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The LORD JESUS is here, spoken of with contempt by his countrymen. He sends forth his Disciples. Herod hears of CHRIST, and is alarmed. JESUS feeds the Multitude. He is seen walking on the Sea. He heals the Sick.
AND he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. (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? (3) Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judah, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. (4) But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. (5) And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. (6) And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
I detain the Reader on those verses to remark, that what became in the view of the enemies of CHRIST matter reproach, is, to the friends and followers of the Lamb, subject of heartfelt joy. Is not this the carpenter, say they? Yes! say I; and blessed be my LORD, for his grace and condescension, in being so. For I would have the Reader understand, that in CHRIST becoming a curse for his redeemed, it behoved him, to undergo that curse in all its branches. The tenor of the curse pronounced at the fall, ran in those words: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread; meaning toil and labor. Had not JESUS therefore toiled and labored for his bread, this part of the curse would not have lighted upon him, neither could he then have been said to have borne it. But by laboring with his hands for his daily bread, he literally fulfilled that part of the curse. And though he might have fed himself as he fed others, by working a miracle; yet then could he not have come up, in this point, to the object intended. So far therefore is CHRIST's labor in the employment of a carpenter, from lessening the authority of his mission, that without it he would not have answered the character of our Redeemer, in redeeming us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us. Galatians 3:13 .
Reader! hath it pleased the LORD in his providence, to place you in a low estate. Look to him who when on earth had not where to lay his head; and though the LORD, Creator and proprietor of all things, lived and toiled, for his daily bread! See observations on Luke 2:51-52 .
(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; (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: (9) But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. (10) And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. (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. (12) And they went out, and preached that men should repent. (13) And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
We have here the confirmation of what was before noticed on Matthew 10:1 , etc. the call and commission given to the Apostles. It were well if all, who go forth in the Apostolic office, carried with them such credentials of their authority.
(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 shew forth themselves in him. (15) Others said, That it is Elias, and others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. (16) But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. (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: for he had married her. (18) For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. (19) Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: (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. (21) And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birth-day made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; (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. (23) And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask Of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. (24) And she went forth and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? and she said, The head of John the Baptist. (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. (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. (27) And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought. And he went, and beheaded him in the prison, (28) And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. (29) And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corps, and laid it in a tomb.
In addition to what was remarked on the parallel passage, Matthew 14:1 , etc. to which I refer the Reader, I would beg to observe, what an awful view is here, held forth to us, of the horrors of a guilty conscience. There was not the smallest resemblance between the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and his servant and herald, John the Baptist. John did no miracles: and the LORD JESUS was continually manifesting his commission in this way. John came in a way of austerity and fasting; but JESUS most endearing, and as the friend of publicans and sinners; so that nothing could be more unlike each other. But Herod was too much alarmed to mark the difference. This is John, said he, whom I murdered. Reader! what must the everlasting horrors, and self-reproaches of the miserable be, when in this life only their consciences are so haunted before the time?
(30) And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. (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. (32) And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. (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. (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. (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: (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. (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? (38) He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. (39) And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. (40) And they sat down in ranks by hundreds, and by fifties. (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. (42) And they did all eat, and were filled. (43) And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes: (44) And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men. (45) And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. (46) And when he had sent them away, he de parted into a mountain to pray.
I shall only hint at one or two improvements, as they arise from this passage before us, having already noticed some of the principal things which are found in our LORD's miracle of feeding the multitude in the wilderness, in the similar relation of it. Matthew 14:1 , etc. And first, it will be profitable to observe, what is said here of the Apostles, whom JESUS had sent forth to preach, returning with an account of their ministry: not by way of informing CHRIST what he already knew, but by way of praising him for the success of their labors. So should all ministers of JESUS. And what can be more engaging than the view of a faithful laborer in the Gospel, who hath gone forth in the LORD's strength in the day, returning to the LORD's praise in the night, and laying both himself and labors before the Lot for a blessing?
