The Rejection at Nazareth. 1a He departed from there and came to his native place,* accompanied by his disciples. 2* When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3b Is he not the carpenter,* the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4* c Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” 5So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,* apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6He was amazed at their lack of faith.
The Mission of the Twelve. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching. 7d He summoned the Twelve* and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8* He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. 9They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. 10* He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” 12So they went off and preached repentance. 13* They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sicke and cured them.
Herod’s Opinion of Jesus.* 14King Herod* heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying,f “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”g 15Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”h 16But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
The Death of John the Baptist.* 17Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.i 18John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”j 19Herodias* harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. 20Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. 21She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. 22Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” 23He even swore [many things] to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.”k 24She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 26The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. 27l So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. 28He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
The Return of the Twelve. 30The apostles* gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.m 31* He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.n 32So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.o 33People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.
The Feeding of the Five Thousand. 34When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35* By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. 36Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” 38He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” 39So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. 40* The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. 41Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to [his] disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.* 42They all ate and were satisfied. 43And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. 44Those who ate [of the loaves] were five thousand men.
The Walking on the Water.* 45Then he made his disciples get into the boatp and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,* while he dismissed the crowd. 46* And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. 47When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. 48Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.* He meant to pass by them. 49But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. 50* They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” 51He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were [completely] astounded. 52They had not understood the incident of the loaves.* On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.q
The Healings at Gennesaret. 53r After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. 54As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. 55They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.s
* [6:3] Is he not the carpenter?: no other gospel calls Jesus a carpenter. Some witnesses have “the carpenter’s son,” as in Mt 13:55. Son of Mary: contrary to Jewish custom, which calls a man the son of his father, this expression may reflect Mark’s own faith that God is the Father of Jesus (Mk 1:1, 11; 8:38; 13:32; 14:36). The brother of James…Simon: in Semitic usage, the terms “brother,” “sister” are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf. Gn 14:16; 29:15; Lv 10:4. While one cannot suppose that the meaning of a Greek word should be sought in the first place from Semitic usage, the Septuagint often translates the Hebrew ’āh by the Greek word adelphos, “brother,” as in the cited passages, a fact that may argue for a similar breadth of meaning in some New Testament passages. For instance, there is no doubt that in v. 17, “brother” is used of Philip, who was actually the half-brother of Herod Antipas. On the other hand, Mark may have understood the terms literally; see also 3:31–32; Mt 12:46; 13:55–56; Lk 8:19; Jn 7:3, 5. The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary’s perpetual virginity.
* [6:4] A prophet is not without honor except…in his own house: a saying that finds parallels in other literatures, especially Jewish and Greek, but without reference to a prophet. Comparing himself to previous Hebrew prophets whom the people rejected, Jesus intimates his own eventual rejection by the nation especially in view of the dishonor his own relatives had shown him (Mk 3:21) and now his townspeople as well.
* [6:5] He was not able to perform any mighty deed there: according to Mark, Jesus’ power could not take effect because of a person’s lack of faith.
* [6:7–13] The preparation for the mission of the Twelve is seen in the call (1) of the first disciples to be fishers of men (Mk 1:16–20), (2) then of the Twelve set apart to be with Jesus and to receive authority to preach and expel demons (Mk 3:13–19). Now they are given the specific mission to exercise that authority in word and power as representatives of Jesus during the time of their formation.
* [6:8–9] In Mark the use of a walking stick (Mk 6:8) and sandals (Mk 6:9) is permitted, but not in Mt 10:10 nor in Lk 10:4. Mark does not mention any prohibition to visit pagan territory and to enter Samaritan towns. These differences indicate a certain adaptation to conditions in and outside of Palestine and suggest in Mark’s account a later activity in the church. For the rest, Jesus required of his apostles a total dependence on God for food and shelter; cf. Mk 6:35–44; 8:1–9.
* [6:10–11] Remaining in the same house as a guest (Mk 6:10) rather than moving to another offering greater comfort avoided any impression of seeking advantage for oneself and prevented dishonor to one’s host. Shaking the dust off one’s feet served as testimony against those who rejected the call to repentance.
* [6:13] Anointed with oil…cured them: a common medicinal remedy, but seen here as a vehicle of divine power for healing.
* [6:17–29] Similarities are to be noted between Mark’s account of the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist in this pericope, and that of the passion of Jesus (Mk 15:1–47). Herod and Pilate, each in turn, acknowledges the holiness of life of one over whom he unjustly exercises the power of condemnation and death (Mk 6:26–27; 15:9–10, 14–15). The hatred of Herodias toward John parallels that of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus. After the deaths of John and of Jesus, well-disposed persons request the bodies of the victims of Herod and of Pilate in turn to give them respectful burial (Mk 6:29; 15:45–46).
* [6:30] Apostles: here, and in some manuscripts at Mk 3:14, Mark calls apostles (i.e., those sent forth) the Twelve whom Jesus sends as his emissaries, empowering them to preach, to expel demons, and to cure the sick (Mk 6:13). Only after Pentecost is the title used in the technical sense.
* [6:31–34] The withdrawal of Jesus with his disciples to a desert place to rest attracts a great number of people to follow them. Toward this people of the new exodus Jesus is moved with pity; he satisfies their spiritual hunger by teaching them many things, thus gradually showing himself the faithful shepherd of a new Israel; cf. Nm 27:17; Ez 34:15.
* [6:35–44] See note on Mt 14:13–21. Compare this section with Mk 8:1–9. The various accounts of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, two each in Mark and in Matthew and one each in Luke and in John, indicate the wide interest of the early church in their eucharistic gatherings; see, e.g., Mk 6:41; 8:6; 14:22; and recall also the sign of bread in Ex 16; Dt 8:3–16; Ps 78:24–25; 105:40; Wis 16:20–21.
* [6:40] The people…in rows by hundreds and by fifties: reminiscent of the groupings of Israelites encamped in the desert (Ex 18:21–25) and of the wilderness tradition of the prophets depicting the transformation of the wasteland into pastures where the true shepherd feeds his flock (Ez 34:25–26) and makes his people beneficiaries of messianic grace.
* [6:45] To the other side toward Bethsaida: a village at the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
* [6:50] It is I, do not be afraid!: literally, “I am.” This may reflect the divine revelatory formula of Ex 3:14; Is 41:4, 10, 14; 43:1–3, 10, 13. Mark implies the hidden identity of Jesus as Son of God.
* [6:52] They had not understood…the loaves: the revelatory character of this sign and that of the walking on the sea completely escaped the disciples. Their hearts were hardened: in Mk 3:5–6 hardness of heart was attributed to those who did not accept Jesus and plotted his death. Here the same disposition prevents the disciples from comprehending Jesus’ self-revelation through signs; cf. Mk 8:17.