Mark Part 5 covers chapter 6, another action packed episode in Peter’s account of the Lord’s Earthly ministry. In chapter 6 the Disciples go out alone for the first time, John the Baptist is beheaded, Jesus feeds the five thousand and walks on water. An ordinary day for the Lord, but we should be prepared to gain fascinating new insights into these familiar stories.
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All right, so tonight we’re going to Mark 6.
Mark 6 is longer than previous chapters, and so I won’t know until we get to the end of our time whether we’ve gotten to the end of the chapter or not, but we’ll take whatever speed seems reasonable for us. There’s plenty here to talk about, and even if we don’t get all the way to the end, it doesn’t matter because we’ll be here another time or two, and we’ll be able to finish it up then.
So we’ll begin here in Mark 6:1:
Jesus left there
So, first of all, you want to know where “there” was. He left the home of the synagogue ruler, Jairus, whose daughter He had just raised from the dead.
He left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.
Hometown, of course, the place where His parents live—not where He was born, Bethlehem, but the place where His parents live, which is Nazareth up north in the Galilee.
When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
I like that sentence, “many who heard Him.” Do you know what that means? Not everybody was amazed! You can’t please everybody no matter how good you are, right? So not everybody was amazed, but many who heard Him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “And what’s this wisdom that has been given him? That he even does miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, and Joseph, and Judas and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
All right, so this is a fulfillment, by the way, one of many in the Lord’s life, of Isaiah 53:2 and I’m going to run back there quickly. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. If you’ve got the Pharisee tabs like I have, you can get there pretty quick, but if you don’t, just listen to verse 2.
It says, speaking of the Messiah:
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
Now, this is the verse I’m talking about. The last half of verse 2:
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
Jesus was just an ordinary guy. He was one of the common people; He didn’t come as a king, He wasn’t royalty, He wasn’t from a famous family of priests, He wasn’t from a family that they knew at least that had any claim to any kind of special thing.
It turns out that His adopted father, we’ll call him, Joseph, was of the tribe of Judah. He was in the royal line; he was a descendant of Solomon’s. He, in fact, was one of many people who had, even though it was flawed, he had a claim to the throne of Israel. He was one of the princes of the tribe of Judah.
Of course, we know that God had cursed the royal line, and so none of these princes were eligible to serve as the king, but Joseph was of that line. His mother Mary was also of the tribe of Judah and she was descended from Solomon’s brother, Nathan.
And so both Mary and Joseph were of the tribe of Judah, which was the tribe from which kings came. However, Joseph was just a carpenter, probably a furniture maker, more likely.
They lived up there in Nazareth, which was Gentile country. It wasn’t even in the heart of Israel, you know, the Galilee was called “Galilee of the Nations” or “Galilee of the Gentiles” if you will. And so to the people around them, Joseph and Mary, were just ordinary folks.
And you know, it seems strange to us that this could have been, but you remember Jesus was born in Bethlehem and then they lived in Bethlehem for a little while until the Magi came which incensed King Herod and he put out a death warrant on all of the children two years and younger.
Joseph was warned in a dream, and he took Mary and the baby, and using the money that the Magi had brought them, they were able to fund a trip to Egypt. They stayed there out of Herod’s way until he died, and when he died, then they came back to Nazareth, and they resumed their lives there in Nazareth.
By that time, several years had passed, and much of the hoopla over the Lord’s birth had died down. It was old news; nothing had really happened. Life was the same. And so people thought that that was just an event that came and went, and it didn’t change anybody’s life, it didn’t change anything about anything.
Thirty years later, when He finally started His Ministry, they couldn’t even agree on where He came from. And in the Scriptures you can find three or four different places where it says that Jesus would have come. His family was from Nazareth, and He was called a Nazarene. We know that He was born in Bethlehem because the Scriptures tell us that.
Hosea, the prophet Hosea, said He would come out of Egypt, and of course, He did because His father and mother took Him to Egypt right after He was born, and they kept Him there for several years, and then they brought Him back into Israel.
And you can go to several places and find several prophecies that if you didn’t have the complete understanding of the Scripture, it could confuse you as to where the Messiah is supposed to come from. Even the high priest said no prophet ever comes from the Galilee.
Now, this was the high priest in Israel; he’s supposed to know his Scriptures. He forgot about the fact that Jonah came from the Galilee, and he was called a prophet. And Nahum the prophet came from a town that is called today Capernaum, which in the Hebrew is “kapar nahum,” the village of nahum, so it was his hometown.
