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Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible Kretzmann's Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ kpc/ mark-6.html. 1921-23.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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Jesus at Nazareth.
Another tour of Galilee:
v. 1. And He went out from thence and came into His own country; and His disciples follow Him.
v. 2. And when the Sabbath-day was come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many hearing Him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto Him, that even such mighty works are wrought by His hands?
v. 3. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not His sisters here with us? And they were offended at Him.
v. 4. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
From thence, from Capernaum and its vicinity, Jesus went away. The city which He had chosen as His home during His Galilean ministry had had ample opportunity of hearing Him and of knowing and accepting Him as the Savior of the world. Till now the success of His preaching had not been unqualified. The people were willing enough to see the Prophet perform miracles, but took little or no interest in the Word of eternal life. And so He removed the mercy of His presence from them, returning there only at the end of His labors in the North. He went to His fatherland, to His home town, Nazareth. It was the city in which He had grown up, from which He hailed, in which He naturally took a great interest, chapter 1:9-24. His disciples, especially the Twelve that were now enrolled under that name, followed Him. Their theological training was being carried forward with all speed, for the time was short. When it was Sabbath, Jesus went to the synagogue. Note: Throughout the gospels, the attendance of Jesus at services is related as a matter of course; it was self-evident for Him to be in the place where the Word of God was taught, at the time set apart for that purpose. Here the usual courtesy shown to a visiting teacher was extended to Him: He began to teach. It was not merely that He started His discourse, but He wanted the people of His home town to be the beneficiaries of the Gospel-message; for since the beginning of His ministry He had not been in this neighborhood. The address, or talk, as He delivered it that morning, was of a nature and of a content such as to provoke the greatest surprise and astonishment among His hearers. The comments were many and varied, and Mark records them faithfully: Whence did all this come to this man, this ability to speak, the wonderful content of His address, the power to perform such mighty works of which we have been told? Such speech, such wisdom, such powers in such a well-known person? How is it possible? What can it mean? But this eagerness for information, which might well have served as a type of curiosity for saving knowledge, was soon replaced by jealousy and contempt, the spirit of opposition. Some sneering remarks are heard: Is not this the carpenter, the worker in wood? the trades of the carpenter, the joiner, and the cabinetmaker being united in one person. A Christian writer of the second century who had been born in Samaria relates that Jesus during His early manhood made plows and yokes. The people of Nazareth thought they were thoroughly familiar with His family and antecedents. The son of Mary He is to them, Joseph having died, according to tradition, when Jesus was eighteen years old. His brothers (half-brothers, cousins) James and Joses and Judas and Simon were well known to the townspeople, as were the sisters of Christ (half-sisters, cousins). They thought that these facts precluded the possibility of His having learned anything worthwhile, not realizing that they were thereby passing judgment upon their own town and upon themselves, just as is done today, in similar situations. The upshot of the whole matter was that they were offended at Him, that is, they took offense wrongfully. Note: Even today people take offense at the lowliness of the Gospel and its preaching. If it came to them in the guise of something new, a new philosophical system, they would think it worth their while; but the simplicity of the Gospel, and the fact that they have been familiar with its teaching, as they foolishly think, from their youth, sets them against its glorious tidings and shuts them out from the glories of heaven. Jesus, among other things, Matthew 13:54-57, reminded them of a proverbial saying which fitted the case perfectly: Not is a prophet without honor except in his fatherland and among his kinsmen. This is a truth which is universally accepted. Instead of rejoicing over the fact that God has given one of their own family, out of their own midst, gifts and abilities to accomplish something for His honor, the kinsmen and former fellow-citizens will do everything in their power to discredit him. That was Christ's experience.
The result of the opposition:
v. 5. And He could there do no mighty work, save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and healed them.
v. 6 a. And He marveled because of their unbelief.
Jesus had come with an open hand to distribute from His own bounty and that of His Father. The reception accorded Him shut off the people from the gifts of His mercy. Unbelief hindered the exhibition of the Lord's miraculous power. Unbelief always stops the hand of God when He extends it to shower His benefits upon mankind. Unbelief is, therefore, the sin of sins, since it rejects what God is so willing to give in and through Christ. Jesus indeed, in a quiet way, performed a few miracles in laying His hands upon a few sick persons, but these were exceptions. The community as such received no benefit from the visit of Jesus. Their unbelief was such that it caused even Jesus to wonder. To us, of course, it is an even greater mystery that men should reject Jesus and the Word of their salvation. But that should not cause us to become disheartened in our work for Him; the result of our labors is in His hands.
