The journey to God's mountain, 6:1-10:52
1. Growing division, 6:1-8:21
i] Jesus' own countrymen are astonished and take offence at his teachingSynopsis
"Jesus now leaves Capernaum to preach in the villages of Galilee, and he begins twenty-five miles away in his native country of Nazareth. At first, his teaching in the synagogue astounds them, but they cannot forget that the Rabbi, whose fame is throughout all Galilee, had once been their village joiner. 'There is always a shadow under the lamp', says the Indian proverb. The Nazarenes were too near to appreciate the splendour of his words and works, and their unbelief left Jesus marvelling", Hunter.
Jesus' words and deeds invalidate unbelief.
i] Context: See 1:1-8. The Journey to God's Mountain, 6:1-10:52. The children of God, filled with distrust and discontent, reach Mount Sinai and receive God's law. Jesus similarly makes his way to the mountain surrounded by disbelief. Yet, the focus remains on Jesus who, like Moses, is the provider of the bread of life, the word of life. To a remnant who see, who believe, Jesus reveals God's word, but increasingly the response is disbelief. The crowds were amazed when Jesus displayed his lordship over nature, demons, disease and death, now it is Jesus who is amazed at their unbelief. This section in Mark's gospel is marked by a growing awareness of who Jesus is. Amazement and bewilderment leads to disbelief, but sometimes belief. This section heralds a thematic shift as Jesus' ministry begins to bite home.
The episode covering 6:1-6a serves to conclude the first section of the gospel and introduce the second section. The second section proper begins with the commissioning of the disciples. Despite "the increasing participation in Jesus' ministry, the disciples also display a decreasing spiritual IQ, asking stupid questions, doubting Jesus' capacity to save, and even demonstrating the quality of hard-heartedness which has previously been ascribed to Jesus' enemies, the Pharisees", Marcus.
The section presents in two parts, growing division, 6:1-8:21, and growing faith, 8:22-10:52. In growing division, the response of amazement moves to either disbelief or belief; the blind are blinded to blind disbelief, while seekers are saved and follow Jesus. In growing faith we witness the spiritual development of Jesus' disciples. Jesus' disciples are like a blind man struggling to see, 8:22-30, but inevitable they see and follow, 10:46-52. The lessons they learn are as follows: humility (dependence on Christ's cross-bearing), listening (hearing Christ), acquiescence (greatness is not found in privilege) inclusion (welcoming a fellow believer), receiving (kingdom blessings are received as a gift rather than earned by doing), and serving (a disciples serves as Jesus served).
1. Growing division, 6:1-8:21
Jesus' own countrymen are astonished and take offence, 6:1-6;
The twelve are sent out, 6:7-13;
John the Baptist's end, 6:14-29;
The feeding of the 5,000 - Manna in the wilderness, 6:30-44;
Jesus walks on the water - Lord over dark powers, 6:45-56;
The religious leaders are also without understanding, 7:1-23;
Israel's blindness forces Jesus amongst the Gentiles, 7:24-37;
Feeding the 4,000. Jesus again reveals his true identity, 8:1-21.
2. Growing faith, 8:22-10:52
Christ opens the eyes of the blind - even disciples, 8:22-30;
Jesus' teaching on discipleship #1. Deny self, 8:31-9:1;
The transfiguration - Divine revelation, "Hear Him", 9:2-13;
The healing of a possessed boy by grace through faith, 9:14-29;
Jesus' teaching on discipleship #2. Humility, 9:30-37;
Partners in discipleship, 9:38-50;
Ideals and principles, 10:1-16;
The rich young ruler - By grace through faith, 10:17-31;
Jesus' teaching on discipleship #3. Service, 10:32-45;
A blind man comes to see through faith, 10:46-52.
ii] Structure: Jesus despised:
Jesus teaches in the synagogue, v1-2a;
the amazement of the congregation, v2a-3;
Jesus responds with a proverbial saying, v4;
familiarity breeds contempt.
Jesus' restricted ministry and the people's lack of faith, v5-6a.
This "report" has no formal structure.
Why was it that Jesus "could do no mighty work" in Nazareth? Obviously Jesus was not "powerless apart from men's faith", Cranfield, although it is often argued that faith is a necessary prerequisite for the performance of a miracle. Yet, Jesus performs many miracles without the evidence of faith, as against Guelich, "miracles do not take place in the absence of faith". So, what is going on here?
