THE SHOCKING REALITY FOR GOD’S MESSENGERS:
THOSE WHO KNOW YOU THE BEST BELIEVE YOU THE LEAST
INTRODUCTION: (Parallel — Matt. 13:54-58)
We come this morning to a very short story – but one of the saddest stories in the gospel accounts. In Chap. 5 we saw numerous incidents where Faith (despite its limitations) triumphed. As we open up Chap. 6 we see the tragedy of lack of faith. We are going to see Jesus rejected in His home town Nazareth. Then next week we will see the disciples commissioned for their short term missionary project with the dominant story being the beheading of John the Baptist by the unbelieving Roman ruler Herod Antipas
General maxim – there certainly are exceptions to the rule
Mark Copeland: You have likely heard the saying “familiarity breeds contempt”, which means…
a. The better we know people, the more likely we are to find fault with them. – The New
Dictionary of Cultural Literacy
b. If you know someone very well or experience something a lot, you stop respecting them. – The Free Dictionary
c. The more you know something or someone, the more you start to find faults and dislike things about it or them. – UsingEnglish.com
Van Parunak: A specific episode to show them how rejection can come not only from the religious leaders (which we have seen several times already) but also from the masses (new here), and how to deal with it.
4 SOBERING INSIGHTS REGARDING REJECTION
I. (:1-2A) FAMILIAR HOMECOMING SETTING: REJECTION HURTS MOST WHEN THERE IS AN EXPECTATION OF POSITIVE ACCEPTANCE
A. (:1a) Stealth Departure from Capernaum — Resurrection Miracle Did Not Secure Acceptance
“And He went out from there,”
After raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead He had commanded that no one spread the word about that dramatic miracle; He did not want to make a big deal and stir up further opposition; it was time to get out of Dodge
Journey of about 25 miles southwest to Nazareth
MacArthur: Jesus went out from there, meaning Capernaum where He had based His Galilean ministry up to this point. This marks a crisis, by the way, in the history of Capernaum. At this point when He leaves, He never comes back to reestablish Himself there. It’s no more His home. No longer is the center of His Galilean ministry, only occasionally does He visit there and only in passing. Capernaum has heard enough and seen enough, plenty to be responsible for believing.
Furthermore, they don’t need more information. They don’t need more revelation. And additionally the growing power and hostility of the Pharisees and the scribes makes it dangerous for Him to go there. And then there’s the nearness of Herod’s residence in Tiberias not far away which made it nearly impossible for Him to be in Capernaum. And furthermore, Capernaum was doomed. Listen to Matthew 11. “He began to denounce the cities…verse 20…in which most of His miracles were done because they didn’t repent. Woe to you, Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida, for if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sack cloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you,” that is to say, it will be more tolerable in hell for idolatrous Gentiles than it will be for religious Jews who rejected Christ. “And you, Capernaum…verse 23…will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades for if the miracles that occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you. In hell it would have been better for you to be a homosexual pervert living in Sodom than to be a synagogue-attending, self-righteous Jew living in Capernaum.” That town is cursed.
B. (:1b) Uneventful Home Town Reception in Nazareth
“and He came into His home town;”
A small village of no consequence – about 500 inhabitants; surely everybody knew everybody else; how could anyone significant come out of Nazareth?
Where was the Palm Sunday Hallelujah Chorus with the big band and the adulation?
Imagine the type of home town reception for a returning war hero or a big-time celebrity – parades down main street; political figures out to greet you and give you a key to the city;
Did you ever see the home town visits by the American Idol finalists – huge crowds cheering and worshiping their entertainment idols; longing for just a glimpse of their face or maybe an autograph
Jesus has been off on a widespread ministry tour – teaching with authority; performing impressive miracles; what type of reception did he find back at Nazareth? No crowds thronging around Him; no accolades
Remember what had transpired when He was driven out of the synagogue on His last visit
Wiersbe: Jesus returned to Nazareth, where a year before He had been rejected by the people and evicted from the synagogue (Luke 4:16-30). It was certainly an act of grace on His part to give the people another opportunity to hear His Word, believe, and be saved, and yet their hearts were still hard. This time, they did not evict Him: they simply did not take Him seriously.
