Friday, July 3, 2015

Pentecost 6- Proper 9

Proper 9
July 5, 2015
Mark 6:1-6
The Scandal of Christ

Grant, Lord that the course of this world may be so governed by Your direction that Your Church may rejoice in serving You in godly peace and quietness. Give us eyes to recognize You, ears to receive Your Word, and hearts to believe its promises. By Your grave, bring us to the fullness of Your glory…

He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” – (John 1:11) Two very different astonishments stand, side by side. Jesus’ teachings amaze His hometown neighbors. Yet their closed- minded, obstructed hardness, leaves Jesus amazed.

We see similar contrasts today. People experience so much goodness from God and yet remain unfaithful and unbelieving. But Jesus did not retaliate. Or write people off. Even when they scornfully dismissed Him. He took the world’s rejection. And through His sacrificial death, reconciled the world to God.

In Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. The people take offense at Him. The religious community had already written Him off. Now, His friends and relative – the people from His own hometown will reject Him too.

These people were astonished at His teaching and His words. They could not explain His greatness. They referred to Him, as they knew Him - a carpenter…The son of Mary along with his brothers and sisters.  Unable to explain Him, they took offense. They were scandalized by Him. A prophet is without honor among His own people.

That was then. This is now. What sort of reception does Jesus receive today? Those who can’t figure Jesus out. Who are unable to get the explanation they want take offense of Jesus and His word. It was a sad day for the people of Nazareth. It remains a sad day whenever someone rejects the Savior and His message of grace.

Did Jesus fail? From our text, one might assume so – there is a reason why – the people refused to believe in Him. “A prophet is not without honor even from his own country.”       

In Jesus’ hometown. In Nazareth. The people take offense at Jesus and His work. How so?

Jesus failed to gain the people’s understand Vv. 2-3 - “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.”  Mark 6:2 -3

The people took offense at Jesus. His mere presence created a scandal.  His own people were not proud of His teaching and healing. Jesus was not the local body who made good. They were jealous of His power. His wisdom. His success. He was a simple carpenter. Where did He get this wisdom? His mother, brothers, and sisters all lived there. “Who does He think He is?” they asked. They were so offended. They could not believe Him. Was He a prophet sent from God? Surely not!

Transition: Jesus failed to gain the people’s understanding. He failed to win the people’s faith.  

He failed to win the people’s faith in Him V.6 - “And he was amazed at their lack of faith.” Mark 6:6

It was not that Jesus could not do any mighty work.  To the contrary.  He had the blessing of His Father. Faith is the receptive agent, which receives these gifts. Without faith, God’s grace would do us no good.

Thus, the hymn writer would remind us;
Today Your mercy calls us
To wash away our sin.
However great our trespass,
Whatever we have been,
However long from mercy
Our hearts have turned away,
Your precious blood can wash us
And make us clean today.[1]

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Savior, or I die![2]

Nazareth was a defeat for Jesus. There was no other place where Jesus was rejected except at the cross outside the Holy City. Of all places, Jesus could have expected acceptance was among His closest friends and family. It may have discouraged Jesus to giving up His teaching and preaching. How does He take this failure? “He went one teaching.” He went on with His work to other places; working as hard as ever.

Transition:   Jesus failed to gain the people’s understanding. He failed to win the people. He failed to do them good.   

Failed to do them good – V.5 - “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.” Mark 6:5

Notice the cold irony and tragedy. He was rejected by “His own country.” His very own country – Nazareth – rejected Him. Nazareth. Where He had grown up. Nazareth. 

Where He worked as a carpenter. Nazareth. Where His relatives and family lived. Such a tragedy! His home folks rejected Him. He could not do any miracles there, except to lay His hands on a few sick people to heal them.

He came to His own, and His own received Him not!”  His immediate family called Him crazy. His hometown rejected Him. Leaders if His religion pronounced Him “possessed” of the devil. His nation cried out, “Crucify Him!”

Yet in this rejection, He offers you a great exchange – your sins for His righteousness. Because a people rejected Him, the Father offered His grace to any who would receive Him by faith. That’s why we call the leniency of God a gift. God’s mercy.  His underserved kindness.  His compassion and grace.

How shall you react to Jesus? He comes to you this day. Does He receive the same cold shoulder? What is your reaction? To this Jesus? Spurn Him not – rather trust in Him. Receive His gifts. With great rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Words –1,035
Passive Sentences -3%
Readability – 79.2%
Reading Level – 4.1

[1] Today Your Mercy Calls Us, Lutheran Service Book © 2006, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Lutheran Service Book © 2006, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

No comments: