6:1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his
disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these
things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that
he even does miracles! 3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's
son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his
sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to
them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house
is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there,
except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was
amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from
village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two
by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. 8 These were his
instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff- -no bread,
no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.
10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11
And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust
off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." 12 They
went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many
demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
There are four sermons on this page.
do you know about Jesus, quiz. What
was Jesus favourite food? ( We don't know, not pork sausages! ) How
tall was Jesus? What
colour was his hair? ( We don't know but it probably wasn't long. 1
Corinthians 11:14 "Does not the very nature of things teach you
that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,"
was his birthday? ( almost certainly not 25th December !) What
colour eyes did he have ( probably not blue like Robert Powell ! ) Did
Jesus have a beard? ( We don't know for certain. It isn't in the
Bible though the OT law, Leviticus 19.27 says “‘Do not cut the
hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
do you deal with apparently conflicting evidence? Do you go back to
dearly and long held prejudices, or are you open to the truth? This
was what the residents of Nazareth were faced with as Jesus returned
to his home town for the second time since he began his public
ministry. There were members of his own family, neighbours, and
4.16-30 records the first time Jesus returned to Nazareth. He went
to the synagogue, read from Isaiah 61 and told them this prophecy
pointed to himself. He was chased out of the town and people wanted
to murder him.
Jesus to return was, then, both an act of grace and bravery. He
wanted people to hear his words, believe and be put right with God.
This time, however, they were indifferent and mistrustful. Mistrust
is not to have confidence in someone. Most of the inhabitants of
Nazareth didn't trust Jesus. Why?
Because they thought they knew him.
were amazed at his teaching. The Greek word translated "amazed"
refers to being hit from one's place. So the best translation could
be that they were gobsmacked! They were gobsmacked by his teaching
and they had also heard about his miracles. Yet, they thought they
knew Jesus. They knew his mother, and his half-brothers and sisters.
knew of his trade, which he had probably continued after Joseph's
death. Jesus had probably made yokes for their cattle, made chairs
and tables for them. Perhaps he done some other building related work
like an extension, because the word for carpenter doesn't just mean
someone who only works with wood.
might have thought, "He did a fabulous job of making a yoke for
my cattle and his teaching is just as impressive, but I can't bring
myself to trust in his teaching. I trust in that yoke every time I
take my oxen out but not his words."
couldn't believe that God was at work in Jesus. They wouldn't trust
in what he was saying. Their failure to trust in Jesus meant that
they couldn't enjoy the blessings God had for them through Jesus. "5
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few
sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of
think the reason that he could not do miracles there is that just a
few people trusted Jesus enough to come forward. Maybe some who were
sick and infirm were discouraged from seeking Jesus' healing power
because of the mistrustful attitude of those around them.
saw last week how Jesus tested and developed the trust of Jairus and
the woman who had been bleeding. There was already some belief
there, Jesus increased that by talking to these two people, and Jesus
healed the woman and raised Jairus' daughter from death to life. Without
this environment of trust in Nazareth it was not right to perform any
miracles, other than to heal the few sick people who had the courage
and the commitment to come to Jesus.
says that those from Nazareth were offended by Jesus, the Greek word
is skandalizo, from which we get the word scandal. It was immaterial
that they knew Jesus in a superficial way. Like many people they
thought they knew this person and they made value judgements upon
him, condemning him as irrelevant, not worthy of trust. We see still
this going on today on an almost daily basis, for example in the
media and in Parliament.
Brooks said: “Familiarity breeds contempt, only with contemptible
things or among contemptible people.” The contempt shown by the
Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus Christ, but it said a great deal
the Bishop of St Alban's Clergy Conference recently, one of the main
speakers was Alister McGrath. He is a Christian author, scientist
and theologian. One of his recent books is called the "The
Dawkins Delusion". He said that everyone has a faith, they
believe or trust in something or someone. He argues that Dawkins is
as dogmatic in his beliefs as any fundamentalist. He made the point
that science is the wrong way try to prove or disprove God and that
science itself is not beyond questioning. For example, you cannot
use science to prove or disprove love, but does this mean that it
does not exist ?
argues that science and trust in God are not opposed to one another
but are explanations for two partially overlapping spheres of
existence, the physical and spiritual. He also points to many
leading scientists who are also Christians.
was amazed at their lack of faith in Him. The word translated amazed
often means to admire or marvel. So there may be an element of Jesus
almost admiring their obstinacy. They were not only Jews, God's
people, with the books of the Law and the Prophets that pointed to
Jesus, but they were also from his home town, some were even related
to him. So, Jesus marvelled that they couldn't bring themselves to
trust in Him, despite the evidence!
