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Passage: Mark 6:14-56

Mark 6:14-56 – Yeast of Herod, Feeding of Five Thousand, and Hardening Disciples’ Hearts


This collection of stories centers on table customs and significant events that occur around meals.


The story of Herod's banquet inaugurates this part of the Gospel. The cycle of events begins with Herod's self-indulgence, his pleasure at the dancing of Herodias's daughter, and the conniving of Herodias to have John the Baptist put to death (6:14-29). Later Jesus will recall this story, warning the disciples about the "yeast of Herod" (8:15). The feeding of the five thousand on the western side of the Sea of Galilee (6:30-44) stands in stark contrast to the banquet story and teaches about Jesus' compassion, since he regards the people as "like sheep without a shepherd" (6:34). Later Jesus will recall this story also, asking the disciples about the number of baskets filled with leftover pieces of bread (8:19). The disciples' crossing the sea to Bethsaida (6:45-52) brings forth their blindness to the sign manifested by Jesus' feeding, "for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened" (6:52). The sea journey continues with a crossing to Gennesaret, where Jesus' ministry of healing continues (6:53-56).