Day 252 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Mark.
Mark 5 – Recall from yesterday, Jesus continues to display His expanding range of power in every sphere of creation: power over the laws and forces of nature (4:35–41), power over the spiritual and demonic world (5:1–20), and power over human illness and death (5:21–43).
Mark 6 – Jesus’ reputation in His hometown of Nazareth suffers on account of His claims and authority. The line of those who reject God’s ways and His prophets is long (12:1–5; Nehemiah 9:16–19, 26–30, 34; Acts 7). It continues regarding John the Baptist (Mark 6:14–29) and culminates in the impending rejection of the eternal Son (12:6–8). To a degree, even the suffering of the followers of Jesus (8:34; 10:39; Acts 4:3, 21; 5:17–18; 7:58; 12:1–5; 21:11, 30–33; 24:1–9; 26:6) continues the theme of opposition to God’s purposes.
Just as Jesus is opposed by demonic darkness and human enemies, His followers will also be opposed by these same forces. Disciples of Jesus should not blame God for the painful consequences of their own foolish decisions and actions, but they do need to remember, when they are opposed merely because of their obedience to Jesus, that Jesus Himself suffered rejection (Mark 10:30; 13:9, 13). We who follow a crucified Savior should not be surprised by the cruciform life that is thrust upon us as we align ourselves with Him. And through it all, we walk with one who is “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). We have a mighty Friend.
The death of John the Baptist, as yet another rejection of one of God’s prophets (12:1–5), casts an ominous shadow on Jesus’ own destiny (3:1–6; 6:1–6). Jesus’ life is in danger, partly on account of His authoritative, miraculous deeds, and partly on account of His extraordinary claims. Human sin and Satan resist the claims and aims of God. We see here the clash between the “kingdom of self and Satan” and the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).
Jesus’ discipleship-dynamic reaches another level as He sends His disciples out in pairs to preach repentance, to exorcise demons, and to heal (Mark 6:12–13). Discipleship begins to mature into Jesus-empowered Christlikeness. Jesus invites His followers to be agents, under His own authority, who bring in the long-awaited kingdom of God.
Jesus’ followers are being shaped by the character and will of the Master. He ultimately will enable them to express greater God-dependent Christlikeness as the result of His atonement for their sin. Through the cross and the empty tomb, toward which the entire Gospel of Mark is hurtling, Jesus decisively accomplishes the inauguration of the kingdom of God. The early manifestations of this kingdom, seen in healings, exorcisms, and miracles, anticipate the final and greatest “clinching” of the kingdom: Jesus’ death and resurrection. There the kingdom of darkness is dealt its deathblow. Victory is secured. The outcome is certain.
The feeding of the 5,000 and walking on water continue Jesus’ display of power. The feeding of the 5,000 (and later the 4,000; 8:1–10) echoes the feeding of manna to the people of Israel as they sojourned in the desert centuries before (Exodus 16:31; Deuteronomy 8:16). Jesus’ power over wind and waves echoes the power God displayed on behalf of His people at the exodus. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, provides now what God provided then. Jesus is the One who restores abundance and joy.
More than this, Jesus is Himself divine. When Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples as He walks on the water, He says “It is I”—the very same phrase through which God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14, and the same phrase Jesus uses throughout John’s Gospel to subtly underscore His own deity (example, John 8:58–59). God in the flesh is revealing Himself to the disciples. This identification of Jesus as God is reinforced by the fact that the Old Testament speaks of Yahweh Himself trampling on the waves of the sea (Job 9:8)—the very thing Jesus does here in Mark 6.
Today’s disciple can trust in the power of Jesus. But this may require faith in God’s work beyond the boundaries of this life. For we must remember that immediately preceding this passage displaying the great power and provision of Jesus is the account of the senseless execution of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14–29). God provides as He knows is best for eternal purposes. This provision might take the form of an opportunity to study, to work hard, to live a very modest life—or even to give one’s life for the sake of the kingdom of God. Nothing is without divine purpose, and all will be made plain and vindicated in eternity, but we trust such things because we have already witnessed the divine power of God making provision for His people in the life of Jesus. Understanding of the eternal purposes of Jesus’ provisions creates a radical transformation of the follower in terms of his or her attitude toward work, career, challenge, opposition, deprivation, sacrifice, future, and life itself.
How does the truth about who Jesus is effect the way you view all of life (this one and the next)?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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