people from Nazareth would not know the blessings that could have
been poured upon them had they not been blind to what God was doing
through Jesus. They let their presuppositions, their prejudices,
their faith, if you like, stop them from receiving God's blessings. n
contrast the disciples went out having been given the authority of
Jesus, they trusted him, obeyed his instructions, preached, defeated
evil forces and healed the sick.
presuppositions, faith position do you hold?
trusts in something or someone. This may include money, possessions,
power, family, relationships, ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings,
this feature Jesus? If so, which one?
you willing to let your position, whatever it may be, to be changed
by meeting the true Jesus? Not what you think he is and is like. Not
by what you have been told, seen on television or in film. But by
reading the Bible, asking God's Spirit to guide you into the truth.
Then you can know the blessings that God has for you. Knowing Jesus
as your friend and helper. Having his love, joy and peace in your
life. Being able to talk with God in prayer. Looking forward to an
eternity in paradise with God and all the other believers from
history, as we discovered 2 weeks ago.
you want to find out more about Jesus please speak to me as you leave
this service and I will help you to be amazed at Jesus life and
teaching for your life.
is your picture of Jesus? Gentle Jesus meek and mild? Going
around loving and accepting everyone? Or challenging the
religious hypocrisy and complacency of the religious leaders ? Perhaps,
upsetting the tables of the money changers and traders in the temple
who had turned a place of worship into a market place? Obeying God as
he struggled with his forthcoming death in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Giving himself totally as he hung bleeding and dying on the cross?
3b And they took offence at him. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Why
were they offended? Because of their presuppositions about Jesus and
about God. They thought that they knew about Jesus. As a
result they were "offended" by him, or rather his teaching. The
Greek word translated "offended" ( NIV ) is skandalon, from which we
get the word scandal. It refers to tripping or stumbling over
something. They didn't trust in him, Jesus was amazed at their
"lack of faith". So he was limited in what he could do.
live in a society where people's presuppositions about Jesus and God
block them from receiving the blessings that he wants to give them.
They limit God by their lack of trust in him. Some people have
this picture of a gentle Jesus without taking on board his teaching
about sin and the need to repent. Some ignore his extravagant
claims to be God and man and the only way to God.
the skeptical people of Nazareth and written evidence outside the
gospels, some will not accept that he did miracles. Some do not
accept the resurrection. Sometimes the failure to believe is linked to
a picture of God that is not Christian but Deist.
is a belief that a supreme god created the universe, and that this and
other religious truth can be determined using reason and observation of
the natural world alone, without the need for trust in God. Deism
generally rejects the notion of divine intervention in human affairs,
such as by miracles and revelations. These views contrast with a
dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in, for example,
in Judeo-Christian, and Islamic teachings. Deism has been
described as God creating the world like a divine watchmaker, then
winding it up and then letting it work without intervening.
think that, for many people, they do not want to, or cannot trust in,
anything but themselves. This is what the Bible calls sin,
putting ourselves where God should be.
is fed by the values of the Western world which teaches that there is
no real authority other than our own opinion and so there are no moral
is also supported by the consumerist attitude of our society.
"The customer is always right. I am the customer, so I am always
right. I should get what I want."
materialistic nature of our society is linked to this also, as people
seek security, pleasure and worth in the thing they buy and possess.
is linked to our hedonism. In hedonism pleasure is the only thing
that is good for a person so I can do anything as long as it makes me
feel good. The true value of anything is to be measured about how
it makes someone feel. The church is not immune from this.
Some people may assess the value a church service about how it
makes them feel. Yet Jesus definition of acceptable worship, John
4:24., is that God has been worshipped in spirit and in truth.
What then, should our attitude be?
second half of our gospel and the epistle, 2 Cor. 12.2-10, tell
us. We are to trust completely and wholeheartedly in Jesus.
The disciples had to do this as they travelled with minimal
possessions, relying on God to provide supernatural power and people to
though he had a supernatural heavenly experience, relied upon God's
power, which was able to work because of Paul's weakness. We
cannot truly follow, worship and serve God until we give up our own
strength, intellect, will, and presupposition and totally trust in God.
We should welcome difficulties because this enables us to trust
God even more, rather tahn ourselves.
O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Looked at last week's gospel Mk 5:21-43 and saw how it was about two people, a woman and Jairus who trusted in Jesus This week's gospel is also about trusting in Jesus. The people of Nazareth did not trust Jesus. Jesus
was based in Capernaum but, 20 miles away was his hometown. Nazareth.
