Mark 6:1-13 – The Key Components of Jesus’ Message

During my lifetime, there have been evangelistic efforts aimed at proclaiming the good news of Jesus. The goal has often been good but the method not so much. For instance, I recently heard Franklin Graham give a quick gospel presentation on the radio which ended with “Pray this prayer with me.” The problem with this is that the Bible doesn’t put the focus on praying a prayer but on faith in Jesus. Sadly, such presentations give the idea that repeating the words of a prayer will somehow make them right with God. Another group has started a television/radio campaign called “He Gets Us” which gives the idea that Jesus was once considered a rebel. In their commercials, they give the idea that because Jesus was considered a rebel, He understands what we are currently going through. Is this what the Bible teaches? Such presentations are trendy ways of presenting a somewhat Christian message but they actually distort who Jesus was and what He did in an effort to get people’s attention. This is not a good thing.

If these popular evangelistic ideas are not good, where can we find the truth? The Bible always has the answers to our questions. And in today’s passage, we will see the two key components to Jesus’ gospel message according to the Bible. The key components are faith and repentance. As we read this portion of the Gospel of Mark, consider what Jesus says about both faith and repentance and then consider how you should respond. And if you are a Christian, consider how you can accurately and biblically present the good news of Jesus the way that the Bible does.

  1. The Need for Faith (Mark 6:1-6)

    What does it say?

    After being with Jairus and his family, Jesus chose to return to Nazareth, the place where He had grown up. This was about “twenty miles southwest”1 of Capernaum. His disciples also went with Him. What must his friends have thought as they saw their former neighbor arriving with twelve disciples? On the Sabbath day, Jewish believers met at the synagogue to be taught. Apparently, “the inhabitants of Nazareth did not flock to Him as soon as He arrived.”3 But Jesus still took the opportunity to teach those who did come. But note that it says he began to teach. He started teaching but “the reaction of the audience did not encourage Him to continue.”3 The people were surprised by His teaching. Some asked where His teaching, wisdom, and power to heal came from. From their perspective, He was just one of them, not a prophet that could preach to them about God. Who did He think He was? Wasn’t He just the carpenter who was Mary’s son? Some think that them calling Him Mary’s son was a subtle jab at Him being an illegitimate child “since a man was not described as his mother’s son in Jewish usage even if she was a widow, except by insult.”1 And wasn’t He just one of the people related to Mary’s sons and daughters? They seemed to be asking these questions because they were offended by something He said while He was teaching.

    You would think that these people would have judged Jesus by the content of His teaching rather than who they remembered Him to be. But their response led Jesus to say that a prophet is usually honored except by those who are closest to him. In other words, people don’t usually respect someone they grew up with even when he is a prophet. As a result of their response, Jesus’ ministry was limited in that area. “He felt it morally impossible to exercise His … power in their behalf in the face of their unbelief.”4 As you may recall, Jesus had just done a great miracle for Jairus’ family. He had resurrected their twelve-year-old daughter who had died. But He was unable to do a great miracle there except for healing a few sick people. Their lack of belief was astonishing to Jesus. It had happened earlier in Gadera but this was on the Jewish side of the country. Why did they not believe? Because of their response it is probable that “He never returned to Nazareth.”2 And these hard-hearted people missed out on what Jesus had to offer. But He still set up a circuit of places to teach in the surrounding villages.

    What does it mean?

    This passage teaches us that without faith, people will not receive Jesus. Jesus taught God’s truth with great wisdom and later verified His message by performing some miracles. But without faith, they were offended at His teaching. They were content to ignore what He said because they were familiar with His family. I wonder if Jesus spoke about their need for repentance. The fact that they were offended by Him indicates that they not only didn’t believe Him but didn’t think He had any standing to tell them what to do.

    All of this would have changed if they had begun with faith. They would have believed Him and listened to what He taught them. They would have believed Him and praised God that one of their own was being used by God so mightily. They would have believed Him and honored Him as God’s Servant. They would have believed Him and seen more evidence of God’s power through miracles. Sadly, none of that happened because they did not believe.

    How does it apply?

    As you consider the unbelieving response of these offended neighbors, there are two applications. The first involves your own unbelief. If you have heard the messages from the first five chapters of Mark, you are well aware of who Jesus is and what He has done. He is God who became a man. He proved that by His words and His miracles. He taught the truth as only God could and He cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised the dead with the power that only God has. But has knowledge caused you to believe Him? Or are you continuing in your unbelief? God wants you to respond to all that Jesus is and has done with faith.

    The second application involves a Christian’s response to the unbelief of others. When we were still unbelievers, we were blind and didn’t understand the truth. But there came a day when God opened our eyes and caused us to see the truth about Jesus. That was a wonderful day. He gave us the faith to believe; otherwise, we never would have responded. Now as believers we must be patient and work with unbelievers. We may be astonished at their unbelief as Jesus was, but we must continue to teach and preach the truth so that unbelievers will become believers. Remember that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). So keep speaking.

