Mark 6:1-6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
I. That’s seen in his amazing patience
II. That’s seen in his awesome power
Dear friends in Christ,
As you read these words, an old adage (saying) comes to mind: Familiarity breeds contempt. Someone once said that 48% of those who live within five miles of Disneyland have never visited the park. That seemed odd to me until I realized that I have lived in Wisconsin for over 30 years and have never been to the House on the Rock, or even to the Racine 4th of July parade for that matter. The old joke is that you have to move away from the state so that you can come back as a visitor to see the sights you never took the time to enjoy. Familiarity breeds contempt.
That can be very true with people, too...
William Muehl, a professor at Yale, tells of visiting an old plantation home in Virginia. The aged owner and tour guide was the last of a distinguished colonial family with ties back to the American Revolution. Over the fireplace he noticed a rifle from the days of the American Revolution. “May I take it down and examine it?” he asked. She replied, “I am afraid that wouldn’t be safe. It’s loaded and primed to fire. My great-granddaddy kept it there in constant readiness in case he might have to strike a blow for the freedom of the colonies.” Muehl said, “Then he died before the Revolution started?” “Oh no,” she replied, “he lived until 1802. He just never trusted George Washington. You see, my granddaddy knew Washington when he was a lad, and didn’t believe he could ever lead an army, much less protect the freedom of the colonies!”
This describes Jesus’ dilemma. Nazareth was his hometown, the place where Mary and Joseph settled when they returned from Egypt. We don’t know much about Jesus’s first 30 years. What the Bible does say is that his father was a carpenter, that he had brothers and sisters, and that in those years he grew in wisdom and stature, and received the favor of God and men (Luke 2).
The people of Nazareth, however, did know about those first 30 years. Jesus was part of their community. Now, the boys with whom he played in the streets and with whom he went to the synagogue were family men, business owners and tradesmen. Some of those people could say, “He helped build my house and fix my wagon,” or “I dated his sister!” I wonder if they remembered him as the goody two shoes that never did anything wrong. Maybe that’s why they may have thought that little Mr. Perfect now has a Messiah complex.
When Jesus came to town, what they expected was a local townie who was making a name for himself by his preaching and teaching. What they didn’t expect is what he most wanted to give them: The assurance that he was their Savior. You see, HE’S MORE THAN THE CARPENTER’S SON as I) He shows great patience and II) He displays great power.
St. Luke tells us that Jesus came to Nazareth and began teaching in the synagogue. When he made the claim that he was the Messiah, the people got so angry with him that they dragged him up a cliff to throw him over the edge. Jesus, by means of a miracle, walked through the crowd and back down the hill (Luke 4:14-30).
Some Biblical scholars believe this is his second trip. It’s about a year later. This time his reputation as a noted Rabbi who did amazing miracles preceded him. Would they be ready to listen to him this time? Looking at it from this point of view teaches us about one of the wonderful attributes of Jesus: his Patience. Why so patient with his home town after they tried to kill him? They needed him. They, more than any one else, saw his holy life. They saw obedience to parents, kindness and love to all, and total devotion to God in heaven. They, more than anyone else, could look back on almost 30 years and say, “We cannot convict him of any sin.” They, who were sinful themselves, needed his sinlessness. They needed his blood for the forgiveness of sins.
But the peoples’ response was no different the second time. “Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” They couldn’t get past the fact that he at one time was one of the carpenters in town, and that he used to sit next to them in the synagogue to hear the words of the Bible. Jesus came with the word of authority and with miracle-working power to back up his message, and they could not put 2 + 2 together.
Only two times in the gospels does it say that Jesus was amazed.
- He was amazed at the great faith of the centurion.
- And he was amazed at the great unbelief of Nazareth.
“And they took offense at him.” Literally, they were tripped and trapped, like an animal that trips the trigger mechanism and is trapped for death. Familiarity with Jesus the neighbor bred contempt in their hearts that showed itself in unbelief. Their unbelief led them to choke on the idea that he was their Messiah - their Savior. Jesus was not the God-Man come to save sinners. He was Jeshua.
What’s the lesson for us? For most of us, we were made members of Christ’s family through Holy Baptism. We had Sunday School training and maybe even had parents who cared about us enough to make sure that we were in church every Sunday. Does familiarity with Jesus breed contempt for him in our own lives?
Jesus said, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” Without honor means that a person does not hold him in the highest respect. With honor means that a person listens to what he has to say, believes him, and acts upon what he says. Does that describe how we regard Jesus?
Is that what we see in our worship, in our relationship with each other, our desire to forgive as Jesus forgave, our desire to let love cover a multitude of sins in our spouse, our children, the person in your neighborhood or at work that you just don’t like?