The Nazarenes acknowledges his miracles, wisdom/teaching. Didn't
recognize he had come from God. Looked to earthly family and
background. Carpenter, not teacher/healer. May even have been insulting
by calling him "Mary's son" because it would have been usual to call
him "Joseph's son". The Nazarenes had the privilege of growing up
alongside Jesus and his family. Yet this led them to rejected him.
Case of familiarity breeds contempt. Without
that trust it wouldn't be right for him to minister fully and he only
healed a few people. He had the power to heal as many as he wanted, but
he wouldn't do this without there being trust in him. Contrast
with woman and Jairus from last week. The woman trusted and was healed
of her bleeding. Jairus trusted and his daughter was raised from death.
Miracles can and do occur in the atmosphere of faith in Jesus. We,
like the Nazarenes who knew Jesus, have privileges today. The freedom
to worship, to own as many Bible and Christian books as we wish. To
share our faith with others without fear of persecution and death.
Material benefits, more than enough food, fresh, clean water,
sanitation, homes to live in, relative security. Contrast
this with others in the world. Do we respond with gratitude and wisely
use the gifts the Lord has entrusted to us? Or does familiarity bring
contempt and we do not recognize our blessings? After
the rejection of Jesus in his hometown he decided to concentrate where
his ministry would be appreciated. He did this by teaching form village
to village, verse 6. He also did this by sending out his disciples to
represent him. David
Hague, Vicar of St. Peter's, Broadwater, and I recently went to The
Lyton Arms together. They were holding a "Vicars and Tarts" disco and
we decided to go as Vicars! We had three really meaningful
conversations with groups of people. Sometimes we spoke separately to
people, sometimes we took it in turns. Having two of us meant we could
pray, support and encourage one another. I understand why Jesus sent
his disciples out in twos. In
the second part of today's reading the disciples were sent out in twos.
This would have been part of their training so they would be ready for
the time they would have to do it without Jesus being present, other
than by his Spirit. Jesus'
instructions in verses 8 to 9 meant that they would have to rely on
God. "no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not
an extra tunic" They
should also not offend their hosts by looking for better accommodation,
10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. The
disciples went out as the authorised representatives of Jesus to
minister with the power that he gave them. They proclaimed the good
news of Jesus in word and deed, inviting people to receive the good
news. To receive the good news people had to, and have to repent. To
make a new start with God, turning away from everything that they know
to be wrong and turning to follow Jesus. This mission was a foretaste
of the mission that would be entrusted solely to the disciples from the
day of Pentecost. Jesus
has just been rejected by his own townsfolk. His disciples could expect
rejection, too. After all, they were calling people to "repent", which
is not what many people want to hear! Devout
Jews would shake the Gentile dust off their feet and garments before
crossing the border back into Israel. This was to stop their home soil
being contaminated. It was an act of judgment upon people who did not
follow God. When Jesus' disciples were rejected they were to perform a
similar, symbolic act. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or
listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a
testimony against them." It symbolised a break in fellowship and a
renunciation of further responsibility for those who reject Jesus. It
is a reminder that people are responsible for their own eternal
destiny. If we share the good news of Jesus with them and they reject
it then they have to take responsibility. However, that doesn't mean
that we are to stop praying for people. When we looked at the parable
of the growing seed, 4:26-29, we discovered that faith may be growing
in an unseen way. Jesus wants people to trust in him. His home town "amazed" him at their lack of faith. Jesus
went to other villages and sent the disciples out to spread the good
news. He encouraged them to trust on God to provide for their physical
needs and the power they needed to teach, drive out demons and heal
our joint Pentecost Service we considered what it means for us to be
the body of Christ, ministering in Jesus' place with His authority in
the world. We are to be like him. To go out to people because "there is
no growing without the sowing". Some
of the seed will fail to grow, just as some rejected Jesus. We should
waste scarce resources in pursuing those who reject Jesus. We should
realize that many will reject Jesus. We should be sad for that person,
but we should not take this personally. Jesus warned his disciples to
expect rejection because he experienced rejected. General
William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, had lost his eyesight
and his son Bramwell was given the difficult task of telling his father
there would be no recovery. "Do you mean that I am blind?" the General
asked. "I hear we must contemplate that," his son replied. The father
continued,"I shall never see your face again?" "No, probably not in
this world." "Bramwell," said General Booth, "I have done what I could
for God and for His people with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for
God without my eyes." Just
as the disciples were sent out so they could only rely on God and his
power, so we are called to go out. However inadequate we might feel. In
fact, the more inadequate we feel the better! Then we are more likely
to rely on God than our own strength. It is only through God working
that someone can become a follower of Jesus. Archbishop
William Temple said that the church is the only voluntary organization
that exists solely for the benefit of non members. Some people in our
community think that we are insular, a middle-class club. Let us show
them that they are wrong and reach out to people in the name of Jesus.