The Mission of the Twelve.
Preparations for their journey:
v. 6. And He went round about the villages, teaching.
v. 7. And He called unto Him the Twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
v. 8. and commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse,
v. 9. but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
Note: The people of Nazareth rejected the Lord, they wanted nothing of Him; but that did not discourage Him nor cause Him to abandon His work for others a significant hint for us in the work for Christ. And while He was making His journey through the villages of Lower Galilee, continuing His labors in the Word, He taught His disciples. The Twelve were now to become His associates; they were, in a measure, to work in an independent capacity. And for the beginning of this work He gives them special instructions. To make their ministry somewhat easier, to give the individual a sort of moral backing, He sent them forth two by two. As a necessary part of their equipment, that they might substantiate their mission, He gave them power over unclean spirits, over demons that were wont to torment people. The authority and the ability to command these evil spirits argued for a power beyond human endeavor, and would thus give their preaching the necessary prestige. Their luggage, dunnage, or duffel for their journey was to be kept at the minimum. They should take nothing on the trip, for the way, not even a staff, no bread, no hand-bag, no money in their girdle; literally: He gave them instructions not to take anything for their trip, not only not a staff, no bread, not a sack, no money in the girdle, but be provided with sandals, also not to put on two tunics. What the Lord said in these words is plain: It is not at all necessary that you be fully equipped for your preaching-trip; you are not going out for a vacation journey, but to labor in the ministry of the Word. The sack of which the Lord here speaks throws an interesting side-light upon customs in those days. "The wallet mentioned is now seen not to have been a mere traveling-bag, as was formerly supposed, but almost certainly a beggar's 'collecting bag,' such as peripatetic religious teachers were accustomed to carry at that time, for it is called by this same name. Our Lord means to teach that His disciples are to go out as laymen, not in any special ministerial garb or making any special claim of mendicant piety, but nevertheless dependent for their living upon those who receive the Word. " Those that serve the Gospel should not be weighted down by a great deal of earthly baggage, should not be involved in the business of this world, lest their ministry be harmed and the effect of their preaching be spoiled. "They should speak or do nothing for the sake of money, favor, honor, not set their hearts upon money, honor, goods. The ministry of the Word seeks something different, has a different object, namely, eternal salvation and the honor of God."
v. 10. And He said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.
v. 11. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city.
v. 12. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
v. 13. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
wherever it may be that they entered into a house, whether in city or town or village, there, in that house, they should stay. They should neither lose time for their work by searching for a pleasant boarding-place, nor should they bring themselves into the suspicion of partiality. In the house which they should enter first they should stay until they left the village or neighborhood; that should be their home for the time being. If, however, it should so happen that some place, city, town, or village, would not receive them nor its inhabitants listen to them, they should go away from that place. And in so doing, they should shake the very dust, not only from their feet and clothing, but the dust under their feet, the dust from the roads that adhered to the soles of their sandals. This was a sign that there could be no communion with such foolish and untractable people, that they must be considered on a level with the heathen. It was a testimony, a judgment upon them. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, that had been exterminated by one of the most awful visitations of God upon the wicked, will receive a more lenient sentence on the last day than such willful opponents of the mercy of God. The twelve disciples followed instructions; they carried out their mission through preaching and healing. The burden of their call was the need of repentance, in order that the sweet news of the Gospel might find a ready acceptance. Mark also relates that they expelled many demons and effected the cure of many suffering with various minor ailments. The power of the Lord went with them, according to His promise.
Death of John the Baptist.
Conjectures concerning the identity of Christ:
v. 14. And King Herod heard of Him; (for His name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.
v. 15. Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
v. 16. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead.
