with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
So far we have seen the ministry of Jesus from its commencement and seen His influence grow. While there have been many people blessed, happy with a new start in life, there have been others who have opposed. Going into the sixth chapter, the opposition comes from an unexpected quarter. Read on.
Verse 1 Jesus left there and went to His home town, accompanied by His disciples.
The town where Jesus was brought up was Nazareth. It was not a great distance from where Jesus had been working but He had only visited there once before. On that occasion, He was rejected by the people because of His claims. See Luke 4:14-30. Now, He is revisiting Nazareth with His disciples.
Verses 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, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us?” And they took offence at Him.
It was a custom for a man to have the opportunity to read and speak in synagogue meetings. When Jesus took this opportunity, the hearers were aware of hearing something unusual. Here was depth and wisdom they hadn’t heard before. So the questions flowed.
How could this relatively young man who had grown up in Nazareth be so different? Wasn’t He a local tradesman? Aren’t His ordinary family known to us? So they were unable to come to terms with His extra-ordinariness. The reports of miracles heightened the problem.
Verse 4 Jesus said to them, “Only in His home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour.”
Jesus is pointing out something that seems to work like a rule. Among familiar friends and relatives, there is no honour shown. Elsewhere, people give honour where it is due. For some reason, people do not want those of their own number to excel. In this case, seeing the evidence was so convincing, it was a simple matter of unbelief.
Verses 5 & 6 He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Where there is unbelief, God does not grant miracles. We see this throughout the Gospels. Sometimes it is just a small grain of faith that is necessary for the Lord to respond. It is not that Christ lacked the power to perform miracles, but that unbelief shut the door.
This should make us think about our own attitudes. Do we expect God to work when we fail to trust Him fully?
Verse 7 Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the twelve to Him, He sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
We must remember that Jesus was not only teaching the crowds and healing the sick, He was training His twelve disciples. He knew that the time was coming when He would leave this scene and they would be carrying on the work. So He sent them to work in pairs apart from himself.
Verses 8-11 These were His instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And 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.”
Some of these orders seem strange to us. We would never leave for a journey without money for instance. But what Jesus was doing was helping them to learn to live by faith. That is, to trust God to supply all that is needed. To go out without wherewithal leaves you with no choice but to trust in the Lord. They were not living like beggars in doing this; they were workers being rewarded for their work. The idea of shaking the dust off feet on leaving those who have not treated them well is showing a sign of rejection and letting people know that hospitality has been refused. Not a good thing in that culture.
Verses 12 & 13 They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
This is what they were busy doing. The message that calls for repentance is always relevant. It is a call to recognise our personal sins and be prepared to confess them to God and to forsake them. It means having the understanding that our sinful acts are an offence against a holy God. Now the disciples were doing what they had seen Jesus do as they saw people healed. They knew it was the power of God at work, not their own power. It was truly an amazing experience for them.
Verses 14-16 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well-known.
Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in Him.” Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, He is a prophet like one of the prophets of long ago. But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead.
Herod ruled over the area where Jesus was working known as Galilee. Herod was not a Jew; he was an Edomite, placed as a puppet king by the Roman emperor. His father was Herod the Great, the king who ruled when Jesus was born. The whole family were bad news, being harsh and immoral. People were speculating about who Jesus was, thinking He was a prophet of old, perhaps Elijah, having risen from the dead. But Herod declared that He was John, the man whom he beheaded. So far we have not heard of this happening, but the story is about to unfold. We will examine this in our next study.
Today we have seen how one group, His family and friends wanted Jesus to remain as one of them, not as their Lord and Master. Then there are these others we just read about who have learned of the reputation of Jesus, seeing Him as a person of some standing. The question of Jesus’ identity is being raised by Mark throughout his Gospel. The narrative answers the question. Jesus is more than a carpenter and more than a prophet. He is the eternal Son of God, member of the Holy Trinity. The reason for His outstanding words and His mighty miracles is that He is Lord of earth and heaven, doing the will of His Father. We can easily see that Jesus is no trickster, fooling the people. Neither is He a self-deceived fool. He is just who He claimed to be.
This question is the most important we will face in life. Who we think Jesus is, will determine what we do with Him, that is, either receive Him or reject Him. That in turn will determine what He will do with us in the last judgment. We must face this issue seriously. Blessing awaits those who reach out and accept Him.