Introduction: Success breeds detractors, right? Ladies, if you see a
beautiful woman do you look for the flaws? Men, if you see a rich
successful man, do you look for reasons why that could not be you?
(If you feel better reversing the gender in these questions, go
ahead.) Years ago, we bought a beautiful, new Ford Thunderbird. When my
wife drove it to school, her co-worker was excited to tell her that
one of the headlight covers was cracked. When a visitor drove a new
and rare Dodge Viper to church, I recall fixing my mind on some design
flaw. How long has this been human nature? Since, at least, the time
of Jesus? Let’s dive in a read what His neighbors said about Him!

  1. Not Understanding the Home Town Son

    1. Read Mark 6:1-2. What is good and bad about returning to
      your hometown?

      1. When you return to your hometown church, do you like
        to be asked to participate in the church service?

      2. We see that Jesus teaches in His hometown synagogue
        and people are amazed. What kind of questions are the
        people raising in Mark 6:2? What are they really
        saying in these questions? (I know the feeling. In
        law school I took courses in many areas of law. Just
        after I graduated (and actually knew something), my
        in-laws started entering into complex land
        arrangements which they ultimately regretted.
        Although they knew nothing about the law, instead of
        asking for my opinion, they kept these arrangements a
        secret from me.)

    2. Read Mark 6:3. Are the people excited about the success of
      their “native son?”

      1. Why not?

      2. What do they mean by calling Jesus “Mary’s son?” (You
        would identify a man by his father, not his mother.
        This is the old charge of illegitimacy.)

      3. Why should they “take offense?”

    3. Read Mark 6:4-6. Consider this very unusual statement “He
      could not do any miracles there.” Why not? Why not do
      great miracles in His hometown so that they would be
      properly impressed? That they would know that a “hometown
      boy” succeeded?

      1. Was Jesus doing the miracles to create faith or was
        He doing miracles in response to faith? (Jesus was
        not doing magic. He was teaching about God’s response
        to faith.)

        1. Is there a lesson about faith in this for us?

  1. Not Understanding God

    1. If you do not know the general story of the death of John
      the Baptist, read Mark 6:17-28. Let’s pick some verses for
      study. Read Mark 6:18-20. What can Bible teachers learn
      from John’s teaching? (Don’t back away from teaching the
      truth. Don’t compromise.)

      1. What response will you get to teaching the “straight”
        truth? (Recall our study from last week about the
        importance of a heart open to truth. Some, like
        Herod, will have a semi-open heart and others, like
        Herodias, will want to kill you.)

    2. Read Mark 6:21-23. Were the guests more important than
      Herod? (No. He was the king.)

      1. What does Herod’s offer, based on a dance, tell us
        about Herod? (He lacked self-esteem and common sense.
        He wanted to impress people he did not need to
        impress. This offer, based on a dance was “over the

    3. Read Mark 6:25-28. Why did John die? (Because of Herod’s
      character defects.)

      1. What was the struggle in Herod’s mind? (We learned in
        Mark 6:20 that Herod believed John to be a “righteous
        and holy man.” He weighed this against losing “face”
        – his pride and vanity( Mark 6:26). Pride won.)

      2. Is a similar struggle going on in your heart? Are
        there some Bible truths that you reject because of
        pride and vanity?

    4. Read Mark 6:29. Imagine that you are a disciple of John.
      What have you been doing about his imprisonment? (Praying

      1. You hear the story of what happened second-hand. What
        reason do you think John died? (You would not have
        the insight into the character of Herod. You would
        think he died because a young girl danced and asked
        that he be killed.)

        1. What are your thoughts of God for allowing this?

        2. In Matthew 11:11 Jesus says “among those born of
          women there has not risen anyone greater than
          John the Baptist.” How could God let such a
          great man be killed over something as frivolous
          as a dance? (Read John 3:27-30. John died
          because his mission had been accomplished. If it
          seems that God is acting frivolously in your
          life, look deeper. If you still cannot see, then
          (as we discussed last week in connection with
          Mark 5:36 “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”)

    5. We are going to skip the story of the feeding of the
      5,000. If you do not know this story, read it in Mark
      6:34-44. Let’s Read Mark 6:45-46. What kind of an attitude
      would the disciples have after the feeding of the 5,000?
      (What a day! Jesus had shown His power to create food.)

    6. Read Mark 6:47-48. After this high day, what kind of
      situation do the disciples find themselves? (Difficult.
      There was a storm and they were “straining” to make any
      progress. The fourth watch would be 3:00 in the morning.
      They had been rowing for eight or nine hours and made it
      only half way across the lake.)

      1. Is your life like this sometimes? A very high
        spiritual experience followed by an experience in
        which you are straining?

      2. What is Jesus doing? (He is watching them.)

        1. Why doesn’t He intervene? Why leave them
          straining for all this time?

      3. Notice Mark 6:48 again. When Jesus finally appears to
        be doing something, we read that He was going to
        “pass them by.” Why would Jesus walk past them?
        (Jesus is watching and concerned. He begins to act on
        the problem before He is asked for help. But, it
        appears He is not going to actually intervene without
        some sort of request.)

        1. What lesson is there in this for us?

    7. Read Mark 6:49-50. Do the disciples recognize Jesus? (No!)

      1. What happens in that situation? Jesus wants us to
        call on Him, He comes close so that we can call on
        Him, and then we do not recognize Him. Have the
        disciples “blown it?” (Friend, notice this. Jesus
        helps based on compassion, not based on a formal
        request for help.)

    8. Read Mark 6:51-52. The disciples “had not understood about
      the loaves.” What did they fail to understand? (Notice the
      sequence here. Jesus performs an extraordinary miracle in
      which they are coworkers. Immediately after, they get into
      some major trouble. Jesus is watching them, but they are
      simply straining through it. They do not call on Jesus,
      but He comes near anyway. Finally, they are completely
      terrified and He rescues them. They are amazed because
      they do not understand about the loaves.)

      1. What is loaf understanding? (That Jesus can master
        any problem in your life. They should have called
        upon Him at the very beginning of the problem. They
        should not have been amazed that He was the solution
        to their problem.)

        1. How about you? When do you call on Jesus to
          help? Only after you have been “straining” for
          eight or nine hours?

  2. Not Understanding Priorities

    1. In Mark 7:1-5 Jesus gets into a dispute with the Jewish
      leaders over the failure of His disciples to wash their
      hands before they eat. (Thankfully, they became fishers of
      men instead of opening a restaurant.) Read Mark 7:6-8.
      What is Jesus’ defense of His disciples? (The Jewish
      leaders do not have the priorities right. They follow the
      traditions of men on minor things and ignore the commands
      of God. This gets back to Deuteronomy 4:2. They were both
      adding and subtracting from what God said.)

    2. Read Mark 7:14-15. Why do the things that “come out” of a
      person make that person unclean? (Read Matthew 12:34-35.
      What comes out of our mouth reflects what is in our

    3. Read Mark 7:17-23. What lesson is there in this for
      Christians who focus on “health reform?” (If health reform
      is the focus of your Christian walk, then you have the
      wrong priority. You need to refocus on God’s priority
      which is the condition of the heart. (For further
      discussion, read Acts 10:14 and Romans 14:14.)

    4. Friend, how about you? Do you recognize Jesus as God, turn
      to Him when in need, and understand His priorities?

  3. Next week: The Passion Predicted.