And let not the Reader overlook, as another interesting improvement, which ariseth from what is here said of CHRIST, compassion in beholding the fainting multitude. There is somewhat particularly striking in the manner in which it is related; JESUS was moved with compassion toward them. Reader! I know not what your feelings are, but I must confess that I receive a more than ordinary pleasure in such views of JESUS, as represent him touched with our feelings; for they certainly mean the feelings of JESUS in our nature, joined with the GODHEAD. Paul calls it the bowels of JESUS CHRIST. Philippians 1:8 . Mercies and Compassions; not only GOD-mercies, but mercies in such a way, as are the mercies of the man also; and without the SON of GOD, having taken human nature into union with the GODHEAD, as GOD alone, he could not have felt. Reader! think what a view doth this apprehension of Jesus, in his two-fold nature, open to our everlasting joy, in a thousand instances which arise?
If I venture to hint at a third improvement from this passage, (many more might, but for swelling the pages,) it shall be only to observe, that if from a few loaves and fishes the LORD CHRIST made such a supply for so great a multitude, and left such an overplus, think, what infinite resources are with our GOD, for every occasion, to both the spiritual, and temporal necessities of his chosen? Very blessed is the Apostle's conclusion on this point, when he saith But my GOD shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by CHRIST JESUS. Philippians 4:19 . See Matthew 14:22-23 .
(47) And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. (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. (49) But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: (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. (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. (52) For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.
In addition to what was observed on this display of CHRIST's power, on the parallel passage, Matthew 14:24 , etc. I would just beg to re mark, what unceasing demonstrations the LORD gave of his GODHEAD. It should seem to have been done with a view to put to the blush the Infidel of after ages, as well as to comfort, and give confidence to his poor and humble believing Ones. Did the LORD JESUS make this pro vision for the present day of infidelity? (I only ask the question.) As the LORD could not but know the perilous times which in the last days should come, when men, calling themselves Christians, would nevertheless deny the LORD which bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction; did He mercifully furnish such testimonies of his GODHEAD, in the days of his flesh, as might afford peculiar strength to the faith of his people in the day of his power? Indeed, indeed, I cannot but think there was much of CHRIST's intention, in the numberless proofs we so continually meet with, in those records of our LORD. And, I am the more inclined to this judgment, because we are told, that the disciples then, when at the time JESUS displayed such wonderful acts, were sore amazed, and wondered; their heart; as it is said, being hardened: that is, I apprehend, they did not, for surely they could not for a moment doubt CHRIST's GODHEAD; but they stood amazed, like men overwhelmed with what they saw and heard; not knowing, as when in the Mount of Transfiguration, what to say. See Matthew 17:1 , etc. See also my note on Matthew 28:17 .
(53) And, when they had passed over they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. (54) And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him. (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. (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,
I would appeal to the common sense and history of all mankind, whether the imagination can furnish a portrait so beautiful, so affectionate, and interesting, as is here drawn of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. The Prophet, ages before had said, behold, your GOD will come and save you! Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing. Isaiah 35:4-6 . And here we be hold GOD indeed in the person of his dear SON, surrounded by the sick and diseased of every description and character, while as many as touched him were made whole. Oh! for grace, to come to Him now by faith; for surely, none whom GOD the HOLY GHOST shall lead to Jesus, will the LORD send empty away.
On! thou who was in the form of GOD, and with whom it was no robbery to be equal with GOD! give me to see the blessedness of thy humiliation, in condescending to labor for thy daily bread, in order to remove the whole curse of the fall, in becoming a curse for thy people. Do thou, dearest LORD, give grace to all thy poor, and toilsome family, to learn the blessedness of being conformed to thy lovely image in all things. Let all thy sent servants learn by thy Apostles how to return to JESUS, and lay before him the account of their ministry. In the awful history of Herod, give all thy people grace, to know how to value a peace of mind in JESUS, which nothing of this world's greatness can procure. And while thy redeemed behold their GOD and SAVIOR, feeding the thousands to the full with a scanty provision, and healing all the diseased with a word speaking; oh! let neither poverty nor sickness induce a moment's fear in the heart of thy people. Precious LORD! do thou realize, day by day, thy gracious and refreshing presence to our wants. And oh! for grace to have such views of GOD's CHRIST, and GOD's chosen, as GOD the FATHER hath set him forth by, in the word of his grace; and then will all the blessed effects of salvation be enjoyed by his redeemed, in villages, and cities, and countries upon earth; as the redeemed now enjoy in the city of our GOD in heaven.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17