Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We can face failure and keep on going if we have the faith, courage, wisdom and strength that come with both believing in Jesus and fellowship with fellow believers.

A former army drill sergeant took a new job as a school teacher; but just before the school year started he injured his back. He was required to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. Fortunately, the cast fit under his shirt and wasn't noticeable.

On the first day of class, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school. The smart-alecky punks, having already heard the new teacher was a former drill sergeant, were leery of him. They decided to see how tough he really was, before trying any pranks.

Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, the new teacher opened the window wide and sat down at his desk. When a strong breeze made the teacher's tie flap, he picked up a stapler and promptly stapled the tie to his chest.

He had no trouble with discipline that year.

The Gospel reading from Mark 6:1-13 occurs just after the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage and the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. It is two different stories about faith, and that’s where the similarity ends. Unlike the two miracles that we heard about in last week’s Gospel reading, which demonstrate faith in Jesus, the first parable we heard in this passage is about the lack of faith.

By the time Jesus returned to his home town of Nazareth, the stories of his healings and miracles had spread far and wide. Even the people in his home town had heard of his popularity, so you would expect that he would have been accepted by the hometown crowd and welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately that was not the case. He was seen as the son of a carpenter or the son of Mary and Joseph, and not as the Son of God.

It would be like me being called by God to be an evangelist like Billy Graham, complete with worldwide crusades and thousands of people coming to Christ in faith. If I then returned home and conducted a crusade here, would I be seen as a man of God or as just the son of Fred the school principal and Marilyn the pharmacist?

Jesus was surprised by the unbelief of the crowd, and not because he was expecting to be welcomed as a hometown hero. The lack of faith always caused Jesus to be amazed because he is all-knowing, almighty, all-present and all-loving. Why would someone not trust him? If you consider the population of Nazareth at the time of Jesus, you can understand why he was not accepted.

For starters, most of the people were poorly educated if they had any education at all. They could not read the precious scrolls in the synagogue, so the only way they could learn their religious heritage was to listen to the rabbis, who were educated. Jesus did not have the formal training required for rabbis, so in the eyes of the people, he was just a local boy who was “putting on airs”. To make matters worse, the scribes in Jerusalem had been spreading rumours about Jesus—rumours which had also reached Nazareth. For example, in Mark 3:23 Jesus was accused of working with the devil.

A son was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps but not go beyond them. If a boy’s father was a carpenter, then the son was to be a carpenter as well-but nothing more. When the people heard Jesus teach in the synagogue, they were on the verge of applauding him, but they didn’t because they saw him as just a carpenter.

What they failed to see was that Jesus was following in his father’s footsteps-his heavenly father’s. Jesus really upset them when he told them that it takes outsiders to see what the locals refuse to see. In this area, we are the same. For example, how many of the local business were started or purchased by people who “came from away”?

So why couldn’t Jesus perform many miracles in Nazareth? It was because of a lack of faith. We know that unbelievers, like the people of Nazareth, often fail to tap into God’s power. If they had put faith in Jesus’ wisdom they would have heard God’s guidance and encouragement. If they had looked deeper into Jesus’ cures, they would have seen God reaching out to rescue them. Instead, they missed out on the greatest miracles of all.

Jesus took the rejection in stride and continued his ministry be sending out the twelve disciples. He sent them out with only the barest of essentials-one cloak and a staff. He wanted them to trust God to provide for their needs. They were to concentrate on their mission. Plus, Jewish custom at that time was to offer hospitality to travelers. Jesus wanted the disciples to stay at the first house that offered them a place to stay in each city or town that they visited, rather than moving from house to house.

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