Surely the problem is not that Jesus' neighbours were short on faith, but that they had moved from amazement to unbelief; they had rejected Jesus' messianic credentials. When revelation is rejected it is removed, and so the gospel in word and sign (miracles) was no longer generally available to the people of Nazareth. Note how Matthew recasts this statement; "and he did not do many miracles there on account of their lack of faith", Matt.13:58. As Taylor says, "this passage is one of the boldest statements in the gospels since it mentions something that Jesus could not do".
Matt.13:53-58, Lk.4:16-30. Matthew's account of this pericope is very similar to Mark. Although Luke runs his own race in recording this tradition, he does mention with Mark that Jesus' rejection in Nazareth took place on a Sabbath day.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Jesus Despised
Text - 6:1
Jesus' rejection at Nazareth, v1-6. Leaving Capernaum, Jesus went South into the hill country, to Nazareth ("his own country"). During the previous year, Jesus had focused on selecting and training his disciples. The team now took a break before the Galilean mission, 6:7-13.
ekeiqen "[Jesus left] there" - [and he came out from] there. Adverb of place. Serving as a link to the previous episode.
thn patrida (iV idoV) "[his] hometown" - [into] the homeland, hometown [of him]. That is, where he was raised, not where he was born, so Nazareth.
autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [and the disciples of him follow] him. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow"; "his disciples followed him." Mark, unlike Luke and Matthew, underlines the presence of the disciples and thus their witness to their master's rejection.
On the Sabbath day, Jesus and his team visit the local synagogue and Jesus, as a visiting rabbi (accompanied by his disciples), is invited to expound the readings from the Law and the Prophets. His message, and probably also his teaching style, bowled the congregation over, but soon their reaction is anything but positive. They knew Jesus had trained as a carpenter-builder, and certainly not as a rabbi. So, where did his wisdom and power ("miracles") come from? There are two possibilities, either God, or the Devil. For Jesus' neighbours, God seemed a rather remote possibility.
genomenou (ginomai) gen. aor. part. "when [the Sabbath] came" - [and the sabbath] having become. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "Sabbath" form a genitive absolute construction, usually treated as temporal, as NIV.
didaskein (didaskw) pres. inf. "to teach" - [he began] to teach. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began". In the early part of Jesus' ministry, he was able to attend the local synagogue and, as a visiting rabbi, was invited to speak.
en + dat. "in" - in [the synagogue]. Local, expressing space.
(oiJ) polloi adj. "many" - [and] many. The adjective serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to be amazed." All who were present", Jeremias, although better, "the majority", Cranfield.
akouonteV (akouw) pres. part. "who heard" - hearing, listening. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective polloi, "many", as NIV.
exeplhssonto (ekplhssw) imperf. pas. "were amazed" - were overwhelmed, astonished, amazed. The imperfect is durative, expressing ongoing amazement. Being "overwhelmed / surprised", usually in a positive sense; "knocked out / bowled over", Boring. "Amazement" is a key response for Mark. The initial response to Jesus' words and signs is amazement / surprise and this then moves to acceptance / faith, or rejection / unbelief. Here we see a very quick movement toward unbelief, with the congregation both incredulous and scandalised.
legonteV (legw) pres. part. "they asked" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "were amazed"; "were amazed and said." The questions are likely to have come from the religious authorities, but the "many" may well indicate a general rejection; that is certainly indicated by v5-6..
toutw/ dat. pro. "this man [get these things]?" - [from where] this one [these things]. Dative of interest, advantage, "from where these things for this man?" = "where did he get all this?" Berkeley. The use of toutw/ is probably contemptuous - used three times. This is the first of five questions asked by the congregation concerning Jesus, v2-3.
kai "-" - and. Coordinative for a series, here the second question.
tivV "what's" - who, what, why. Interrogative pronoun.
hJ sofia (a) "this wisdom" - the wisdom. Mark's only use of the word "wisdom"; the word meaning depth of knowledge regarding spiritual matters. Obviously the "wisdom" the congregation is referring to is the gospel, here both expressed in words ("wisdom") and signs ("powers" = "miracles").
hJ doqeisa (didwmi) aor. pas. part. "that has been given" - having been given. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "wisdom", "what wisdom is this which has been given to him." As is often the case, a passive in such a setting can be classed as a divine / theological passive, ie., the wisdom originates from God. Yet, this is always an assumption and given the context, it is more likely that the congregation views Jesus' wisdom as derived from other than divine sources. So, "where did his wisdom come from, from heaven, or earth, or even Satan?"
