Summary: So what do you think of Jesus? You've heard about Him from the culture and even from the church but is that really Jesus? Some people are afraid of sharing their faith knowing the possible rejection they'll receive - so is it worth it?
Isn’t it great to go home? You get to see family and old friends—visit old haunts and places you played as a child. Well, not everyone likes going home. For some, memories of the past are bleak and painful. For others, it isn’t the past only but the present which brings pain and broken relationships. Such was the case for Jesus as He returns home to Nazareth, where He was brought up by Mary and Joseph.
This isn’t the first time He’s been back. In Luke 4, early in Jesus’ ministry, He came to His hometown synagogue and proclaimed His mission out of Isaiah 61:1-2 where it says: “freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The sad thing is, at those words of great hope, the townspeople dragged Jesus to the edge of a hill and intended to throw Him off. Since it was neither the time nor the manner of His death, Jesus simply passed through them and out of town.
Now He is back to give the people of Nazareth a second chance. After a string of incredible miracles where even the dead were raised, with crowds were so thick that Jesus was barely able to move, and after such great victories – surely the people of his own town would now see those words from Isaiah in a different light. But no. After leaving a place of great faith, Jesus returns to a place of none. They are still just as captive to seeing the world only through the eyes of their own experience, and are blind to the truth.
This less dangerous and more tragic second visit is followed by news that the greatest man ever born of women has been murdered.
1 – 3
I guess Jesus should have been grateful that they didn’t try to kill him this time. Instead they treated Him with derision. They dismissed Him. They couldn’t see past the boy, or even the man with the vocation, to see the Messiah. How sad it is when we allow this type of thing to blind us to the reality of Jesus the Messiah. Sometimes it is the church that stands between people and understanding who Jesus is. All they can see are the imperfect people in the church and they can’t see how Jesus could be anything special. Perhaps it is a member of your family who looks at you as a believer and can’t imagine it being anything more than a passing fad as happened to me. “You say you are redeemed but you don’t look any different to me!”
Perhaps even when you read the Scriptures all you can see is Jesus the do-gooder or Jesus the man with the great sayings or the man who called for us to change the world into a better place. Though Jesus did many good things and the world is far better under His influence, you are blinded to the fact that He is the King of the universe come to rescue you from brokenness you don’t even know you have.
The people in Nazareth couldn’t think of Jesus as anything but a man. The single issue every human must wrestle with at some point is: is Jesus just a man, or is He the king? They saw Him as the son of Mary instead of the Son of God.
4 – 6
Jesus’ words were a common proverb in rabbinic literature, except that He was talking about Himself as a prophet—a truth teller. The rejection meant that Jesus would not do many miracles there. Jesus will not intrude where He is not welcome. What strikes me here are Mark’s words that Jesus was “astonished” at their unbelief. The reaction is interesting. The Holman uses the word “astonished” in verse 2, which means to strike with amazement. In verse 6 Jesus is “amazed” which means “wonder”. The people went from astonishment to offense. The word “offense” means that they were stumbled by him. We get the word “scandal” from the Greek word.
How odd it must have been for Jesus, knowing that He held life and was giving it away freely. But the stubbornness of the human heart turns away so easily from someone so incredibly good and powerful.
6b – 12
In the aftermath of rejection, Jesus sends out the twelve disciples in six pairs. This was like an internship. It was a brief journey so they were to take no real provisions. They were to depend and rely upon the hospitality of local residents and were to take a threefold message: repentance, healing, and release from demon possession. Mark emphasizes that last part in his continuing proclamation of Jesus as the ultimate action hero battling against Satan and his forces of darkness. Like Jesus, they should expect rejection. When that happened they were to “shake the dust off your feet.” This was what the Jews did when leaving Gentile territory to indicate they had nothing to do with their ways or influences. To do this to a Jewish village was significant. When we share the gospel we are not responsible for the outcome, but for merely supplying the message in the best way we can. Sometimes you just have to walk away and wash your hands of a person. But for us, it means we move from talking to them to praying for them.