A Brief Update
For those of you who are unable to gather corporately with us this Sunday, you are loved and missed! If this is you, we are providing the songs we are singing together this morning and a devotional based on the sermon being preached.
Songs We are Singing Together
Devotional on Mark 6:1-13
Studying the Psalms these past weeks has been refreshing and strengthening to our souls, and a wonderful reminder of God’s love for us, his children, but that loves isn’t only for us. We must keep in sight that our church has a task given to it by the Savior. We are disciples of Christ and we have much to do in making new disciples for Christ.
The Fall in Genesis 3 was the tragic event that launched humanity into a world of darkness, sin, and unimaginable suffering. It was the ruin of the unique and intimate relationship we had with God, but it was not the end of the story. God’s love for his creation has no boundaries of grace, and by his grace he had a plan to redeem the lost. That plan was to send God the Son into the world of humanity. He became one of us that he might come to us. And come he did to preach the good news of saving grace.
Jesus came to preach the good news everywhere, even where he was unwelcome. Here in Mark’s gospel of Jesus’ trip to Nazareth, Mark paints a vivid picture of exactly who Jesus came for regardless of the trouble he would face.
Mark 6 opens by providing us with a portrait of Christ’s coming. He came to preach the good news.
[Read Mark 6:1-6]
In Mark 5 we read of Jesus performing many miracles and attracting large crowds, but things are very different when we come to chapter 6.
Jesus leaves the big city and heads toward his tiny hometown of Nazareth where he grew up. It’s where his family and friends still are, and where everyone knows everyone else. Only his disciples are with him.
Jesus was not visiting for old time’s sake. He brought his disciples with him because he was engaged in gospel work. This family visit was not something to look forward to. Back in chapter 3 things had not gone well with his family. There they tried to put him away for being crazy so going home wouldn’t be a warm welcome.
Just the opposite was in store, and yet Jesus headed home because he had come to preach good news everywhere, even where he was not welcome.
He is asked to preach in the synagogue, and his message was the same one he gave everywhere he went: “Repent of your sins because the kingdom of God is at hand. And that’s when the fireworks began.
Mark records that they are astonished by what they hear. Many times in Mark’s gospel he tells of people being astonished at what Jesus says and does.
But Nazareth was different. They were astonished. They heard the authority and authenticity of his message except in their “astonishment they burned with anger”, because his message was calling them to repent of their sins.
They heard his divine wisdom, they were aware of his divine power, but they could not listen to this – not from a kid they grew up with.
They wondered, “Is this not the carpenter? We watched him work among us. He’s a common laborer like the rest of us. Where did he get these things he’s saying? How did he get this wisdom? He’s no more educated than the rest of us. How are such mighty works done by his hands? And he’s telling us we need to repent? No wonder his family thinks he’s crazy. Who does he think he is anyway? God?”
Rather than believing his message they are deeply offended and resentful. Mark uses a word in the Greek that’s an even stronger word; they are “scandalized.”
But Jesus responds in verse 4 by quoting a common Jewish proverb – in today’s vernacular – “familiarity breeds contempt.” Their own prejudice and unbelief had so gripped their hearts, so blinded their eyes, so deceived their thinking, they could not see God standing right in front of them.
Mark then records something that is chilling: Jesus could do no miracles there. It was not that it was “physically impossible” for Jesus to do any miracles – he is God and he can do anything, but in that atmosphere of unbelief and rejection it would have been morally wrong for him to exercise his power. Unbelief is not an intellectual problem but a moral one. Their hearts were rejecting Jesus.
Why Jesus went back home makes no sense. But Mark makes it clear that he went home for one purpose: to preach the gospel out of love for his family and friends.
Although rejected and resented Jesus remained undeterred to seek and save the lost. Even in the midst of rejection, ridicule, and unbelief, his mercy triumphed over his judgment as some are healed even though they did not deserve his kindness.
This is the gospel; grace and mercy given to undeserving sinners who mock and reject the Savior. Mercy triumphs even in the darkest place. How dark?
In verse 6 we see how their unbelief was so pronounced that it even amazed Jesus. Scripture records only two times Jesus is amazed. The faith of the Centurion soldier and the unbelief of the people of Nazareth (a portrait of the world). The tragic result of their unbelief is that few are healed, and so he moves on because others need to hear the message of hope.
Next, Mark moves to a portrait of the disciples going.
[Read Mark 6:7-13]
These two narratives come back to back because they describe the same mission. The disciples are there for a purpose. To be a disciple of Christ is to make disciples for Christ.
Early on in Mark he told them he would make them “fishers of men,” and now the time has come. They have seen up to this time numerous demonstrations of his authority and power, but also significant opposition, and yet they see Jesus not lose heart, but faithfully preach the gospel whatever the cost because he is obedient.
Jesus wants his disciples to know that unbelief is not the last word so he gives them his authority through the gospel which is the power of God for salvation.
It’s interesting to read “how” Jesus instructs them to go – instructions that are written for us as well. He wisely crafts their understanding of their “ministry” as one of complete dependence upon Him.
He tells them that all they need is to go on his own authority. He tells them that if they go in dependence upon him then they will be cared for. He tells them to be among the lost, spend time with them, eat with them, live with them, and get to know them personally.
But he also tells them that when they go they will face difficulty. Their message will be rejected as they encounter unbelief, but they must still preach repentance. “Shaking the dust off their feet as a testimony against them” was not a sign of self-righteousness but a serious warning that rejecting Christ has very serious consequences. It also reveals a sense of urgency for his disciples. There are others who need to hear so “don’t waste your time.” And when the message is rejected, move on, it’s no longer your concern.
Sharing the gospel is a spiritual battle of epic proportions, and the ground we fight on is littered with casualties, but victory has been promised by the one who secured the enemies defeat when he hung on Calvary. Christ’s death defeated sin and death, and his resurrection is the raising of God’s flag.
The battle of unbelief is not only out there. Sometimes this battle takes place in our own hearts. We ask ourselves questions like, “Will telling them the gospel really make a difference? Do I really have Christ’s authority? How come I don’t see it work?” Or we sow to thoughts of doubt: “I’ve tried and I’m discouraged.” Or “I’m fearful of their response.”
But we are never alone! Jesus promises to always be with us, and he is (Matt 28:20). We can go anywhere for him because even more important than our going is that he is with us. He is the savior who came and who keeps coming through his disciples because he loves all his creation. God desires everyone to come to a saving knowledge of the truth.
In verses 12 and 13 we see that the reward for their obedience was evident. As promised Jesus’ authority went with them, and it goes with us, but we must go. To be a disciple of Christ is to make disciples for Christ. Whether persecution or pandemic we offer those who are lost the same saving and transforming grace Jesus gave us.
A Song of Response