MONDAY, JULY 30
SCRIPTURE: Mark 6
We have a fairly long chapter (56 verses) before us today. It contains several different stories all of which deserve their own devotion and perhaps many devotions. But our plan is one chapter a day.
The chapter opens with Jesus returning to His “hometown” of Nazareth. He is allowed to teach in the synagogue and those who heard Him were overwhelmed with His wisdom and the power that He taught with.
Instead of believing and following Him, the townspeople rejected Jesus. Because they thought they knew Him, His family, and His upbringing they convinced themselves that this Jesus could not be an important man. By the way, when the townspeople referred to Jesus as “the son of Mary” that is not a reference to the possibility that Joseph had already died. It was a put down. In those days, men were identified by whom their daddy was not their mom.
Another interesting aspect of this story is in the statement that Jesus couldn’t do any mighty work there because of the unbelief of the people there. We must never underestimate the power of faith. It is by faith and only by faith that we can come to God. It takes faith to believe God and it is only by faith that we can please God.
In verse 6 the Bible says Jesus “marveled” at their unbelief. There is only one other place in the Gospels that says Jesus marveled. That occurred in the episode of the Roman centurion in Luke 7:9. In that story, however, Jesus marveled at the great faith of that Gentile. It is remarkable that both accounts of Jesus “marveling” had to do with faith – either the lack of it or the amount of it. Faith truly is a most important commodity in the Christian life.
From there we move on to a story of Jesus sending out the 12 to preach repentance. Jesus gave them the authority (ability) to cast out demons and heal the sick. Both of those miraculous abilities would have been used to authenticate the message they brought.
These men went into Jewish communities with no visible means of support and relied upon people that lived in those towns. Jesus told His friends that if the townspeople refused to give them a place to stay or refused to listen to them, they were to shake the dust of that community off their feet as they were leaving. Jewish people often “shook the dust off of their feet” when they left Gentile territory. They did that to remove any contamination of the Gentiles. Now Jesus uses that same symbolism with Jewish people. But it is used in the context of Jewish people not believing in Him, His message, and His followers. In other words, this too is a faith issue. And once again, we see the ultimate importance Jesus puts on faith.
The next section of the chapter is a parenthetical story of the execution of John the Baptist. Although there is much we could talk about in this story, I want to skip down to verse 30 and quickly finish this devotion with a few words about the feeding of the 5,000.
I have written a lot today about the importance of faith and the consequences of not believing. In the feeding of the 5,000 we see a faith problem in the disciples. Their solutions to taking care of the multitude were not exactly full of faith. Jesus responds to that with a great miracle. It truly is amazing how much a little can be in the hands of Jesus. It is humanly impossible to feed that many people with so little food. Yet with Jesus there was not only enough to feed everybody, there was significantly more left over than what they started with.