Even the high priest of Israel didn’t realize this, and so you might find this hard to believe, but the religious leaders of His day didn’t take the Bible seriously. Now I don’t know if you know of any parallel to this day! In those days, many of the leaders no longer believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God. Some of the leaders only believed in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, and didn’t think the rest of the Bible was inspired.
Today we have people who only believe in the New Testament and don’t think the Old Testament was inspired, and so you can see that, like I said earlier, the people change but the circumstances pretty much stay the same, don’t they?
I don’t want to get too far off the course here because we got a lot to cover tonight, but these people in the Lord’s hometown were offended that this Man would present Himself to them as a wise teacher when He had had no education, no training.
He wasn’t from the priestly tribe of Levi, He wasn’t from any priestly family. He hadn’t been to any preparatory school, He didn’t have a theology degree. He didn’t have any of the things that would commend Him to them as a teacher, and He came from a common ordinary family, so He didn’t have any of the credentials that one would have if He was truly royalty.
And yet here He is, standing up one day and expounding on the Scriptures to them in ways they had never heard before. Many were amazed by it, but still, they said, “Who does He think He is? Where does He come from? What are His credentials? How does He have this ability? How does He have this right to do this thing?”
Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, and Joseph, and Judas and Simon?
There are the Lord’s four brothers.
Aren’t his sisters here with us?
Tradition holds, I don’t think it says so anywhere in Scripture, but by tradition, there were three sisters as well. And so the Lord had seven siblings, half brothers and sisters, and they all were there, and the people in the town knew them as the sisters of Jesus and the sons and daughters of Mary.
It appears by the text here that Joseph had probably died by then because he’s not mentioned here. And that wouldn’t have been uncommon in those days, Jesus was the firstborn and He was 30 years old. You know it was typical in those days that the man would be much older than the woman when the marriage came because it took a long time for a man to get himself established enough in the society to be able to afford a wife.
He had to have a job, he had to have a house built and paid for, he had to have those things. They didn’t have mortgage money in those days; they didn’t have Mastercards and things like that where people could just hulk themselves up to their eyeballs and go off and live as if they had money.
If you wanted to live the wealthy life, you had to really have wealth in those days, and so it took a man a long time. And it wasn’t unusual for a man to be in his 30s or 40s before he could literally afford to be married. And yet the women were married very young. It’s probable that Mary was in her mid-teens when she was married.
Many of the women were very young at the time of their marriages, as soon as they were considered women in the eyes of the law, which was 13 years old, then they were eligible really for marriage. And that was the way it went in those days.
So you would have an older husband, a younger wife. And so it wasn’t unusual for the husband to have died by the time the children were in their 20s and 30s. And then, of course, it was their responsibility to take care of the mom because there was no welfare either, and there was no social security, and there were no old-timer benefits and things like that.
And so it was a responsibility to the children to take care of the parents, that’s something else that’s changed from that day to this, but today the elderly are sometimes embarrassing to their children.
In those days, the elderly were revered, they were the teachers of the grandchildren basically, and they were the ones who cared for the grandchildren while the parents struggled to keep the family together, and the home and the income going and all that stuff. It was a different life than it is today.
One of the last things that Jesus did from the cross as the firstborn Son is He appointed John to take care of His mother because that was His responsibility. He was the firstborn Son, He was responsible for the care of His mother, and so as the firstborn Son, He appointed John to become Mary’s responsible party so that she wouldn’t have to worry about anything during the later years of her life. And John did take care of her until she died. He took her to Ephesus with him, and it’s probably true that she lived the rest of her life there in Ephesus.
Joyce, when you were in Ephesus, did you see, did you go to Mary’s—Okay. Yeah, beautiful, yeah. Beautiful, beautiful hillside. Nobody knows if that’s the actual spot, but it sure is a pretty spot, isn’t it?
All right back to the text. So they took offense at Him. This also, not only the fact that the people would take offense at Him, but in verse 4 Jesus said to them only in His hometown and among His own relatives, and in His own house is a prophet without honor.
Turn back with me, I want you see this. In Psalm 69, there are two Psalms that are quoted very heavily in the New Testament. The most often quoted Psalm is Psalm 22, which contains the prophecy of the crucifixion and resurrection, if you read it carefully. Psalm 69 is the second most often quoted Psalm because it also tells about the Lord’s life and.
