Summary: Christ is rejected by his own townspeople and Mark declares he could not do many miracles in Nazareth.
The first portion of our text deals with Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth. He came and preached in the synagogue and immediately people were offended. In fact, the phrase translated as “They took offense” comes from the same Greek root word where we get the word “scandalized.” They were absolutely shocked and not in a pleasant way.
The major issue was: Who did this guy think he was? This is also the major issue for people today. Who is Jesus, really? How you answer this question will likely settle your eternal destiny.
The people of Nazareth had a negative response to Jesus’ presentation. Why? First, there were those who felt that Jesus had been conceived in an immoral relationship. People remembered the SCANDAL that occurred when Mary was found to be pregnant. When she began to show, the tongues began to wag. Thirty years later there would still be people around who were there or who had heard about this scandal.
Second, he was not known for his rabbinical training, but for his carpentry. (Mark is the only gospel writer to tell us that he actually worked as a carpenter). This is a funny idea to me. I remember some years ago, a popular evangelist received some sort of “deliverance” from a Satanic hold that Satan held over him. The Baptist Press was concerned with the fact that this deliverance and victory had come when he had been prayed over by a charismatic/Pentecostal preacher. However, they seemed even more concerned that this preacher had formerly been a carpet cleaner. Big Deal! I built airplanes and made Frisbees before I entered the ministry. Does that make a person less of a minister? The Nazarene people felt it gave them legitimate grounds to question the message and even the value of Christ if he was only a carpenter.
Third, they pointed out that his family were just normal guys. I don’t know if James, Joseph, Jude and Simon were good guys or not. Maybe living in a family with Jesus as an older brother had brought some rebellion into their lives. When you have a perfect brother to live up to, at times you are bound to “give up” and stop trying to be good. Can you imagine Mary telling Jesus’ brothers to be more like Jesus. This kind of example often brings conflict. So perhaps the reputation of Jesus’ family was another reason the people of Nazareth were less than inclined to welcome his message.
Mark makes a bold assertion by declaring that there was something Jesus was unable to do. He says that Jesus could not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
This is a concept that many so-called faith healers exaggerate to use as an excuse when a person is not healed. However, the faith here is not about whether or not Jesus could work miracles. They accepted that he worked miracles – see verse 2. It was the authority of Christ that they did not accept. They could not get past their own perception of who Jesus was. They could not accept Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. It was their lack of faith in His person—not their lack of belief in His abilities to work miracles.
It is this same lack of belief in Christ that stops His work today. Christ is powerless (by his choice) to intrude in the life of an unsaved person and to bring them to salvation if they refuse to believe in Him. Christ refuses to spiritually kidnap those who are lost and force them to receive Him as Lord.
Following his experiences in His hometown of Nazareth, Christ went around from village to village, continuing His teaching ministry. The time comes when he calls the Twelve Disciples and he sends them out by twos with specific instructions about ministry.
Here is an important concept that our own church needs to grasp. Sometimes, as a small church, we cry and whine about what we cannot accomplish because we don’t have enough workers. Jesus set about His kingdom work with twelve men, but then he broke them into smaller groups and sent them out, believing that TWO MEN could accomplish the kingdom’s work in a particular area.
We, as a church, need to recognize, that it isn’t how many people we have to do the work. We just need to carefully organize and then utilize our small groups properly.
The disciples’ instructions were very clear. They were to depend on God for their provisions, stay where they went until they were done with their job there, and to know when it was time to move.
By obedience to these instructions they went out and ministered in the places that Jesus sent them. Their ministry was effective. Demonic spirits were driven out and sick people were healed.
We also can have the same dramatic effect on our local community if we learn to be obedient and committed to the work of the Lord.