Feb 22 2013 - Mark 6:1-29 – Without honour
Jesus had been teaching and healing in many towns of Galilee. At last he returned to his home town where, on the Sabbath, he taught in the synagogue. The reaction was strange and sad. Those who heard him recognised the power of Jesus' teaching and that it was far more than mere words, it was accompanied by undeniable displays of extraordinary power: “He even does miracles” (Mark 6:2). But this very recognition brought offence; "Isn’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?" (Mark 6:3). They were scandalised by his conduct because they thought that they knew him. He was their local boy, the carpenter; "Who does he think he is, carrying on like this?"
What a sad and sorry story. They, of all people, should have recognised the answer to their own questions, "Where did this man get these things? What’s this wisdom that has been given him?" (6:2). There could only be one answer to this question, had they but eyes to see it.
Jesus' sad response to these people, who thought they knew him, was, "A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home" (6:4). We then read that Jesus "could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith" (6:5). Here we are faced with a great mystery. In what sense was Jesus unable to do any/many miracles in his home town? As we read the gospels, we do not come upon any occasion when Jesus was unable to heal. There is never an occasion when those who are sick come to Jesus for healing and are sent away to endure their sickness. Nevertheless, here we find that Jesus performed few miracles in his home town, presumably because, through lack of faith, few came to him for healing.
As I say, we deal here with mysteries that are beyond our understanding. They were not healed because they lacked faith and failed to ask. We often come to Christ in prayer seeking healing for ourselves or for those we love and the same Lord seems not to answer our prayers. It is pastorally insensitive, even cruel, to suggest that such prayers for healing remain unanswered through lack of faith. Yet it remains true to say that our lack of faith may limit the power of God, for it is Christ's purpose, now as then, to build his kingdom through a faithful people.
We see this illustrated in the verses that follow. Jesus sent out his closest disciples to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and to heal the sick. And they did: “They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them” (6:12-13). These twelve were not offended by the humble origins of Jesus; they had come to recognise something of who he was and the origin of his power. They had put their faith in him – they had left all they had to follow him. They had joined him in his mission and were beginning, in their own small way, to do the things that he did and to be the means through which his transforming power touched the lives of others.
Lord Jesus, enable me to understand more of your character and to see you for who you truly are. Keep me from that lack of faith that would limit the work of the kingdom both in me and through me. May your power be at work in and through my weakness. Use me to bring something of the life of the kingdom to a dying world.