Here, we have another account of Jesus returning to His hometown. Verse 5 simply means that their lack of faith prevented him from doing many mighty works. Indeed, His own family had already believed him to be out of His mind (Mark 3:20-21). In verses 7-13, He sends out the apostles, giving them authority over the unclean spirits, and to heal.
In verses 14-16, we find Herod Antipas leaning toward the belief that Jesus must be John the Baptist raised from the dead – perhaps because of fear from his own guilt in John’s death. Verse 17-29 detail the death of John the Baptist, as his pronouncement of lawlessness on Herod’s part (he had committed adultery by marrying his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias) cost John his life in an ugly and inhumane act of murder (verses 27-28).
Verse 30 takes up when the apostles return to Jesus, and tell Him all that they had done. He takes them to a “desolate place” by boat to get away from the crowds and to rest. But people were already waiting for them when they came ashore. In verse 34 He “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd,” and began teaching them. The disciples wanted to send them away so they could eat, but Jesus told them that they would feed them. This time, there were five thousand men, plus women and children, and they fed them with five loaves of bread and two fish; and they took up twelve baskets full when everyone was full (verse 43). Two hundred denarii in verse 37 was about 200 days worth of a laborer’s wages.
Jesus sent His disciples ahead to Bethsaida by boat, as He dismissed the crowds and went up to the mountain to pray. But they were making their way “painfully” because of the wind, and Jesus began walking out to them on the water about the fourth watch (between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.). When they saw Him, they thought it was a ghost, but He told them not to be afraid – “it is I.” As He got in the boat, the wind ceased. Mark explains that the hardness of their hearts kept them from seeing who He really was, despite the miracle of the loaves or seeing Him walk on the sea with their own eyes.
Verse 53 seems to indicate that the wind had taken them southwest of Bethsaida to Gennesaret. As He came to the villages, cities and countryside, word had spread of His arrival; and people brought the sick to Him. “On their beds” in verse 55 would indicate some gravely ill people being brought. Contrast verse 5 with verse 56. Many just wanted to touch the fringe of His garment, believing that would heal them. That faith made it so.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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