One of the raps that unbelievers have against Christians is this: They get all dressed up to praise God on Sunday, then they live like everyone else on Monday. There’s truth in that statement, to one degree or another. All of us are weak. All of us daily must fight the flesh. We need Jesus’ patience!
We need his patience because unbelief in our own lives shows itself:
- in the way we try to justify our own sinful actions because we do not want to admit our sins, just like David refused to confess his sins of adultery and murder
- when lying becomes bending the truth
- when lust or pride are crouching at our door, and we leave the door cracked open so we can entertain them
- when we let anger make our heart so inflamed that it cannot forgive and forget
- when we let days go by without thinking about the cross of Jesus and all that he did for us
- when we take Jesus’ word for granted, and fail to meditate on it
- when we fail to see the plank in our eye when confronting others about their sins (if we are even willing to show love by calling those close to us to repentance)
- when we get angry if someone uses the word to rebuke or correct us when we sin
Jesus, according to some, may have walked out of Nazareth after one visit and never returned. Or he patiently returned and gave them one more opportunity. Whatever the case, he never returned. Never again did he call these people into a new covenant of God’s grace and forgiveness. He shook his head in amazement at those who should have known better, but who chose the world rather than him. If we…
- find ourselves so comfortable in our sins that we only want to make excuses for them
- are eager to claim Jesus as our Savior but are unwilling to follow him because it doesn’t fit into our plans
- are eager to worship him on Sunday, but unwilling to walk with him on Monday
…then we look up and see Jesus amazed at us! Then we need to hang our heads in sorrow. Then we need to go back to the cross and see what patience did for us: The blood we need to find peace is on the ground there. God’s wrath left the skies dark there. Jesus’ obedience made your forgiveness a reality there. Jesus’ rising gave you hope to rise one day, too.
HE’S MORE THAN THE CARPENTER’S SON. He shows great patience. He treats us with love rather than wrath. He gives us his life rather than condemning us to death. He disciplines us in love rather than let us wallow in sin. Thank the Savior for his amazing and long-armed patience!
With such great patience he displays great power. That power is found in his preaching, teaching and miracles. “Where did this man get these things? What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles?” the people of Nazareth asked. The answer should have been obvious to them: These things – wisdom and miracles – came from God. Even Nicodemus could say, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2).
In his Word he displays great power. His word is not wishy-washy; rather, it is a word of authority. He didn’t change it to fit the needs of those in Nazareth. Nor does his Word change to fit the culture of our day. The Word that came to die for the sins of the world has, in his Word, declared the way of salvation and eternal life to all people. You and I are living proof of his almighty power, because it woke us from the dead when the waters of baptism were poured on us. That power pulverized the stony heart of sin and gave us a heart filled with love and joy and peace. That power changed our status from guilty to “not guilty” before God, so that now God looks at us with a smiling face. The power that raised Christ, that saved Adam and Abraham and David and St. Paul touched us. His power takes the realities of Scripture and turns them into a way of life for us. Christianity is not what we do; it is who we are. The power that the people of Nazareth refused is, by God’s grace, the power that makes us saved and full of life for the Lord.
Patience and Power. The Lord uses both in dealing with us. His first priority was to save us and fit us for heaven.
Holding on to the Lord as our first priority, Christians cannot hold onto anything that can separate them from God’s love and power. Holding on to the wonders of his patience and power will keep us from treating him with contempt. Then the world will see another side of a Christian, the side that says that Jesus is not only my Savior, but our Guide in life as well.
Christ’s mission becomes our mission, and we will ready to share that good news even with those who are close to us...and even if it means we will be met with the same reaction as Jesus faced from his family and friends. We learn today that talking about Jesus as the only way to heaven is not always met with blazing success, especially with those closest to us. We know what we face, because Jesus had to overcome it in us: a heart that is dead in transgressions and sins. Our job is not to argue someone into faith; it is simply to share the love of Jesus, and let the Holy Spirit use that message to bring a person to faith. It is the power of Christ that changes hearts, not our logic. We simply share the message and pray for that power to take effect in the hearts of our hearers. And if they say, “I know you! Who do you think you are, telling me about my relationship with God?”, we can confess our own sinfulness and need for Jesus’ love, and then pray that the Spirit will bring honor to the name of Jesus by working in their heart.
HE’S MORE THAN THE CARPENTER’S SON. That’s seen in his amazing patience and in his amazing power. Think how it has changed you and given you hope and joy. Think of the joy that it can bring to others. Then familiarity will not breed contempt; rather, it will make Jesus and his mercies new every day.
Rev. Thomas E. Bauer
Shoreland Lutheran High School