In Psalm 69:7 it says:
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a stranger to my brothers,
An alien to my own mother’s sons;.
And this is the way it was for Jesus in His upbringing. This should give you comfort if you’ve ever been frustrated trying to explain the Lord and the need for salvation to a sibling. If you’ve ever been frustrated in trying to do that, remember this. Not even the Lord Himself was successful in bringing all of His siblings to Himself, okay? Some of His siblings died and were not saved, others were.
James, who was one of the famous leaders of the early Church, was a brother of the Lord’s, didn’t become a believer until after the Lord died. All through his life, he was not a believer. After the Lord died, he became convinced and wound up becoming one of the early leaders.
Jude, who wrote the Epistle, was another brother of the Lord’s. The other two we don’t hear anything about; we don’t hear anything about any of the sisters.
But Psalm 69 talks about the fact that the Lord would be an alien in His own household. Never really fit, never really belonged. And let’s not get started on all the stories about how it would feel to be the Lord’s brother or the Lord’s sister when you were growing up.
He always cleans His room, why can’t you clean yours? We won’t be tempted to get into that.
In John 7, there’s an interesting little incident that gives us some input into how this went. This was in John 7. It was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the other brothers were going down to Jerusalem, but Jesus appeared not to be going, He appeared to be staying at home.
And in John 7:3:
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the miracles that you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. And since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”
For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
They saw the miracles, and they saw the things that happened. We’re going to see more of that tonight. But even they didn’t believe in Him.
And so it’s that way everywhere, isn’t it? Some members of a family will become believers; others will not. One of the—I forget where the verse is now—but it says a man can know no greater joy than to know that his children are walking with the Lord.
That’s one of the most joyful things a father can experience, is to know that his children are saved. I don’t know how many of you in here have that experience, are blessed in that way. I am, my children all happen to be, in spite of my example, they all happen to be believers. And so it’s a great joy to understand and realize this.
Now let’s go back to Mark 6, and I want you to see this verse, verse 5, and I want to see if you can understand the theological implications of this verse. We’re talking about Jesus in His hometown.
Verse 5 says:
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Now what it doesn’t say is that He did not do many miracles there, which He would have been justified, I mean they rejected Him. You know in Luke’s version here, Luke 4, after He finished His first message in the synagogue they took Him out and tried to throw Him off a cliff! These are His neighbors!
Luke 4, they tried to do this to Him because He said that He had been anointed to bring the Good News to them. And so this is the same event, but Luke adds the extra detail here how they ran Him out of the Church and tried to run Him off the edge of a cliff, but He got away.
So, but the verse doesn’t say, He didn’t do many miracles, it said, He couldn’t do them.
This is God; this is the creator in human form, could not do many miracles because of their lack of faith.
If you’re not seeing as many miracles in the Church as you think you ought to see based on what you read in the Scripture, don’t blame God, He’s still willing. He’s still able, don’t blame Him.
They might be able to say this about a bunch of people in the world today, huh? The Lord could not do many miracles among them because of their lack of faith. It’s an indictment of us, not of the Lord.
And of course, our theologians explain this by saying, Well the miracles were only for the first century, you know, as soon as He got the Church going He didn’t have to do that anymore so He stopped.
Anybody here ever seen a miracle? Raise your hand! If there’s even one legitimate miracle in the world today, then God is still in the miracle business. And what a miracle is, you understand, is the ever-present powerful power of the Lord intersecting the faith of a believer. That’s what a miracle is.
Every time you see that intersection, you see a miracle, because the Lord’s power is not subject to change. He’s not like a battery that runs down, and you have to recharge Him. He always has the power. The variable in the equation is the faith of the people involved.
That’s a hard thing to say, and it’s a hard thing to understand, and if you’ve been praying for something and it hasn’t happened yet it’s hard to hear. It’s hard for me to hear, I’ve been praying for things that haven’t happened yet. But I can’t blame God for that; it’s not His fault. He still wants to do it, just like He did back then.
Over in Luke He says:
When the Son of Man comes at the end of age, will he find faith on the Earth?
I wrote in my Bible: Not much. That’s the King Jack version; you won’t find that in all Bibles.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
All right. Now we get into the time when Jesus sent the first—this is the first missionary trip, if you will, for the disciples. He sends just the twelve, later on, He’s going to send 70 more. He sent just the twelve, and He told them, Only to go among the cities of Israel. Don’t go into the Gentile areas.