In his strength and power. So that people would come to a personal
knowledge of his saving grace. Every
day this week I would like each one of us, as soon as we get up, to
pray that God would give us the opportunity and the power to share his
love with someone. Just that.
My sister used
to be a policewoman. After she had completed her training at Ryton near
Coventry she had to choose where she wanted to be stationed to complete
her training. She went to King's Lynn because she was not allowed to
return to her home town of Norwich. This was police policy because she
knew people who lived there, and this could make it difficult for her
to exercise her authority properly.
Jesus had just left
the place where he had brought Jairus' daughter back to life. He travelled
some 20 miles or so to his home town of Nazareth. As was the custom
with visiting teachers, Jesus was invited to expound the Jewish Scriptures
in the synagogue. The people were amazed at his teaching. Rather than
this leading to faith they questioned the source of his wisdom and power
in performing miracles. The inference was that his power could come
from God or the devil.
It is a challenge
to us today. Where does our power come from ? Does it come from out
own strength or intellect ? Does it come from our money and possessions,
our colour or the place where we are born ? The people of Nazareth could
not see the power of God because they were so inward looking, remembering
how Jesus had been a mere carpenter. They insulted him by calling him
'Mary's son'. It would have been normal to refer to the relationship
with someone's father at the time. For example in 3:18 the disciple
James is called the son of Alphaeus. This insult could have arisen from
the rumours that Jesus was illegitimate that circulated after his supernatural
conception. Jesus townsfolk were superficial, resentful and rude.
Verse 3 says, 'they took offence at him.'
The word translated
'took offence' is 'skandalon', from which we get the word scandal. It
is referring to being offended and repelled to the point of abandoning
someone, i.e. Jesus. This rejection is something that will be repeated
in Jesus' life, culminating in his death on the cross. The cross symbolised
not only the rejection of Jesus by those he had come to save, but also
the rejection of Jesus by God as he bore the punishment for the sin
of the world. By the time Mark was written, skandalon had become a technical
term for the effect of Christ's death on Israel.
Verse 4, Jesus
said to them, "Only in his hometown,
among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour." Jesus is quoting a proverb of the time. Today
we might say 'familiarity breeds contempt.' Jesus implies his place
in the tradition of the "prophets", whose message from God
is rejected again and again by their own people.
Jesus was rejected
by the people of Nazareth because they knew him. Around here it is the
opposite of and people can be rejected because they do not come from
Talke! One way in which we can live for God is to welcome everyone,
whatever their background, in the same way that the Lord welcomes us.
of Jesus reminds us of the importance of trust in him. It also reminds
us that, in the West, we live in a post-Christian age. That is to say,
Christianity has been widespread and many people would say that they
are familiar with it, although many of these people would have little
idea about the content of the gospel, or know any hymn other than 'All
things bright and beautiful'. This superficial familiarity breeds indifference,
if not contempt. People often speak to me of their allegiance to St.
Martin's yet do not support it in any way, other than coming to the
Verse 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his
hands on a few sick people and heal them. We have seen earlier in Mark that Jesus did not want to be known
as simply a miracle worker. Jesus requires faith on the part of those
who seek healing for themselves or for others (although there seem to
be a few exceptions, e.g John 5:13 the healing of the invalid
at the pool of Bethesda). Last week we saw how he wanted to heal people
spiritually as well as physically. He increased the faith of the
woman who had been healed of bleeding and of Jairus by talking to them.
Jesus only healed
a few people in Nazareth. Not because he could not, he still had the
same power. But the lack of faith meant that there was little point
in healing people physically because people were closed to him spiritually.
So Jesus chose not to heal many people. 6 And he was amazed at their
lack of faith. This is the only time in Mark's gospel that he refers
to Jesus being amazed which emphasizes the profound affect that this
had on Jesus.
Jesus then turns
his attention to the surrounding rural areas. No-one and no area was
unimportant to him. Verse 6 Then Jesus
went around teaching from village to village. Before
the days of jet travel and multimedia , religious and philosophical
ideas were principally spread by travelling teachers. Jesus had been
training his disciples. He had called them to be 'fishers of men', 1:17.
They had observed him in private and in his public ministry. He had
taught them as a small group as well as with the crowds. He had increased
their faith as they faced the storm together. Now was the time for them
to go out with the power of God that had been given to Jesus.
