Monday, July 21, 2008

Mark, Chapter 6, Part 1

It is hard to picture a man like Jesus not having honor. Still, this is what we see when he tried to speak in his hometown of Nazareth. Why would something like this happen? Why would a man that was quite revolutionary wherever He went be virtually ignored in a place where you would expect Him to be loved? A large part of the reason likely comes from the fact that He was already familiar to those people in a way we don't see in the Bible. Jesus' public ministry only lasted about three years. Up until that time, he was a regular carpenter in his hometown of Nazareth. He had learned the trade under His earthly father, Joseph, and had continued it until He began his public ministry at about the age of 30.

Now, I am 28 years old. The equivalent of this would be if I had begun a revolutionary and very public ministry, then went back to my home town of Kokomo, Indiana. I'm sure there would be a number of people that would react in the same way we see here.

2When 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! 3Isn'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

"Isn't this the sportswriter from the Tribune?" is something I would likely here. Obviously, I have no plans to begin a ministry that will come even close to Jesus's, but if I did, I am sure that is the type of reaction I would hear in my hometown. It is when we are close to the situation that we often struggle the most to understand a point. There are lessons in my life that my parents, who are among the closest people to me, tried to teach me, yet those lessons went ignored because they came from a source that was so close to me. In these cases, I would often learn the lesson in question the hard way. It's not ideal, but it happens. We tend to ignore teaching that comes from those close to us, and that is the point that is illustrated here.

The second part of this chapter deals with the sending out of the 12 apostles. I find this fascinating because of their origins. When I was growing up, I always pictured the 12 disciples as these titans of the Christian faith. They were without fear in my mind. What is amazing is that in reality, they were just as normal as you or me. They were not the religious leaders of the day, but ordinary people called by Christ to fulfill an extraordinary mission. They were exceedingly human and fallible, thus making what they accomplished seem even more extraordinary.

8These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." -- Mark 6:8-11

This is an incredible lesson in faith. Remember, these men were incredibly ordinary. Surely they had the same questions you or I would have had we been selected. Jesus essentially told them, "Go, change the world. Take nothing to do so because I will provide everything." This was also in a time when it was much harder to travel. There was no Holiday Inn to stop at, or McDonald's to grab a quick bite to eat. I can't imagine doing this now with the modern amenities available, let alone in the First Century. Therefore, our only reasonable response when we are called to do something that isn't nearly as dramatic is to go. We must have faith that God will provide.

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