Lesson 37: Mark 6

“Lesson 37: Mark 6,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 37,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 37

Mark 6


Jesus was rejected in His hometown of Nazareth. He sent forth the Twelve Apostles to preach the gospel. John the Baptist was killed by order of Herod Antipas. Jesus miraculously fed a multitude of more than five thousand people, walked on water, calmed a storm, and healed the sick.

Suggestions for Teaching

Mark 6:1–29

Jesus is rejected in Nazareth and sends forth the Twelve; John the Baptist’s death is recounted

Begin class by inviting students to think about the last time they felt pressure to do something that they knew was not right.

Write the following statement on the board (this statement is found in “Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 37):

“Individuals who do wrong want you to join them because they feel more comfortable in what they are doing when others do it also” (Richard G. Scott).

  • What are some examples of how others may try to pressure you to do something that you know is wrong?

Invite students to look for a truth as they study Mark 6 that can help them avoid giving in to negative peer pressure.

Summarize Mark 6:1–16 by explaining that Jesus preached in His hometown of Nazareth. However, because of the people’s unbelief He did not perform many miracles among them. While there, Jesus sent the Twelve Apostles out two by two to preach the gospel. While preaching the gospel, they also cast out devils and healed the sick. When Herod heard about the many miracles that Jesus performed, he feared that John the Baptist had risen from the dead and was performing these miracles.

Explain that Mark 6:17–29 provides an account of what had happened to John the Baptist. Invite a student to read Mark 6:17–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Herod had done to John the Baptist.

  • According to these verses, what had Herod done to John and why?

Explain that the Herod mentioned in these verses is Herod Antipas, who governed the regions of Galilee and Perea following the death of his father, Herod the Great. Herod Antipas had divorced his wife and married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. This act was a blatant violation of Jewish law (see Leviticus 18:16), and John the Baptist had vocally condemned it. John’s opposition to this marriage angered Herodias, so Herod imprisoned John to appease her.

Invite a student to read Mark 6:19–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Herodias wanted to do with John the Baptist.

  • What did Herodias want to do with John the Baptist?

  • Why couldn’t she have him killed? (Because Herod feared John and knew him to be a man of God; see also Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 6:21 [in Mark 6:20, footnote b] for more about how Herod felt about John the Baptist.)

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Mark 6:21–29. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Herod did to John the Baptist.

  • According to verse 26, how did Herod feel about killing John the Baptist?

  • Why did Herod have John beheaded if he knew it was wrong and did not want to do it? (You may want to suggest that students mark the phrase “for their sakes which sat with him,” which indicates Herod was concerned about the opinion of those who sat with him.)

  • What principle can we learn from Herod’s choices about what happens when we try to please others instead of doing what is right? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: Seeking to please others instead of doing what we know is right can lead to wrong choices, sorrow, and regret.)

To help students further understand this truth, put them in groups of two to four and ask them to come up with several examples of situations in which youth must choose between seeking to please others and doing what they know is right. After sufficient time, invite each group to report. As they do, write some of their examples on the board.

  • In what ways have you seen that giving in to pressures like these examples brings sorrow and regret?

  • When have you seen someone choose to do what was right instead of seeking to please others?

  • What can help us choose to do what we know is right instead of seeking to please others?

Invite students to ponder their upcoming week and identify possible situations in which they may need to choose between pleasing others and doing what is right. Encourage them to plan how they will respond to this pressure should they experience it.

Mark 6:30–44

Jesus miraculously feeds more than five thousand people

Invite students to consider the following situation: A newly called missionary is very nervous to depart on his or her mission. This person is not a good speaker and struggles in social settings.

  • What would you tell this young missionary?

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Mark 6:30–44 that could help this young missionary and all of us when we feel inadequate to do what the Lord has asked of us.

Summarize Mark 6:30–33 by explaining that the Twelve Apostles returned from preaching the gospel and reported to Jesus what they had done and taught. Jesus and the Twelve Apostles boarded a ship to travel to a place where they could be alone and rest. However, people from several nearby towns went to where Jesus would land and were awaiting Him when He arrived.

Invite a student to read Mark 6:34 aloud, and ask the class to look for how the Savior responded to the multitude.

  • What do you think the phrase “they were as sheep not having a shepherd” means?

Explain that after teaching the multitude all day, the Savior performed a great miracle. To help students understand this miracle, group them in pairs and give each pair a copy of the following handout. Invite each pair to read together Mark 6:35–44 and Matthew 14:18 and then number the events on the handout in chronological order.

Media Icon
Instead of having students read this account in the scriptures, you could show the video “The Feeding of the 5,000” (2:52) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos and ask students to number the events on the handout in chronological order based on what they see in the video. This video is available on

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

The Feeding of the 5000

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 37

  • ____ The Savior multiplied what the disciples brought, meeting and surpassing what was needed.

  • ____ The disciples said they had five loaves and two fishes.

  • ____ The disciples proposed sending the people away to buy food.

  • ____ The Savior asked what the disciples could provide.

  • ____ The Savior told the disciples to give the people food.

  • ____ The multitude had nothing to eat.

