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Studying Mark's Gospel: Rejection, Training, and Murder

Lesson 9: Rejection, Training, and Murder (Mark 6:1-29)

 

LAST WEEK IN REVIEW

 

In Mark 5 we read of how Jesus brought hope to those who were completely hopeless. Lesson 8 covered the second half of Chapter 5. Jesus was first approached by a begging father, Jairus, whose daughter was completely beyond hope of recovery, literally at death’s door. Second on the way was the account of the healing of a begging, desperate woman who had no hope of a cure, had spent all she had seeking a healing, and just got worse. When the woman touched Jesus, she risked her life literally, but knew by faith that if she could do so, she would be healed. We saw a healing, loving Savior minister to her out of grace, bringing her a spiritual as well as physical new beginning. However, during that time, Jairus’ daughter had died, and they were met by messengers who indignantly told him to not bother with Jesus. Yet Jesus took control of this disastrous and discouraging situation, kicked out the hired mourners, took the parents and Peter, James and John into the girl’s room. The parents had prayed for a healing for their precious girl; Jesus had planned something far better: a resurrection! He touched and called out to her, and she came back to life, and was completely healed of her prior condition! What a way to end the chapter. Of course you’d think that these glorious events would continue on in Mark 6. From the beginning of the chapter we’ll see quite the opposite. 

 

Mark 6 records several main events: The rejection of Jesus by His own family and hometown; the training mission of the twelve to equip them in growing by faith; the murder (execution) of John the Baptist; the feeding of the 5,000; Jesus walking on the water; and His ministry at Gennesaret. We’ll examine the first three events in this lesson, and complete the rest of Mark 6 in Lesson 10.

 

DAY ONE:  An Unbelievable Rejection

 

Please carefully read Mark 6:1-6 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  Jesus went out from Capernaum where He had ministered and done great works, and returned to His hometown.  Nazareth was about 20 miles southwest of Capernaum. Jesus had lived there since His parents returned from Egypt to Palestine.[i] On a Sabbath, Jesus taught those He had grown up with. How did they react to Jesus, what He said, and what He did (v. 2, 3)?
 

2.  The response of these people was very derogatory. They said that He was just a commoner like them, and questioned His birth as well by using the phrase “the Son of Mary.” This was an insult, for no Jew would use this statement even if one’s mother was a widow.[ii] These people were first astonished (a strong Greek expression Mark uses often, meaning that they were struck by amazement), but then this turned to being offended, which comes from the Greek skandalon, from which we get our word scandal, here meaning being tripped up or caught in a trap.[iii] How do Romans 9:30-33 and 1 Peter 2:4-10 further define this concept and how the Jews reacted to Jesus?

 

3.  What did Jesus say in response to these people, and how did it impact His ministry in Nazareth (v. 4, 5)? What else did Mark record about Jesus’ feelings about this, and what He did instead (v. 6)?
 

4.  There are only two places in the Gospels that say Jesus marveled or wondered in amazement Himself: About the faith of the Roman centurion, a Gentile, where we would never expect to see it (Matthew 8, Luke 7); and here among Jews, His own people nonetheless, where one would have expected to find it![iv] God looks not at our heritage, but at our hearts, and He will receive all who come to Him by faith in His Son. What are some things that Paul later wrote about how the Gentiles were included in the plan of salvation (Ephesians 2:11-12)?

 

Scripture Memory:  This week we will be memorizing a passage which should teach us what not to do: Mark 6:26. Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.

 

And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Mark 6:26, nkjv

 

DAY TWO:  Mission Training

 

Please carefully read Mark 6:7-13 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  It is at this point we see that Jesus is beginning to slowly transition away from Galilee, and by the middle of Mark 8 that transition from Galilee is made, heading steadfastly toward Jerusalem and the hour for which He came. So Jesus decided to spread out His work in the region and by it provided training for the Twelve. What was the commission He gave, how did He equip them for it, and interestingly what did He allow them to pack for the journey (v. 7, 8)?

