Summary: This message speaks of how the familiarity, pride & unbelief of Nazareth placed limitations upon the work of God, and can do the same with us.
There’s No Place Like Home!
Text: Mark 6:1-6
Introduction: Up to now in our studies of Mark we have largely witnessed the growth of Jesus’ popularity. Everywhere He went crowds thronged, people wanted to be near Him, to hear Him, see Him even to touch Him, but now as we open to this sixth chapter we begin to see the turning of the tide. For the second time in His ministry Jesus comes to the synagogue in Nazareth. The first time He was here was at the outset of His ministry. Then He read from Isaiah’s prophecy and claimed to be the fulfillment of the prophet’s words. The response then was less than favourable.
See Luke 4:16-30
There are a couple of interesting points that we should notice from this first incident. Then, as now, they marveled at His words, and then, as now they reflected on His background and questioned how He of all people could come out with such things. On that occasion they asked, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”
It is significant too that the Lord drew their attention to Capernaum, and that one day they would say, “Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.” (vs 23). Of course, the rise in His popularity and fame largely focused around events in and around Capernaum. There would come a time when they would want a piece of the action, want Him to do for them what He was doing for others. But even then, the Lord reminded them that this would not happen because of their inability to honour Him, “Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.” (vs 24) He then points them to the ministry of Elijah and reminds them that during three and a half years of drought many widows of Israel died through want, and yet they had not approached the prophet whereas the one widow who survived was Gentile – the woman of Zarephath. He reminded them during that same period, though there were many lepers in Israel, the only leper Elijah helped was the one who came – Naaman – also a Gentile. Those words were s stinging rebuke of their unbelief and unwillingness to accept Him, and they were met with absolute fury as they sought to murder Him – vss 28-29.
Now, He is back in the same place. His fame was spread abroad. He was renowned as a great teacher, and a miracle worker, perhaps things would be different. We have to say it took great courage and conviction on the part of the Lord to come back to this place, given all that had gone before, but He wanted to help them, these were, more than all others, His people. The people He grew up with, friends, family, schoolmates, customers, neighbours. Surely now, having heard of events in Capernaum they would welcome Him.
It is interesting how a hometown responds to its heroes. Just a few days ago my hometown buried the snooker player Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins. Suddenly all his failings were forgotten. He was no longer the drunk who wasted it all. His outbursts, his rage, his violence, his troubled life was soon forgotten and he was laid to rest as “The People’s Champion.” Here too, in Stoke-on-Trent, there are local heroes. Robbie Williams, Phil Taylor, Stanley Matthews, Godon banks, Arnold Bennett, Lord Ashley and Reginald Mitchell. People like to tell how they are related to such folk, or how they met them or if they went to school together.
You would think that now Jesus was a celebrity in Galilee he would find a welcome in Nazareth. But not so:
I. Their Hostility Toward Him – vss 1-3
A. There are two key observations to be made in these verses that summarise the attitude of the Nazerenes towards Christ.
1. He astonished them – vs 2
2. He affronted them – vs 3.
B. As before when Jesus taught in the synagogue His words made an impact.
1. But when it says they were “astonished,” that does not necessarily mean they were impressed.
2. It is an interesting term – it means, ”This word means “to be seized with panic; to be struck with terror; to be stricken with startling and sudden alarm.”
3. In other words He scared them!!
4. Sometimes good preaching will do that to a congregation.
a. There are those who contest religion, all religion, on the basis that it is grounded in fear, that it capitalizes on people’s fears.
b. Certainly a faith that is motivated purely by fear is a weak and unwelcome form of faith.
(i) The detractors have a point that in many fields of religious belief fear is the key factor.
(ii) That is what governs much of the pagan world, Hinduism, Islam etc.