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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.