Mark 6:2, 6
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? He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Have you ever been utterly dumbfounded? You think you know a person, you understand all the things that could possibly happen, then BAM! Something’s strange. Some of you might have felt that when the World Trade centres were hit by two planes. My dad was dumbfounded when my brother and I told him we had girlfriends, and again when I told him I was going to propose. And when Jesus’ family, childhood friends and workmates heard Him spout this wisdom, the Truth of God, they were dumbfounded, amazed, astonished. Where’s this from? What is this wisdom? What are these miracles? Isn’t this that bloke I grew up with? Who is He to preach to me?
Jesus had, by this point taught at quite a few synagogues on quite a few Sabbaths, but had never had a reaction quite like this. In Marks first chapter the people were amazed with the authority that He spoke with and told everyone about this new teacher, the new teaching, ‘God’s kingdom is here, repent and believe the good news.’ (Mark 1: 21-28; 15). Jesus healed them, and many around the city, but He only healed those who had faith that He could. But here, among His own people, His own earthly family, they didn’t believe and so He could only heal a few. This is the first time in Mark that a town rejects Jesus and the Good News and He marvels that His own people do not believe.
Now, do you believe? Do you believe that God’s kingdom is here, that you must turn from your ways, and that Jesus speaks the truth, the Good News? Do you truly believe that you are evil, that everything that comes from you is corrupt, your actions, thoughts and even desires? Or do you look at me instead of the message? ‘Who is this kid, telling us we’re sinners?’ ‘What authority does he have over us?’ Would you trust these words more if I were your son, or if I were a chippy, someone you knew well, but hadn’t seen for a bit suddenly telling you gotta change? Or would you dismiss what I have to say, maybe even get angry and kick me out as in Luke’s account when the locals try to kill Jesus (Luke 4:29)? This is what happened to Him, because He was a tradie, not a teacher, had a questionable birth, and was family, too familiar. Not just that, but also Jesus brought God’s Word and wisdom; that hard word that you are evil, turned in on yourself, stealing honour for yourself and in and of yourself rejecting the one who created you, loves you, sustains you and talks to you. You need salvation and Jesus brings it too you, and in Him with the Holy Spirit you are changed, forgiven, renewed, cleansed and made holy.
Maybe you’re less worried about who I am, but have become too familiar with the message itself. Do you still repent and try to change or have you become complacent in your Christian life? Do you think that though Christ died for your sins on the cross, that was not enough and you need to still do something for your salvation, that what you do can make God forgive you? Have you come to think that deep down, there is good in you after all, that you are not sinful to the core? You have heard this Word from God for years, perhaps your whole life. It is part of your history, your story, it has become familiar. Maybe you think you understand God’s Word and don’t need to hear it more, you’ve heard it once and don’t need to think on it and now you rely on your own memory and thoughts. But then you rely on your self, that self that Jesus tells you is dirty, rotten, wicked and must be changed. Maybe this message is so familiar that you ignore how offensive it is to you and every other, and Jesus’ childhood friends and family.
One thing that stuck out very clearly to me while reading this passage was this fact, the reject of Jesus by His family. Even though He spoke the truth to them, they did not accept it. And how often do we experience the same with our families. Interestingly after this He sends the twelve to spread His message in the region. Now I’m not certain of His aim there, but I do know that even if God’s Word from you is rejected by your family, He certainly can and many times does send others to them.
That is a hope we have, despite the offence that God’s message brings. And another thing, this message of God is true, and even though it is a hard truth, because it is true, it’s hard to ignore. We see it in ourselves, a sudden desire for violence or other sin, a subtle inclination for small but growing lies, an action without thinking that brings no good or godly result; and of course, we see it in others. We humans are by nature, sinful and unclean. This truth stands and we cannot get rid of it, maybe we can try to ignore it, distract ourselves or lie to ourselves, but the truth still remains. And if it remains for us it remains for all those we love too, and just like Jesus’ family there may come a time when we accept it and our family does too. Jesus’ brothers James and Jude who rejected Him here later became leaders in the Christian church, both with letters kept in the Bible. Despite that initial rejection and offence, they kept listening to God’s Word, to scripture, and through that the Holy Spirit produced faith. In the same way as your family hears God’s Word from you and others, and as you yourself continue to read and listen to God’s Word, God will work in you and them, reminding of the truth of our situation. You are wicked and sinful, and Jesus, sent by the Father, has saved you from that and The Spirit is changing you, making you holy and good. Amen
Pastor Joseph Graham