Today: [Mark 6] How Jesus Dealt with Failure: In Mark 6, Jesus campaigns in His home town with very disappointing results. We find because Jesus was common to them, the scripture reads that even He COULD NOT do very much in terms of the miraculous, because of the contempt they had for Him as a familiar person to them. Jesus doesn’t allow this to dampen His confidence. What about you? When family members and friends scorn your calling and respond with skepticism to your ministry will you respond as Jesus did?
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[Mar 6:1-56 KJV] 1 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 Juda, 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. 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 Gomorrha 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]. 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 birthday 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 corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
After healing the woman with the issue of blood, and raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, Jesus completes His journey that began with a visit to Gadera and comes back to the synagogue, presumably in Capernaum, but possibly Nazareth. It probably was Nazareth because from Luke 4 we know that it was Jesus’ custom to stand and teach there and that the leaders of that particular synagogue accepted Him from His youth as one that would be allowed to read from the law to the people. As He is teaching the people are astonished at one who is commonly known to them teaching with such authority and also the reports of many miracles done by His hand. Rather than rejoice at what God was doing, they were offended. The word there is scandalized. Jesus is unfazed, simply remarking that a prophet is not without honor except among those of His extended family and particularly those under His own roof.
Because of the contempt the people had of Jesus’ familiarity to them He was able to do very little of the miraculous there, other than to heal a few sick folk. It actually says not that He wasn’t willing, but that even Jesus COULD NOT do great things there because of their scornful attitude toward Him as merely being one of their own. When making the attempt, Jesus doesn’t question Himself, but rather (v. 6) marvels at THEIR UNBELIEF. Today if a minister attempted to perform a healing and wasn’t successfully, he would be considered astonishingly arrogant to question others rather than himself. It is very unacceptable in church culture to point to the unbelief of the people when miracles are not present, but that is the presumptive explanation that Jesus concludes when His efforts failed. When you are stepping out in your ministry, what will be your conclusion when you have limited results? Are you going to question God, or are you going to question the faith of the people? It all depends on where your fidelities lie and whether you are an insecure people pleaser or a God pleaser.
Coming off the heels of His failed efforts in Nazareth, Jesus does something unexpected. He calls His disciples and gives them authority over demons and starts sending them out two by two. It doesn’t seem like an opportune time to do this. The disciples surely could have questioned, saying “why Jesus, who are you to send us out when you couldn’t get a hang nail healed in your home town?” This shows us the depth of confidence that Jesus walked in. His faith was not in outward results but in His inward connection and one-ness with the Father. It was a confidence that so impacted His disciples that they questioned not at all when even after a failed campaign they were willing to go out in His name. Where is your confidence? Is it in results, or in outward manifestations? Or is your confidence in your relationship with God and intimacy with Him, out of which all power in His Spirit flows?
In sending the 12 out He instructs them how to deal with rejection. If they are not received they are to shake the dust off their feet. What does this mean? It is a symbolic act. Dust represents flesh. If you are not received when you attempt to move in your ministry, shake the “dust” off your “feet”. In other words do not let someone elses’ fleshly response in rejecting you to affect your walk with God. How many times do we see men and women ministering out of woundedness and rejection from years past? You have to get over it. Not everyone is going to be as excited about what God is doing in your life as you are. When rejection comes, just shake their dust, or their fleshly responses off and keep on serving God. You don’t have to figure it out. You don’t have to hang around, trying to overcome others adverse opinion of you. The world is full of needy people. Keep on serving God. Are you listening?
After going out, the disciples are so successful that king Herod gets word of their exploits. Jesus is beginning to garner the attention of the elites in Judea and Jerusalem? Is this a good thing? Not necessarily. We tend to think when important people start paying attention to what God is doing that our ship is about to come in. Quite the opposite, when Jesus fame reached the palaces and high places of leadership in the south, it ultimately led to His crucifixion.
