Two Talents

Faith-based expressions of a Christian.

“And they took offense at Him”

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Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him.When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching. {Mark 6:1-6 NASB}

In a mere six verses several things jump off the page here. Firstly, it was Jesus’ hometown. Usually when someone returns to their hometown bearing some manner of fame they are greeted warmly. It’s a source of pride for the hometown that one of their own has obtained some sort of notoriety. That was not the case here.

We also see that many were astonished at the teaching of Jesus. This was a common occurrence when Jesus taught, but in this case the people have a coupled reaction that Jesus did not encounter elsewhere: they resented it. Why? It’s as though they felt it impossible for any of their own to be capable of such things. Because they knew Jesus and His family they found it somehow annoying or unseemly that He would astound them by His teaching and demonstration of miracles.

Have you ever heard of someone you knew who had been saved and been surprised by it? “Him? The kid who used to get in fights at school and got arrested several times as a juvenile is a Christian now? Wow!” A surprised reaction is appropriate, but would you resent him for it in the same breath, simply because you were familiar with his background and/or his family? Yet this is just what happened to Jesus.

Upon seeing Him perform miracles and astound them with His teaching their reaction was to take offense to Jesus. The narrative goes on to say that Jesus “could do no miracles there” (though, it points out, He still did heal some who were ill before departing). This indicates so much more could have been done had the reaction of the people been different.

So why could Jesus do no miracles for them? Why did the people take offense at Him? The answer is in the text: “And He wondered at their unbelief.” Their unbelief was what prohibited them from receiving Jesus appropriately. They saw Him as the son of Joseph and Mary; the mere sibling of others. They asked how Jesus could have such wisdom and power. They were incapable of accepting that this Jesus they knew and had seen grow up would be chosen by and empowered by God to do such things. In fact, He was the Son of God and God the Son, which is far greater than a prophet. But these people couldn’t even accept that Jesus was a prophet.

What was the point of Jesus’ teaching and miracles? In part it was out of compassion for the people, but it was also meant to demonstrate who He was and that the Kingdom of God had come. But if hearts were so hardened that they could not be swayed by these demonstrations why bother? This is why Jesus could work no miracles for them. Yet, He still healed some who were sick before He left, which illustrates His compassion. Not all of Jesus’ miracles resulted in faith from the beneficiary, and that appears to have been the case here. The unbelief of this bunch was such that the Son of God wondered at it!

I see two applications here. The first is to not forsake the works of God that may seem improbable, or even offensive, to us. God does nothing offensive, and if we view what is obviously His work with offense then the problem lies within our heart. Secondly, as Christians we do not suffer from unbelief as these people did in that we have already come to believe in Jesus to be the Son of God, who died in atonement for our sins and who was raised and lives today in heaven. It is possible, however, for our faith to become stunted through a lack of continued belief. When we pray do we ask for only what we feel is reasonable, or do you boldly ask for something fantastic? I must admit to having been guilty of the former many times. God is capable of the fantastic, but if we never ask for it we aren’t likely to see it happen. That doesn’t mean He will respond with the fantastic every time He is asked to, which is why we ask that His will, not ours, be done. But if you don’t ask for it do not expect to see it.

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Written by Shawn

March 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

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