toutw/ dat. pro. "to him" - to this one. Dative of indirect object. Again, the address is somewhat contemptuous.
kai "-" - and . Coordinative in series, here the third question. The more difficult reading is followed among the variants for this clause, see Metzger. Again, in this the third question, the congregation is questioning the origin of Jesus' mighty works / miracles / mighty deeds (signs - "events that proclaim God's acts on behalf of God's people", Guelich).
oJti "that" - that. This variant, which was incorporated into Textus Receptus, serves to introduce an epexegetic clause explaining the nature of "these things", as NIV. The TNIV follows the more widely accepted reading without oJti, but with an assumed interrogative tivV, "what are these remarkable miracles he is performing?".
toiautai pro. "-" - what are these. Emphatic by position = "and what are mighty works of such a kind coming about by the hand of him" = "how can he perform such miracles?" Barclay.
ai dunameiV (iV ewV) "miracles" - powers. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. Acts of power = "miracles", as NIV.
dia + gen. "-" - by means of, through [his hand]. Instrumental, expressing means / agency.
ginomenai (ginomai) pres. part. "he even does / he is performing" - becoming? The participle is adjectival, attributive, modifying "hand", "which his hands perform". The mention of hands "reflects Semitic idiom", Cranfield.
Jesus' neighbours knew of his origins and they are anything but impressed. The question, "Isn't this the carpenter?" draws out the implication that Jesus is nothing more than a common labourer. Such a person would not possess divine knowledge. Also, the question "Isn't this Mary's son?" infers that Jesus is illegitimate (otherwise they would have said "Joseph's son", even though Joseph is now dead). The congregation knows Jesus' brothers and sisters and so they think they know Jesus. In response, they refused to believe in him.
The issue of Mary's perpetual virginity is raised here. The reference to brothers and sisters is most likely to natural siblings, but some do argue that they are half-brothers and sisters.
ouc "isn't" - [is] not [this one]. This negation is used in a question expecting the answer "yes".
oJ tektwn (own onoV) "the carpenter" - the carpenter. Predicate nominative. Possibly "carpenter-builder", and this because Jesus is inclined to building construction allusions, rather than carpentry allusions, eg., plum-bob. The variant, "the son of the carpenter, the son of Mary", probably conflates Mark's quote with Matthew.
thV MariaV "Mary's [son]" - [the son] of mary [and brother of james and joses, and judas and simon]? The genitive is adjectival, relational. This is a very unusual statement as Jesus would be properly identified with his father, not with his mother, even if his father were dead. If Mary had a more important pedigree she may replace Joseph, but Joseph is the one with the Davidic pedigree, and so Jesus would be identified by his neighbours as "Joseph's son". Marcus suggests that the identification of Jesus as Mary's son is hostile in nature, alluding to Jesus' illegitimacy.
proV + acc. "[here] with [us]" - [and are not the sisters of him here] toward, to [us]? Here expressing association, so "with us / in company with us."
eskandalizonto (skandalizw) imperf. pas. "they took offence" - [and] they were taking offence. The word expresses the sense, enmeshed in, or falling into a trap, often in relation to sin. So, reacting to Jesus in a negative way, being scandalised by him, offended, repelled and therefore turning away from him. "And they refused to believe in him", Guelich.
en "at [him]" - in, on [him]. The use of this preposition in the phrase "they took offence in him", follows Hebrew usage of skandalizw in Sir.9:5, 23:8, 35:15. Treated as causal, "because of him", cf., Zerwick, or reference / respect, referencing the one toward whom the feeling is directed, so "at him", cf., BAGD III3b, even instrumental, "so they were repelled by him", Moffatt.