Where there is no fear of God, superstition reigns supreme. Herod's conscience was bothering him for a crime which had been committed some time before. Hearing of the mighty deeds of Jesus, as His name and fame spread throughout the country, Herod advanced the theory that John the Baptist had arisen from the dead and because of that fact supernatural powers were being manifested in him; the fear of ghosts and haunts coming to the foreground. Others believed that Elijah, who had always been vested with special powers, and whose return was definitely looked for by a great many Jews, in a misunderstanding of Malachi 4:5, was represented in the person of Jesus. Still others thought that the Lord was a prophet like one of the prophets of old, that also had gone about in the country of the Jews, preaching and performing miracles. But though Herod may have heard the opinions of the others through his courtiers, he clung to his statement: Him whom I beheaded, John, it is; he is risen. The torment of a bad conscience, of a guilty heart, is worse than any torture that might be devised by man. It causes people to suspect where there is no ground for suspicion, and puts ghosts before the eyes of men where there is no reason for fear. Herod had reasons for trembling.
Herod reproved by John:
v. 17. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
v. 18. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.
v. 19. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not,
v. 20. for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Some personal facts concerning Herod and his family are here told. Throughout the passage the name king is applied to him by courtesy only; for Herod was merely tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. He had resided for some time at Machaerus, a strong fortress of the Jews east of the Dead Sea. But he built Tiberius, on the Sea of Galilee, as his capital, fitting it out with all the luxury that he could devise. He had been married to the daughter of King Aretas of Arabia, but had rejected her for the sake of Herodias, then the wife of Philip, Herod's half-brother, not the ethnarch. His philosophy of life might be summed up in the sentence: Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall be dead. The saddest incident in his life is that of which the evangelist here gives an account. John the Baptist, with the fearlessness which should characterize every preacher of repentance, had severely reprimanded him for his adulterous union with Herodias, telling him that it was not right, that it was not the proper thing, that it could not be permitted according to the Law of God that he continue in this anti-Scriptural union. "It so came to pass that Herod the king was living in open, well-known offense. For he had the wife of his brother Philip, who was still living, with him as his lawful wife. This was to John a disagreeable business, since he through his preaching was supposed to rebuke all offense and turn the people from it; for that was his calling. Therefore he does what a pious preacher should do, is not concerned about the fact that Herod is a great king, but just as he rebuked other people for their sins and admonished them to abstain from them, thus he rebukes and admonishes Herod also, and says that it is not right for him to have his brother's wife. This displeased Herod very much; and the harlot still more, for she was troubled lest the sermon concerning her bring fruit. For this reason she lay in wait for John and would have liked to kill him, but she could not. Herod also would gladly have done it, but he was afraid, since he saw what testimony and praise John had with everybody. For that reason, since John would not desist from his rebuking and admonishing, he caused him to be arrested and put him in prison, in order that he could no longer call out so openly. " Incidentally, Herod, as is the case with many a weak. character, felt the influence of the mightier and morally greater mind. Herodias had no scruples of any kind; she was determined, she frankly sought to kill John. But feeble, vacillating Herod was between two fires, the people, on the one hand, esteeming John as a prophet, and Herodias, on the other hand, demanding his death. In the meantime Herod, in more than one instance, gave heed to the words of John, and many a word which he heard from the mouth of this fearless exhorter caused him to hesitate and think twice before committing: further lawlessness. Thus matters came to a deadlock, while John was kept in prison at Machaerus.
The birthday festival:
v. 21. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
v. 22. and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
v. 23. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.
v. 24. And she went forth and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.
v. 25. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. Convenient this birthday festival was, coming just at a good, at the right time to agree with the vengeful plans of Herodias, for she still cherished her grudge against John the Baptist.
On his birth. day Herod must needs celebrate in style, in a manner befitting one who expected soon to bear the title of king, by permission of the Emperor and the Roman Senate. The mighty ones and the rulers of thousands and the first families of Galilee were invited, that is, the state, civil, and military officials, and the socially important persons of Galilee: an imposing gathering for such an important event. The joy of the festival banquet was at its height, the guests having undoubtedly freely imbibed and being in the condition of semi-intoxication when reason and sense have alike fled, though articulate speech remains. There had probably also been the usual forms of dancing after the Oriental fashion for the amusement of the guests, when a number not on the program was introduced by the wily Herodias. She had trained her own daughter in the voluptuous dances of the dancing girls, and the girl came into the banquet-hall and danced with reckless abandon and shamelessness. The dance pleased Herod and those that were reclining about the tables. They had just about reached the condition when such exhibitions were inclined to appeal to them with special force. Herod immediately made an extravagant promise to the girl, encouraging her to name the reward that was to be hers for this dance. And when she, either from exhaustion after the strenuous exercise or in natural hesitation over the offer, was still standing undecided, he added an oath, swearing that she should have her desire, though it aspire to half of his kingdom: a true example of maudlin, amatory generosity, as one commentator calls it. It may be that her mother had instructed her even beforehand what she should ask for, as the account of Matthew implies, though not expressly says, and now she needed a further urging. At any rate, she hurries to her mother, who promptly impresses upon her the need to ask for, and insist upon, only one thing. Whether there was another determining factor or not, Salome, the dancer, was now ready to do her mother's bidding. Without delay and with a quick step, as though the business in hand was the most interesting and joyous in the world, she returns to the banquet-hall. Her words properly indicate the condition of her heart: I want that thou without delay givest me on a platter the head of John the Baptist. Gruesome words from the lips of a young girl, "request proffered with a cool, pert impudence almost outdoing the mother."