 

NOTES: The Greek word for send is apostello, from which we get the word apostle. This signified one who was sent on a special commission to represent another and accomplish his work, and in fact the Jewish concept was that the man sent was considered equal to the man who sent him.[v] Don’t let some of the differences in the list of things in Matthew and Luke that Jesus allowed or prohibited the disciples to take rattle your cage. It most likely is either a different emphasis that the author took or possibly a copyist’s error that led to the differences seen, but whatever it is, we must remember the purpose indicated was for them to travel and trust God completely for their provision.[vi]

 

2.  There are two Greek words for power used in the New Testament: exousia (here in Mark 6:7), which means authority delegated from one person to another based on their authority; and dunamis, God’s dynamic power that He shares with us to accomplish His purposes. How do these two terms apply to evangelism and discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:7-12)?

 

3.  What other interesting guidelines did Jesus give the disciples for this time of ministry (v. 10, 11)?

 

NOTE: The latter part of verse 11 about Sodom and Gomorrha isn’t found in the earliest Greek manuscripts of Mark, so almost every version except those in the King James tradition exclude or italicize the phrase as not original.[vii]

 

4.  As the disciples went out, what was their message, fundamental in the preaching of John the Baptist and their later messages as well in Acts (v. 12)?[viii] What were some of the amazing results (v. 13)?


Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

 

And the king was exceedingly ___________________; yet, because of the oaths and because of ___________________ who sat with him, he did not want to _______________ her.  Mark 6:26, nkjv

 

DAY THREE:  Paranoia over Prophets

 

Please carefully read Mark 6:14-17 and answer the following questions.

 

The Herods were one wacky bunch. This one was Herod Antipas. He was tetrarch (ruler of a fourth part of his father’s kingdom) of Galilee and Perea from 4 b.c. to a.d. 39 (Matthew 14:1; Luke 3:19; Mark 9:7). Officially he wasn’t a king, but Mark’s use of the title probably reflected Herod’s ambitions.[ix] Almost every son of Herod the Great had “Herod” as part of his name. The full name of Herodias’ first husband might have been Herod Philip. Because this person and Philip the tetrarch had different mothers, they could have had the same names. The First Century Jewish historian Josephus believed that Herod arrested John in fear that John’s popularity might lead to a revolt. Mark’s reason does not contradict Josephus. Both could well have been true. Mark chose the one most important to his presentation here.[x] 

 

1.  What was the paranoid response of this king about Jesus (v. 14, 16)?

 

2.  What were others saying about Him at this time (v. 15)?

 

3.  What was the reason for Herod’s paranoia (v. 17, 18)?

NOTE: This woman Herodias was Herod the Great’s granddaughter; he actually had ten wives and many children, and they were big on intermarriage,[xi] not too good an idea genetically, and it might explain some of their bizarre actions and behavior! Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, and the niece of Antipas. On a trip to Rome, Herod “fell in love” with her, and to marry her he divorced his first wife, and persuaded Herodias to divorce her husband. Mark said that this husband’s name was Philip; Josephus identified her husband by the family name Herod. It is possible that Mark did not intend to say that Herodias was the wife of Philip the tetrarch (Luke 3:1).[xii] If she was, that meant that Herod Antipas not only committed fornication and adultery in the New Testament view, but that he married his own sister-in-law and niece!   

4.  What is God’s simple yet profound plan for meeting our sexual and companionship needs, and how does this contrast with what you’ve read about these people so far (Genesis 2:18-25)?


Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

 

And the king was exceedingly ___________________; yet, because of the ________________ and because of ___________________ who ______________ with him, he did not want to _______________ her.  Mark 6:26, nkjv

 

 

DAY FOUR:  A Conscience-torn King

 

Please carefully read Mark 6:18-21 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  The verb tense in verse 18 indicates that John had been repeatedly rebuked and challenged the relationship between Herod and Herodias.[xiii] What was the reaction of Herodias to this (v. 19)? 

 

NOTE: The verb tense of the phrase wanted to kill him means that she wanted to kill him all along, or that it was a long desired wish. A.T. Robertson summarized this much better than this author could: And Herodias set herself against him.” Literally, had it in for him. This is modern slang, but is in exact accord with this piece of vernacular Koiné. [Common, everyday Greek].... The tense is imperfect and aptly described the feelings of Herodias towards this upstart prophet of the wilderness who had dared to denounce her private relations with Herod Antipas. Gould suggests that she “kept her eye on him” or kept up her hostility towards him. She never let up, but bided her time which, she felt sure, would come.”[xiv]

 

2.  What was Herod’s mixed reaction to John (v. 20)?

 

3.  The nlt helps us understand this conflict in Herod’s conscience in verse 20: “And Herod respected John, knowing that he was a good and holy man, so he kept him under his protection. Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him” (emphasis mine). How easy it is for someone with a torn conscience like this to go the wrong way with it! What do the following passages tell us about the corruption of someone’s conscience?

