Brad Libolt speaking on Mark 6:1-13. He spoke about Jesus being rejected by his own people because of their unbelief, and the danger of unbelief. He spoke of how we too will be rejected like Jesus, but how God is greater than the power of rejection.
1 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.
- I want you all to imagine I left here and after a few years I came back as a famous stand up comedian. I see all of you and do a stand up act for you, and I’m actually funny. You would all be amazed and say things like, “Wait a minute, isn’t this Brad? The brother of Daniel? Our middle school director? His jokes are terrible, he’s not funny, where did he get all these jokes? This isn’t the Brad we remember.” You all know me as the middle school director, you know about my life, and some of you have barely known me a year.
- Jesus lived in his hometown for 30 years. He grew up with his brothers and sisters and the town was small enough that everyone knew him and his family. It seem that he was a carpenter for a while, working with his father Joseph building houses and stuff. Then the thing with John the Baptist at the Jordan happens, and Jesus just takes off and becomes famous. He is out doing ministry, healing people, performing miracles, teaching crazy stuff, and the people in his hometown are hearing about it.
So when he comes back to his hometown with his disciples, they let him teach in their synagogue, but as he is teaching they wonder who in the world does this guy think he is? He is not the Jesus they remember.
2 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? 3 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.
- Where did this man get these things? Who gave him all this wisdom? How in the world is he doing such mighty works with his hands? He was just a carpenter! He is the son of Mary and his brothers James and Joses and Judas and Simon and his sisters are here with us. And they were offended, because this was not the Jesus they remembered. They saw Jesus as merely a carpenter, a small town guy with a small town family. There was no way he could be the Son of God, even after all they had seen and heard.
- Again this would be like if I left and became a famous comedian and came back. I would not be the Brad you remembered. You would wonder where I got all these awesome jokes? Why am I so much cooler than you remember? And you’d be offended because I am not the Brad you are used to.
- The people weren’t used to Jesus as the miracle worker and wise teacher. They didn’t see Jesus as the son of God, they saw him as a carpenter.
4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
- A prophet is without honor in his hometown. And this is nothing new. Most prophets in the Old Testament were rejected by their family and their hometown, by their own people.
- This is something interesting here. Jesus identifies himself as a prophet, and even with the prophets of the Old Testament who were rejected. And the job of a prophet was to bring the word of the Lord to the people. God spoke to people through prophets, and Jesus is identifying as being in that role. Jesus is much more than a prophet, but it is important for us to see him in this way.
- But there is a difference. In the Old Testament, prophets spoke on behalf of God. Jesus speaks as God. Prophets said “Thus says the Lord…” Jesus says, “I say.” God commanded OT prophets to do signs and wonders, Jesus does them himself. Jesus identifies as a prophet, but is a new kind of prophet. Prophets in the Old Testament spoke of behalf of God, Jesus speaks as God. He is a prophet, but in a class of his own.
5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
Jesus couldn’t do mighty works there, because of the unbelief of the people.
- Remember we saw the woman healed because of great faith, because of belief. And now, because of unbelief, Jesus is rejected. And this rejection is particularly personal because he is rejected by his family. But look what it says.
- Jesus marveled because of their unbelief.
- This is only the second story in the Gospels that records Jesus being marveled at people. The other time is found in Matthew and Luke, and he marvels at the faith of a Roman centurion. This is the second time.
- People are marveling at Jesus all the time. They see his deeds, hear his words, and they marvel at him. They are amazed at what he can do and what he says. But this time, and the time of the centurion, Jesus is amazed at people.
- And this time he is amazed is very, very important. Because instead of marveling at someone’s belief, he marvels at their unbelief.
- We talk a lot about belief, and what the result of faith is, but now we need to talk about unbelief, and the consequences of unbelief.
- Unbelief is the root of sin. Since the beginning, in the garden, it was unbelief that cursed humanity. Adam and Eve didn’t believe that God was enough, so they ate the forbidden fruit. Israel didn’t believe that God was faithful and good and just and turned to false gods and idols and ended up in exile. And now, when people don’t believe in Jesus Christ and his completed work on the cross and in his resurrection, they are eternally separated from God forever, in Hell.
- Unbelief is powerful. It’s dangerous. It’s deadly. It’s condemning. When we fail to believe in Jesus Christ the result is eternal suffering. But even when we do believe, unbelief is still dangerous. It is still the root of sin.
- When we sin we are choosing unbelief. We are choosing not to believe that what God desires and who God is is better than whatever is tempting us. When I am faced with a decision to lie or tell the truth when the truth would be really hard to tell, I can either believe God when he says telling the truth is godly, that the truth sets you free, that confession is healing and good, or I can believe the lie that telling the truth will bring hurt and pain and problems. I either believe God, or not. And when I choose unbelief and fall into the temptation to lie, I sin.
- Unbelief is a dangerous and powerful force that leads to sin and ultimately condemns. So how do we combat it? How do we change our unbelief to belief?
By growing our faith, our belief. And how do we do that? By growing the object of our faith. When God becomes bigger, more loving, more powerful, more gracious, more forgiving, more compassionate, and when we see these things about God then our faith in him grows, our belief that he will do what he promises grows. And how do we see more of God? By spending time with him. By reading about him.
- You guys hear me talk about reading the Bible all the time, and it’s not because I just want you to know a lot about the Bible, its because I want you to know God. And the Bible is how we know God. Everything we know about God is found in Scripture. So if you want God to be bigger, more powerful, more loving, more compassionate, more gracious, then spend more time with him. Read the Bible. See who he is with your own eyes. When our view of God grows, our faith in him grows. And when our belief in God grows, our unbelief shrinks.
- Jesus marvels at the unbelief of his hometown. I pray that for all of us in here, Jesus would not marvel at our unbelief, but at our belief. That we would be a group of people who view God so greatly that our faith in him is great. With great faith we can go through trials. With great faith we can face evil. With great faith we can look at death head on.
- And something else this passage is teaching us is that with great faith we can face rejection, and continue sharing the gospel. Jesus is rejected by those who you would expect would be closest to him. But then, Jesus sends his disciples out and tells them they too will be rejected.
- Look at the next section.
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 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.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
- Jesus sends out the disciples, tells them to travel light, gives them authority to cast out demons and heal, and then tells them they will be rejected. Remember what we have been talking about. Jesus has displayed his power over uncontrollable forces, and nevertheless people in his hometown and family reject him. Now he is giving that same power to his disciples and warning them that they will be rejected, but encourages them to press on in their preaching of the gospel.
- And this is so relevant to us. Jesus has given us his power as well in the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are to share the gospel with people, telling them to repent, that judgment is coming and they must believe in Jesus to escape it and live life in the eternal kingdom of God, in right relationship with their creator.
- That’s all fine and good, and I hope we are doing that, but any of us who have shared the gospel know that many times we get rejected. And for many, the fear of rejection actually keeps us from sharing the gospel. Rejection sucks. It is embarrassing, frustrating, and difficult. But we can take heart because Jesus himself was rejected. Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything that he hasn’t done himself. Jesus tells his disciples they will be rejected. And as followers of Jesus we too will be rejected. But in the face of rejection, we press on. We continue to preach the gospel. We continue to live godly lives as we are called to live because we believe God is greater than the power of rejection. We believe that our identity in Christ is secure, even when people reject what we have to say.
- If our view of God is big, our view of his grace is great, our understanding of his forgiveness is vast, then our faith will be strong. And when our faith is strong, when we choose belief over unbelief, God uses us to bring others to faith as well. But even when people don’t respond, and we are rejected like Jesus, we can carry on because our God is great.