56

All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

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