July 11, 2021
Pastor John Hering
A Prophet Without Honor
6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 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? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 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.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Perhaps you’ve had this experience. You were walking down the baggage claim at the airport and noticed a famous person standing at the baggage belt waiting for his luggage. Most people don’t notice what you notice. This is a famous person and he is having to gather up his own luggage. He was returning from a concert tour in Europe and about to head home. You can well imagine that his neighbors will be happy to see him because he is a hometown hero. The town might even put up a sign on the edge of town that says, “Hometown of Garth Brooks!” This happens for sports heroes, American Idols stars and political figures.
But, not all hometown heroes receive that kind of reaction. How about someone who has healed the sick, raised the dead and fed the thousands? Surely he would receive a hero’s welcome when he returned to Nazareth! He had been preaching marvelous messages and producing major miracles around the Sea of Galilee. Then, “Jesus left there and went to his hometown. His disciples followed him. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue.” As was his custom, Jesus went to the synagogue, the place where the Word of God was being proclaimed, and, as a guest teacher, he was asked to speak. Can you imagine Jesus standing in this pulpit and beginning to share insights into God’s Word to us? We would be on the edge of our seats thrilled to listen to what he had to say! So far the Savior’s return to his hometown appeared normal. But then he proclaimed, because that’s what prophets do, the wonderful works of God. When the people heard him speak, they were stunned to hear what he said. It was as if a switch had been flipped and they turned on him.
This whole scene raises up in our hearts and minds soul-searching question: First, how often to I act like the people of Nazareth when I hear God’s Word. It is easy for me to listen to the Word when it doesn’t get too close to home. But, when the Word teaches God’s will on subject matters that I struggle with, how willing am I so submit my logic and reasoning to God’s holy will? Secondly, “How am I received by the people who know me?” I’m not talking about how popular you are or aren’t, whether you are excellent at your job or not, or even how much respect you have at work or school. I’m talking about those times we are talking with the people we know and the conversation turns to spiritual matters. First, will we stand up for the truth of God’s Word, and then what’s the reaction of the people with whom we are sharing that truth? Let’s wrestle with these questions as we focus on Mark 6 and think about what happens when
A Prophet Is Coming To Town
Will it Cause Rejection?
When we read this account of Jesus in Nazareth we really aren’t so surprised. Why did wicked King Ahab hang an arrest warrant over Elijah’s head? Because he was proclaiming God’s Word. Why did the prophet Amos get tossed out of another king’s palace? Because he was proclaiming God’s Word. Why was Jeremiah put in prison, locked in stocks, thrown into a cistern, and hauled out of town? Because he was proclaiming God’s Word. Elijah told Ahab, “Stop the madness—the sex cult of your worship, the child sacrifices, the greed, and the filth!” Amos commanded the leaders of Israel to stop oppressing the poor, the heartless treatment of widows and orphans, the tipping of the scales of justice in their favor with under the table wheeling and dealing. Jeremiah walked the streets of Jerusalem and shouted, “The Lord is going to allow an enemy army to overrun this city, and you deserve it because you have rejected God.” All these people knew these prophets. Familiarity didn’t breed contempt when these prophets came to town. Cold-hearted rejection of the truth did.
So it was with the people of Nazareth. After Jesus finished speaking in his hometown synagogue, “They asked, “Where did this man learn these things? What is this wisdom that has been given to this man? How is it that miracles such as these are performed by his hands? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” These neighbors knew his family. His sisters had very likely married men from their town. They were familiar with Jesus as a boy and simply could not begin to imagine that he was the Messiah. Where did he get such an education? How is it that Jesus had such amazing insights into God’s Word? How could this man who grew up learning carpenter skills from his dad perform such amazing miracles? All of these things stacked up against their logic “And they took offense at him.”
The word the Holy Spirit caused Mark to record for “offense” speaks volumes. This word is “skandilizo.” The original picture is that of a hunter who sets up a trap by putting bait under a cage which is propped up by a stick. The animal comes to eat the bait and trips the stick and gets caught. This word is deadly serious and came to be used to describe something that causes a person to stumble. The event seems so harmless and common, but then you come to realize the trap that is set and if you’re caught you feel angry, disgusted and helpless.
Who would ever think such a thing could happen on the Sabbath day in a synagogue! But the people of Nazareth, the people of Jesus’ hometown tripped and stumbled when Jesus spoke. What they saw didn’t match what they thought they knew. They grew angry and wanted to kick Jesus out of the way. There was Jesus right in front of them. He told them the truth! He told them that their sins had separated them from God. He told them that the Father sent him to save them from their sins. But they refused to believe that he was the only one who could take those sins away in God’s sight. They rejected the Prophet, the messenger who proclaimed God’s truth. Jesus’ message caused Rejection. Then comes Jesus’ answer to their sad rejection: “4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own house.” Jesus’ honor would not come from these people, but from the Father in heaven who hear Jesus proclaim law and gospel just as people needed to hear it. The Father wasn’t going to say, “Oh, why are you preaching that way to those poor people!” No, the Lord honored Jesus, and us, when we speak the true of God’s Word. It is never on us if someone rejects the gospel or the truth of God’s Word. It is on them. Therefore it is our role to love others and share Jesus no matter the outcome. And trust God’s Word to work.
