Summary: n difficult situations, it’s easy to say we trust God and yet try to handle things ourselves without turning to Him and His Word. This is masked unbelief. Although God is constantly working, He allows us to set a limit on the degree of work He does ...
Opening illustration: A child once asked, “What does God do all day?” If the answer to that question depended on how much we allow God to do in our individual lives, some of us would have to reply, “Not much!” In difficult situations, it’s easy to say we trust God and yet try to handle things ourselves without turning to Him and His Word. This is masked unbelief. Although God is constantly working, He allows us to set a limit on the degree of work He does on our behalf.
We see this truth demonstrated in Mark 6 when Jesus tried to do mighty things in His hometown. Because the people saw Him merely as a carpenter’s son and not as God’s Son, they limited what He could do for them (v.5). So Jesus moved on to other towns.
During my younger years, I tried hard to be a strong Christian, seldom revealing my weaknesses. Then, through a rock-bottom experience, I made this dynamic discovery: Strong Christians are those who unashamedly admit their weaknesses and draw on Christ’s power. The more I learned to depend on God, the more opportunity this gave Him to be active in my life. Now, whenever I face a daunting task, I say, “Joanie and Jesus can do it!” So can you and Jesus.
Let us turn to Mark 6 and catch with the narrative which will help us to see how we can limit the work of God in our lives and even in the lives of others around us.
Introduction: At the beginning of chapter 6 we see that Jesus leaves this town and goes to His hometown with His disciples. We would understand that Jesus’ hometown would be a reference to the town of Nazareth. There is always something nice about homecoming. I enjoy my once in a decade trip to Delhi to be back in “my old stomping grounds,” as we like to call it. I go to the places that I enjoy, eat foods that are only available there, and meet old friends when I return. It is a homecoming to enjoy the place that we know very well. Jesus is coming back to Nazareth after preaching around the Sea of Galilee. It is His homecoming as He returns to the place where He grew up and would see people that He knew and grew up with.
I have never pastored an Indian church. Always ministered and planted churches outside the country I was born. We never had a ministry in my hometown or country. But we encountered enough rejection, hatred and contempt from family and friends in order to understand what Jesus must have undergone.
How do we limit God?
1. Rejection (Refusal) (vs. 1-2)
How could Jesus’ family and friends reject him? They watched him grow up. They had to be aware of his loving nature and the fact that he worked hard, both as a student of the Torah and as Joseph’s apprentice. Before leaving home he was acknowledged as a rabbi, a teacher, and he had disciples whom he taught. Sad that He could not establish the headquarters of His ministry in Nazareth but at a short distance away in Capernaum from where He operated His ministry. News traveled by word of mouth from one town to another and everyone was eager to hear and share what they heard.
By the way, Jesus did not give up on his family and friends back home. His brother, James, went on to lead the church in Rome and we understand that Jesus’ other siblings became followers. Joseph, by the time of Jesus’ return to Nazareth, had died, but there can be no doubt about his faith or that of Jesus’ mother, Mary. As for the rest, we know that God’s love extends to everyone. Despite rejection, Jesus forgave and he died on the cross for all our sins. Let us never reject Jesus by rejecting others.
As the people of Nazareth heard the message Jesus was preaching, they out rightly rejected His message because they thought they knew everything there was to know about Him. He had grown up among them and was one of their own. They had seen Him play there as a child; they knew His family; they thought they knew Him. They knew everything there was to know about Jesus, or so they thought! To them, Jesus was just another boy from Nazareth. He did not deserve their respect. They saw Him as a common man! Sometimes, the word carpenter referred to men who could do anything from carving a plate to building a house. The people of Nazareth probably had things in their possession that Jesus had built for them. They saw Him as a common craftsman. They looked at Him and said, “You are no better than we are! Why should we listen to you?” They could only remember that they knew his family and his roots. They could only see the one who worked with calloused hands and not the one who brought a new, fresh and final work from GOD.