What does Mark 6:5 mean?
ESV: And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
NIV: He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
NASB: And He could not do any miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
CSB: He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
NLT: And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
KJV: And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
NKJV: Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
Verse Commentary:
This passage is the subject of much discussion and debate. Matthew 13:58 says Jesus "did not" do many miracles, but the Greek root word from which "could not" is taken is dunamai, and the phrase simply means to be unable, to be incapable. How could Jesus' power be limited by the reaction of people? Understanding this requires only that we interpret the writer's meaning as we would other words or statements.

In repeated instances, faith is the conduit by which Jesus' healing power flows (Mark 2:5, 11–12; 5:34; 10:52), though not always (Mark 3:1–6; 4:35–41; 6:35–44). Those saved from demon possession surely show no signs of faith prior to being freed, though the demons know Jesus' capabilities (Mark 1:23–26; 5:6–13). It could be that Jesus simply does no mighty works in Nazareth because no one asks Him. Perhaps only a few injured and sick show up, the rest staying home in their unbelief, until the crowd drives Him out of town and tries to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29).

More reasonably, Jesus "could not" do many mighty works because it would be strategically and spiritually unwise. This is an example of using terms like "cannot" relative to some goal or process. For example, in certain sports, we might say a player "cannot" cross a certain line. We don't mean they're physically unable—we mean they cannot cross that line if they want to stay within the boundaries of the game. Miracles may pique the curiosity of seeking people, but when faced with the unexplainable a hardened heart will make up whatever excuse is necessary to avoid submission.

A prophet is identified by the God-powered miracles he performs. If a person has already rejected the prophet, he will reject the miracle, thus becoming even more resistant to the message. This cycle can push people further away from God instead of drawing them near. Since Jesus' intent is to promote faith through His miracles, He "cannot"—meaning He chooses not to—perform them in Nazareth.
Verse Context:
Mark 6:1–6 somewhat fulfills the wishes of Jesus' family that He come home (Mark 3:21). Unfortunately, this homecoming does not go well. The Nazarenes' welcome is closer to that of Jesus' family's than to the mobs that flock to be healed in the rest of Galilee. The Nazarenes recognize the truth of Jesus' preaching, but reject Him, especially after He claims to be the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus can do few miracles there, because their lack of faith conflicts with His intent to provide miracles only for the faithful. Jesus' hometown population is so irate with Him that they try to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29). These events are also found in Matthew 13:53–58. Luke 4:16–30 records an extended version.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth, but the people there are faithless and skeptical. As a result, Jesus performs no more than a few minor miracles. He then assigns His twelve apostles to travel in pairs, preaching repentance and healing various conditions. Mark then takes a brief detour to explain the death of John the Baptist, beheaded after Herod Antipas is tricked by his wife. The focus then returns to Jesus, explaining His miraculous feeding of thousands of people, walking on water, and healing people in Gennesaret.
Chapter Context:
Even as the Twelve are given opportunity to wield some of Jesus' power and authority, they still struggle to understand. They misinterpret who He is, what He has come to do, and how much He will ask of them. They fear Jesus' display of deity, but seem to dismiss the murderous rejection of His hometown and the death of John the Baptist. It's easy to have faith in a prophet who seems poised to rescue Israel from foreign rule. It is still beyond them to understand that He is actually God.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 5/25/2024 1:26:06 AM
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