v. 26. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
v. 27. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought; and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
v. 28. and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel; and the damsel gave it to her mother.
v. 29. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
The fact that the wish of Salome could be carried out so rapidly makes it very probable that the banquet was held at Machaerus. When the girl made her gruesome request, there may have been some gasping in the table-round, and Herod himself may have been sobered by the unexpected turn of events. But it was too late, in his opinion, to retract. And there may have been a feeling of relief mingled with his regret and sorrow. But though he was so very sorry, he thought he must keep his words and oaths like a gentleman; for such is the excuse and explanation usually offered. He did not want to break faith with the young lady by slighting her, by treating the matter as a joke. And so the ghastly spectacle was enacted to the bitter end. There was an officer at the king's court who combined in his person the work of a courier, police officer, and executioner. To him the king's command went to furnish the head of John the Baptist. And, the execution having been performed in prison, the head of John was brought on a platter, as by the request of the dancer, and she, having formally received it, brought, it to her mother. There was nothing for the disciples of John to do but to come and lay his body into a grave, mourning bitterly meanwhile the untimely end of one of the greatest prophets that ever spoke the Word of God.
"What here is related of the court and court life of King Herod is a faithful picture of the world, of the life of the world, and of the lust of the world. The smooth, pliant children of the world are for the most part, even when they pretend to be honorable, what Herod and Herodias were, harlots and adulterers, and if not murderers, yet thieves, deceivers, perjurers, etc., But the chief sin of the world is this, that she will not listen to admonition, that she spurns the Word of God, and is angry against those that warn her against destruction and perdition. wherever the world, even the apparently decent, cultured, fashionable world, celebrates her festivals, there the delights of feasting, of Revelation ling and drunkenness, are indulged in, there one finds swearing, blaspheming, cursing, there gambling and dancing and rioting are the order of the day, and wine and passion inflame heart and mind. There a dissolute, godless conduct is in evidence, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. And the end of the wild delight and joy is often murder, the shedding of blood, and other great shame and vice. " On the other hand, there is a lesson for the faithful believers in this story. "Therefore let no one have a terror concerning suffering and cross. Let no one envy the persecutors of the Gospel that they are enjoying honors, are great and mighty. For cross and suffering is the only way by which thou shalt come to the heritage and the kingdom of Christ; and all saints, and Christ Himself, have gone this way. Who, then, would be terrorized and complain about it? And it will be seen how quickly the change will come for the tyrants, that their suffering will come upon them in due time and finally last in eternity. From this may God mercifully keep us, and rather let us, with the sainted John the Baptist, suffer all manner of ignominy and disgrace, that we may but come to the kingdom of God; as our Lord Christ says that it is appointed to us, as to Him, cross and suffering."
The return of the apostles:
v. 30. And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.
v. 31. And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while; for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
v. 32. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
While the apostles made their first independent preaching-trip, the Lord Himself had not been idle. He had continued His journey in the company of other disciples, and He always had an audience wherever He came. But at the time when Herod had heard of Jesus and had been reminded of that unpleasant incident in his life, the apostles returned to their Master. As they had gone out two by two, so they now came together from various directions once more. They reported on all their work, especially also upon their preaching. Note: They were weary from the arduous labor which the task of preaching and the accompanying pastoral work involves, and the fact that Herod had deigned to take notice, while not a reason for flight, yet may be a secondary consideration to the Lord, not so much on His own account as on account of His disciples. And so He suggested a rest, a vacation, in some place away from the haunts of men, for many people were going to and fro; as one crowd left, another arrived; and the Lord and His disciples did not even have leisure for eating. And so they managed to get away by themselves in a ship, all alone. Here is an instance of the loving care of the Lord for His servants. His solicitude is for their bodies also, lest the strain of continuous work make them unfit for the greatest work of all, that of preaching the Gospel-a hint to be noted in its real significance by congregations and pastors alike.