We’re in a part of the ministry here where the Lord is focused on the Jews because you see, God’s plan for all this was that Israel had to receive a bonafide offer of the Kingdom. He knew that Israel was going to reject this, but He gave Israel the first opportunity. Once Israel’s rejection was made known, then the disciples were released to go among the Gentiles. And on the second missionary trip, when He sent out the 70, He told them to go throughout the cities of Israel, Jew and Gentile, talk to anybody that will talk to you.
But on this first trip, it was only to Israel. Remember when we get to the Syrophoenician woman, the woman by the well, and the disciples, she’s bugging Him to heal her daughter and He’s ignoring her. And the disciples say, “Lord, she’s talking to you why don’t You answer?” and He says, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of Israel.”
Remember that? And then she gave an answer saying, “Lord that’s right, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall off the table. All I’m asking for is the leftovers. “
And that’s what got her miracle for her.
She said, I’ll take whatever you can give me. I don’t deserve anything, I understand that. I’m nothing better than the dog under the table, but just let me have the crumb. And that faith was sufficient for her daughter to be healed.
So Israel gets a bonafide offer of the Kingdom, they haven’t rejected it yet. They will soon, but we’re at the part of the Scriptures where they haven’t yet, and so He is focused on Israel.
So He sends out the twelve. By the way, you’ll find that reference on “only going among the Israel” in Matthew 10:1-9 are the same account. And in Matthew’s Gospel, he uses more detail there and he talks about the fact that the Lord instructed them only to go among the lost of Israel.
Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
The word there in the Greek said He “delegated.” He delegated His authority to them, so in His name they had authority over evil spirits. And these were His instructions, this is verse 8:
“Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave as a testimony against them.”
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
And so in His name, they performed these miracles. This is the first instance of the disciples actually performing miracles instead of being there while Jesus did. This is the delegation of authority to them, permitting them to do this, and, of course, that same authority has been delegated to the Church in general.
Okay now verse 14:
King Herod had heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”
Others said, “He is Elijah.”
And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
So Herod believed that Jesus was the reappearance, if you will, the resurrection of John who Herod had executed.
And now we’re going to hear the story of how this happened.
For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John,
Heard him speak
he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
Interesting. This family the Herods, if you want to do a reality show today and the Herods were still around you’d pick them! This family was incredible beyond description from well before the time of Jesus to well after.
I’ll just confine myself tonight to the current group here. Herod had a brother named Philip. Philip was the tetrarch of the northern areas up around the Galilee, and Herod himself was a tetrarch in the south. They called him king, but he wasn’t really a king, he was a tetrarch, which is a step or two down in the hierarchy.
But anyway, Herod had gone to his brother’s house as a guest, his brother Philip’s house, and while he was there, he took a liking to his brother’s wife, Herodias. And he convinced her to leave his brother and marry him while he was a guest in the brother’s house.
Now it turns out that both Herod and Philip were uncles of Herodias. So she was already married to one of her uncles, and now she’s going to leave him and marry another uncle. And so they’re all related, that’s why her name is Herodias because she’s in the Herod family too. And so you know how the story turns out, well let’s read it and we can talk more about it.
Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”
So he’s made an oath in public where he has guaranteed her in advance—and by the way, it was the law that was restricting him here. A king was only allowed to give away half his kingdom, he had to keep the other half. And so the biggest gift he could ever grant anybody was half of his kingdom. And he’s now offered this to this girl whose name, you understand from your own history and having read the Bible, is Salome. It’s not mentioned here, but that’s the girl, Salome.
She is the daughter of Philip and Herodias, who is a young girl here but of, what would have been called in those days, marriageable age. So she was a teenager probably, a teenaged girl. She wound up actually marrying Herod and Philip’s uncle, another Philip. So she was the grandniece of the Philip that she married, who was the uncle of the Philip that her mother had married. So it’s called all in the family there, and so that would be the name of the reality program.
Okay, so the king said to the girl, “Ask me anything you want,” and he promised her with an oath.
In verse 24:
She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”
“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.
At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her.
He would have been embarrassed to refuse her in front of these important people, so he immediately sent an executioner with the order to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought his head back on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother.
On hearing this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb, and that’s the event that we know of how John the Baptist died. He was executed by Herod because this girl had excited him to the point where he offered her whatever she wanted. And so that’s how John the Baptist’s life ended on Earth.
