6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Christ expects great things of us, and in Christ, great things are possible if we set our minds on his purposes.

You know, it’s funny the things you think about when you’re moving and getting settled into a new place. One of the things I’ve found myself chuckling about the last few weeks is all the yard sales and flea markets that pop up around the South, particularly in the summer months. There’s nothing like the warm summer months and a move to get you thinking about yard sales. Did you ever wonder why yard sales and flea markets are so prevalent? I don’t know that I had really thought about that before, but that question has been swirling through my head in recent weeks. See, not all thoughts in a pastor’s head are deep and profound! I guess I first started wondering that as I would drive up and down Rossville Boulevard between my home and my previous job at First-Centenary church. Everyday, there were usually several people set up in the under-used parking lots lining Rossville Boulevard. They would open up their vans or cars and place a variety of assorted trinkets on any flat surface they could find. The more “established” vendors have portable tables or clothes racks that they carry with them. And as often as I would see these makeshift flea markets, I would see potential buyers browsing the wares. So why does this work? Surely each of us who has ever set up a yard sale or joined in on a flea market must know the value of that endeavor, otherwise we would not be seeing so many of them!

So what’s the key to the success of the yard sale or flea market? I think it all comes down to that well-known phrase, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Or perhaps this one, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Herein, my friends, is the secret to the success of the yard sale. Several weeks ago, as I was packing my house in Rossville and preparing for the move, I went down into the basement to assess my furniture situation. I had down there an entertainment center that my parents had passed on to me when I moved to Rossville. It served my needs for a time, but then when I purchased my first TV, it no longer worked for me. So, it went into storage, really no better than trash for me at that point. In preparation for the move, I took the entertainment center to a local thrift store and donated it. The people there were so excited to receive it, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What I saw as completely useless was seen as ideal by another.

In a sense, this is the message from Mark today. We see what we expect to see, we get what we ask for. Mark tells us of Jesus’ return to his hometown of Nazareth. Jesus is preaching in the synagogue among his hometown pals, but his old buddies are not very receptive of him. They hear Jesus teaching and they begin to murmur, “Where did this man get all this? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary!” In Jesus’ time, men did what they were trained to do, usually following their father’s profession, and nothing more. Any attempts to “climb the social ladder” were looked down upon. And Jesus’ acquaintances in Nazareth thought that by teaching in the synagogue, Jesus was trying to be something that he was not. The people of Nazareth saw Jesus as nothing more than a carpenter, and so they expected nothing great from him, they rejected him. Because Jesus’ hometown pals in Nazareth expected nothing great from Jesus, Mark tells us that Jesus “could do no deed of power there, except to lay hands on a few sick people and cure them.” Most of the time, we will see exactly what we want to see, and nothing more.

Here’s another way to think about it. Throughout the last few weeks, we have been almost completely without rain, rain which we now very much need. No doubt, many of us have been praying for rain at least some recently. When we pray for rain, that would indicate that we believe God has the power to make rain. But how many of us finish our prayer asking God for rain and then walk out the door without an umbrella in our hand because it is a clear and sunny day? When we do that, it doesn’t seem to me that we really believe God has the power to make it rain. In the same way, the people in the synagogue at Nazareth didn’t really believe that Jesus had the power to do miracles, and so he did not, and he left amazed at their unbelief.

We know that Jesus had the power to do miracles. We have the Gospel writings telling us the stories of Jesus’ many miracles, and Jesus knew he could do miracles too. So, when Jesus is rejected in Nazareth, he just moves on to the next town and begins teaching, and he sends the disciples out in pairs to do the same thing. Not only are we to have faith in Jesus Christ and his power to do miracles, we too, as Jesus’ disciples are do have faith in our own abilities to share in Jesus’ authority and teach the message of God’s love.

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