Feeding of Five Thousand Men.
The eagerness of the people:
v. 33. And the people saw them departing, and many knew Him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto Him.
v. 34. And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.
Jesus actually managed to get away in a boat alone with His disciples; but His embarking was nevertheless witnessed by some people, and His identity was too well known in the district, probably the neighborhood of Bethsaida. Besides, they noted and drew correct conclusions as to the course which they were taking in their boat, and the part of the country toward which they were heading. And the news was rapidly passed along the line. While Jesus, therefore, was slowly sailing across the sea, the multitude, swelled by additional inquisitive people from the cities on the northwest shore, made the trip around the north side of the lake afoot, a distance of some ten miles. They walked very rapidly; they ran together, and came ahead of them; they beat them to their destination. Curiosity, for the most part; what an immense factor in the destiny of individuals and of nations! And so it happened that when Jesus went out of the ship, He saw a great multitude gathered together awaiting Him. He did not stop to analyze the motives that might have prompted these people to come out into the uninhabited country; His Savior's heart felt only the deepest pity for them. They were as sheep without shepherds. In all the synagogues of Galilee there were rabbis and scribes, but the food which they supplied to their congregations was a diluted pap and treacle of the matter which the Jerusalem schools were teaching the young theologians. The people were in a state of greatest spiritual neglect. And so the great Friend of sinners forgot His own weariness, His urgent need of rest, and He began a long sermon to them,. He taught them many things, things that pertained to their salvation.
Testing the disciples:
v. 35. And when the day was now far spent, His disciples came unto Him and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed.
v. 36. Send them away that they may go into the country round about and into the villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.
v. 37. He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto Him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?
v. 38. He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.
In this story, as in many others, the Holy Spirit has permitted the evangelist to record such parts of the conversation as he remembered. The hour had advanced very far, it was late in the day, when the disciples thought it their duty to interfere and to remind the Master of the necessity of taking care of the body also. There is a certain amount of impatience contained in the address to Jesus: The place is uninhabited, and the hour is advanced. He should dismiss them; they could go to the farmhouses and the little villages situated within a radius of a few miles and buy themselves something to eat. Jesus takes the opportunity of testing their trust in His ability to help in this emergency. He urges them to take care of the unbidden guests; by skillful questioning He brings out the fact that they have been figuring the number of loaves that might be bought for two hundred denarii (between thirty-three and thirty-four dollars), that they have found the provisions on hand to amount to five loaves of bread and two fish. The concern of the disciples at the inquiry of Jesus is illuminating as showing the weakness of their faith.
v. 39. And He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.
v 40. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
v. 41. And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, He Looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided He among them all.
v. 42. And. they did. all eat and were filled.
v. 43. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes.
v. 44. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
Nothing could be more expressive than the contrast afforded here between the helpless puttering of the disciples and the cool, majestic bearing of Christ in taking charge of the situation. He had the disciples give orders that all should recline on the grass in orderly groups, for just at this place there was a meadow near the shore of the lake. And they sat down in groups as in garden squares, as orderly as Rowers planted in rows a fine bit of vivid description. Then Jesus, taking the five loaves and the two fishes, and having looked up to heaven, spoke the blessing upon the food. Note: He broke the bread and passed it on for distribution; He divided the fishes and had them taken to all in a similar way; under His hands the amount of food grew. The miracle is mentioned by all four evangelists, and was one that could not be counterfeited, a secret supply being out of the question. It is a full proof for the divinity of Christ. All ate, and all had enough to eat. And not only that: when the fragments were gathered into the large carrying baskets used by the people of Palestine, twelve of these were filled. And the number of those that had eaten is expressly stated, it being so easy to count them as they sat in groups: five thousand men, without women and children.
