Summary: Proper 9 (b) Christ was rejected in his hometown. We, too, are rejected by the world. Focus on our status in the world distracts us from the truth of our citizenship in God's kingdom.
Mark 6: 1-11
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
It has been quite a week. A week ago the Supreme Court redefined marriage within the legal and civic sphere. And the nation has been divided. We are no longer living in the America we had known. We are foreigners in our home country.
In the Gospel today, Jesus comes to His home town of Nazareth. He is preaching in the synagogue. And the people, those who he grew up with in his home town, start to jeer and deride him. Who is this, that he thinks he can tell us these things? What kind of authority to speak for God does He have? This is Mary’s son, isn’t it? (You know, we aren’t so sure about his father). He is like the other kids, his brothers and sisters. Yes, they are working folk. But that’s the point. Who is He to lecture us?
Jesus knows what they are saying. “A prophet is not without honor, except in his home town.” He says. After church, after synagogue, he meets with people. But He was not able to do any miracles. Remember, he had healed people, cast our demons, and calmed the sea. But here, He cannot do it.
Why? Because He was not God? No, because of their unbelief. His own people were not merely skeptical. They were not merely doubters. They flat out did not believe. They rejected Jesus. Oh, he was still there, and with them. And what does the text say, He did heal a few people. But still they remained in unbelief. They refused to accept a Jesus they knew as the One sent from God. Jesus could not do miracles there, not because of His lack of power or ability, but because of their unwillingness to receive. They rejected his message that the kingdom of God was at hand. And he was an outsider, a foreigner, an alien.
Have you ever been the outsider, the rejected one? Almost all of us have felt that at some time, and even if you don’t recall such an experience, we all were. All of us were outsiders to God. The sin which fills the world, the sin we were born in, the sin that keeps growing up in our hearts like that dandelion weed, made us outsiders. Adam and Eve were outcasts from the Garden. But God does not want us to remain as foreigners. He loves us. He does not want mankind to be separated from Him, to be a house divided. And so Christ came, reconciling us to the Father. That we would be one with Him. To overcome the kingdom of darkness and bring us into His kingdom, the kingdom of God.
And overcome the kingdom of darkness He did. Christ obtained victory over sin, victory over death, and victory over the devil in by His death on the cross at Calvary. And what happened, what led up to that death? He came to Jerusalem, where the Temple of the Lord God was. The Temple was literally His Father’s house. Jerusalem was in essence Jesus’s home town. What happened? Those who knew Him, no, wait, those who should have known Him, those who studied the scriptures, the Scribes and the Pharisees, they rejected Him. He had no honor among them. For a prophet is without honor in His home town.
What did they do? They handed Him over to Pilate, to the Roman authority, to the government. Was He treated fairly by Pilate? Pilate found no fault in Him, but being anxious to please the people, Pilate opted for “political correctness.” Jesus had been proclaiming the kingdom of God. Pilate asked if He was King of the Jews. “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Jesus was not of the kingdom of Rome. He was of another kingdom, He was an alien. Pilate rejected Him, and sentenced him to by crucified. There at Calvary, the crowd jeered and derided Him, just as the men of the synagogue. Who is He? The Son of God? What authority does He have? IF He has authority, then let himself save himself. He was outcast and alien.
We, too, were outcast. But through His death and resurrection He brought us and the whole creation into His kingdom. By faith in His redeeming blood, He has made us, you and me, citizens of the kingdom of God. But for now, we still live here, in the kingdom of this world. We are resident aliens.
What does that mean? How do we live as aliens? We live knowing that we are outcasts. Our hope is not in America. Not in the America of now, nor in the America that we once knew, or thought we knew. We do not know what the future will bring. Will life in America get better? Will America get better? Or will she get worse? We are thankful for the many blessings that our good and gracious God has given us in and through the land called the United States. But it is not the center of our hope. We are only resident aliens. For we live under a King, in a kingdom not of this world.