MacArthur: It is in its ancient configuration about sixty acres on a rocky hillside on the road to nowhere. The best guess is the town had about 500 residents, not exactly a booming metropolis, about 500 residents. It is so obscure that it is never mentioned in the Old Testament, never mentioned in the Jewish Mishnah, never mentioned in the Jewish Talmud, never mentioned by Josephus. And no church ever appeared there until the fourth century A.D. Our Lord returns to this little small town for one final visit to the people who were most familiar with Him. If you grow up for 30 years in a town of 500, you know everybody and everybody knows you. About a year earlier, He had made that other visit when they tried to kill Him.
Wessel: That Jesus was considered by the Galileans as a Nazarene is implied by Mark 1:9, 24; John 1:46. Even though he was born in Bethlehem, since his family lived in Nazareth and he had been brought up there, it was natural to regard it as his hometown.
Illustration: Driving Teen Haven van – blew out a tire on Surekill Expressway outside of Phila; went to service station of proprietor I had known as a youth. Expected special treatment.
Hiebert: The inhabitants of Nazareth did not flock to Him as soon as He arrived. They did not give their returning townsman an excited welcome.
C. (:1c) Loyal Following by His Disciples – Preparation for Ministry
“and His disciples followed Him.”
Wessel: The incident Mark records here should not be thought of as a personal visit by Jesus to his family. Rather, he comes as a rabbi accompanied by his disciples
Should be instructive to them regarding what type of reception they could expect after sacrificial ministry
D. (:2a) Consistent Approach to Ministry
“And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue;”
You cannot get a better home field advantage than this
Here you have the Lord of the Sabbath … the Messiah, King of the Jews, teaching in his home town synagogue on the Sabbath
Jesus was not driven by peer pressure or what type of popular response He was receiving; He went about His Father’s business of preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God consistently – message of repentance and faith
Grace of God providing yet another opportunity for these hard-hearted and blinded folks to hear the word of truth
II. (:2b-3) INCREDULOUS RHETORICAL QUESTIONS: REJECTION TAKES OFFENSE BECAUSE OF MORAL AND SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS DESPITE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE
A. (:2b) Rejection of the Evidence of His Teaching and Miracles –
Jesus Had Demonstrated Amazing Wisdom and Performed Mighty Miracles
“and the many listeners were astonished, saying,
‘Where did this man get these things,
and what is this wisdom given to Him,
and such miracles as these performed by His hands?’”
“this man” should not be teaching such words of wisdom and performing such works of power
Constable: They wondered “where” Jesus got the teaching and the authority that He demonstrated. They asked each other who had given Him the “wisdom” He manifested, and they questioned how Jesus had obtained His ability to do “miracles.”
B. (:3a) Rejection of the Evidence of His Person and Character
1. Familiarity with His Skill Set
“Is not this the carpenter,”
Probably demeaning — just one of the commoners among the disrespected working class who had a trade with their hands – working with stone or metal as well as wood – he was a builder of things with his hands – tekton – architect, technician
2. Familiarity with His Mother
“the son of Mary,”
Wessel: Behind this question may be the rumor, circulated during Jesus’ lifetime, that he was illegitimate (cf. John 4:41; 8:41; 9:29)
Hiebert: It was the common practice among the Jews to use the father’s name, whether he were alive or dead. A man was called the son of his mother only when his father was unknown.
3. Familiarity with His Brothers
“and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon?”
4. Familiarity with His Sisters
“Are not His sisters here with us?”
Richards: By the second century A.D. a reverence for the holy family, and especially for the sanctity of Mary, resulted in the brothers and sisters of Jesus being regarded as children of Joseph by a former marriage. Both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, in dependence on creeds form the fourth century and later, call Mary “ever virgin” and follow the view that Jesus’ siblings were half-brothers and half-sisters. Arguments that Jesus was an only child are based on later dogma, however. The plain sense of v. 3, and of the NT in general, is that Jesus was the oldest of five brothers and at least two sisters, all of whom were the natural children of Joseph and Mary.
