In this passage we see three aspects of Jesus: we have reason to be amazed by his power, Jesus was offensive to those around him, and we do not want Jesus to be amazed by us.
Be Amazed by Jesus
Leading up to chapter six in the Gospel of Mark there have been quite a few instances that reveal why we should be amazed by Jesus:
-Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law
-Leper is healed
-Paralytic man healed after being lowered to Jesus from the roof
-Man with deformed hand
-Jesus commands the storm to cease
-Jesus heals the demon possessed man
-Jesus heals a woman who had bled for 12 years
-Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter
At this point in Mark it is easy to see why people were amazed by Jesus’ power. However, when Jesus returns to his home town he is met with perplexing questions as to what his true identity is and whether the rumors of his amazing abilities were actually valid. When Jesus returns to Nazareth, the town questions the origin of Jesus’ power because they are obsessed with the source rather than the content of his ability. Second, they wonder where Jesus could have received the wisdom he displays since it was reserved for religious leaders. Wisdom was seen as a divine blessing given by God. The crowd even questions how he could possibly perform such miracles with his hands due to his low status as a carpenter. Lastly, they question Jesus’ ability because he is perceived as the illegitimate son of Mary.
The underlying message is that they cannot fathom how God would use someone with such an inauspicious pedigree in order to do His work. Even though Jesus returns home as a Rabbi with disciples, authority, a deep knowledge of the scriptures, and performing miracles his hometown refuses to see him as a Rabbi. They refuse to acknowledge Jesus’ amazing power.
“Underneath all of these questions is the assumption that the people of Nazareth knew who Jesus was and how God was going to bring in His Kingdom.”
Be Offended by Jesus
The people of Nazareth were offended by the claims of Jesus because he was nothing more than an illegitimate child. They were scandalized by the claim that Jesus was the Messiah. However, there is an important distinction between taking offense and giving offense
Taking offense:someone who wants to be offended and will find a reason to be
Giving Offense: Someone who purposefully makes it difficult to be heard
It is an important distinction because Jesus never gave offense to others. Jesus always spoke truth with compassion and wisdom. Jesus seeks the truth with grace not shame. Even still people were offended by him yet they all wanted to be around him. Christians should not measure their success by how much they offend people but by whether or not we are capable of compassionately explaining where we stand with people in a way that they still want to stick around even when they’re offended. Jesus will offend us because he calls us to repentance in the areas of our lives that he is not King.
“We cannot control whether or not people will actually take offense. But we do not have the luxury of changing the message to make it less offensive.”
Don’t be Amazing to Jesus
The people who should have known Jesus the most, his hometown, failed to respond to his authority even though they were amazed. Mark tells us that Jesus is actually astonished by the town of Nazareth because of their lack of trust. How is it that the people who knew Jesus and even saw his miracles reject him? Faithfulness to Jesus is not just about proximity to his miracles, but it is about our posture towards Christ. We must remember that unbelief is not simply a matter of a lack of information. Sin causes a rebellious sickness that refuses to give up control. It takes more than a few miracles or knowledge to change our sinfulness. Rather, we need a heart transplant that can only be given to us by Jesus.
“We need to allow Jesus to reign and speak deeply into our lives even if it offends us.”
Links: Youtube-Full Sermon Transcript