Mark – God is On Our Side!
Rejection is a bitter pill to swallow, isn’t it? Every person at some time in their lives has been rejected on this planet. Everyone has experienced the squinty eye look that judges severely when you become known for doing something good that others do not understand. Envy brings on some of this judgement.
Your family is the first to question why you do what you do especially if they are not doing it with you. Jealousy might be the driver that causes this to happen. It’s life with humans who don’t know God and live in His ways…yet. Yes, to be rejected can be a lonely feeling that can send us into a depression if we are not careful.
Rejection can cause us to think we are alone and no one else cares. But we would be very wrong. ALL of have experienced this hurt…even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord…from His own family and the friends he grew “in stature” with in the local community of Nazareth!
Mark 6, NLT
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
6 Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Charles Darwin said that belief was “the most complete of all distinctions between man and the lower animals.” If this observation is true, it suggests that lack of faith on man’s part puts him on the same level as the animals!
Agnostic orator Col. Robert Ingersoll took a different point of view, for he once described a believer as “a songless bird in a cage.” You would probably agree that his words better describe an unbeliever!
One of the central themes in this section of Mark’s gospel is the unbelief of people who came into contact with God’s Servant. All of these people had every reason to trust Jesus Christ, yet all of them failed to do so, including His own disciples! God takes unbelief seriously, and so should we. Rejection takes on a higher plane…that of unbelief in Jesus.
Jesus returned to Nazareth, where a year before He had been rejected by the people and evicted from the synagogue (Luke 4:16–30). It was certainly an act of grace on His part to give the people another opportunity to hear His Word, believe, and be saved, and yet their hearts were still hard. This time, they did not evict Him: they simply did not take Him seriously.
Our Lord’s reputation had once again preceded Him, so He was permitted to teach in the synagogue. Keep in mind that He was ministering to people who knew Him well, because Nazareth was His “hometown.” However, these acquaintances had no spiritual perception at all. In fact, Jesus reminded them of what He had told them at that first dramatic visit, that a prophet is without honor in his own country and among his own people (Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44). Two things astonished these people: His mighty works and His wonderful wisdom. Actually, Jesus did not do any mighty works while He was there, so the people must have been referring to the reports they had heard about His miracles (see Mark 1:28, 45; 3:7–8; 5:20–21). In fact, their unbelief hindered Jesus from having a greater ministry among them.
WHAT WAS THEIR PROBLEM?
Why were they unable to trust Him and experience the wonders of His power and grace as had others? They thought that they really knew Him. After all, He had been their neighbor for nearly thirty years, they had seen Him at work in the carpenter’s shop, and He appeared to be just another Nazarene. He was a “commoner,” and the people saw no reason to commit themselves to Him!
“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a well-known maxim that goes all the way back to Publius the Syrian, who lived in 2 BC. Aesop wrote a fable to illustrate it. In Aesop’s fable, a fox had never before seen a lion, and when he first met the king of the beasts, the fox was nearly frightened to death. At their second meeting, the fox was not frightened quite as much; and the third time he met the lion, the fox went up and chatted with him! “And so it is,” Aesop concluded, “that familiarity makes even the most frightening things seem quite harmless.”
The maxim, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, can you imagine a loving husband and wife thinking less of each other because they know each other so well? Or two dear friends starting to despise each other because their friendship has deepened over the years? Phillips Brooks said it best: “Familiarity breeds contempt, only with contemptible things or among contemptible people.” The contempt shown by the Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus Christ, but it said a great deal about them!
A tourist, eager to see everything in the art gallery, fled from picture to picture, scarcely noticing what was in the frames. “I didn’t see anything very special here,” he said to one of the guards as he left. “Sir,” the guard replied, “it is not the pictures that are on trial here—it is the visitors.”
A carpenter was a respected artisan in that day, but nobody expected a carpenter to do miracles or teach profound truths in the synagogue. Where did He get all this power and wisdom? From God or from Satan (see Mark 3:22)? And why did His brothers and sisters not possess this same power and wisdom? Even more, why did His brothers and sisters not believe in Him? The people who called Him “the son of Mary” were actually insulting Him, because in that day you identified a man by calling him the son of his father, not the son of his mother.
The people of Nazareth were “offended at him,” which literally means “they stumbled over him.” The Greek word gives us our English word scandalize. Kenneth Wuest wrote in his book Wuest’s Word Studies(Eerdmans), “They could not explain Him, so they rejected Him.” Jesus was certainly a “stone of stumbling” to them because of their unbelief (Isa. 8:14; Rom. 9:32–33; 1 Peter 2:8).
Twice in the gospel record you find Jesus marveling. As this passage reveals, He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews, and He marveled at the great faith of a Roman centurion, a Gentile (Luke 7:9). Instead of remaining at Nazareth, Jesus departed and made another circuit of the towns and villages in Galilee. His heart was broken as He saw the desperate plight of the people (Matt. 9:35–38), so He decided to send out His disciples to minister with His authority and power.
Rejection breaks the heart of God but for reasons we may not think of first. Jesus looked beyond his own rejection to the cause of the rejection–Cold stone hearts of unbelief. This is what made him sad. That’s why this encounter did not stop Jesus from His divine mission. And we are glad!
Dear Heavenly Father,
We can be stopped at times by rejection that causes us to wonder if we are doing what you want us to be and do. When we come to you, You set us back on the right road with loving hearts who pray for those who reject us in the work you have given us. Thank, Jesus, for helping us to think about rejection in the right way. We pray for those who do not believe and follow you…yet.
In Jesus Name, Amen