 

Exodus 8:12-15, Exodus 8:32; Exodus 9:12, Exodus 9:34

1 Timothy 1:5-7, 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 4:1-2

Titus 1:15-16

Hebrews 3:12-15


4.  What did Herod decide to do sometime after he had imprisoned John, and how did Herodias take advantage of this (v. 21)?

 

NOTE: The word opportune (kjv, convenient) is only used by Mark. This birthday party was convenient for Herodias’ long awaited purpose. M.R. Vincent fittingly quoted, “Opportune for the insidious woman, who hoped, through wine, lust, and the concurrence of sycophants, to be able easily to overcome the wavering mind of her husband” (Grotius in Meyer).[xv] Opportune in Greek is eukairos; made up of kairos, used of a critical epoch-making period of time, and eu, “well” or “good.” Herodias chose Herod’s birthday “as the strategic moment to spring her trap and force him to put John to death. This was the propitious, auspicious time that promised the attainment of her murderous plans.”[xvi]

 

Scripture Memory:  Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

 

And the ________________ was exceedingly ___________________; yet, because of the ________________ and because of ___________________ who ______________ with him, he did not ______________ to _________________ her.  Mark 6:26, nkjv

 

DAY FIVE: An Evil Plot Fulfilled

 

Please carefully read Mark 6:22-29 and answer the following questions.

 

1.  What unusual thing happened during the birthday party, and how did Herod react and blurt out impulsively (v. 22, 23)?

 

2.  For those who joined us for our studies in Esther, it sounds like Herod was another Ahasuerus, driven by alcohol and passions, except this was no Queen Vashti and certainly no Esther. It was Herod’s step-daughter! The shameful act of Salome would have never been allowed by the Jews, and even the majority of Gentiles wouldn’t parade their half-naked daughter in front of a group of drunkards,[xvii] especially since she may have been as young as 12 or 14, and “On any reading, Herod’s vulgarity is perverse; after taking his brother’s wife (cf. Leviticus 20:21), he lusts after his wife’s daughter (cf. Leviticus 20:14)!”[xviii] It is obvious Salome knew what she was doing to an extent, but her mother was using her to accomplish a more evil plan than she realized. When Herod made this drunken oath to her, what did she do, and what was suggested to her (v. 24, 25)?

 

3.  John Phillips well said that “Salome might as well have gone to a black widow spider for advice as to Herodias!”[xix] Sorry to be so graphic, but when Herodias told her to ask “for John’s head on a platter means that she wants it served up as part of the dinner menu—a ghastly touch of ridicule.”[xx] How did Herod react to this, and what did this easily manipulated buffoon decide (v. 26-28)?

 

4.  Although Herod was exceedingly sorry, he fulfilled his vow to the girl for pathetic reasons that mark the downfall of all compromisers: he justified it because he had made an oath, but it was the embarrassment of doing so and not the legality that made him fulfill it;[xxi] he let peer pressure lead him to make this decision instead of having the courage to stand up for what was right; finally he chose not to refuse her, and allowed John’s murder. What became of John’s remains (v. 29)?

 

Scripture Memory:  Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below? Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day.

 

Mark 6:26:

 

 

DAY SIX: Following Christ

 

1.  It wasn’t that Jesus was incapable of doing ministry successfully in Nazareth, but it was the lack of their opening themselves up to His touch that kept them from experiencing what He could have done for them. We also saw that Jesus was amazed at the unbelief of those from whom the most belief would be expected. As Warren Wiersbe well said, “The contempt shown by the Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus Christ, but it said a great deal about them!”[xxii] How open have you been to what Jesus seeks to do in your life these days? Do you think He is pleased with your faith, or is it something that would cause Him to shake His head in amazement, and take His blessings elsewhere? How can you make changes away from a hardened heart and conscience to a more softened one, allowing Him to work in you and change you?

