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Mark  ◦   Chapter 6

1Jesus and his disciples returned to his home in Nazareth.2On Sabbath, he went to the local worship center and began to teach. Those who heard him were astounded. "How does he know all this?" they asked. "What he says makes sense and has power to actually change lives!"3But some objected, "Wait a minute! He's just the son of a carpenter. You remember him, don't you? He's Mary's boy, the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. His sisters still live here, don't they?" So they discounted the truth he taught.

4Jesus told them, "Sadly, the people who grow up with God's spokespersons — their neighbors and family — are the ones who refuse to listen or embrace the wisdom they bring."5He could not do much to help them; only a few of the sick let him lay hands on and heal them.6He was astounded at their refusal to trust him, so he moved on, teaching from one town to the next.7He sent the Twelve out in pairs and gave them the ability to overcome evil agencies.

8He told them: "Don't pack anything for this trip, except a walking stick. Don't take food, luggage, or money in your wallets.9Wear comfortable walking shoes, but don't take extra clothes.10If you accept someone's hospitality, then stay at that home until you leave town.11But if any place opposes you or refuses to listen, don't waste time fighting to be heard; just shake off the rejection like dust off your feet, and your grace in the face of rejection will be a witness to them."

12So they went out and proclaimed the Remedy, admonishing people to turn away from their terminal condition.13They drove away many evil forces, tended to the sick, applied oil, and healed them.

14All of these events were reported to King Herod, because Jesus was becoming famous and everyone was talking about him. Some people were even suggesting, "He is John the Baptist resurrected from the dead, so that would explain his power to work miracles."

15But others argued, "No way! He is Elijah!" Still others said, "No! He is one of God's spokesmen, like those in the past."

16But Herod, when he heard about Jesus, said, "It is John, the innocent man I beheaded. He's come back to life!"

17Herod was guilt-ridden, because he had personally ordered for John to be arrested, and had him shackled and imprisoned. He arrested John because Herodias, to whom he was married, was his brother Philip’s wife, and18John had exposed his wrongdoing. He had told Herod, "To take your brother's wife as your own violates God's law of love."19This outraged Herodias who resented John and plotted to kill him; but she couldn't,20because Herod knew that John was a righteous man — a messenger from God — and was afraid to harm him. Herod, living in sin as he did, was confused by what John taught, but still liked to listen to him, so he protected John.

21But Herodias finally got her chance: Herod threw a huge party on his birthday, inviting powerful politicians, military commanders and business leaders from Galilee.22Herodias' daughter amazed them with her dancing. She was so incredible that Herod said to her, "Ask me for anything — anything at all — and I will give it to you. '23He made a promise in front of all his guests, with an oath, "I will give you whatever you choose, even if it is half of my kingdom."

24She ran to her mother, "Mom, what should I request?" Herodias answered immediately, "The head of John the Baptist."

25The girl rushed back to the king and said, "I want you to bring me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

26Herod was sick, torn, and angry, but because he gave a public oath in front of his guests, he didn't want to tell her No.27So he sent the headman with orders to bring back John's head. The man went to the prison and severed John's head28and brought it back on a platter and gave it to the girl, who gave it to her mother.29When John's disciples heard he had been executed, they retrieved his body and buried it in a tomb.

30The Twelve Ambassadors met with Jesus and gave an account of all they had taught and done.31But it was so busy with the traffic of people that they didn't even have time to eat, so Jesus said to them, "Let's go someplace quiet where we can relax and unwind together."

32So they took a boat and headed to an isolated place.33But many of the people who saw them leave recognized where they were headed and spread the word; and people from all the towns nearby ran and got there ahead of them.34When Jesus arrived at shore and saw the large crowd already waiting there, his heart stirred with longing for their healing, for they were wandering in confusion about God, like sheep wandering without a shepherd to guide them. So he presented them with many truths about God's kingdom of love.

35It was approaching dinner time, so his disciples came to him and said, "It's getting late and we're in the middle of nowhere.36End the meeting so people can go to nearby towns and find something to eat."

37But Jesus told his disciples, with all seriousness, "No need to do that; you give them something to eat." Startled, they replied, "Are you serious? That much food would cost almost an entire year's pay! Do you really want us to spend that much on bread to give away?"

38So Jesus asked them, "How much food do you have with you?" They checked and replied, "Five loaves of bread and two fish."

39Jesus instructed them to have the crowd break into smaller groups and sit down on the green grass,40so the people sat down in groups of fifties or hundreds.41Then Jesus looked to heaven, gave thanks, and broke the loaves, handing the pieces to the disciples, who gave them to the people. He did the same with the fish.42The entire crowd ate until they were full,43and the disciples collected twelve basketfuls of leftover fish and bread.44The number of men who ate (not even counting women and children) was five thousand.

45As soon as the meal was concluded, Jesus instructed his disciples to sail ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.46When he was alone, he climbed the mountainside and talked with his Father in heaven.

47That night, Jesus was alone on shore, while the boat was out in the middle of the lake.48The disciples were heading into a strong wind, and Jesus could see that they were rowing hard but making little headway. Around four o’clock in the morning, Jesus approached them, walking on the surface of the water. It appeared as if he was about to walk right past them,49and when they saw him walking on the water, they freaked out thinking he was some ghost.50They screamed in terror when they saw him, but he immediately reassured them, "Don't be frightened. It's me! Everything will be okay now."51And as he stepped into the boat, the wind stopped and it was calm. They were stunned and confused,52as they were still trying to comprehend the significance of feeding thousands of people with five loaves and two fish. Their minds couldn’t grasp all that was happening.

53After they crossed the lake, they anchored at Gennesaret.54And as soon as they made it to shore, people recognized Jesus.55Quickly word about Jesus spread through the region, and crowds gathered, bringing their sick (some they carried on mats) to wherever they thought Jesus would be.56No matter where he went — small hamlets, towns, cities, or out in the countryside — the people brought their sick. They begged to touch him — even just the edge of his coat — and everyone who did, was healed.