Where do you feel most at home? Ie, welcomed and relaxed.
Read Mark 6:1-13
Jesus has been travelling from town to town to preach the word – for that is why he came (1:38). He has crossed over the lake a few times and healed on many occasions. Chapter 5 concluded with the healing of Jairus’ daughter.
- 1-6 At home – the prophet without honour
- 1-3 The Nazarenes are amazed
- 4-6 Jesus is amazed
- 7-13 And away – the disciples are sent
- 7 Two by two are sent
- 8-11 Received or rejected
- 12-13 Preaching and healing
1-6 At home – the prophet without honour
“Jesus left there and went to his hometown…” He grew up in Nazareth (Matt 2:23) but then actually moved to Capernaum (Matt 4:13). Mark alludes to Capernaum as his home in Mark 2:1 but Luke 4:16-23 has a very similar story which is clearly located in Nazareth. The responses from the people in Verse 3 clearly make this Nazareth.
“…many who heard him were amazed.” His teaching is the object of contention in the story. Mark 6:5-6 will conclude that he could not perform miracles in this town because of their lack of faith but notice that the problem is revealed in their response to his teaching.
“…this man… the carpenter… Mary’s son… brother of… and… his sisters…” This crowd kept Jesus linked to his earthly ties and childhood. Despite the incredible teaching that amazed them, they could not separate the prophet from the boy. It takes humility to allow someone to speak into your world – especially if that person was once a snotty little kid.
“And they took offense at him.” Despite their amazement, they were offended. ‘How dare you speak to us like that!’ is the kind of attitude that they had. ‘Don’t you tell me how to read the bible, I’ve been doing this since before you were born!’ Arrogance, pride and unkindness is their spirit.
“A prophet is not without honour…” This part of his sentence means that a prophet can receive credit and respect. They are doing the work of God and a worker deserves his wage etc (1 Tim 5:18). In the next section, Jesus will tell his disciples to accept hospitality and gifts from those who are willing to house you.
“…except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” It is hard to separate the earthly person from the heavenly wisdom that they teach. We see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, but it was apparently difficult for his hometown to see him any differently. He was just one of them! It’s easy to see this played out in our world. It’s way easier to listen to a teacher and preacher who has been brought in from over seas for a big conference than it is to listen to an elder or preacher in the church. But don’t we share the same Holy Book – the word of God! These Nazarenes were literally staring the Word of God in the face and still were not impressed. But when the truth is spoken, it is our job to hear it and respond in faith.
“He could not do any miracles there…” God is God and can do whatever he wants. But in God’s wisdom, he desires for us to respond to him. This is the relationship we have with God. He wishes for it to be a two way street. The grace of God does not mean that we do nothing. Jesus preached ‘repent’ and so repent is what we do. Jesus taught the Nazarenes from the word and they responded by being offended. His words offended them. They had no faith, no time for him in the long run and Jesus was therefore helpless to help them.
NB: the bible is not teaching us to have great faith in order to see healings. It is rebuking the people for having no faith. They dismissed Jesus.
7-13 And away – the disciples are sent
“Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.” Mark 1:38 all over again.
“Calling the Twelve to him…” This is to literally call them. Two by two so that he chose who would go first and with whom. It was an orchestrated mission. He didn’t just throw them out into the lion’s mouths but directed the mission. The Twelve were listed in Mark 3:13-19.
“…and gave them authority over impure spirits.” Let’s not think that casting out spirits and healing people is a normal practice in church ministry. Jesus sent them out to be involved in the same type of mission that he was involved in: preaching that people repent and accompanied with miracles.
“Take nothing…” No food or money. Just sandals and what they wore. As people receive their message, they will be provided for – not miraculously but as an outflow of the people’s understanding and acceptance of the gospel.
“…dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” The disciples will not just leave quietly when unwelcomed but will leave a visible display that the town has rejected God as they are rejecting God’s messengers.
“…they…preached…” Again, this is key. Coming to Jesus is not primarily about healing, it is about the gospel. The healing was to testify that Jesus and the disciples came in the power of God. We have the complete scriptures to preach and teach. There is no need for signs. The scriptures are testimony enough for all that God has done and declared.
“They drove out many demons…” The disciples were given the same signs that Jesus used. Demonic activity was clearly a thing during the ministry of Jesus. A spiritual sign that demonstrates how absent from the Word of God Israel had become.
“…and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” A practice that was not always accompanied with healing. Jesus did not do this and many healings recorded in the NT did not include oil. James 5:14 mentions it and seems to be more of an outward sign than anything medicinal or indeed magical! Just as water made no spiritual difference to a baptism.
Suggested questions for running this study.
Q1. Discuss what amazed the people from Jesus’ hometown.
Q2. What amazed Jesus about them? What is the central issue here?
Q3. What instructions did Jesus give to the disciples for their mission?
Q4. Who would be at fault if a town did not receive the disciples?
Q5. Bringing it all together, what should we expect will happen when we share our faith?
People will embrace the gospel or reject it. Apathy is a kind of rejection. But the response to the gospel will not be dependant on the preacher (assuming the preacher is being faithful to the word). Even Jesus was rejected and had to leave towns without seeing big results. The disciples were warned that they may need to leave a town in disgust but we are told that they actually healed many people as they preached. But preaching the word was what people actually responded positively and negatively to. It is the primary goal of our mission – to preach and call people to repent.
Challenge#1 To be struck by the bible but then not care
How incredible is it that Jesus was in the midst of the Nazarenes and they were amazed at his teaching but then quickly rejected it all. They were too grounded in the things of this world to realise that they had the words of eternal life being offered to them. How do you respond to the word of God?
Challenge#2 Share the gospel to everyone
It’s so easy to predict how people may respond to Jesus and then decide whether to speak or stay silent based on our assumptions. Jesus taught his disciples to put themselves out there and see who would receive them.
Challenge#3 Embrace the gospel worker
We have so many people we can support in mission. Our CMS link missionaries, our CAHSM workers, our ministers. The things of this earth are fleeting but the word of God stands forever. It makes sense to invest in eternal work. How can you be generous for the gospel?