Proper 9 – Series B
2 Corinthians 12:1–10
For July 8, 2018
The Ministers of Christ Are Sent with His Authority to Forgive Sins and Give Life
The prophet Ezekiel was raised up by the Spirit of the Lord and sent to speak an unpopular Word to the rebellious house of Israel. As a prophet, he was not to speak his own word, but to preach the Law and the Gospel: “Thus says the Lord God,” whether the people “hear or refuse to hear” (Ezekiel 2:4–5). So, too, in the footsteps of the prophets before Him, the Lord Jesus “went about among the villages teaching” (Mark 6:6). In His hometown, as elsewhere, “many who heard him were astonished,” marveling at His wisdom and at the “mighty works done by his hands,” and yet, “they took offense at him” (Mark 6:2–3).
The offense culminates in His cross, which is, ironically, the heart and center of His “authority over the unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7). It is by that authority of His cross that those He sends preach repentance, “cast out many demons” and heal the sick (Mark 6:12–13). Thus, the apostle Paul boasts in the cross of Christ and in his own weaknesses, knowing that God’s grace is sufficient and that the power of Christ “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8–9).
Collect for Proper 9 - O God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy. Grant us the fullness of Your grace that we may be called to repentance and made partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen
God of the covenant, in our baptism you call us to proclaim the coming of your kingdom. Give us the courage you gave the apostles, that we may faithfully witness to your love and peace in every circumstance of life, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Mark 6:1-13-The rejection by one's own people. Obstacles to ministry may occur with rejection. Jesus' hometown of Nazareth takes offense at Him and His work. Earlier Jesus was rejected by His family and religious leaders. Now He is rejected by the people (friends and relatives) of His hometown, Nazareth.
They were astonished at His teaching and mighty works. They could not explain His greatness; they referred to Him as a carpenter and as the son of Mary along with brothers and sisters. Unable to explain Him, they took offense or were scandalized by Him. Jesus reacted by saying that a prophet was without honor among His own people. He was unable to do mighty works because of the people's unbelief. Therefore, Jesus left with His disciples to teach in other towns.
This past week we celebrated our country's independence. God has blessed America in that given our representative form of democracy and our rights to practice our faith as outlines in the constitution the Gospel has had free reign.
Not all however is well within our country. Many would want to stifle the Gospel. We have no guarantee that America will last forever. The Lord could allow the Gospel to flourish in another place. Many of our Lutheran forefathers (and others) came to America to escape religious persecution happening in Europe. If the church in America received the same reception as did the Savior in His hometown would many simply stop coming? How do some today practice their faith because it is convenient? Is the church today in need of a reformation? Is it due to burn out or rust out?
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth/A Prophet Without Honor
See also Matthew 13:53-58; Luke 4:16-30.
The men of Nazareth are astonished at the wisdom and the mighty works of Jesus of Nazareth but take offense at the carpenter whose mother, brothers, and sisters they know so well. Their unbelief makes revelation impossible; He who met every need of man with God’s creative power but gave no sign to questioning and demanding unbelief (8:11–13) could do no mighty work there.
The triumphal progress of Jesus through the recent part of the narrative (since the explanatory discourse of chapter 4) is in danger of leaving the reader with a false sense of security. One after another the forces of wind and water, demonic possession, illness, and even death have yielded to his authority.
Forgetting the picture of divided response in chapters 2-3, the reader may be beginning to feel there is something almost automatic about the 'success' of Jesus. This pericope therefore serves to redress the balance, and to remind us that the effect of his ἐξουσια cannot be taken for granted. If πιστις has been the key to at least some of the preceding miracles of deliverance (4:40; 5:34, 36), what is to be expected where it is absent?
1 Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.
2 καὶ γενομένου σαββάτου ἤρξατο διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ, καὶ πολλοὶ ἀκούοντες ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες· πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα, καὶ τίς ἡ σοφία ἡ δοθεῖσα τούτῳ, καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τοιαῦται διὰ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτοῦ γινόμεναι;
And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?
διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ (didaskein en te sunagoge|teach in the synagogue) - See also 1:21-ff; 39; 3:1-ff. The invitation to teach in the synagogue reveals at first a degree of goodwill, or at least the recognition that Jesus is now a person of significance.
3 οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τέκτων, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας καὶ ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶ Σίμωνος; καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ ὧδε πρὸς ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ.