You should take the time when you have it to learn a little bit more about this family. They were a powerful family in the Middle East long before John the Baptist and Jesus came along. In fact, one of her ancestors, Bernice, was the one who started a whole lot of trouble between the house of Saluget and the house of Tolumei back several hundred years before, as recorded in Daniel 10. There’s a whole string of these things in the family, and there was a lot of, as there were in many royal families, there was a lot of inbreeding and a lot of trying to consolidate everything.
If you know much about European history, you know that most of the royalty in Europe was at one time related to each other, and the same family really ran pretty much all of Europe because they gave these daughters to these other guys and through marriage, the whole continent all these different countries, were actually brought together under one rule. And so it became a big problem. It’s always been a problem, and it probably will be again.
And so we shouldn’t be concerned about that part of it, that’s the way people are, and that’s what happens when a—what should we call John? He was a prophet of God, according to Jesus, he didn’t mince any words.
John was from the family of Levi so he was trained as a priest. His father was Zechariah who served as a priest in the temple, and so John would have been in the line to become a priest in the temple as well, but instead, he went off into the desert and became sort of a prophet outside the establishment and claimed that he was the one mentioned in Isaiah who would be the forerunner to the Messiah and would announce the Messiah’s coming. That’s exactly what it was.
Jesus said that if the people had been willing to accept it—if they’d been ready and willing to accept it—John would have fulfilled the prophecies of the prophet Elijah, and that would have meant that if the people accepted John as the prophet who fulfilled (it’s actually the last few verse of Malachi) that the Lord would send the prophet Elijah again before the great and terrible day of the Lord. If they had accepted it, John would have been that prophet, that means Jesus would have been the King, we would have gone straight from the First Coming into the Second Coming and the whole last 2,000 years wouldn’t have happened.
But of course, God knew in advance that was not going to be the case and so He was prepared with a plan for the Gentiles and for the Church and for us to receive these great blessings that we’ve received from knowing the Lord, that never would have happened had Israel not rejected the Kingdom.
All right that’s probably enough about that because that is a little bit off of our subject for tonight, I want you to go now to verse 30. Verse 30 is the Feeding of the 5,000. This is one of those miracles you just have to spend the time to understand. This is the only miracle before the resurrection that is recorded in all four Gospels. This is the only one that is recorded in all four Gospels; there are many that are recorded in three but not the other. John’s is different; his Gospel is different from anybody else’s.
But there’s one miracle all four Gospel writers wrote about. They all say the same thing in general but add details that the others don’t always have. I’m going to try to cover some of these details with you, but this miracle is therefore probably the most important pre-resurrection miracle that Jesus ever performed.
He did two versions of it. This one we’re going to read here tonight, the Feeding of the 5,000. He also did another version, which is called in Luke’s Gospel, the Feeding of the 4,000. It’s a different event, different things happen.
The Feeding of the 5,000 was aimed primarily at Israel, the Feeding of the 4,000 was aimed primarily at the Gentiles, and so you get a different understanding from each one. You get a great understanding of what God’s plan was for Israel out of the 5,000. You get a great understanding of God’s plan for the Gentiles from the 4,000.
But Peter, or Mark rather, only records this one, and since we’re in his book, we’re going to focus on this miracle.
The apostles gathered around Jesus
This is after they’ve come back now.
They gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
It was near the town of Bethsaida, which we’re going to talk a little more about as we go.
But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
This is an interesting question because it implies that they could have done so, had He said yes.
They were not destitute, they were not vagabonds, they were not at the mercy of the land. According to the way this verse reads, if they had wanted to, they could have bought dinner for these 5,000 men plus their wives and children. Because the 5,000 only numbers the males, the women and children were in addition, there might have been 10 or 12,000 people there. But they could have fed everybody out of their pockets, had He said yes.
But instead, He says in verse 38:
“How many loaves do you have?” he said. “Go and see.”
So they went out around among the crowd and they came back and they found out, they said we have:
“Five loaves of bread—and two fish.”
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. Mark makes the point that it’s green grass, which means it’s in the springtime. In John’s account he says it was near Passover, which is in the springtime, so that verifies that.
By the end of April, beginning of May, everything’s brown over there because it only rains in the early part of the year. By March the rain is pretty much done. It doesn’t rain all summer long at all, it rains again a little bit in the fall. That’s where the former rains and the latter rains come from out of Scripture.
