Have you ever witnessed something so magical or experienced something so profound that you knew, even in that moment, that it would be one of the most remarkable days of your life?
One of my most remarkable days ever was the culmination of a semester abroad in Chile while I was attending college. I lived in Viña del Mar (literally Vine by the Sea) and my apartment was so close to the ocean, I could literally throw a pineapple out the window into the ocean. (And I know this because I did it, of course.) It was just magnificent.
(All Photos used in this Post were taken by the marvelous, talented photographer & friend Mackenzie Hernandez)
Chile is well-developed with a prosperous economy and a vibrant culture. Chile is well-known for open air street markets (called Ferías) and street vendors. In Chile, you don’t run by the local Kroger, Walmart, or superstore to pick up your groceries. Instead you go to the Fería for all your needs. My roommates and I lived a few miles from a street market, so each week we would strap on our backpacks and trek out to the fería to buy our produce, flowers, and grab an empanada (a Chilean baked dumpling that is positively divine, and usually filled with a meat and cheese mixture called Pino)
Mackenzie, Emily, Ashleigh, (my three closest friends in Chile) and I would divide up once we arrived at the market, and we would each do our best to buy what we needed for the week in our intermediate Spanish.
I will never forget the first day I walked into our open air market.
The vendors are loud and energetic, each loudly shouting their deals in their beautifully marked Kiosks. I walked around once, then twice, and finally spotted an unassuming middle aged man in cowboy boots and a Chilean cowboy hat.
“This guy looks like my dad…” I think, as I begin walking over to his stall and inspecting his produce.
He had hundreds of tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, and limes stacked to the ceiling of his stall.
“Ah, permiso Senor, cuánto cuestan los tomates? (excuse me sir, how much for the tomatoes?)
“Dos pesos por kilo.” (Two pesos for each Kilo.)
I peer over at the sign by his tomatoes. It is clearly marked 2 Pesos/Kilo.
So this guy isn’t trying to rip me off like some of the other vendors had tried to do. And his produce looks amazing. Much better than anything I’ve ever seen in the United States.
“Quísiera dos kilos de tomates, dos kilos de aguacates, un kilo de limas, y ahh… también cilantro?” (I would like two kilos of tomatoes, two kilos of avocados, one kilo of limes, and may I also have some cilantro?)
He stares at me.. No doubt wondering how I would eat all of that.
And right as I am exchanging money with him- Mackenzie, Em, and Ash round the corner and we are off bouncing and laughing to the next stall. I stop and turn around almost forgetting my manners.
“Muchas Gracias, Senor.” (thank you, sir.)
“Era un placer, Senorita.” (it was a pleasure, miss.)
We eventually exchanged names. He asked why we were in Chile. I told him we were studying, abroad and he reminded me in some ways of my dad. He told me about his family, how he got his start in farming, and how he had lost a daughter tragically a few years ago.
I visited Juan Carlos’ stall every week (sometimes twice a week) for three months. Always the same magnificent produce, always the same price.
Towards the end of the semester, Juan Carlos and his son, also named Juan Carlos, invited us to their home a few miles away to see their farm.
We took the metro out there, and learned about how they grew their produce. We talked of their land, their family, their country, and their dreams. We sat at Juan Carlos table eating Onces (Chilean version of supper) and I knew then sitting next to my friend that this was one of the most special days of my life.
After three months of practicing Spanish, of buying Avocados from a cowboy who reminded me of my dad, I realized. . . despite language barriers, cultural barriers, and the miles that existed between our worlds, I had a deep bond with someone who looked nothing like me, who did not share my worldview, and not even my heart language.
And despite all the obstacles, which seemed so insurmountable on that first day of market, I had made a friend who I could never, not in a million years, ever forget.
Jesus’ disciples had some unforgettable memories too.
There is one particular story during Jesus life that all four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record. The story is how Jesus fed 5,000 men (not including the number of women and children present) with five loaves of bread and two fish. This made such an indelible impression on the first disciples that every single gospel writer chronicled the events of this miracle.
