Read: Mark 6:1-7:23

In this lesson, Jesus returns home. His own community, however, had great difficulty accepting him.

  1. Coming Home (Mark 6:1-5) Most of Jesus’ life is shrouded in silence as he works in a carpenter shop in the small village of Nazareth (with a population of between 100 and 500 people). While we may imagine him to have “made a name for himself” during the first 30 years of his life (by being extra kind, or being an excellent carpenter, for example), Mark 6:2-3 indicates that when Jesus returned home after beginning his public ministry, those who knew him did not expect anything spectacular from him. Nobody said, “We could always tell there was something special about him!” Instead, their response indicates just the opposite. They wonder, “Who does he think he is? We know him! He’s just a regular carpenter!”What did Jesus do during these silent years (from the age of 12 until 30)? Why did Jesus not make better use of his time here on earth? If you were to plan out Jesus’ time on earth, how would you have strategically scheduled his life? What could Jesus have been doing instead of working with wood? What lessons might be drawn from Jesus’ use of time on earth?At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father indicated his pleasure with Jesus. At that point, what had Jesus done that God was so pleased about? How might this encourage those of us who labor in relative obscurity?

    In Mark 6:5, we read that Jesus “could not do any miracles there . . .” Some have suggested that Jesus actually was able to perform miracles there, but simply chose not to because of the climate of unbelief. Can we blame those in Nazareth for their struggle with faith? Did not their past association with Jesus make faith more difficult for them? What role does faith play in healing? Didn’t Jesus heal in situations where there was not faith? Whose faith is most important–the one who is sick or the healer? What exactly is faith?

  2. Jesus Sends out the Twelve (Mark 6:6-13) The “twelve” that Jesus sent out included Judas Iscariot, who must also have preached repentance, cast out demons, and healed the sick. What does this suggest about the type of person God can use? Does God work miracles through people who are unconverted? Can we bring someone to Jesus even if we ourselves are not in a saving relationship with him? If this is the case, in what sense can we judge people by their “fruits”?
  3. The Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29) In what ways is the death of John the Baptist similar to that of Jesus? Why does God allow his chosen messengers to die such gruesome deaths?
  4. Feeding the 5000 (Mark 6:30-44) The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle performed by Jesus which is recorded in all four gospels. Why is this miracle so significant? After the 5000 (plus women and children!) are fed, the disciples pick up twelve basketfuls of broken bread and fish. Here, the Greek word for “basket” refers to a small wicker basket that an individual could carry with them, similar to a “lunch pail” today. Why does Mark see this detail as significant?
  5. Passing By (Mark 6:45-56)Once again, Mark records Jesus and his disciples facing a storm. Here, Jesus appears to be walking across the lake to help his disciples. However, according to Mark 6:48, Jesus “was about to pass by them.” What is going on here? How might Exodus 33:18-19, 22; 34:6 relate to this passage?
  6. Clean and Unclean (Mark 7:1-23) In this chapter, Jesus is in conflict with Pharisees and teachers of the Law over issues of ritual cleanliness. It is easy to look back and accuse the Pharisees of legalism and blind obedience to man-made traditions. It is more difficult–and more needed–to honestly address our own pharisaical tendencies. In what specific areas do we struggle with this issue?Based on Mark 7:15, 18-19, is it fair to say that Jesus removed the distinctions between clean and unclean meats set forth in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14? Since all foods are declared “clean” by Jesus (7:19), why does the Seventh-day Adventist Church still maintain the distinction between “clean” and “unclean” foods? Is the key point of this passage even about food? If 7:20-23 is used as the standard, who among us is truly “clean”?

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