Saturday, July 7, 2018

Pentecost 7 - Proper 9

Pentecost 7 – Proper 9
July 8, 2018
Mark 6:1-13
Is Jesus a failure?

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.” Mark 6:4        
In Jesus’ hometown. In Nazareth. The people take offense at Jesus. And His work. How so?
1.         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. We are told. Took offense at Jesus. Jesus’ literal presence. Created a scandal.  His own people. Were not proud of His teaching. And healing. Jesus was not a local boy who made good. They were jealous of His power. His wisdom. His success. 
After all. He was only a carpenter.  Where did He get this supposed wisdom? His mother. Brothers. And sisters. All lived there. “Who does He think He is?” they thought. They were so offended. They could not believe. He was one sent from God.
Nor could they explain His greatness. They referred to Him as a carpenter(a stone masonThe son of Mary. Unable to explain Him. They loathed Him. They took offense. They were scandalized by Him. Jesus reacted by saying that a prophet was without honor. Among His own people.
So. What do you think of Jesus? Everyone has an opinion. Are you willing to play fast and loose with His words and ways?  Does He offend you? Are His demands of discipleship simply too hard? 
It's easy to tar and feather the residents of Nazareth. For giving Jesus the cold shoulder. What sort of welcome would Jesus receive today?     -      "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?"
Ever wonder why Joseph's isn't even mentioned by the people who knew Jesus the most? After all. Nazareth wasn't that large of a town. 
This is the same place. The same space. Where we are told, "When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child."  (Matthew 1:18). In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah. (Luke 1:39) Mary ran off.  To the support. Comfort. And acceptance. Of her cousin Elizabeth. 
 Finally. When Jesus was born.  Even the members of Joseph's family would have nothing to do with him. There was simply, "no room" for them. (Luke 2:7)
 Soon after Jesus' birth. The family is warned to get up and move out of the country. In the middle of the night. 
Born into a less then hospitable family. He's forced to enter another country. In fear of His life.  Because the governing authorities have put out a bounty.  Threatening His life. And for good measure. The edict read: "Boys, two years of age and under" were to be executed. No excuses. No exceptions. (Matthew 2:13-23)
Herod the Great was king whom the Magi visited. He ordered the slaughter of the innocents at Bethlehem.
Thank God Egypt provided sanctuary! Today. Jesus would have undoubtedly been stopped and detained at the border. Denied entrance. Sent to an internment camp. Separated from family. The prejudice was clear. -  "Could anything good come out of Nazareth?"  (John 1:46) 
And even when the threats of murder had ceased. And fear would subside. It still was not completely over. The family still had to be constantly looking over their shoulder.  "But when (Joseph) heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene."  (Matthew 2:22-23) 
[Remember:  When Herod the Great died. Archelaus. His eldest son. Was placed over Judea and Samaria. He did not rule over the Galilee. We'll take up the issue of Herod Antipas. Who ruled Galilee. When Jesus began His public ministry. Recorded in the gospel lesson for next Sunday. So stay tuned...]
Transition: Jesus failed to gain the people’s understanding. He failed to win the people’s trust.   
2.         Failed to win the people’s trust 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 God’s gifts. And enables God’s power to work in the lives of people with faith. 

Yet. Without any willingness. With defiance. Refusing to be helped. Christ cannot help us. He will never forced Himself on anyone. Without faith. God’s grace would do us no good. Faith is the receiving hand. Which the Spirit offers freely. Thus the hymn writer would remind us;
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!
Nazareth was a defeat for Jesus. There was no other place where Jesus was rejected such as this. 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 continued...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’s faith. He failed to do them good.    
3.         Failed to do them good – V.5 - “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις 
Do you notice the cold irony? And tragedy?  In the words of our text? 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. 
The tragedy is that His home folks rejected Him. So much that He could not do any miracles there. Except to lay His hands on a few invalids 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. Jesus the Son of God.  Offers you this 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 what Jesus offers grace.  The Father's mercy. His underserved kindness. His compassion. And grace. He offers to you. This day.  As gift.
How shall we react to Jesus? Who comes to us this day. Does He receive the same cold shoulder? What is your reaction to this Jesus? Spurn Him not. Rather trust in Him. With all your heart.
Words -1,250
Passive Sentences -5%
Readability -81.2%
Reading Level – 3.4

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