C. (:3b) Rejection Expressed in Amazing Unbelief
“And they took offense at Him.”
Who do you think you are? You can’t fool us. We have known you since you were young.
Wessel: The word translated “they took offense” is from skandalizomai, from which the English word “scandal” is derived. . . The idea conveyed by the Greek verb is that of being offended and repelled to the point of abandoning (whether temporarily or permanently, the word does not specify) belief in the Word (cf. Lk. 8:13) or one’s relation with Jesus (14:27, 29).
III. (:4) CORE TEACHING PRINCIPLE: FAMILIARITY BREEDS CONTEMPT –
THOSE WHO KNOW YOU THE BEST BELIEVE YOU THE LEAST
“And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his home town
and among his own relatives and in his own household.’”
Deut. 18:15 – pointing to Himself as a prophet
Van Parunak: he is a “dishonored” prophet. “Without honor” is atimos, used (adj and verb) 2x in the LXX in Isa. 53:3 “despised.”
3 Concentric circles — narrowing down to your closest family relatives
Wiersbe: “Familiarity breeds contempt” is a well-known maxim that goes all the way back to Publius the Syrian, who lived in 2 BC. Aesop wrote a fable to illustrate it. In Aesop’s fable, a fox had never before seen a lion, and when he first met the king of the beasts, the fox was nearly frightened to death. At their second meeting, the fox was not frightened quite as much; and the third time he met the lion, the fox went up and chatted with him! And so it is,” Aesop concluded, “that familiarity makes even the most frightening things seem quite harmless.”
Look at how the name of Jesus Christ is so familiar to people – yet they use it every day as a curse word
Familiarity should not breed contempt among those who are mature in the faith – that is why one of the main requirements for spiritual office is that others be familiar with the testimony of your life; we are not looking for hired guns from far off places where we don’t know anything about their lifestyle
IV. (:5-6) NEGATIVE MINISTRY IMPACT: UNBELIEF AND REJECTION DENY PEOPLE THE BENEFITS OF POTENTIAL MINISTRY
A. (:5) Limited Healing Ministry
“And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them.”
Cranfield: “The point of ouk edunato [“no miracle”] is not that Jesus was powerless apart from men’s faith, but that in the absence of faith he could not work mighty works in accordance with the purpose of his ministry; for to have worked miracles where faith was absent would, in most cases anyway, have been merely to have aggravated men’s guilt and hardened them against God.”
B. (:6) Diverted Teaching Ministry
1. Shocking Unbelief at Home
“And He wondered at their unbelief.”
Van Parunak: “He marveled.” The word occurs six times in Mark; 5x of men’s attitude toward Jesus, only here of him. What is marvelous is not just that they do not believe, but that they disbelieve in the face of the evidence! They acknowledge his wisdom, and the power of his acts, and yet still reject him! NB: Don’t swallow the line that people disbelieve for lack of evidence. The hardness of the human heart is such that they disbelieve even in the presence of evidence.
Warning – Heb. 3:12 “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.”
Wiersbe: Jesus was certainly a “stone of stumbling” to them because of their unbelief (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:8).
2. Selective Itinerant Teaching Ministry to Surrounding Villages
“And He was going around the villages teaching.”
Hiebert: a transitional statement, well set off as a separate paragraph. It marked the outcome of the visit to Nazareth but also set the background for the mission of the twelve.
Will be sending the disciples out on their first trial missionary journey – hopefully they have been observing and taking notes and learning this very important lesson
So far as we know, Jesus never returned again to His home town, Nazareth.
Let’s not despise those who refuse to believe the gospel. We can be amazed at their failure to respond to the evidence before them … but understand that but for the grace of God, there we go as well.
It is only God’s sovereign gracious power that draws any of us into fellowship with Himself.