Christ Walking on the Sea and His Return to Galilee.
The dismissal of the disciples and the people:
v. 45. And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people.
v. 46. And when He had sent them away, He departed into, a mountain to pray.
He constrained, He urged, He almost forced His disciples to embark into their boat again. They were loath to leave after this glorious exhibition of divine power, and they may have been truly solicitous for His welfare in the face of the unremitting labor which He was performing. But His will prevailed; they must try to cross over the lake to Bethsaida, probably that on the northwest shore of the sea. His next task was to dismiss the people, who may have been just as unwilling to go, as John reports, but were also sent home. When the majesty of His divinity shone through His mortal frame, then there was no questioning Christ's power, and there was no denying Him obedience. And now, being all alone, Jesus took the opportunity to pray to His heavenly Father. On the hill overlooking the lake, in the darkness and loneliness, He poured out His heart and obtained new strength from above. In many a difficult position, in many a hard problem, before many a bitter experience, the best way, the surest method of getting the necessary strength is to bring it to the Lord in prayer.
Jesus walking on the sea:
v. 47. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land.
v. 48. And He saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them. And about the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.
v. 49. But when they saw Him walking upon the sea; they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out;
v. 50. for they all saw Him and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them and saith unto them, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
v. 51. And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased. And they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
v. 52. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves; for their heart was hardened.
In the late afternoon the disciples had left the eastern shore, and when night came on, they had not yet crossed the lake, for they were obliged to battle with contrary winds. And He alone was on the land. He knew their plight; He was with them every inch of the way; but He did nothing to help them. It is often good for the believers to be buffeted by adverse winds of life. It is only by overcoming difficulties and by conquering in the hard places that Christian character is formed. Until the fourth watch of the night, according to Roman reckoning, between three o'clock in the morning and sunrise, He prayed, although the eye of His omniscience and the reassurance of His omnipresence was with them during all these hours. But now He came walking on the water as man otherwise steps along on dry land, He, the Master of all creation, that can make all things serve His will. He was about to pass by the boat, when the disciples saw Him. And then ensued a time of panic. Superstition, the fear of ghosts and specters, was still living in their hearts. And so the unwonted appearance of a human figure striding along over the waves set them to crying and wondering and fearing. But His voice stayed the panic and slowly brought confidence into their hearts. He then climbed over the side of the boat into their midst, whereupon the wind immediately stopped. The effect of this double miracle on the disciples, wrought up as they had been by their fear, was such as to bring them almost out of their senses for astonishment. For, as the evangelist here confesses, doubtless at the suggestion of Peter, the miracle of the loaves had not been understood by them, it had not entered into their hearts, its meaning had escaped them, and their hearts were still far from being in a condition to accept, at their right value, the miracles of the Lord. In like manner, the great deeds of the Lord which pass review before us in Scriptures often do not make the impression upon our hearts that they should; but the Savior has much patience with us, renewing and repeating His teaching until we understand.
New work for the Lord:
v. 53. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore.
v. 54. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew Him.
v. 55. And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was.
v. 56. And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment; and as many as touched Him were made whole.
On the western shore of the lake there was a region, Gennesaret, "the garden of the prince," or the "garden of fertility," a rich and beautiful country. Here they cast anchor or fastened their boat. But no sooner had Jesus stepped to the shore than He was recognized by some of the people living in that neighborhood, and there was a repetition of former experiences. They ran throughout the region and spread the news of His coming. And now the sick were brought to Him. Also, whether He walked along city streets or country lanes, the relatives of the sick, undiscouraged and unwearied, brought their unfortunate ones with the plea that they might touch but the border of His garment. As once before, chapter 3:10, He permitted the mere touch of His garment to work the miracle of healing. The people were worked up to the highest pitch of excitement at this time, which may have been augmented by the news of the miraculous feeding brought back by those that had been present upon that occasion. His sympathy and mercy were tireless in the interest of suffering humanity, but He was always concerned most about their souls, which He fed with the bread of life unto salvation.
Summary. Jesus makes a visit to Nazareth. sends out the twelve apostles, while His fame spreads to Herod, who had caused the execution of John the Baptist; He seeks rest, but is prevented by a great multitude of five thousand, whom He feeds in the wilderness; He walks on the sea and performs many miracles of healing in the region of Gennesaret.