Summary: Jesus is rejected at Nazareth, sends out the twelve and hears about the death of John the Baptist.
Mark 6:1-29 “Sent”
We continue to work with the central point of Mark’s gospel as it is stated in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is upon us, Repent (change your mind and perspective) and believe (trust and live in the truth).
An important part of this proclamation is to believe or to have faith. We see the importance of faith in the story of Jesus and his rejection at Nazareth.
NO FAITH NO MIRACLES
Lutheran have always placed a premium on God’s grace. God does the work and blesses us with God’s gifts. It isn’t up to us. One of the reasons for the emphasis is Martin Luther’s reaction to the church of his day putting such importance on good works. Luther downplayed good works, or as he called it “works righteousness.” In doing so he inadvertently stressed grace and downplayed faith.
There are many examples of faith in the gospel of Mark. There is the tenacious faith of the four men with the paralytic friend. There is the weak faith of the disciples in a storm Jairus’ shaky faith and the sure faith of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. Kingdom faith comes in many shapes and sizes.
This story of Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth demonstrates the importance of faith. Mark records that Jesus could do no deed of power in his hometown and that Jesus was amazed at the level of their unbelief. Often this verse and others like, though, it have been used as an explanation to why prayers aren’t answered—the person didn’t believe enough; their faith was weak.
A young woman had uterine cancer. She prayed, her family prayed and the congregation that she was a member of prayed. Still, the cancer grew unchecked. A few weeks before the woman’s death, an off handed comment that more faith was needed in order for the prayers to be answered, devastated the woman and her family. The excuse was given to a family who lost their home to a foreclosure.
How do we stress that we do need to live by faith, without making faith some hard work that we need to achieve before God will bless us with God’s grace?
The people of Nazareth didn’t see their need. They didn’t need Jesus’ help and they didn’t ask for it. Faith is demonstrated when we confess our need and ask for Jesus to move in our lives.
The people of Nazareth didn’t think Jesus could help them. They saw Jesus as a carpenter and the son of Mary. They didn’t think that the stories of Jesus healing people were true. When we approach Jesus we are acting on our belief that Jesus can intervene and help us. We believe that Jesus is able.
The people of Nazareth didn’t see God’s love for them. They were not able to live by faith, release the control of their lives over to a loving God and trust that God is moving in their lives for the good. We know of God’s love and we have been touched by God’s grace. Each day we live knowing that God is moving in our lives and wants the very best for us.
God takes the faith that we have and uses it to channel God’s grace in our lives.
SENDING THE FAITHFUL
Jesus continues his ministry among villages who do not have a problem with who he is and believe that he can change their lives—healing them, casting out demons and teaching them how to live in God’s kingdom. In order to expand his ministry he also starts sending out the disciples.
The disciples are commissioned to carry on Jesus’ ministry. They do this now and they will continue to do this when Jesus ascends.
The disciples are given authority to heal and to cast out demons. The disciples do not have this ability in and of themselves. It is only through the Holy Spirit that they are able to accomplish these tasks.
The disciples are to travel light. This in itself is an action of faith. They are to trust that God will provide and not to be concerned about what they have in their possession. With such a command we must take time to consider how our possessions get in the way of our witness and our faithful obedience to the Lord.
Faith is a vital part of living in God’s kingdom. Faith enables God to move in our lives. Faith is also needed as we are sent out into the world to share God’s love, grace and the good news.