Jesus replies with a contemporary proverb. It was generally accepted that the prophets faced rejection and martyrdom and this often among their own people. The saying possibly reflects a more common version, "a physician is unable to heal those who know him", exegeted in v5, but such is speculative. It is unlikely that Jesus is suggesting that he is a prophet since he is "more than a prophet", Guelich.
autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [and jesus was saying] to them. Dative of indirect object.
oJti "-" - Introducing a dependent statement of direct speech.
ei mh "only" - [a prophet is not dishonoured] except. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception; "a prophet is not without honour except where he grew up and among his own family." The double negative construction ouk ..... ei mh is best expressed as a positive, so BDAG, "honoured everywhere except ...." The word "prophet" is used of a forth-teller of divine revelation, not a fore-teller. The word "dishonoured" takes the sense, "not to receive ones due honour and respect", TH.
en + dat. "in" - in [the homeland / native place of him]. Local, expressing space.
en toiV suggeneusin autou "among his relatives" - [and] in the relatives / kin of him. The preposition en expresses association here; "with / among". This phrase is missing in Matthew's account, but is virtually taken up in the phrase "in his own house", since there is little difference in meaning. Some have suggested that the duplication is Mark's way of emphasising Jesus' rejection by his family members, so Gundry p299.
en th/ oikia autou "in his own house" - [and] in the house of him. The preposition en as above. "Their own family", CEV.
This verse gives rise to two untruths: that Jesus' power is limited and that faith is a prerequisite for healing (see "Interpretation" above). Jesus' miracles are not dependent on the faith of the recipient, although it is true to say that a person's faith places them in the centre of God's will and therefore enables them to experience His work of grace. As for the work itself, "Jesus' power as saviour knows no bounds, but the use of it does", Ridderbos. It seems likely that Jesus has the power to perform messianic signs, but chooses not to, due to the people's rejection of his messianic credentials.
poihsai (poiew) pres. inf. "could not do" - [and he was not able] to do [there]. Complementary infinitive completing the sense of the negated verb "he was not able".
oudemian adj. "any" - nothing [powers = mighty works, miracles]. Double negative, "not able to do nothing." Drawing out the stark nature of the situation; "he was not able to do there even one work of power", Wuest. Mark's words here may indicate a distinction between a "work of power", ie. a messianic sign, and the general healing of some sick people, ie., an act of mercy, yet, does such a distinction exist?
ei mh "except" - Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. The exceptive clause "seems to be a correction of a too radical statement of Jesus' inability", Boring.
epiqeiV (epitiqhmi) aor. part. + dat. "lay [his hands] on" - having laid upon [the hands]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "healed"; "he laid ...... and healed; but possibly adverbial, modifying the verb "healed", modal, expressing manner, or instrumental, expressing means, "by means of", so Rogers. Heal, "attend / treat / cure", Zerwick. "Except that he healed a few of those beset by ill health through laying his hands on them", Cassirer.
arrwstoiV dat. adj. "[a few] sick people" - a few sick, ill persons [he healed them]. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to place on." In a state of powerlessness due to illness.
Mark constantly uses the word "amazed" to describe the common response of Israel to Jesus, but now it is Jesus who is amazed. Our Lord was obviously quite taken aback by the unbelief of his long-time neighbours. Mark wants us to note the consequence of "their lack of faith", namely, the withdrawal of the gospel in word and sign - Jesus leaves them with their unbelief.
The division of this literary unit is in dispute. The division is taken either at the end of the verse, or in the middle, as NIV.
eqaumazen (qaumazw) imperf. "he was amazed" - [and] he marvelled, was amazed. Again Mark chooses the imperfect tense, as he did with the neighbours' amazement and offence, and Jesus' "not able to do" signs, so meshing the actions of Jesus and the neighbours, so Gundry. Interestingly, this is the one of the two occasions when we are told that Jesus was "amazed", cf., Matt.8:10. Probably best taken to mean "he was surprised / taken aback", even "puzzled", so Guelich.
dia + acc. "at [their lack of faith]" - because of, on account of [the unbelief of them]. Probably causal, but usually translated "as the object of the surprise of Jesus", TH, as NIV. "He marvelled because of their unbelief", Wuest.
perihgen (periagw) imperf. "he went around" - [and] he was going around [the villages]. Imperfect is durative, expressing ongoing action, although Mark will often use the imperfect for background information.
kuklw/ dat. "-" - about, around. Adverbial dative, modal, expressing manner, modifying "he went around." Possibly here making the point "he went around in a circuit", so possibly as in the NIV, "from village to village." "He went around among the adjacent villages teaching", TH.
didaskwn (didaskw) pres. part. "teaching" - teaching. The participle is probably modal, identifying the manner in which the main verb "went around" is accomplished. Why "teaching" rather than "preaching [the gospel]"? Mark does often describe Jesus' word ministry in terms of "teaching", since he is a rabbi and this is what you do in a synagogue, although when the gospel is in mind, he tends to use khrussw, "preach [the gospel]".