MARK 6:1-29 (NIV – UK)
A prophet without honour
1 Jesus left there and went to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him.
4 Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few people who were ill and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Jesus sends out the Twelve
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
8 These were his instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’
12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed with oil many people who were ill and healed them.
John the Baptist beheaded
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’
15 Others said, ‘He is Elijah.’
And still others claimed, ‘He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.’
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!’
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.’ 23 And he promised her with an oath, ‘Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.’
24 She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’
‘The head of John the Baptist,’ she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: ‘I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a dish.’
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a dish. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
JESUS IS OFFENSIVE
Jesus visits his home town where he teaches in the synagogue (v. 1-2). Many were amazed at what Jesus was saying – no doubt in a good way. But many were also unhappy with what Jesus was saying – so unhappy that they ‘took offence at him’ (v. 3).
This is the effect that Jesus has. Jesus’ message is offensive to those who are unwilling to accept it – because Jesus’ message is that they are travelling in the wrong direction, and need to turn to him. Being told that you have been following the wrong path all your life can be offensive. And so the people in Jesus’ hometown begin to look for reasons to discredit him:
‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ (v. 2-3).
In other words – we know this man – he’s a nobody – we don’t need to listen to what he says. They are looking for any excuse to ignore Jesus – any excuse to deny that he is who he says he is – the Son of God – and that he defines what is true and untrue. And what is Jesus’ response to this? ‘He was amazed at their lack of faith’ (v. 6).
Jesus still speaks to us today – through his word – the Bible. Sometimes people can find some things that the Bible has to say offensive. It is at these times that our natural response to Jesus is tested – do we seek to find reasons to discredit Jesus and certain parts of the Bible – reasons to ignore it – like those in his hometown? Or do we reject those feelings of offence – with a cry from our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God – and that he defines what is true and good – no matter how challenging that is to us? If we take offence at Jesus’ message – there’s nothing wrong with the message – it is always that our hearts – no matter how well-intentioned – need to be transformed by him further.
Question: Have you ever found a particular part of the Bible offensive? How have you dealt with it?