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
τέκτων (tekton|carpenter/wood craftsman) - Matthew reports that Jesus was called “the carpenter’s son” (Mt 13:55); only in Mark is Jesus himself referred to as a carpenter. The Greek word can apply also to a mason or smith, but it seems to have its usual meaning (“carpenter”) here. In a small village the τεκτων would need to be versatile, able to deal both with agricultural and other implements and also with the construction and repair of buildings. As such he was a significant figure in the village economy, probably also undertaking skilled work in the surrounding area. The question is derogatory, meaning, “Is he not a common worker with his hands like the rest of us?”
υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας (huios tes Marias|son of Mary) - All uncials, many minuscules, and important early versions read "is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary...?" Objection was early felt to this description of Jesus as carpenter, and several witnesses assimilate the text to Matthew 13:55 and read, "Is not this the son of the carpenter, the son of Mary?" The Palestinian Syriac achieves the same result by omitting ὁ τεκτων. The absence of any reference to Joseph may suggest that he had died before Jesus began his ministry.
ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶ Σίμωνος (adelphos Iakobou kai Iwsetos kai Iouda kai Simonos|brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon) - See also Luke 8:19. The much-debated question whether the brothers of Jesus were children of Joseph and Mary born after Jesus or children of Joseph by a previous marriage or Jesus’ cousins will probably never be settled to everyone’s satisfaction. The first suggestion (that they were children of Joseph and Mary) seems the most natural. See John 2:1-11
ἐσκανδαλίζοντο (eskandalizonto|they were stumbled) – Meaning cause (someone) to sin or give up the faith, but usually translated as ‘they took offense at him.’ They saw no reason to believe that he was different from them, much less that he was specially anointed by God. The meaning here is not just that they were provoked by him; there is also present the idea that to reject Jesus is to turn away from God.
4 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης ἄτιμος εἰ μὴ ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ.
And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
5 καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν, εἰ μὴ ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐθεράπευσεν.
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
οὐκ ἐδύνατο (ouk edunato|not he was able)- Matthew 13:58 rightly explains the οὐκ ἐδυνατο by reference to the ἀπιστια of the people. The point of οὐκ ἐδυνατο 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.
It was not that Jesus did not have power to perform miracles at Nazareth, but that he chose not to in such a climate of unbelief (verse 6). For to have worked miracles when faith was absent would, in most cases anyway, have been merely to have aggravated men's guilt and hardened them against God.
ἐθεράπευσεν (etherapeusen|he cured/healed/served) - There is a delightful irony in the juxtaposition of the two clauses of this verse: for most people the healing of a few invalids by laying hands on them would hardly constitute οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν (not even one powerful work).
6a καὶ ἐθαύμαζεν διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν.
And he marveled because of their unbelief.
ἐθαύμαζεν (ethaumazen|he marveled/wondered/was amazed) - Only here and in Matthew 8:10/Luke 7:9 is θαυμαζειν used of Jesus. He marvels at the Gentile centurion's faith: here he marvels at the lack of faith of those who most of all ought to have had it.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
See also Matthew 9:35-10:15; Luke 9:1-6.
Jesus draws His disciples closer to Himself by employing them in the extension of His Messianic mission. When Jesus called fishermen as his first disciples (1:16-20), he promised them that they would soon be fishing for people. When he selected the Twelve, it was in order that 'they might be with him and that he might send them out' (3:14-15).
The first part of that job description (being with him) has been amply fulfilled in the story since then; wherever Jesus has gone the disciples (or at least some of them, 5:37) have gone with him, their presence being noted even when they contribute nothing to the events recorded (6:1). This second aspect of the disciples' job description is the subject of the next section of the story. In 6:7-13 they are sent out, and in 6:30 they report back to Jesus.
6b Καὶ περιῆγεν τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ διδάσκων.
And he went about among the villages teaching.
7 Καὶ προσκαλεῖται τοὺς δώδεκα καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν δύο δύο καὶ ἐδίδου αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τῶν πνευμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων,
And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
δύο δύο (duo duo|two [by] two/in pairs) - The purpose of going in pairs may have been to bolster credibility by having the testimony of more than one witness (Deuteronomy 17:6), as well as to provide mutual support during their training period. The repetition is perhaps Semitic (Genesis 7:8-9).
8 καὶ παρήγγειλεν αὐτοῖς ἵνα μηδὲν αἴρωσιν εἰς ὁδὸν εἰ μὴ ῥάβδον μόνον, μὴ ἄρτον, μὴ πήραν, μὴ εἰς τὴν ζώνην χαλκόν,
He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—
ῥάβδον (hrabdon|rod/stick/staff/scepter) - This exception is peculiar to Mark. In both Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:3 the staff is expressly forbidden. Various reasons for the difference may be conjectured, either in terms of the context of writing (differing sociological contexts for the gospels or different lengths of mission envisaged) or arising from the process of tradition (including the possibility of a common source other than Mark for Matthew and Luke – a 'Mark-Q overlap' higher criticism would suggest), but the disagreement about the staff remains unresolved.