Verse 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by
two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
They were not on their own in that they went out in pairs. Also they
had Jesus' power to heal and drive out demons. This was like an apprentice
doing his first real job on his own after he had been taught and shown
how to do something.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians
12:9 refers to the power of God shining through our weakness. 9 But he ( God ) said to me, "My grace is sufficient
for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I
will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's
power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in
weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When we do something
for God we do not need to be confident that we can do it in our own
strength. Indeed, our confidence can be a barrier to God working, or
to him getting the glory for what we do. We are called to minister in
his name and totally trust in him and his power.
in God, and nothing else, is shown by the instructions that Jesus gives
his disciples. 8 "Take
nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money
in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. They could only take a staff, a tunic, and wear
sandals. The absolute minimum that was required. No bread, the staple
food of the day. They couldn't even take sandwiches, not that they had
been invented then ! The bag that they were prevented from taking was
probably a begging bag used by travelling teachers at the time. The
word for money refers to small change, so they could not even carry
some coppers. The extra tunic would have been like an overcoat to wear
during cold nights. The disciples had to depend totally upon God's sovereignty.
The ability of him to provide for their needs and find them lodgings
Jesus next instructions
are to prevent the disciples from offending people...10
Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. Travelling missionaries depended on local hospitality
and there were few inns. There were certain customs that would be observed
when offering and receiving hospitality. The Didache, an early Christian
document records some of these, "But concerning the apostles and
prophets, so do you according to the ordinance of the Gospel. Let every
apostle, when he comes to you, be received as the Lord; but he shall
not stay more than a single day, or if there be need, a second likewise;
but if he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when he departs
let the apostle receive nothing save bread, until he finds shelter;
but if he asks for money, he is a false prophet." In Jesus
day there was competition to see who could host the latest, most interesting
speaker, called a 'sophist'. Some richer hosts could have tried to tempt
the better 'sophists' away from their current host by offering improved
accommodation and meals. Jesus is saying to his disciples, 'Accept
what is offered to you first of all. Don't look for better accommodation,
even if it is offered. In doing so you may offend people.' Underneath
this is the Christian teaching that we should not pursue riches and
comfort at all costs, but accept what God has graciously given us.
the theme of the rejection of the gospel. 11
And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust
off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." In Jesus day a devout Jew would try to avoid travelling
on foreign soil. If this could not be avoided, they would rid
themselves of the foreign dust they had accumulated in their clothes
and shoes as soon as they returned to Israel. This was seen as a judgment
upon nations that had rejected the true God of Israel.
Jesus tells his
disciples to do a similar thing. Again we have the expectation that
some of the Jewish people would reject Jesus. It refers to the judgment
that will come to those who do not accept him. It shows that, from now
on, the people of God will not be determined by their race or religion,
but through a personal acceptance of Jesus.
They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove
out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. Mark's summary of the disciples' preaching echoes
his earlier summary of Jesus' preaching. 1:14f. says: "Now
after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good
news of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of
God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'" Verse 13: Olive oil was regularly used as a remedy
in the ancient world. In Luke 10:34 , it is used by the good Samaritan
in treating the wounds of the man who fell among bandits. James 5:14
says that "the elders of the church" to pray over the sick
person and anoint him or her with oil.
When we looked
at the earlier Chapters of Mark we saw how the words and miracles of
Jesus went together. For example, the casting out of demons authenticated
Jesus' claims that he had come to defeat evil and bring the rule of
God to earth. His healing showed that he had the power to undo the effects
of sin. Not that every person's illness was due to a specific sin, rather
that we have sickness in the world because sin is in the world.
went out as the authorised representatives of Jesus to minister with
the power that he gave them. They proclaimed the good news of Jesus
in word and deed, inviting people to receive the good news. To receive
the good news people had to, and have to repent. To make a new start
with God, turning away from everything that they know to be wrong and
turning to follow Jesus. This mission was a foretaste of the mission
that would be entrusted solely to the disciples from the day of Pentecost.
General William Booth,
the founder of the salvation Army had lost his eyesight and his son
Bramwell was given the difficult task of telling his father there would
be no recovery. "Do you mean that I am blind?" the General
asked. "I hear we must contemplate that," his son replied.
The father continued,"I shall never see your face again?"
"No, probably not in this world." "Bramwell," said
General Booth, "I have done what I could for God and for His people
with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for God without my eyes."
Jesus has not
returned yet. He continues to call those who are his disciples to minister
in his name, calling people to repent and believe the good news that
he has revealed to us.