Mark 6 recounts a flurry of events happening in the first year of Jesus ministry. Jesus goes back to his hometown of Nazareth, and he faces his old childhood friends and people who knew his family. These people ask the right questions about Jesus, yet they doubt Jesus. The people were so disenchanted with him that hardly anyone came to him for healing. The text even tells us that Jesus was amazed by their disbelief.
We will read that Jesus decides to send his disciples out into the surrounding cities to preach and teach as he himself had been doing. Remember that Jesus disciples were not just learning what Jesus knew; no, they also wanted to do what their Rabbi did. This is when their individual ministries for Jesus begin.
We will also read a sickening story about John the Baptist, who was first introduced to us in Chapter one of Mark. John the Baptist was the crazy man in the wilderness, who ate locusts and honey, and who baptized Jesus. He was teaching that people everywhere should repent, but this wasn’t exactly welcome news with the religious leaders and Pharisees of the day. He ruffled a lot of feathers, and Mark six narrates the end of his ministry.
Last but certainly not least, we will learn about hungry crowds who followed Jesus into the wilderness. They were hungry after being with him for a long time. In compassion, Jesus asks his disciples to give the crowds something to eat. They are incredulous at what he is asking them to do. You will have to read Mark six to learn what happens.
This story, which probably seems so unbelievable to you, was one that the disciples never forgot. It was so impressed into Mark by the Disciple Peter, that even Mark mentions this fantastic event.
As you Read Mark Six,
Remember the Big Question and the Two Diverging Roads
“Just who is this man?” Think through what we know about Jesus so far and what he has been able to do. If someone were to show up in your hometown that you had known from birth doing all the things that Jesus did, how do you think you would react? Would you think him crazy? Would you believe him?
The 12 Disciples talk the Rabbi Talk and Walk the Rabbi Walk
Jesus has been going around village to village healing lepers, casting out demons, and raising a child from the dead with twelve men in tow who are watching him do these works. Now it’s time for the disciples to go out there and do the same things they have seen. Notice, do they actually do it? And what do they do differently than Jesus?
Type Herod Antipas and John the Baptist into your Google search bar
Many people have insisted that the bible is made up. We must evaluate the credibility of the stories presented to us, and we also must decide for ourselves if we believe them to be true. Many bible scholars have concluded that the gospel writers did not mention the dates and times of when events occured because they were more interested in presenting a case for the Life of Jesus- who he was, how he acted, and what he did. But occasionally, we are given historic places and other historic names (outside of Jesus and the other people we are learning about) that are found in our history textbooks. Herod Antipas was a real Roman tetrarch, and he governed Jerusalem during this crucial time of Jesus life. Mark occasionally writes about other real historical figures if they are pertinent to the story of Jesus. In this particular instance, Herod Antipas’ name is a needed mention. This is important for me (may not be as awe-inspiring to you!) but it does adds credibility to the historicity of Jesus Christ. Also, PSA, the story is about to get gruesome and tells of an unlawful marriage between Herod Antipas and a young girl, this same girl giving a sexualized dance for dinner guests, and John the Baptist’s head being chopped off. It’s not a feel good story, but it is important for our studies.
Check out what Jesus can do with the contents of a little kid’s lunchbox
Jesus precluded this miraculous event by the parables he spoke in Mark 4. He taught them the secrets of the Kingdom of God, saying that the Kingdom of God was like a mustard seed. That something small could turn into something much larger than we ever could have imagined? Evidently, the laws of scarcity don’t apply in Jesus’ Kingdom.
Now onto the good stuff:
Mark 6 English Standard Version (ESV)
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
6 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
And he went about among the villages teaching.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.[a] 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
The Death of John the Baptist
14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’[b] name had become known. Some[c]said, “John the Baptist[d] has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not,20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee.22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s[e] head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[f] worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Jesus Walks on the Water
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night[g] he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.