The former rains are in the fall because that’s when the year started, the latter rains are in the spring because that’s when the year ended.
So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. And He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. And the number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
All right, so there’s the miracle the Feeding of the 5,000. Now, what’s the idea here? It appears, from a reading of this, that the miracle took place—actually took place, physically took place—as Jesus was handing the loaves and the fishes to His disciples.
So He had five loaves and two fishes in His hands, and as He gave it to them, it was multiplied to a point where they were able to distribute it among all the people, everybody ate their fill, and there was more left over than they had when they started! This is a summary statement, if you will, of the Kingdom Age that He was promising them.
Do you remember what He said to them in Mount of Beatitudes? Let’s turn back and look at that because what He’s doing is demonstrating this to them now. So let’s go back to Matthew, and I want you to go to Matthew 6:25.
And just between you and me, if I were you, I’d put a little bookmark here, and I would really get familiar with this passage.
Matthew 6, starting at verse 25, we’re going to go from 25 down to 34. And the reason I’m telling you this is because you might find this verse meaningful to you in the days to come if you haven’t already.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who have you by worrying add a single hour to his life?
In fact, medically speaking, the opposite is true. Worry shortens your life okay?
And verse 28:
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—O you of little faith?
Okay here’s the summary. Verse 31:
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Now if we really believe that verse, we’d be a whole lot freer. Our job is to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness; His job is to provide for all of our needs while we do so. That’s not symbolic of something, there’s no allegorical meaning to that, that’s a flat out promise! That if you would focus all of your energies on seeking Him and His righteousness, He would focus on taking care of all your needs, and you wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.
I don’t know how many of you know from experience that that’s true, but I certainly do. It took me a long time to learn it, but I have learned that my job is to seek Him. And His job is to take care of me. You need to learn that your job is to seek Him, and His job is to take care of you.
The reason we get in so much trouble in this world is because we try to take His job, and we’re not good at it! But you see He’s too nice a guy to push you away! He says, Okay, if you want to do it yourself go ahead, it’s all right. Nobody’s ever succeeded in all this in all the known world, but if you want to try it go ahead, see how you do.
Some countries do pretty well at this, well enough so that they don’t feel any need for God. So have they won or have they lost? They’re the big losers, aren’t they? Other people worry themselves literally into the grave over their financial and economic problems. I know I’m not talking to anybody in here! This is for other folks who should be hearing this!
But see, this is where He very clearly outlined the division of responsibility. We’re responsible for seeking Him and His righteousness, He’s responsible for meeting our needs. You do your part, He’ll do His. Got it? Okay. That should be clear.
Now the Feeding of the 5,000 was His demonstration of that, it was His demonstration of His willingness to abide by that division of that responsibility. And to the Jewish people, He made it very symbolic. He did this just before Passover, when the Passover lamb was going to be slaughtered in remembrance of the time that the Lord spared them from the judgment that came on Egypt.
He did it in the springtime when the growing season was beginning, He gave them the harvest. He fed 5,000 men. Five throughout the Bible, when used symbolically, is always the number of grace. It wasn’t that they had earned this; He fed them out of His grace.
You look for things that are in fives, you look at the number five when it’s used symbolically in Scripture, and you’ll always see a model of grace. Five is the number of grace. When they were finished, there were twelve basketfuls leftover—one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
In the Feeding of the 4,000 when the Lord fed the Gentiles, four is the number of the Earth because it was on the fourth day that the Earth’s creation was completed. So He’s talking now about the whole world, and how many baskets were leftover in that one? There were seven basketfuls leftover. Seven is the number that denotes divine completion, in other words, He fulfilled the responsibility.
This was His demonstration of His willingness to see to their needs as He had promised them. And I believe that’s why it’s recorded in all four Gospels, I believe that’s why it’s the one miracle that is mentioned four times so that you will see how important it is, because this is what the Kingdom is all about. Where we finally do our job, allowing Him to do His.
So if I were you, if you want an extra credit homework assignment, you can read the four versions of this miracle, and you can look for the similarities, and you can look for the differences. And each little difference you see adds a detail to your understanding, because each one of the Gospels was written to a different audience, remember?
Matthew was written to the Jews, Mark was written to the Romans, Luke was written to the Greeks, John was written to the Church. And so each one of them has a little different slant on this miracle, but they all say the same thing, they all said 5,000, He fed them all, five loaves two fishes, twelve baskets. All the major things were there, the minor things, they’re what give you the deeper understanding intended for each of the audiences.
