Note: This is an ongoing series of Ched’s brief comments on the Markan gospel readings from the Revised Common Lectionary during year B, 2015.
At this point in Mark’s narrative we are given some background on each of the three major “protagonists” of this story: Jesus (6:1-6), the disciples (7-13) and John the Baptist (14-29, the gospel for 7 Pentecost). These three episodes each concern “rejected prophets,” which opens up a central theme of the second half of the gospel: the cost of discipleship.
This narrative sequence begins with Jesus’ return “to his own country” (6:1). For a third time, he teaches in a synagogue on the Sabbath (see 1:21ff; 3:1ff), and for a third time he encounters opposition. But this time it is not from the authorities, but from his neighbors and kinfolk. They are suspicious of this local boy’s notoriety, objecting that he has no distinguished lineage (6:3). Because of the domesticating constraints of nationality, kinship and household expectations (6:4), the “prophet without honor” is unable to effect change in his hometown, and returns to his itinerant mission (6:5f).