Summary: Believe it or not, you don’t have to have it all together to serve Jesus Christ. In this week’s study of the Gospel of Mark we learn how Jesus trained His disciples through disappointment and death to bring the gospel.
Sports teams always like to play before a hometown crowd. Here in Portland they say that the “fan factor” can really help the Trailblazers win games. But when it comes to ministry, often playing to the home town crowd is a disappointing experience. Either because of past relationships or whatever, it is sometimes hard for people we know to see the Lord working through us.
That’s what Jesus experienced when He went “home” to Nazareth. And He uses the experience – along with a couple of other tough situations, to teach His disciples what is going to be like to take the gospel “on the road.”
Unbelief At Home
1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
This is Nazareth, of course. Earlier Jesus’ family came to Capernaum to “rescue” Jesus from Himself – now He comes home and suffers the same sort of disdain.
"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
Basically they were saying that because they knew Him growing up – that He couldn’t possibly be the Messiah – he was just Jesus, Mary’s son.
But look at what happens – first it says in verse 2 they were “amazed.” The word means to “strike with astonishment.” Compare that to the amazement felt by the people in Capernaum in chapter 2. That word is akin to: “blowing your mind.”
The people in Nazareth “took offense” which means to scandalize – its like “Oh man! “How could this man claim to be these things – its embarrassing!”
They couldn’t look past the humanity of Jesus to see His divinity. I think that happens a lot today too. People like to pigeon-hole Jesus as just a “good man”. We do that because if we really acknowledge that the miracles He performed were from God then we have to deal with the possibility that Jesus IS the “way truth and the life.”
A side note here – look how verse 3 identifies Jesus’ brothers? This really pokes a hole in the claim that Mary was and is a virgin.
4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Jesus quotes a rabbinic proverb. Isn’t it amazing that the unbelief of the people of Nazareth actually affected the extent of Jesus’ ministry in that area. Does it mean that no one believed or had faith or does it mean that the lack of faith of the majority actually stopped the flow of the Spirit to those who were hurting?
Regardless – Jesus revealed His power to those who had faith – it works the same with us. If we come to Jesus in faith He will move mightily on our behalf – otherwise He won’t seem to be all that powerful because we ignore who He really is.
It says that Jesus was “amazed” – this is the word “to wonder” – its kind of like shaking your head in amazement.
Jesus I think was further preparing His disciples at what it would cost them to follow Him.
On A Mission
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."
12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
The “shake off the dust” was a way of showing contempt. The Jews would shake off the dust when they passed gentile towns – “I don’t even want your dust clinging to my sandals.”
Jesus is sending His disciples on a training mission – student teaching if you will. It was a short term mission with a very specific agenda: travel light, stick together, preach and heal.