“Jesus went away from there and came to His own country and hometown of Nazareth, and His disciples followed with Him. And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue; and many who listened to Him were utterly astonished, saying, Where did this Man acquire all this? What is the wisdom [the broad and full intelligence which has been] given to Him? What mighty works and exhibitions of power are wrought by His hands!
Is not this the Carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here among us? And they took offense at Him and were hurt [that is they disapproved of Him, and it hindered them from acknowledging His authority] and they were caused to stumble and fall.
But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor (deference, reverence) except in his own country and among his relatives and in his own house. And He was not able to do even one work of power there, except that He laid His hands on a few sickly people and cured them. And He marveled because of their unbelief (their lack of faith in Him). And He went about among the surrounding villages and continued teaching.” (Mark 6:1-6)
I am now on Chapter six of Mark in my “camping out” in the Gospel of Mark. I haven’t even finished the chapter, but I have found several nuggets I’d like to share with you about Jesus’ trip back to His hometown of Nazareth.
Keep in mind He has been busy doing good deeds everywhere He went, demonstrating the power and love of God to the people of Israel. Healing the sick, casting out demons and even raising the dead. He decides to go to His hometown to teach in their synagogue and I’m sure to visit with His family. He hoped to bring the power and presence of God to His people.
The first thing that struck me is the words “son of Mary.” I began to think about what their family reputation was in Nazareth. Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus was questionable in the natural world, to say the least. She was only betrothed to Joseph and was in real danger of being stoned as an adulteress. Betrothals in Jewish culture was as binding as marriage. I’m sure that the whispers of His parentage were all over Nazareth when they settled there. It almost seems as if He is set apart as “Mary’s Son” and different from His brothers and sisters. What did Mary experience with these whispers? Was she frowned upon by the “good” people of the community? What about Joseph? When Mary told the Angel, “be it done according to your word” she must have known what she was facing by bearing the Messiah. She and Joseph both paid a high price in their lives to obey God. Many times in our own lives, we follow a road less traveled for the sake of Jesus. We face the frowns of people who misunderstand our mission; our calling and even our heart’s motives. What did Jesus face as He grew up? Was He picked on by the other children? Were children allowed to play with Him as a child? Could it be that the whispers of His questionable parentage, clouded their ability to believe He was the Messiah? I think so. Sometimes, as we walk with Jesus, people will misunderstand our heart’s motives or they will look at our past mistakes and be unable to believe our good report.
The second thing I noticed is that their reasonings caused them to become offended at Him. They didn’t even want to hear another word out of His mouth. Verse 3 says they “took offense at Him.” I can just hear the enemy whispering “who does He think He is?” to them and they took the bait of offense hook, line, and sinker. They rejected His message completely. The Bible says it “hindered them from acknowledging His authority and they were caused to stumble and fall.” I can see how offense is a terrible trap that the enemy sets for those not paying attention. I have experienced this several times where I have watched relationships with people simply disintegrate because the bait of offense was taken. Most of the time it was because the prayers I was praying with them and the battle I was waging with them didn’t happen in the time frame they wanted and they became offended at me and lost faith in God’s ability and willingness to help them. It’s disheartening to pour so much of your life into someone only to have them blame you and God for it not happening. But look at Jesus’ attitude…
The third thing I noticed is Jesus’ reaction to their total disapproval and rejection of His ministry and Him personally. He was bold in telling them the Truth of why they rejected Him. There is an old saying I used to hear. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” They were familiar with Jesus’ family. They watched Him grow up. They were unable to value His calling and His ministry. He could do nothing powerful among those people because of their unbelief in His authority. He was there for those who WANTED Him. He healed those who came to Him. Jesus is always there for those who want Him. The Bible says that He “marveled” at their unbelief. They had to have known the mighty works He was doing all around them. The word was out in all the surrounding towns and yet when He came to them, they refused to believe and therefore they received nothing from God. They missed the time of His visitation. We should take to heart the working of the Lord in our hearts. We should never take for granted His presence in our lives.
Finally, I noticed that Jesus just moved on. He left Nazareth and continued on to the next village and the next and the next one after that. He kept on teaching in their synagogues and doing the mighty works of power and share the love of God as the faith was there to receive it. He did not let the opinion of His family, relatives or hometown folks shut Him down. He knew who He was and He knew His purpose and because He was dead to “self” and their opinions had no impact on His ability to continue to love others. Their value of Him did not set His value to God and the opinions of others should not set our value to God either. In other words, It is ONLY God’s value of us that matters. He values us enough to send Jesus to die for us, so what other people say or speak about you has no bearing on who you are in Christ! Jesus did not get offended at their offense at Him. That is another trap the enemy uses. Tit for tat is not the way a Christian should respond to the offense of another person. Take it to the Lord and love them unconditionally. That will ALWAYS be His response to us.
What is the major take away from this? Sometimes in life, we will face the disapproval and rejection of others. They could be close to us or acquaintances. We are to be about our Father’s business just like Jesus was doing. That is our focus. Like the song says:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will become strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
When we keep our eyes upon Jesus, we can avoid the traps of offense that used to drown us and hinder our relationship with Him. What if you are already offended? Go to the Lord and give it to Him, repent of being offended and forgive the person you are offended at. Forget about the injustice of it. Give that to God too. God forgave you a huge debt–can you do any less than forgive an offense? It’s very liberating to let grace and love cover the sins of others against you. After all, that’s what Mary’s Son did for us.
Don’t know Him?