November 1, 2005

Mark 6:1-6 Sermon Notes

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 6:1-6
(July 31, 2005, Sermon Notes)

When a new king arrives, everyone reacts. Some welcome him; others oppose him. That opposition may take many forms. You can attack openly, work against him secretly, or just brush him off and try to ignore him.

That’s what happens when we proclaim Jesus as Lord. Nobody stays neutral. Everyone responds, some in faith and some in unbelief. In Mark 6, Jesus comes to His hometown and His presence and His message provoke a response, but it is a respond of amazing unbelief.


Mark’s Gospel reaches its first climax with the raising of Jairus’s daughter. But then Jesus goes “from there” — from Jairus’s house — to “His hometown” (literally: “His father-town”). It’s Nazareth, but Mark doesn’t call it by name here; instead he describes it as the place where Jesus grew up, the place where Jesus’ father had lived, the place where His mother and brothers and sisters live.

Jesus’ disciples are with Him on this trip, which indicates that this is part of their training (Mark 3:14). In fact, given that Nazareth wasn’t near Capernaum, it appears that this was a special trip to teach His disciples something important.

What happens looks like what happened in Capernaum at first. Jesus teaches on the Sabbath in the synagogue, preaching the same message He always preached. But He didn’t get to finish His sermon. Mark tells us that Jesus began to teach but then questions arose.

People weren’t asking Jesus questions; they asked each other. They recognize that Jesus is like David and Solomon: He teaches with wisdom. They recognize that Jesus has great authority and performs mighty works. But they don’t respond in faith. They don’t let Jesus teach. They don’t listen to Him when He calls them to repent. They don’t rejoice in the good news. They aren’t persuaded by His miracles: miracles in themselves don’t create faith.

In their questions they distance themselves from Jesus: “Where did this man get these things?” They don’t ask Jesus for an explanation. They simply ask each other in amazement because what they see and hear from Jesus doesn’t fit with what they think they already know about Him: Jesus is nothing more than the carpenter, Mary’s son, the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.

This is the lesson that the disciples need to learn for their own mission: Resurrection is followed by rejection. Some people will not believe even if a person rises from the dead. To some people, Jesus would only be “Jesus of Nazareth” and all the wonders He did — even His resurrection itself — wouldn’t persuade them that He was Lord and Messiah. And still today, people stumble over Jesus because the gospel looks foolish, because they don’t want to submit, because they think they understand Him well enough already — and because they aren’t impressed by His ministers either.

In Nazareth, the people reject Jesus because He’s “the carpenter,” the builder. But the irony is that Jesus really is the builder, the one constructing a new house of Israel. And that is precisely why they need Him.


In their amazement, Nazareth rejects Jesus. And now Jesus is amazed and in His amazement, He rejects them. But first He puts their rejection of Him into its proper context: “A prophet is not without honour except in His own country, among His own relatives, and in His own house.”

What’s happening to Jesus isn’t unheard of. Rather, it fits the pattern we know from Scripture, and it’s the pattern that the disciples will also experience, the pattern we experience today. Often in the Old Covenant the Gentiles listened to the prophets when Israel wouldn’t. Elijah had to flee. David, too, had to flee from Saul but found refuge with the Philistines.

The people of Nazareth think their rejection of Jesus is wisdom, the result of insight that the rest of Israel doesn’t have. They know Jesus! But Jesus sets their response to Him in the light of Scripture as just one more instance of Israel’s rebellion against Yahweh and His prophets. Jesus is despised, and His own people did not esteem Him (Isa. 53).

Their dishonour has consequences: Jesus “could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” (6:5). It isn’t that their unbelief drained away His power. He still had the power to heal. But He couldn’t heal those who didn’t come.

Unbelief keeps you from Jesus and prevents you from enjoying His healing power. In the context of faith, Jesus conquers death and raises people to life (Mark 5:21-43) because death itself is only sleep for those who believe. But now we see that unbelief is more deadly than death.

In spite of the widespread unbelief, though Jesus does find some who are sick who respond in faith and He lays His hands on them as He did on Jairus’s daughter — the posture of blessing — and heals them. Even widespread unbelief can’t stop Jesus from establishing God’s kingdom, and that’s comfort for the disciples who will face rejection after Jesus’ resurrection. It’s comfort for us.

More than that, Jesus’ brothers are named in this passage, as is His mother, and it appears that all of them later came to trust Him. He appeared to James, His brother, after His resurrection and James became one of the great leaders of the church in Jerusalem. Though it may seem as if the gospel isn’t doing much when we preach it, in the end it may break through the unbelief of those who reject it now.

Still, the dominant note here is not comfort or joy but sorrow and astonishment at Nazareth’s unbelief. Jesus marvels at this unbelief, not because He didn’t understand it but because unbelief itself is so astounding. In the light of all that Jesus has said and done, unbelief is unbelievable!

And so Jesus rejects Nazareth. This isn’t a final rejection: He doesn’t destroy Nazareth; He still leaves time for the people there to change their minds. But He withdraws in judgment, not bothering to try to answer Nazareth’s questions, and He goes to other towns instead. In fact He never enters another synagogue in Mark’s Gospel.

The king’s arrival demands a choice and everyone responds. Some people won’t believe, no matter what wonders Jesus does, and that unbelief is deadly. If you stumble over Jesus, you end up outside God’s kingdom. But all who trust Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus “the carpenter,” foolish as His gospel may sound, insignificant as He may seem, experience His power, the power to restore them to wholeness, the power to build them up into God’s house.

Posted by John Barach @ 10:40 am | Discuss (0)

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