Summary: The people of Nazareth attended church that day when Jesus taught. But their focus and heart was not God like.
Gospel Mark 6:1–13
What do you think a person mean when they say; "attending church is not meaningful to their lives today"? Obliviously there can be more than one meaning. But in today's reading that is one take on what happened.
Mark 6:1 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 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? 3 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.
Jesus returned to his hometown not as a favorite son coming home but as a rabbi. We know that he came as a teacher because he brought hIs disciples with him. The Lord was teaching in his town's synagogue. The local worshippers had heard the reports of the miracles. Works of healing performed with a power that was greater than nature. It was a power the witnesses could not define, describe or understand. And when Jesus taught the word of God they admitted he had been given special wisdom. But where did he, a simple wood craftsman receive it. The word Given, confirms they thought his wisdom came from an external source. We believe in Jesus as son of man and Jesus son of God.
Too many times in our world, people say church lacks meaning. What they mean is because they are not personally moved by a religious experience. The Jews in the synagogue when Jesus spoke were also not moved in a positive way. Actually scripture tells us they were offended by his presence. Some call it being hard hearted some call it disbelief; the point remains it was by their own personal free will choice that they separated theirselves from the awesome presence of God's word.
Maybe if they could have captured a heart like David when news of the death of King Saul and Jonathan reached him he was grieved. Despite the fact that King Saul wanted David killed. David's heart reflected the kind of heart God has for his children.
There are social reasons that could have lead those hearing Jesus teach in Nazareth into their blindness. First the training Jesus received in his youth was to prepare him to be a craftsman and not a rabbi. They were not accustomed to seeing someone being bi-vocational. Second the family of Jesus had not been among the elite, prosperous and respected in the community. How could someone trained to be a woodworker from a everyday normal and family teach us about God?
To allow them some human slack; there had been false prophets to rise up and incite the Jews against the Roman occupying army. There was a price for these riots. The price the Roman army put on the Jews because of riots was designed to make the Jews think twice before they joined another riot.
No matter about their reasons these hometown Jews were in the awesome presence of the one who defined a religious experience. His name is Yeshua ha-Mashiah, meaning Jesus the Anointed. With there hearts not being God like; their thorn in the flesh blinded from knowing a religious experience. The presence of God was right in front of them, but they could not hear or see.
Remember Jesus had brought his disciples along. We know his disciples were amazed with their teacher? Could it be possible our Lord had intended this negative experience to be a teaching tool for preparing the disciples for their mission work?
4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages.
The odd point to note is that Nazareth was not regarded as a special good city. Because of the kind of people living there Nazareth was regarded as the arm pit of Israel. Remember John 1:46. Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Now the people of Nazareth were looking down upon their local son. This was not the right response they should have given the anointed of God whom has traveled to their community.
The Shema; found in Deutomery 6:4 is Judaism basic confession of faith. The Shema calls for the Jewish people to respond properly with God. They must listen and obey our living God. After all God comes to his people first. This is the type of relationship indicated by our living God. God comes to people and not the other way.