Red Letter Year: 1/25

Mark 6:30-44

30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. 36 Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”

37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people!”

38 “How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”

They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.

41 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. 42 They all ate as much as they wanted, 43 and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. 44 A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed from those loaves!


I hope you caught the first thing Jesus says in today’s passage. That’s important for all of us. When you are working, serving, ministering it is important to find some time and space to go off by yourself, just you and Jesus, and get some rest. Remember earlier, Jesus said that Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. Part of the point there is that rest is for our benefit, we should take it regularly.

The next story is prototypical of the life of a follower of Jesus. You see a real need, so you pray, telling Jesus about the need, maybe even making a suggestion about how to solve it. Sometimes (not all the time), Jesus responds, “You do it.” You hear that and quickly realize that you do not have the resources to do whatever it is. It’s not just that you don’t think you have enough, you literally don’t have enough. Not even close. What you have is laughably paltry compared to the need. Then you step out and begin to do it and you wind up having a lot more than you needed. An abundance. Enough to meet the need and then some. This same process gets played out over and over again. We still tend to freak out each time, but Jesus still comes through each time.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 1/24


Mark 6:14-29

14 Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” 15 Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.”

16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.”

17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.

21 Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. 22 Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. “Ask me for anything you like,” the king said to the girl, “and I will give it to you.” 23 He even vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!”

24 She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?”

Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!”

25 So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!”

26 Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner to the prison to cut off John’s head and bring it to him. The soldier beheaded John in the prison, 28 brought his head on a tray, and gave it to the girl, who took it to her mother. 29 When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they came to get his body and buried it in a tomb.


What to say about this strange story? It really interrupts the narrative flow, but not any more than the trip to Nazareth did. Between these two stories, Mark 6 is not starting off as an encouraging chapter (it will get dramatically better tomorrow and Friday). It is interesting that Jesus was doing so many miraculous things that Herod concludes he must be someone from beyond (this story foreshadows both the crucifixion and resurrection).

From a practical standpoint, what stands out to me is verse 20: “Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.” Herod had (unjustly) imprisoned John to please Herodias, but he also liked listening to John, as though John were Herod’s caged pet, brought out to preach, to entertain, when it suited Herod, when Herod wanted to feel disturbed, then left in his cell, out of earshot the rest of the time.

Some Christians treat Jesus this way, trotting him out when it suits them, when they want to feel something (even disturbed) but then shut away, removed from the everyday realities of life the rest of the time. There are also people who enjoy arguing about faith, having back-and-forth theological arguments confrontations dialogues. But neither of these forms of entertainment effects any change in the participant. Life with Jesus is not about vain discussions or only momentary emotional releases. Life with Jesus is full of action. Prayer, healing, miracles, life transformations. Life with Jesus is about real stuff. What Herod had was not real, nothing John said had any effect on him at all. Don’t let your life with Jesus be such that it has no effect on you at all. And don’t waste words with people who just want to argue. Neither ends well.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.