MAIN TEXT: MARK 6:1-6
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
Who is Jesus? What did He do? Mark is showing us the answers through writing this gospel (a true account of how the victory was won). Today’s text does not leave these questions alone. The negative response of Jesus’ hometown to His teachings and miracles should cause us to ask some tough questions of ourselves. The identity of Jesus of Nazareth is still debated today. Everyone has an opinion – most people are not neutral – and many opinions fail to measure up to the full biblical portrait of Jesus.
In the gospel of Mark there is a pattern. The demons cry out Jesus’ identity and humans question it.
Demonic cries of Jesus’ identity:
- “I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24)
- “He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” (Mark 1:34)
- “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3:11)
- “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:7)
Human questions of Jesus’ identity:
- “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” (Mark 1:27)
- “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7)
- “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41)
- “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3)
- This pattern of declaration by demons and question by humans forces us to ask why humans cannot see and wonder if they will ever will see. What will it take for humans to recognize Jesus for who He is as the demons immediately do? Since Jesus still goes unrecognized we should be asking this question.
Jesus went to the village of Nazareth where He grew up. The population was between 150-450 people and less than sixty acres – so Jesus probably knew almost everyone in the town. According to Luke 4 this was Jesus’ second visit to his hometown. Previously, they initially were impressed with His teaching but turned on Him and attempted to murder Him (Luke 4:28-30). This time Jesus returns home with His 12 disciples.
Jesus is rejected and treated poorly by His own family and friends who knew Him best. How do we treat this Servant King? It is critically important that we see Jesus as He truly is and as he is revealed in Scripture – not as we might hope, wish, or want Him to be.
Are you only amazed?
The disciples are about to receive a tough lesson that will be instructive for their future ministry assignment. What Jesus experiences, they will too.
Being astonished at His teachings is not enough. Jesus teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Once again, the people were astonished, overwhelmed, and struck by what they were hearing from the son of Joseph (Luke 4:22) and Mary (verse 3). Their amazement again turns to skepticism (verses 2-3).
They have five questions that they begin to bat around among themselves:
- Where did this man get these things?
- What is the wisdom given to Him?
- How are the miracles performed by His hands?
- Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?
- Are not His sisters here with us?
They did not deny that He did these things – they questioned how Jesus got the authority to do these things. Obviously they had not concluded that His teaching, authority, and miracles came from God – some credited it to Satan (Mark 3:22).
Being captivated by His miracles is not enough. Many miracles have been recorded to this point in Mark’s gospel (leper, paralyzed man, deformed hand, storm and sea, demonic man, bleeding woman, Jairus’ daughter, and references to many more). His hometown doesn’t deny these miracles, but these do not bring them to faith. They cannot reconcile what Jesus has done with who they think He must be!
His background will not impress you, but so what? The derisive comments peak in verse 3: Isn’t this the carpenter? This is a commoner that works with his hands. Isn’t this the son of Mary? This was a cheap shot at the scandal of His birth. According to Paul, when you evaluate people according to human criteria, you will come up with the wrong answer (2 Corinthians 5:16). When you look at gospel messengers from God’s perspective, you see divine treasure in earthen vessels and jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). Those who evaluate Jesus by outward and human criteria will miss the truth about Him.
Are you offended?
The people of Nazareth want a glorious supernatural Jesus whose credentials are obvious. They refuse to believe that God would disclose himself in the humanity of Jesus who comes from a humble family. Responses to Jesus will vary (1 Corinthians 1:23).
In spite of clear evidence, you may reject Him. They can’t deny His miracles. They can’t handle His teachings. In spite of the overwhelming evidence they will not believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus’ miracles convey a clear and unobstructed view of Jesus’ mission and authority – but the miracles do not automatically produce faith.
In spite of close proximity, you may dishonor Him. Verse 4 has become famous. Those who knew Him best rejected him. They knew Him but could not explain Him. His hometown, His relatives, even His own household cast their ballot against Him.
Are you guilty of unbelief?
Unbelief limits Jesus. Verse 5 raises a huge question. How could the all-powerful Son of God be bound and limited by the unbelief of Nazareth? The answer is simple and profound. He could not do miracles because he would not do miracles in the face of blatant unbelief. Morally and spiritually He was constrained not to reveal His power in an environment of rejection and unbelief. Still some were healed.
Unbelief amazes Jesus. Jesus is amazed just twice in scripture. In Luke 7:9 he is amazed at the faith of a Roman Centurion who believed that He could heal from a distance with just a word. In verse 6, He is amazed at the unbelief of those in His hometown.
LORD I BELIEVE; HELP MY UNBELIEF!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 6:1-6
Why might the people in Jesus’ hometown have resented Him? Is the response of a person’s hometown and family a reliable indicator of whether the “prophet” is genuine and legitimate?
Should we avoid offending people when we tell them about Jesus?
Are you familiar and comfortable with any “famous” person? Do you sometimes forget that other people hold them in awe? Have you become too familiar with Jesus?
Have you ever been amazed that people don’t believe in Jesus despite the evidence? Do you sometimes display amazing lack of trust in Jesus?