The Narrative Lectionary text for this week is Mark 6:1-29.
Observations and Questions:
There are three distinct stories in this reading…
Disbelief in Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6)…
- The people were astounded at his teaching and his power. They did not deny the fact of his power, yet they could not let themselves believe it.
- Jesus had brothers and sisters. That means Mary and Joseph (presumably) had more children after Jesus. This raises two issues.
- Mary was not a perpetual virgin.
- Jesus grew up in a sibling situation. What was his childhood like?
- The people in Nazareth knew him as a boy and as a carpenter, prior to his baptism. Was he ordinary then, and that’s why they have a hard time believing who he is now?
- Jesus’ power did not work because the people did not believe (however, he was able to heal some). This goes back to the woman with the hemorrhage. Jesus said her faith is what made her well. Is that why miracles don’t happen much in the modern Western world? We have buffered ourselves from anything that may be deemed supernatural or magic by the modern, scientific myth of objectivity.
Sending the Twelve (Mark 6:6-13)…
- Jesus passes his authority to the disciples. They can now cast out demons and cure the sick. Jesus’ mission is multiplying. This seems to indicate that Jesus’ power was not inherent in the fact that he was God, because it was present in the fully human disciples. What are the implications for us today? Is the power to heal inherent in the message and the mission of the Kingdom?
- The twelve were to travel in simplicity. The mission was for the good of the other, not for their own gain.
- There are four parts to their mission:
- Staying with/relying upon the stranger,
- Casting out demons,
- Healing the sick.
- Could this passage be a model for the missional church today?
Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29)…
- Who is Herod? this article is good
- Mark gives a relatively large amount of detail to this story. This is strange, since most of the book is sparse in detail, heavy in action.
- Why is this story so important?
- Herod is intrigued by John and doesn’t want to kill him.
- Herod’s own pride and the lust of his eyes are what trap him into betraying his own convictions about John. This leads him to cold-blooded murder.
- It seems that Herod carries heavy guilt over his actions. That is why he assumes that Jesus is the resurrected John, come to kill/haunt him.
Mark likes to sandwich stories together to make a point. The story of the 12 is sandwiched between two stories of rejection. The people of Nazareth reject Jesus because he is so familiar to them and they cannot let themselves accept the power that is right before their eyes. Herod rejects John because he is trapped by his own lust and pride. Are these examples of rocky and thorny soil? Nestled in between them is a picture of the good sower who travels from town to town spreading the word of the Kingdom of God in word and deed.