Otherwise, if we only had one Gospel, we’d only have one story and it would tell about Jesus and from one viewpoint. But we got four Gospels so that we could see Him from four viewpoints. The viewpoint of the Jews, the viewpoint of the Romans, the viewpoint of the Greeks, the viewpoint of the Church.
Now let’s see if we can finish up here, we got a couple more minutes.
We’re on Mark 6:45:
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida
This is the most frequently used word in the Gospel of Mark, by the way, “immediately.” Your translation may use something like “straight away” or something like that. But you remember Mark is the Snapshot Gospel—he did this, then he did this, then he did this, then he did this. And often the passages are delineated by that word “immediately,” he went right from here to there. There’s no detail, there’s no extra stuff given to you. If you want all the background stuff, read Matthew’s Gospel. But in Mark what you get are just the facts.
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida
I told you I’d talk with you about this word “Bethsaida.” The word in Hebrew means house of fishing because the people who lived there were fishermen by trade. It’s on the Sea of Galilee; it’s in a remote area. And they were outside of Bethsaida up in a private area where the people found them. So what He did was He ministered to the people there, then He sent the disciples back into the boat and told them to go to Bethsaida.
Okay, so Bethsaida means house of fishing. No surprise there, it’s on the Sea of Galilee, but if you look at the… etymology or entomology? One’s a study of bugs and one’s a study of words, and I can’t remember which it is.
But anyway, if you look at the study of this word, you can do this if you got a Hebrew concordance that’s Strong’s or something like that on your computer. Look up what this word is made of, two other words. The word beth means house in Hebrew, saida means house of fishing, but the root word of “saida” means, get this, boxed lunch—hunter’s lunch is what it says literally. It was the lunch that a wife would pack for her husband when he was going out hunting and needed something quick to eat along the way. Boxed lunch.
And so Bethsaida is the place where 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children got a boxed lunch. I believe this was the actual origin of the fast-food industry! Okay.
So he made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to Bethsaida while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
He was trying to get some alone time because His cousin, John the Baptist, had just been murdered. He wanted to get away and mourn and pray and, in some way, get closure on all of that.
And you remember John the Baptist was His cousin after all, and so He needed that time. And that’s what He had gone up there to try to do. And so He sent the disciples ahead, I believe His view was, Maybe they’ll think I went with them, they’ll leave Me alone for a few minutes, and I can go on up here and do this. And He dismissed the crowd, and after leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.
In verse 47:
When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.
The lake is 6 miles wide. Verse 48 says:
He saw the disciples straining at the oars,
That’s pretty good night vision, isn’t it? They’re in the middle of the lake rowing, He is standing up in the mountains on the shore, and He sees them having trouble.
About the fourth watch of the night
Which would be 3:00 A.M. 3:00 to 6:00 was the fourth watch:
He went out to them, walking on the lake.
I like the way he says that, just as if it’s a normal thing to do.
And He was about to pass by them,
In other words, He’s making better time walking than they are rowing!
But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I.
Or in the Hebrew “I am.”
Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
See, they didn’t get it either; it wasn’t just the Lord’s family and friends and neighbors who didn’t understand. Even after they saw these five loaves and two fishes being sufficient food for 10 or 12,000 people, they didn’t get it either.
They didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until after the resurrection, and it’s the Holy Spirit that quickens our mind to understanding these things, isn’t it? Without that we can’t understand, that’s why it doesn’t do any good to argue with a non-believer because they can’t understand this! They don’t have the spiritual understanding that we get when we become believers, and they think the stuff we talk about is foolishness! That’s what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, didn’t he? Said the man without the spirit doesn’t understand, can’t comprehend the things of the Spirit, it’s foolishness to him.
So it’s a waste of your time to argue somebody into believing. You’ll just get frustrated, and he’ll become polarized, and you might set the Lord’s plan back decades. If there’s a believer you want to be in the Kingdom ask the Lord about it, He can get them in there. You can’t. Pray them in. You can’t argue them in, you can’t manipulate them in, you can’t coerce them in, you can’t sell them into the Kingdom. But you can pray them in! And that’s the job that we have.
When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Now interesting, I think once I did the homework on this and when you look at the cases of individual healings in the Scriptures, in the Gospels, and if you eliminate the duplication the different Gospels talking about the same thing, when you eliminate that there’s only a handful of up close personal healings that are spoken of in the Bible.