9 ἀλλὰ ὑποδεδεμένους σανδάλια, καὶ μὴ ἐνδύσησθε δύο χιτῶνας.
but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.
As the list of instructions continues the syntax becomes increasingly ragged. The third-person indirect command of verse 8 (using ἱνα), with its extended series of objects, is followed by two coordinate clauses (introduced by ἀλλα and και) in the first of which a participle does duty for a main verb while the subjunctive verb of the second (presumably still governed by ἱνα, though it could equally be a change to direct speech) has gone over to the second person. The style is unliterary but quite intelligible as colloquial reported speech.
ὑποδεδεμένους (hupodedemenous|wear/put on)
σανδάλια (sandalia|sandals) sandal - In Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:4 ὑποδηματα, which are not to be distinguished from σανδαλια, are forbidden. As with the staff (8) the stricter version is probably original, Mark having modified it in view of western conditions. It is possible that the prohibition in Matthew and Luke is of carrying spare pairs (while the permission in Mark is specifically for wearing sandals), but that is certainly not the natural reading of the text, especially in Luke 10:4.
μὴ ἐνδύσησθε δύο χιτῶνας (me endusesthe duo chitomas|not put on two tunics) - At night an extra tunic was helpful as a covering to protect from the cold night air, and the implication here is that the disciples were to trust in God to provide lodging each night. Jesus' intention in sending them out in this way is not so much to encourage asceticism as such (they are after all to expect and accept hospitality), but to emphasize that loyalty to the kingdom of God leaves no room for a prior attachment to material security.
10 καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ὅπου ἐὰν εἰσέλθητε εἰς οἰκίαν, ἐκεῖ μένετε ἕως ἂν ἐξέλθητε ἐκεῖθεν.
And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.
ἐκεῖθεν (ekeithen|from there) - The point of this verse is that, having once accepted a household's hospitality, they are not to dishonor it by moving elsewhere in the same village if more comfortable accommodation is offered. ἐκει refers to the household, ἐκειθεν to the locality. Good advice for men when considering a call to another local or the desire for another field of service. Are you seeking a call just for comfortable accommodations or better salary and benefits?
11 καὶ ὃς ἂν τόπος μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν, ἐκπορευόμενοι ἐκεῖθεν ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦν τὸν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.
And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.
μαρτύριον (marturion|testimony/witness) - The dust of a heathen land was carefully removed from the feet and clothing of pious Jews before re-entering Jewish territory, as something defiling. So the significance of the action here enjoined is to declare the place which rejects them as heathen. At the same time it gives warning that the missionaries have fulfilled their responsibility towards the place and henceforth the inhabitants must answer for themselves. See also Acts 18:6 where the shaking off of the dust is accompanied by the words, 'Your blood be upon your own heads.' See also Acts 13:51.
12 Καὶ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν ἵνα μετανοῶσιν,
So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.
ἐκήρυξαν (ekeruzan|the proclaimed/preached) - This mission marks the beginning of the disciples’ own ministry in Jesus’ name (3:14–15), and their message was precisely the same as his (1:15). Even though not included explicitly in Jesus' charge in verse 7, proclamation (κηρυσσω) is an essential element in the disciples' commission (3:14), just as it is in Jesus' own ministry (1:14, 38-39).
μετανοῶσιν (metanoosin|they should repent/turn from their sins) - See also 1:4. Repent is shorthand for the message summed up in 1:15. The purpose of the mission was, we may assume, to bring the summons to repentance in view of the nearness of the kingdom of God to as many people as possible in Galilee. The urgency of their mission was the urgency which in all circumstances appertains to the message of God.
13 καὶ δαιμόνια πολλὰ ἐξέβαλλον, καὶ ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ πολλοὺς ἀρρώστους καὶ ἐθεράπευον.
And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ πολλοὺς ἀρρώστους (elesiphon elaio pollous arrostous|anointed with [olive]oil many sick/ill [ones]) - In the ancient world olive oil was widely used as a medicine (Isaiah 1:6; Luke 10:34; James 5:14; Rabbinic literature, Josephus, etc.). Healing by anointing with oil is mentioned only here and in James 5:14 as an act involving the power of God (Luke 10:34 records common medicinal practice). Neither passage explains the significance of the oil, but James stresses the power of the accompanying prayer. Its use by the Twelve was probably symbolic rather than medical in intention - a visible token of spiritual grace, by which the healing that was administered by them was declared to proceed from the secret power of God.