4 February 2016

Mark 6:53-56

“When they got out of the boat, people at once recognised him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they hear he was.” (vv. 54-55)

Psalm: Psalm 29


Today's passage follows on from Jesus calming the disciples' fears, as they finally crossed over to the other side of the lake and moored their boat at Gennesaret. But if Jesus' intentions were, as he said to the disciples at the beginning of this whole section (Mark 6:31), to "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while", then he was going to be disappointed. From the moment they got out of the boat people at once recognised him and rushed around the whole neighbourhood to bring to him those in need of healing.

It's only a short passage, but it brings home two very important things. The first is to demonstrate just how fast and how far the news about Jesus had spread. For "wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms" (v. 56) people come to seek Jesus out for help. This highlights a key theme or motif in Mark's Gospel which is often termed the 'Messianic secret'. It's about how, despite the fact that on numerous occasions Jesus told those who he had healed not to tell anyone about it (eg the household of Jairus after the healing of his daughter (Mark 5:43)), the news of Jesus' healing power seemed to spread even more. It's almost as if the more Jesus commanded people to keep quiet, the more the good news about him and his ministry breaks out all over.

The second is to emphasise the extent and range of Jesus' healing concern. Just as in the feeding of the 5,000 which precedes it, all those who were there ate their fill and there was enough and to spare, so here on the other side of the lake, Jesus healing presence was made available to everyone, from those who were brought and laid before him in the marketplaces to those could only "touch even the fringe of his cloak" (v. 56). Mark's Gospel tells us that "all who touched it were healed" (v. 56) and in this account it seems that there are no limits either to the healing power of Jesus or to the breadth of his concern.

To Ponder

  • This passage emphasises Jesus' healing power; how do Christians share in this ministry today?
  • Are there health service professionals in your church or fellowship? Try and find time to speak to them about their faith.
  • In the passage there seem no limits to the range of Jesus concern and care; how might this influence current discussions about health care provision and resources?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Stephen Wigley

Stephen Wigley is a Methodist minister currently serving as chair of the Wales Synod. He is married to Jenny, a priest in the Church in Wales, and they have two teenage sons, David and Andrew.