But that doesn’t mean that He only healed very few people. He healed untold thousands and thousands of people. Everywhere He went, the crowds surrounded Him and begged Him, and it always says, and He healed them. Every time you see the crowds coming around, He puts His needs aside.
When He went up there, He went up there with His disciples to get a break. It was a little retreat that they were going on, and they were going to try to just sit down and have some quiet time together and talk about the experience. But the crowd was so big, and their needs were so great and He felt such compassion that He put all that aside and He focused on them. And that’s what He always did, He always put their needs ahead of His.
And so who knows how many thousand people were healed, wherever He went all through Israel. It’s amazing when you see the impact of that work and what He was able to do.
Now just to finish up here, you know that Mark, although written by John, Mark was actually Peter’s account. It’s Peter’s story that we’re reading here. Mark followed Peter around as he was doing his preaching, he wrote down his sermons, and he compiled this Gospel from Peter’s sermons.
And so this version of Jesus walking on the water leaves out a couple of very important details that concern Peter. So he left his part out. We’re going to go to Matthew because I want you to see this in Matthew 14. We’ll finish up with this, I want you to see Matthew’s part of the story here. We’re in Matthew 14, and we’ll pick it up just as Jesus is overtaking the boat.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Okay that part of the story we’re familiar with. Now look at the next verse:
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
So Peter’s doing a little test here. If you stop to think about it, it’s really a dumb thing to do because if it’s not the Lord, Peter’s going to step out the boat and go boom! But that’s the way Peter was before Pentecost. You see, he was always saying the wrong thing and doing the wrong thing.
So the Lord said, “Come.” and so:
Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Now, this is a fascinating addition to this miracle because in this again, I see this great vision of what is really trying to happen here and I see the twelve men in the boat as representing Israel, and Jesus coming to them in a supernatural way. And they’re afraid, they don’t know who He is and they’re terrified of Him because, frankly, they’ve never seen anybody walk on water before because nobody’s ever done it before.
Peter is called out of the boat, and I believe in this model Peter can represent the Church being called out of Israel in a miraculous way. And so you could actually let Peter be representing you here.
And what happened? As long as Peter was focused on the Lord, he could do the same miracle the Lord was doing. Just like Jesus promised in John 16. But what happened to Peter? He got distracted by his surroundings. He took his focus off the Lord, he started worrying about the winds and the waves, and as soon as he did, he started to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” And immediately the Lord was there and grabbed him. Peter had other options, he could have swam back to the boat, he could have called for the disciples to save him in some way, stuck out an ore or something so he could grab it and be pulled in.
But the first thing he thought of was to have the Lord save him, and immediately the Lord did, out in the middle of this lake standing on the water.
See, there’s no place you can go where the Lord can’t save you. There’s no place you can get yourself into that the Lord can’t get you out of if you turn to Him and ask Him. There’s no way He will ever let go of you once He has you.
He said in John 6:39:
It is my father’s will that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
He can’t lose you.
In John 10:27 He said, “My sheep are in My Father’s hand, and no one can get them out.” And He said, “My sheep are in My hand, and no one can get them out of My hand.” He said, “I and the Father are one.”
You can’t get yourself out of His hands. Once He’s got His hands on you, you are done for.
And Peter, by his impetuous act of faith here, proved that to us. Because that’s a pretty extreme situation, wouldn’t you say? Standing on a lake and sinking and not knowing what to do about it? And so put yourself in his place, and this will be a good one for me to send you out of here thinking about.
What could you do if you could stay focused on Him, and not be concerned about the surroundings? Not be concerned about your circumstances? Not be concerned about your limitations? Not be concerned about your past failures?
Peter had stepped out of boats before, and what happened each time? He went in the water! He had past failures here, but this time he stood on the water in the strength of the Lord. And as long as he stayed focused, he stayed standing.
Think about that. I don’t know what the Lord would ask you to do, I don’t know what miraculous thing He would ask you to accomplish, I don’t know what impossible thing He has in store for you just waiting for you to say, Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come.
But I do know this: if He has one and you come, He will sustain you. You will succeed in His power. And if you get off the track and get sidetracked and upset by your circumstances, He’ll reach out and grab you and pull you out of it. And He will save you because He will not let you down. Does everybody understand that? Let’s pray.