 

2.  Jesus’ disciples got a crash course in faith when He sent them off with basically nothing—except He gave them everything they would need by sharing His authority and power with them to effectively serve, and a great message of repentance and salvation. As Jesus had said to them in Matthew 6:33, “and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (nlt). What are some things you can gather from the disciples’ experiences that can help you live less complicated and less materialistic of a life, yet with a much more powerful infilling of His Holy Spirit to help you carry out the tasks God has set before you? Please record your thoughts and share them with your group.

 

3.  For men especially we can learn about the dangers of living a life that will lead us to compromise. Two of the biggest enemies out there are alcohol and sexual sin, and both of these can destroy our lives, our relationships, and our ability to follow and serve Christ. Did you catch the downward spiral that Herod experienced that led him to compromise? First, he placed himself in a place and condition that allowed him to be tempted and susceptible to sin. Second, he allowed the temptation that entered through the eye gate to build into sexual desire. Thirdly, he was blinded by both alcohol and hormones and made an attempt to act upon it (by telling Salome he’d give her anything, sadly we men know exactly what he hoped from her!). Yet as he did, this temptation turned on him, trapped him, and led to the destruction of one he feared and respected.[xxiii] Sins such as these will always hurt someone—yourself, the other person involved, and third parties: God, a spouse, a child, co-workers, etc. Please read below these two straightforward passages from Proverbs, and record how you can take steps to derail these types of sins if they are already present in your life, or how to prevent them from entering into your life. Then share with each other; pray for each other; hold each other accountable!

 

Sexual Sin: Proverbs 4:23-27; Proverbs 5:15-23; Proverbs 6:23-29; Proverbs 7:21-27:

 

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil...

 

Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress...

 

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths. His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray...

 

For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life, to keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent...

 

With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life. Now therefore, listen to me, my children; pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death. (nkjv)

 

Alcohol:  Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-35

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise...

 

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: "They have struck me,  but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?" (nkjv)

 

Scripture Memory:  Hopefully you now can write out this week’s passage completely by memory. Do so now, and keep on reviewing it so you will be ready to share it with others in your group time.

 

Mark 6:26:

 



[i] John D. Grassmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, 1983), p. 126.

 

[ii] John D. Grassmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 126.

 

[iii] Unless elsewhere noted, all Greek word/phrase translations are based on the following:  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention).  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997;  James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible:  Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order, Electronic Edition (Ontario:  Woodside Bible Fellowship; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996); M.R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002); Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Co; in Bellingham ,WA:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1984, 1997); and Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary:  New Testament, Electronic Edition (Chattanooga:  AMG Publishers, in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1992, 1993, 2000).

 

[iv] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention).  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997; also Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications Inc., 1989), p. 130.

 

[v] John D. Grassmick, Mark, p. 127; Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 130.

 

[vi] For more on this, please see James A. Brooks, Mark. In David S. Dockery, The New American Commentary V. 23 (Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1991), p. 102;  Walter C. Kaiser, Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Baruch, Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1996), pp. 422-424.

 

[vii] John D. Grassmick, Mark, p. 128.

 

[viii] J.I. Packer, Concise Theology:  A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton:  Tyndale House Publishers, 1993), p. 162.

 

[ix] John D. Grassmick, Mark, p. 128.

 

[x] James A. Brooks, Mark. In David S. Dockery, The New American Commentary V. 23, p. 105.

 

[xi] Joel F. Williams, Mark.  In Darrell L. Bock ed., The Bible Knowledge Key Word Study:  The Gospels (Colorado Springs:  Cook Communications Ministries, 2002), p. 133.

 

[xii] James A. Brooks, Mark., p. 105.

 

[xiii] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005), p. 1216.

 

[xiv] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament.

 

[xv] M.R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2002).

 

[xvi] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Co; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1984, 1997).

 

[xvii] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications Inc., 1989), p. 131.

 

[xviii] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 1993), p. 150, 151,

 

[xix] John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2004), p. 141.

 

[xx] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, p. 151.

 

[xxi] James A. Brooks, Mark., p. 105, 106.

 

[xxii] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 129.

 

[xxiii] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader.

 

© 2005 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2005-2006. www.Harvest.org