  • ____ The Savior asked the disciples to give Him what they had.

After students have had sufficient time to complete this activity, review the answers as a class. (The correct sequence of answers is 7, 5, 2, 4, 3, 1, 6.)

  • How many people were fed? (Explain that the Greek text of Mark 6:44 makes clear that the phrase “five thousand men” meant five thousand adult males. Thus, the number fed was likely greater, considering that women and children were also present [see also Matthew 14:21].)

Point out that before performing this miracle, the Savior first asked His disciples to offer the five loaves and two fishes—which was all that they had—to Him.

  • What principle can we learn from this miracle about what the Savior can do when we offer Him all that we have? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: When we offer the Savior all that we have, He can magnify our offering to accomplish His purposes. Write this principle on the board.)

To help students understand this principle, remind them of the situation of the nervous, newly called missionary mentioned earlier.

  • Despite the weaknesses of this young man or woman, what might the Savior ask this missionary to bring to Him? (The Savior invites all who seek to accomplish His purposes to give Him all of their desires, abilities, talents, skills, strengths, gifts, and efforts [see Omni 1:26; 2 Nephi 25:29].)

  • What would be the result if this missionary gave all he or she had to the Savior?

  • What are some other situations a young member of the Church might face where knowing this principle would be helpful?

Invite students to ponder and write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals how the Lord has magnified their efforts to enable them to do what He has asked of them. Consider inviting a few students to share with the class what they wrote, if they feel comfortable doing so.

Share your testimony that when we offer the Savior all that we have, He can magnify our offering to accomplish His purposes. Encourage students to apply this principle in their lives.

Mark 6:45–56

Jesus walks on water and heals the sick

Summarize Mark 6:45–56 by explaining that after Jesus fed the five thousand, He instructed His disciples to enter a ship and sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He then sent the multitudes away. During the night a storm arose, and the Savior watched from a mountain as His disciples struggled but made no progress in their journey. He then walked on the water to them, the storm calmed, and they arrived safely on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

  • In this case, how did the Lord’s power enable the disciples to accomplish what He had instructed them to do?

Consider concluding the lesson by inviting students who are willing to share their feelings or testimonies of the truths discussed today.

Commentary and Background Information

Mark 6:26. “For their sakes which sat with him”

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided some ideas that can help youth resist negative peer pressure:

“You can’t please God without upsetting Satan, so you will get pressure from those he tempts to do wrong. Individuals who do wrong want you to join them because they feel more comfortable in what they are doing when others do it also. They may also want to take advantage of you. It is natural to want to be accepted by peers, to be part of a group—some even join gangs because of that desire to belong, but they lose their freedom, and some lose their lives. One of the hardest things for you to recognize is how truly strong you already are and how others silently respect you. We have great confidence in you. You don’t need to compromise your standards to be accepted by good friends. The more obedient you are, the more you stand for true principles, the more the Lord can help you overcome temptation. You can also help others because they will feel your strength. Let them know about your standards by consistently living them. Answer questions about your principles when you are asked, but avoid being preachy. I know from personal experience that works.

“No one intends to make serious mistakes. They come when you compromise your standards to be more accepted by others. You be the strong one. You be the leader. Choose good friends and resist peer pressure together” (“Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 37).

Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy taught the following about peer pressure:

“Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, ‘Fear ye not the reproach of men’ (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7). In Lehi’s dream, this fear was triggered by the finger of scorn pointed from the great and spacious building, causing many to forget which way they faced and to leave the tree ‘ashamed’ (see 1 Nephi 8:25–28).

“This peer pressure tries to change a person’s attitudes, if not behavior, by making one feel guilty for giving offense. We seek respectful coexistence with those who point fingers, but when this fear of men tempts us to condone sin, it becomes a ‘snare’ according to the book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 29:25). The snare may be cleverly baited to appeal to our compassionate side to tolerate or even approve of something that has been condemned by God. For the weak of faith, it can be a major stumbling block. For example, some young missionaries carry this fear of men into the mission field and fail to report the flagrant disobedience of a companion to their mission president because they don’t want to offend their wayward companion. Decisions of character are made by remembering the right order of the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). When these confused missionaries realize they are accountable to God and not to their companion, it should give them courage to do an about-face” (“Which Way Do You Face?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 9).

Mark 6:35–44. The feeding of the five thousand

President James E. Faust of the First Presidency taught that the Savior’s power to multiply the loaves and fishes shows that He will magnify our faithful efforts to serve in His Church, even if we feel that our efforts are equal to only a few loaves and fishes:

“Many nameless people with gifts equal only to five loaves and two small fishes magnify their callings [in the Church] and serve without attention or recognition, feeding literally thousands. … These are the hundreds of thousands of leaders and teachers in all of the auxiliaries and priesthood quorums, the home teachers, the Relief Society visiting teachers. These are the many humble bishops in the Church, some without formal training, but greatly magnified, always learning, with a humble desire to serve the Lord and the people of their wards. …

“A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted people who have only five loaves and two small fishes to offer in the service of the Master” (“Five Loaves and Two Fishes,” Ensign, May 1994, 5, 6).