Herod is convinced that Jesus is a reincarnation of John the Baptist, whom He had beheaded after a drunken, lust filled banquet with his friends, where his stepdaughter Salome seduced him and manipulated him into executing John. This is interesting because in later years, Christian tradition holds that Salome converted and became an active part of the early church. Why was John executed? Because, after being offended that Jesus wasn’t carrying out His ministry as John expected, John turned his vitriolic preaching on Herod, because he was divorced and remarried to his brother’s first wife. John preached that the Messiah would come and burn up the chaff, and radically establish a new Zionistic kingdom. Jesus showed up drinking wine, kissing babies and hanging out with prostitutes and publicans and John couldn’t take it. Because of this – he lost his head. How about you? When you find yourself shaking your fist at those who are not conducting ministry as you think it should be done, be careful that you are not making the same mistake John made. Those who rail and come against others because they aren’t “doing it right” will find what little God has used them for coming to an end.
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 departed into a mountain to pray. 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. 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.
After John’s death, we find that even in ancient times, bad news travels fast. The apostles come together and not only report the successes of their healing ministries and in casting out devils, but they inform Him of John’s demise. Jesus takes the small band of disciples and retreats to a desert place for rest and recuperation. This is a characteristic of even Jesus’ ministry. He was a hard worker, but He also made a point of regular rest, withdrawal from the crowds to recharge and reconstitute His strength. You need to learn from this. There is a time to work and a time to rest. Overwork and over exertion even in ministry portion will only result in diminishing you and causing what you think you are doing for God to produce substandard results.
After leaving privately, the people are watching and a great multitude follows Jesus, so much so that after being with Him in a very remote area they are famished for food and actually in danger of a health crisis because of it. The disciples want to send the people away but Jesus insists, no they need to feed them. When Jesus instructs the disciples this way, they immediately check their bank balance and start thinking in terms of natural logistics. That isn’t what Jesus is after. Jesus’ first response was always toward the miraculous. Because the 12 are intimidated, and not responding spiritually to His command, Jesus Himself takes a small lunch of five loaves and two fish and miraculously multiplies it to the 1000’s waiting to eat. So this entire situation was one that Jesus expected the DISCIPLES to have handled, but instead He steps in for the people’s sake and performs the miracle that He is disappointed that His apostles were completely unmindful of doing themselves. How many times do we do this? We are looking for God to do something and He is looking to us, expecting us to act in faith?
Having fed the people, Jesus puts the apostles on a ship and sends the people away. The disciples launch but immediately run into trouble with a nasty storm making their passage a great toil because of contrary winds. Jesus had stayed behind to pray, but when He sees the disciples struggling He comes to them walking on the water. When the disciples see this, instead of believing it is Jesus about to save them, they become superstitious, thinking the apparition is an evil spirit. Learn a lesson from this – sometimes Jesus will come to you in a manner that makes you question whether it is actually Him. Why did they believe this? Because Jesus was doing something they had never seen Him do before. Just because God is doing something new, and doesn’t inform you ahead of time, don’t assume that “this can’t be God…” or you might miss out on your miracle!
After the ship is at land, the people in Gennesaret flock to Jesus with the sick and oppressed of every description. They have heard of the woman with the issue of blood and they all want to touch the hem of His garment. They were the “hem touching” crowd, and Jesus doesn’t deny them. Sometimes when God does something, we think that the methodology is the secret and we want to reproduce what has been successful in the past. Though this was childish on their part, Jesus doesn’t refuse them, in fact every one of them were healed, but not because they repeated what the woman with the issue of blood had done, but rather because God was lovingly patient with them and met their need. What about you?
When you hear of some great thing God has done in anoether city, have you ever seen ministries try to reproduce the same? This happened a lot during the Pensacola revival. Pastors and ministers all over the USA began to parrot and reproduce what Steve Hill and John Kirpatrick were doing in Florida, but for the most part this was not successful. Learn to put you attention not on learning some methodology of revival or outpouring but focus upon Jesus Himself, and what He is expecting YOU to do in cooperation with who HE IS in the situation and you will have that which is uniquely your own and not some cheap imitation of someone else’s experience.
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