If you had been there and had a chance to defend Jesus (as if he needed any defending) what would you have said? “Folks! Jesus is speaking the truth to you. He has come to bring us forgiveness and eternal life! Jesus is exactly what you need!” We may not be there, but we are here. Right here in this House of Prayer we receive exactly what we need for our souls, our faith, and our life. Right here the Church is being the Church by providing exactly what we all need. However, we all need to watch out for the “skandilizo!”—the trap! You can make headway into your career if you give up time with your spouse and your kids. But would that be rejection or rejoicing in the Prophet? You can get people at work to think you’re one of the crowd if you party too much after work, act crudely, and talk trash. But would that be rejection or rejoicing in the Prophet? You can think, “I’m the man of the house and I want things to go my way so I’m going to badger my wife and kids until I get my way!” Is that rejection or rejoicing in the Prophet? Today, let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that we don’t like it when the Prophet points out our weaknesses and failures that are flowing out from a sinful heart. Let’s confess our sinful behavior that keeps looking for whatever will make us feel better or gain friends, but at the expense of sacrificing our allegiance to Jesus on the altar of selfishness. May the reaction of the crowds of Nazareth stand as a warning for us to be aware that if we listen to our sinful nature and follow it, dig it up and play with it we will not only be rejecting the Prophet Jesus, but will awaken the wrath of God which can put us in an eternal fire so hot it will make a make a smelting furnace look like a bubble bath. It’s not familiarity with Jesus that brings that on. It’s unbelief.
Rather, let us trust in Jesus’ forgiveness for us. Let us strive to avoid the traps of sin in our life. Then let us arise anew in Jesus to patiently and lovingly share the Good News of Jesus with our family, relatives, acquaintance and neighbors. And if our speaking the truth is met with rejection, then we’ll join Elijah, Amos, Jeremiah and Jesus to recognize that God is speaking through us as his prophet who has come to town and sometimes the reaction is rejection. Then we will remember the words of St Peter, “13 Instead rejoice whenever you are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). When you are a prophet that comes to your “hometown” (the people in your life) to share God’s Word we will run the risk of them rejecting it, but we remember that God is also using us to share his Word …..
Or Will It Cause Rejoicing?
Proclaiming God’s Word does two things. The law shows us our sins and the gospel shows us our Savior. When the prophet Nathan came to King David to show him his sin and then proclaim forgiveness I don’t think King David was doing cart-wheels! He did receive relief for his troubled conscience and hope for the future when Nathan announced his forgiveness. David’s tears were both tears of repentance and tears of rejoicing. How sad it would have been for King David to reject both God’s law and his gospel.
So it was for the people in Nazareth. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry and raised the dead. What would it take for the people of Jesus’ hometown to be convinced that he was the Savior? They had closed their eyes and ears to Jesus’ words fallen for the trap of what they could only see. Mark adds these words about Jesus’ reaction, “5 He could not do any miracles there except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went around the villages teaching.” Even though Jesus was rejected by his hometown people, he did not give up: “Then he went around the villages teaching.” Jesus carried his message to many others who heard and believed and rejoiced in Jesus their Savior.
The message Jesus proclaimed continued through the lives of the disciples and thousands of people who heard, believed and continued to share God’s message of law and Gospel. It has been passed down all the way to you. Do you want tears of repentance and rejoicing in forgiveness? I do. How about we get more familiar with the Prophet Jesus who has come to our hometown and lives in our heart? Make worship an indispensable start to your week. Wear out the covers and pages of your Bible and your favorite Bible passages. Enjoy Bible Class on Sunday morning or Wednesday morning. Read the Daily Meditations and articles in the Forward in Christ magazine. And what will you find in your Bible reading, Bible study and worship? Not an easier life. Not a sure-fire way to have a successful business. Not an example of how to be nice to others so they are nice to you. But you will find a Savior who lived as your perfect Substitute and gave you his life to set your free from the curse of sin, the sting of death and the power of the devil. You will have your soul refreshed by Jesus who gave his life 2000 years ago and whose blood rushes like a river from the cross halfway around the world to cleanse our rotten little hearts and lives. That’s how our hearts are healed and changed. The more you know Jesus and God’s plan of salvation for you, the more you will rejoice each day because of what he has done for you. God’s Word creates and sustains faith and in faith we Rejoice That the Prophet Has Come to Our Town.
Then let us be the eager prophet to Jesus’ law and gospel with the people in our lives. You know someone who is struggling or having forgotten the seriousness of their sin. But, God’s Word spoken in truth about sin is powerful and leads to repentance. Then we get to joyfully proclaim the truth of the Gospel. In Jesus their sins are all forgiven! These words turn tears of repentance into tears of rejoicing. You get to be the prophet who has come to town, the messenger of God who proclaims Jesus.
You can imagine seeing some famous person doing the things average people do. Maybe they’re a basketball star and they are out mowing their lawn. Maybe they are from American Idol, but they are grocery shopping. Maybe they show up to their hometown and the people are so happy to see them. That’s great. But, you are God’s prophet who knows the truth of God’s Word. People might be surprised to see little ol’ average you sharing Jesus’ law and gospel with people. To be sure some are going to reject your words like Elijah, Amos, Jeremiah and Jesus. However, there are those who will hear and believe. Then you will get to experience the tears of repentance and rejoicing. Think of it! Right now there are people in heaven shaking the hands of Elijah, Amos and Jeremiah and saying, “Thank you for sharing God’s Word with. I’m here because the Holy Spirit created faith in my heart when you proclaimed the law and the gospel to me about my Savior.” Just think, some day we will be in heaven shaking the hands and thanking those who came to our hometown to share Jesus with us. Then we’ll turn around and someone will be there to shake our hands for sharing Jesus with them. Rejoice that Jesus came to your hometown and called you to be his forever. Amen.