JESUS THE PROPHET
Prophets have never been very popular people. They have been beaten, stoned, thrown into prison, fed to the lions, burned alive and sawn asunder. Turned out of their homes, they have made their homes in caves, in mountains and in deserts.
Why are prophets so unpopular? I think that it is because they expose sin. We do not like to have our sins exposed. We do not like it when a pastor “leaves preaching and moves to meddling.”
Moses promised that there would one day come a prophet to whom God’s people would finally listen.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
Jesus was that prophet. He spoke the words of the Lord in a way that no prophet had ever done. He did not merely say, “Thus saith the Lord.” He often said, “I Myself say unto you.” He spoke on the basis of His own authority as well as on the authority of the Father.
This was striking in a day when the common preaching style was to quote one of the great rabbis. And yet, there were those who did not listen to Him. Most notably were the members of His own home town and of His own family.
AN EXPECTANT HOMECOMING
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. (Mark 6:1).
For several chapters we have followed the ministry and movements of Jesus around the region of the Sea of Galilee. Now he leaves the sea and climbs into the foothills of Lower Galilee, coming at last to “his hometown.”
Back in Mark 1:9 we read that Jesus had come “from Nazareth in Galilee.” The village of Nazareth is not mentioned again here. Perhaps there is a reason for this. It is so that we do not focus upon Nazareth and the people there and their reaction, but that we focus instead upon ourselves.
What kind of reception have YOU given to Jesus? One of faith? Or have you also turned a skeptical ear to the Savior?
A SKEPTICAL RECEPTION
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. (Mark 6:2-3).
Notice the reaction of the people. At first they were astonished. But the final outcome is that they took offense at Him. Why? What was the reason for their offense? It was because He was from their own hometown.
They could have believed in a Messiah that was from Jerusalem. Perhaps they could even have accepted a Messiah from one of the major metropolitan centers of Judaism like Alexandria or Antioch. But they could not accept the One who grew up down the street and who had brothers and sisters and a mother still living in the community.
One of the problems with being a Christian for a long time is being a Christian for a long time. It is possible to become bland with an irreverent familiarity.
For the first few years of our marriage, Paula and I lived right on the beach. To go to the ocean, we merely had to walk downstairs, out the door and we were at the seashore. But we noticed that after a few years, it got so that we hardly ever went to the beach. It had become bland.
Does that describe you? Has the sparkle gone out of your relationship with Christ to be replaced by a dull blandness? If it has, then this passage has something to say to you.
These people took offense at Jesus. And because of their offense, they did not recognize Him as the Messiah.
1. They got Distracted by their focus on Facts.
When Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, returned from his space flight in 1961, he made the remarkable announcement that he had not seen God in the heavens. A Russian orthodox priest in Moscow responded to him by saying, “If you have not seen God on earth, you will never see Him in heaven.”
These people had some of the facts - Jesus was the carpenter of Nazareth, son of Mary and brother to the children of Mary and Joseph. And their focus upon these facts would not allow them to see any others.
2. They got Close without becoming Convinced.
If you get close without becoming convinced, then you will become contemptuous. That is why we say that familiarity breeds contempt.
This means that if a person hears the gospel and does not accept it, his resistance to the gospel will increase in direct proportion to his exposure to the gospel.
A PROPHETIC PRINCIPLE
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” (Mark 6:4).
I have been teaching the Bible for many years. My family has been very supportive of my ministry. But it was also quite a long time before my parents and my brothers were able to listen to me teach and accept it. After all, I was a part of their family. How could I be a teacher of the truths of the Lord?
This was true in the case of Jesus. His own brothers and sisters did not believe in Him. They found it hard to accept His teachings. Indeed, it would not be until after the resurrection that some of His brothers would begin to believe.
How about you? Husbands, are you able to listen to the counsel of a godly wife? (And I don’t mean someone else’s wife). Wives, are you able to accept the spiritual leadership of your husband? Children, do you value the guidance of your parents?
Our problem is often that we do not value that which is too familiar. We are quite ready to believe a Messiah who comes from some other location, but not one who comes from next door.
AN UNFORTUNATE RESULT
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 6:5-6).
The result of their unbelief was that Jesus was unable to perform very many miracles in that location. Notice that it does not say that He WOULD not do these miracles. It says that He COULD not do them. Why? Although the reason is alluded here, it is taught explicitly in Matthew 13:58. The reason He could do no miracles here was because of their unbelief.
There is a lesson here. It is that the prerequisite for God’s intervention is belief. Miracles are preceded by belief. Belief is preceded by relationship with God. And relationship with God is preceded by grace.
GRACE ® RELATIONSHIP ® BELIEF ® MIRACLES
This means that belief is a gift of God’s grace. You can’t get belief by hustling for it. You only get it when you go to God. HE is the author of faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Is God doing something special in your life? Is there something in your life that can only be explained in terms of the supernatural? If there is not, then maybe it is because there is no faith.
In the heart of unbelievers, familiarity breeds contempt. But in the heart of the believer, familiarity breeds love. To know Him better is to love Him more so long as that knowledge is mixed with faith.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill was trying to get General Montgomery to take a course on logistics. Montgomery admitted that he was unfamiliar with the subject, but he quipped, “Familiarity would breed contempt.” Churchill replied, “Yes, but without some familiarity, we wouldn’t breed anything.”
You are breeding something in your life today. You are either breeding contempt, or else you are breeding love.