Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we take comfort in the fact that You truly do “know how we feel.” While on this earth You experienced every pain known to human beings—including the pain of having those closest to You, Your own family, mock, belittle, and disrespect You. And yet, You rose above the pain they caused and still went to the cross to save their souls. What love! Today, give us a portion of that same love and patience when dealing with our own families, too. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE HEAD OF ALL FAMILIES: JESUS CHRIST!
TEXT: Mark 6: 1-6
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The aging process is both fascinating and frightening. Of course, if sin hadn’t come into this world, none of us would ever have to endure it.—We’d all remain untainted by the ravages of time and we’d always live in present reality. However, when it comes to the aging process, none of the above applies. I’ll give you some examples as to what I mean.
Later this Fall I’ll be 55 years old. Have I remained exactly the same during all those intervening years? Do I still think the same, act the same, and feel the same as I did when I was 10 or 20 or 30 years old? Of course not! Instead I’ve been exposed to a whole host of new life experiences which have shaped and molded me into a new person that the 15 year old version of me would not even recognize. And yet, in my own mind I still go back in time and like to think I’m 20 or 30—especially when it comes to physical ability. In other words, I lie to myself because it makes me feel better.
When I visit my hometown, as I did recently, I run into people who knew me 30 or 40 years ago. Sometimes I haven’t seen them, literally at all, in the intervening years. We talk. They are polite and inquisitive. But from their comments, it’s obvious they often still think of me as I was then instead of as I am now. They, too, live a lie. It’s easier than confronting the fact that they have changed in countless ways, too. And so, I’m not Pastor Fox to them. Instead, I’m that little boy that lived down the street and ran laps around the block every night after supper!
By not taking people as they are in the present, by not absorbing their current reality, every one of us is guilty of disrespecting them—even though we don’t mean to do so. And this fact plays itself out especially within the circle of family, friends, and relatives. It plays itself out especially when one child is more successful than others. Jealousy can and does abound. And what better way to “cut someone down to size” than to remember them as they once were long ago? It’s certainly easier on the ego than facing up to your own limitations that age has placed upon you.
Today we’re given a glimpse, a sad glimpse, into how this common situation affected Christ’s family. So, let us consider this theme:
UNFORTUNATELY FAMILY SELDOM EQUALS: R E S P E C T
Now we don’t know much of Christ’s early life. Scripture has only a couple of references to it. However, taken from various other sections of the Bible, we can ascertain some points about His family and His hometown that give us some insights. One, Nazareth was a very small, “economically-challenged” town. Two, everybody knew everybody else. Three, considering that Mary and Joseph had at least 5 sons and some daughters, Joseph must have lived until Jesus was well into His teens or early 20’s. Four, as the oldest, Jesus took over the family business, the carpenter shop, and supported the whole clan until He left it all at age 30 to begin His ministry. Five, we know from earlier in Mark’s gospel how Mary agreed with some of His brothers that Jesus was “out of His mind” in leaving everything behind to become a peripatetic prophet with followers—hence their “intervention” in Mark 3 that we talked about a few weeks ago. And six, none of Christ’s siblings accepted His Messiahship until later, after His death and resurrection. If this is what His earthly family was like, how do you think the rest of the villagers regarded Him?
Jesus has now been busy in His ministry for a number of months. The miracle stories, the preaching to massive crowds, the various mission journeys—all of this has filtered back home. Now, after raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, Jesus decides to go home and visit Nazareth. He arrives at the synagogue where He grew up. He expounds on the Old Testament. We’re told: “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, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.”
If familiarity ever bred contempt, this was it! And make no mistake, this wasn’t just Jesus’ neighbors talking, it was also the view of His own family members. None of them could get their minds around the fact that this same Jesus had changed—and that the change they saw and heard had to be God-given and God-wrought. Miracles don’t just happen in a vacuum. Supernatural occurrences—like raising dead children—can only happen through God’s grace. Note well that they were “amazed.” As I mentioned last week, they were “thoumadzoed”—they marveled at all this. Such wisdom. Such insight. Such knowledge and power. And yet the reality of Who Jesus was, made evident by what He said and did, that reality was rejected by them due to their hard hearts. They didn’t respect Him. They refused to believe in Him–even in the face of God’s proof before their very eyes! How very sad….
This little story certainly touches on literally all aspects of the 4th commandment, the family commandment, and the 8th commandment, the respect commandment. It reminds us that very often family members, relatives, and friends are the toughest group with which to share our faith in Christ because of their own preconceived notions about who’s telling them—you. All of us have experienced such disrespect—of ourselves and more importantly of our Lord, Christ, too. All of us have had our hearts broken and the blinders of love pulled from our eyes by those closest to us. It hurts. And yet, before leaving Nazareth, Jesus gave them something to think about. “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ 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.”
Heal a few sick people?—Sounds pretty impressive to me. But, the Son of God, Who could read hearts perfectly, the Son of God Who would later die to pay for the souls of these hometown folks, the Son of God Who would later rise from the grave for them—even He was amazed at their lack of faith. Sad, but true. And yet, we know that at least a couple of His brothers later believed and became pillars of the early church. So, for you and me, the moral of the story is that we need to get past personal disrespect and dishonor and spread God’s forgiving love to everyone—including family and friends—because some of that seed will grow! Do so by remembering that in such cases, it’s not about your hurt feelings but it’s always about the salvation of their eternal soul. Amen