Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, July 16, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/26/14 Sermon - Ready for Rejection

“Ready for Rejection”

Mark 6: 1-13

 

Today’s Scripture has Jesus making it home, to Nazareth, and did you notice what happened? We read in verse 5,
“He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”

We then read in verse 6,
“And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”

 

I don’t know about you, but when I read this,

their lack of faith wasn’t what amazed me,

it was the fact that Jesus could not do any miracles there, except heal a few people.

 

Okay, is this the same Jesus we’ve been reading about?

Lord of Lords?

Almighty, maker of everything?

Unable?

Why in just the past two weeks we have read how Jesus calmed the sea, by stopping the wind and rain,

cleared out a legion of demons from a madman,

healed a woman from a 12 year long disease, by a mere touch of his cloak,

and he just walked away from raising a little girl from the dead, in the town next door!

What does it mean, “He could do no miracles there?”

Well let’s look at the details of this story and see if we can figure this out. This is Jesus’ first visit back to his hometown since he has started his ministry. Now mind you, He has only been away for a little more than 2 years. The people in this synagogue, have known Jesus since he was a baby. Nazareth is where he grew up. He had gone to school there, played in the streets as a child with these people, he developed his skills as a carpenter on their furniture.

And during his time growing up, not a word was said about Him being the Son of God. His mother Mary knew, and his father Joseph knew. I suspect Mary’s cousin Elizabeth had a clue. But as for the neighbors of Jesus, we read, in these verses, the towns people knew him as

a carpenter,

and back when Jesus was a carpenter, the job description was mostly “fixing things” not many in Nazareth were hiring someone to build something new.

He was also known as the, son of Mary, and a brother to a list of siblings.

Again, today we read that statement and do not think much of it. However, in the time Jesus was living, the only reason you would be called the son of your mother is when there was no father, or the father was unknown. Joseph is not around and it could be that he has died, but even if he were dead, his sons would have been called the son of Joseph. Jesus was not called that, which brings into question whether the townspeople remembered the early birth of Jesus so soon after she and Joseph were married.

Who exactly was his father anyway?

So these people were listening to Jesus teach in the synagogue and we read that the people were amazed! Perhaps their amazement came from the wonderment of how in less than three years, Jesus had become so knowledgeable in the Scriptures. And when it came to believing Jesus was in deed, the Son of God, those that had known Jesus for all his life, took offense at him.

And somehow, their belief, or unbelief, seemed to limit Jesus’ power.

Or does it?

I think it is imperative that we return to the main theme for Jesus. We will find it back in Chapter 1, verse 15,

“The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”

Jesus came to earth to manifest the kingdom of God, through him and his deeds of power. And the fact that the people in his hometown wouldn’t have anything to do with it, in no way diminishes Jesus’ job.

 

It simply diminishes the ability of the people to get past their pre-conceived notions of who Jesus was,

who God is

and their ability to put the two together.

 

And when we allow things,

whatever they may be,

prejudice, knowledge, fear, doubt,

to block our vision of the kingdom of God,

there are limitations.

Jesus was preaching the same Good News to the people in Nazareth that He had preached in Capernaum and all the other towns He had visited. It was the preconceived notion of who Jesus was growing up that remained prominent in their minds and kept the people of Nazareth from experiencing the kingdom and hearing Jesus’ message.

 

Jesus wasn’t limited by the people’s faith or lack thereof. God could accomplish His purposes with or without the people of Nazareth.

 

What was at stake here wasn’t a matter of what Jesus could and couldn’t do.

What was at stake was what it was the people would or wouldn’t do.

Those people lost out on being a part of the kingdom of God.

Of having a role to play in sensing, experiencing and demonstrating to others, God’s will and work in the world.

Upon this rejection, Jesus didn’t waste much time in Nazareth. We read that Jesus then went around teaching from village to village. He also decides it is time for his disciples to go out, two by two, and follow his example by also preaching that the kingdom was at hand, and repentance. And as a sign of the kingdom’s presence, Jesus gave them authority over evil spirits.

It is important to notice Jesus’ special instructions to the twelve.

They are to take nothing with them except a staff, sandals and one tunic. They are to trust that everything else they need, will be provided for them. They are to remain in one house, not house hop and get the best from everyone in town. But stay in one place and live humbly.

And coming from experience

Jesus explains how they are to deal with rejection.

Rather than be discouraged, Jesus gives them a positive way to deal with the rejection,

that will inevitably arise.

They are to shake off the dust on their sandals and press on.

 

What a relief that must have been for those twelve men!

Jesus didn’t say, make sure everyone that hears you believes and understands heaven. In fact, Jesus said the opposite. He expected there would be people who would not listen,

Hello, it just happened to him and he is God!

He empowered his disciples to not allow rejection to get them down. They were to expect it would happen and not to make a big deal of it, but to keep on going.

And we read that is exactly what the disciples did. They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out demons and healed sick people.

 

Was it everyone they met? I doubt it.

 

It was only those people who listened and believed. And it was by listening and believing that the kingdom of God became a part of their life, on earth.

This takes me back to my concern at the beginning.

Does the lack of faith,

From the people of Nazareth,

From the people who would not listen to the disciples,

From us today.

Does that lack of faith limit God’s power?

If we say “yes,” what do we do with the doctrine of

“Justification is by grace, not by faith”?

Aren’t we saved by grace not by anything we do?

I am here to affirm that our lack of faith does not limit God in any way.

Salvation is still by grace, not by anything we do.

However, our lack of faith limits our ability to receive more from God. Our experience of God is limited by our amount of faith, and the only way I can see our faith being able to grow is by using it. The more we use it, the more we experience God’s kingdom, the more we believe. There is a cycle, and it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to get the cycle going.

Once you start using the little bit of faith you have your muscle gets stronger, because you begin to experience more of the kingdom of God and with more experience you desire more so you exercise more and ….I think you get the point.

So here’s the question of the day…..

In what ways are you encouraging or rejecting God’s work in your life?

In your family?

In your church?

In your community?

Each one of us is invited, by God, to experience God’s kingdom and to then make God’s kingdom known in the world.

 

You can’t do the latter until you have experienced the former.

 

You need to have experienced God’s kingdom for yourself before you can express it to others. And even then, the experience others have of God’s kingdom will not be identical to our own, in fact,

others may not choose to experience it at all. Either way, we should not be surprised. We are called only to share.

I would like us to take a few moments in silent prayer.

I would like us to be honest and decide:

1)      Are there places where you are resisting God’s activity in your life? Is there some area?

a.      Maybe a regret you can’t get over?

b.      Some grudge you can’t let go?

c.       Some hurt that has come to define you?

d.      Some addiction that imprisons you?

e.      Some anger that has a hold of you?

And because of one or more of these things, are you having difficulty entrusting God? Are any of these things blocking your experience of exercising your faith muscles?

 

 

2)      Or is there something that God may be inviting you to do?

a.      or some challenge God may have set before you that you find difficult to embrace or entertain?

These aren’t questions of salvation.

These are questions of the character of our Christian life.

You see, in today’s Scripture we read the thing that mattered was how the people received Jesus.

That is still the same today.

How are you receiving Jesus?

I encourage you, right now, in this time of silent prayer, to be honest, ask God to reveal himself to you

Ask to experience the kingdom of God.

Ask if there is anything keeping you from that experience Ask that God reveal it to you now

and then,             Seek His will for your life.

(silent prayer).           End the prayer.