    We should follow the example of Jesus who marveled at their unbelief but then kept teaching in the surrounding villages. When one person responds poorly to the truth about Jesus, it is sad. But not all will respond that way. When the person at one door rejects you, go to the next. And keep your faith in the power of God to use the Bible to convince others of the truth. As you preach the gospel to others, have faith in God’s ability to open the eyes of those who are blind and to grant them faith to believe.

  2. The Need for Repentance (Mark 6:7-13)

    What does it say?

    Jesus summoned the twelve disciples and then sent them out in pairs. He gave them power over demons. This “would authenticate their preaching”2 just as the miracles performed in the Book of Acts confirmed the gospel preached by the early Christians. All they were to take with them was a staff and a pair of sandals. They were not to take a bag, bread, money, or extra clothes. Note that “Jesus’ unusual instructions pertained only to that particular mission.”2 But this was a good time to practice trusting in God to provide for their needs. This makes me think of what Jesus said at another time.

    Matthew 6:33-34 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

    As they traveled from place to place, they were to stay in the same house they were offered until they moved on. “It was the accepted duty and practice to offer hospitality to strangers arriving in a village.”5 So it was probable that some kind-hearted person would offer them a place to stay while they were in town. And if someone was unwilling to receive them or listen to their message, they were to shake off the dust from their feet in their presence. This was a way of showing that they wanted nothing to do with even the dirt associated with such ungodly people. Jesus promised that anyone who rejected them or their message would receive more of God’s judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah. Knowing what those cities were like, this was a very serious thing to say. So… when the disciples shook the dust from their sandals, this would give the rejecting people a serious reminder to consider the message they had heard from the disciples.

    What exactly was the message preached by the disciples? After receiving their instructions, the disciples went out in twos and preached repentance to the people they met. It was probably a good thing to have the disciples in pairs for companionship, encouragement, and effectiveness. But they didn’t just preach; they also cast out demons and healed sick people. This must have been an exhilarating time for each of them as God used them to reach more and more people with God’s message.

    What does it mean?

    This paragraph teaches at least two thoughts. First, there was a great need for the preaching of repentance. This is made clear by the fact that this was the message given to the disciples to preach. If we were to rewind to the first chapter of Mark, we would see that this was God’s message through John the Baptist (Mark 1:4-5), through Jesus (Mark 1:14-15), and now through the disciples (Mark 6:12). This message was so important that Jesus gave the disciples the power to verify their message by casting out demons, doing miracles, and healing the sick.

    Second, there was no need to worry about their needs when doing God’s work. Jesus was teaching the disciples to trust God to meet their needs. As they traveled, God would put it in the heart of some kind-hearted person to feed, clothe, and house them. But their first thought should not be how their needs would be met but on the message they had been called to preach.

    How does it apply?

    The application here has to do with repentance. That same message needs to be preached today. God’s initial message is not one of comfort for sinners but of what their response should be toward God. Do you understand that your sin is a terrible offense to God? Your sins are what keeps you from a relationship with God. And if you do not turn from your sin to God, you will never have a restored relationship with Him. Your sin has to be addressed before anything else.

    Have you repented of your sin and turned to God? If not, this is the time to respond correctly to God. Think of your sinfulness and understand that God doesn’t want you to continue in it. Turn from your sin while God is speaking to your heart. Then and only then will you be ready to take the next step of faith.

Conclusion

You may have noticed that the main points of this message were familiar terms: faith and repentance. We first looked at the need for faith. Secondly, we looked at the need for repentance. Perhaps it would be best to look at them in reverse order. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a turning away from sin. When you see yourself as a sinner from God’s perspective, the only right response is to reject your sin and turn away from it. This is what God wants you to do. But this is only half of what God requires.

After repenting of your sin, God wants you to trust in Jesus. This is what the Bible calls faith. It is a complete trust in who Jesus is (He is God who became a man) and what He has done (He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for your sins, and then rose to life on the third day). While much of this is discussed later in the Gospel of Mark, it is good to think about now as well. When you turn from your sins, you have to turn to something else. That something else is Jesus. When you turn to Him and put your faith in Him, God will forgive your sins, make you a new person, and give you eternal life. This is the message that Jesus preached and it is still true today.

But as you may recall, some people didn’t respond with faith and repentance during Jesus’ time on earth. Some of his own friends and neighbors were offended by His message and responded with unbelief. Don’t follow their example. As God works in your heart, repent of your sin and place your trust in Jesus. Then join the many others who gratefully call themselves Christians because of what Christ Jesus did for them.

Footnotes

1 Grassmick 126.
2 Grassmick 127.
3 Hiebert 152.
4 Hiebert 156.
5 Hiebert 160.

Bibliography

Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.

Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Gospel of Mark, Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1994.

McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, Matthew through Romans, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983.

Ryle, J. C., Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume One, Matthew–Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977.

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