Sunday, May 28, 2023

Jesus rejected in His Hometown: Are you Offended or Faithful?

“Three elements of personality are involved in making a decision to become a Christian, or in making any significant decision for that matter. They are the emotions, the intellect, and the will.

For example, a young man meets a young woman. They are immediately attracted to one another. They both say to themselves, "Now there is someone I'd like to marry." At that point, if the emotions had their way, there would be a wedding. But the intellect intervenes, questioning the impulsive emotional response. Would we be compatible? What is she really like? Can I afford to support her? Both conclude it would be better to take some more time and answer a few questions before they proceed. So the two begin spending more time with each other. He eventually concludes that she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Now his intellect has sided with the emotions on the idea of marriage.

But the final and heaviest vote remains to be cast -- that of the will. It stops the march toward the altar with the questions, "Am I willing to give up this lifestyle for another? What about my freedom -- is it worth the trade? Am I willing to assume the added responsibility?" The marriage will occur only when the will finally agrees with the emotions and the intellect. And so it is in coming to Christ.”
-Jim Peterson, Living Proof, NavPress, 1989, p. 170.

We’ll be looking at two key moments in the life of Jesus, first the moment when Jesus visits his hometown and is rejected by them. Secondly, we’ll look at a moment when Jesus sent out his disciples to do ministry.

Mark 6:1-2 says this: “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.”

Their first reaction is a good thing, they were amazed at the teaching of Jesus. We should also be amazed at the teaching of Jesus. Are you amazed by the Lord? There are days when I’m honestly amazed by the Lord and what he’s doing in my life and in the world. Aren’t you? When were you last amazed by God?

I think it’s really, the cream of the crop of life, when we are honestly amazed by God. But that implies something. It means we’re actively watching what God is doing in our lives and in the world.

If you aren’t watching God, you won’t be amazed. If you are watching God. You will be amazed. Point number one today, observe what God is doing, and you’ll be amazed. More so, be in relationship with God and you’ll be amazed.

And when we are amazed, it changes us. Being amazed by God gets us excited. When we get excited, we get more active in our faith.

But next, the people question him. They start struggling. They doubt.

It says this: (2-3) “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 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.”

They were offended by Him. They rejected his wisdom. They say, hey we saw this guy when he was a kid. He can’t be anything special. They saw Jesus grow up as just an average kid in their hometown. So they refuse him. They get upset.

I recall after I got saved people in my hometown were offended at me. We know this guy, he’s nobody special, he doesn’t have our permission to do anything special.

People almost try to keep you in the box that they’re used to seeing you in. I bet many of you can relate to that! If you try to do something special with your life, and begin to change, people may get offended. But keep following God. Watch the miracle. But people may come against you.

But they were offended at Him. Sometimes we get offended at the truth too. We come across a particular scripture that we don’t like. Something in the Bible convicts us. And we get offended at that scripture. We reject that scripture. We come into unbelief. We get angry and upset. That’s happened a few times at our life group, or at church, people get upset at the truth. But the truth stands firm.

Sometimes when we get right down to the truth, it gets harder to accept. But wrestle through. Wrestle with God through it. Don’t reject it. But enter into it, engage with God on it, pray about it, and wrestle, and then, God will help you to embrace some very hard truths. Like struggle, like pain, like divine judgment, like hell, like sin, and the harder parts of God’s word.

One of the hardest things to do, is to set aside what we think, and embrace what God says. But I challenge you, dare to believe. Don’t take offense at the truth. Don’t take offense at your savior Jesus Christ, like his hometown did.

Sometimes as a Christian, it means God corners us with the truth, and we get a bit stressed out, and a bit prideful, and we get upset, and then we either embrace God’s truth, as a hard pill to swallow, or we reject God’s truth, and we begin to live in lies. Truth or lies is the choice, which will you choose?

Next in verses 4-6: “Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

They key phrase of this entire first half of our sermon is “their lack of faith.” To be saved, we must have faith. For someone to be healed, they had to have faith for Jesus to heal them.

Faith is the key that opens the doors of God’s kingdom. Faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in God’s system. Faith in God’s word the Bible.

There are times throughout the new testament where it says Jesus was amazed by their faith. But in this moment Jesus was amazed in a different way, he was amazed at their lack of faith. They were almost entirely faithless.

How is your faith? Again, this is a reoccurring theme in the gospel of Mark, your level of faith.

Let’s do a little check up on your faith.

Do you have faith in God’s word the Bible? It’s easy to say Yes. But do you read it everyday? Do you hunger and thirst for it intensely? As you read it are you amazed because it’s God’s word? Or are you amazed at how bored you are when you read it? That’s a measure of your faith.

And the Lord corrected me on that recently. Why don’t you have a higher regard for my word? Every single letter is incredibly important. Yet, it often takes a back seat to TV and movies and entertainment. Where is your faith?

Second question, do you have faith in Jesus Christ as your savior? It’s easy to say Yes. But, do you keep Jesus first in your life? Do you focus on Jesus every single day? Do you pray for hours every week? Or does Jesus seem to take back seat to your wants and desires and your work and your other relationships? Again, is Jesus really first? It’s a question of faith!

Do I really believe Jesus is my only hope of salvation and life and the very meaning of life itself? Or do I kind of treat it like one of many things in my life

Third question, do you have faith that the family of God, the church, is your first priority for service and connection? It’s easy to say Yes. But, then why do you miss church so much? Why don’t you attend bible study? Why don’t you volunteer and use your gifts and talents to bless the body? Why don’t you share your faith more?

This is a challenging message today, but it goes down to faith. Faith is at the base of what choices we make in our lives. If we are struggling in reading the Bible, look at your faith, if we’re struggling to pray, look to your faith, if we’re not active in our practice, look to your faith.

Bible study, Prayer, Church, these are showing the evidence or lack of evidence of faith. Ask God, every day, increase my faith. We’re surrounded by a Babylon society that is trying to disrupt our faith with pleasures. So you will have to fight for your faith to be strong. Fight the good fight of the faith!

So this first section verses 1-6 show us the power of Jesus contrasted with the lack of faith of his hometown. This is all contrasted with verses 6-13, which says:

“Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.

8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”

The lack of faith of Jesus’ hometown people is contrasted with the great faith of his disciples.

Jesus gathers his disciples and sends them out on a temporary mission, maybe for a few weeks, maybe less, to go and begin to do the things he is doing. He is training them to one day become Christians, who do the work of Jesus in the world. He sends them out in groups of two.

They go out taking very little with them, only a staff, no extra food. He is teaching them to walk by faith. To trust God to provide for them as they spread the gospel.

They are learning to do what their master Jesus does. What did Jesus do in his ministry? He preached for people to repent because the kingdom of God was at hand! And he healed people and cast out demons. Jesus has his disciples do the very same thing, by faith in Him, trusting God, and just as they hoped, lives were changed, people repented, some didn’t, they had to shake the dust from their feet, and move on to a new area, but the word went out, people were healed, and demons were cast out.

By faith. How is your faith? How strong is your faith? Do you go about your life living for Jesus, serving Him day and night? Are you about your master’s work? That is the challenge.

Our reaction to Jesus Christ and his message can go one of two ways, it can either go the way of his hometown, they were offended at Jesus words, and rejected him. They refused to have faith.

Or, our reaction to Jesus Christ and his message can be to go out and do his will. To preach the message to others. To serve others in love. To follow God in relationship.

And it starts with faith. Can you trust Jesus even when you don’t understand? Even when you’ve been hurt by religious people in the past? Can you have rock solid faith even when things seem crazy?

So I thought to myself, again, this whole chapter is about faith. How do we have faith? The disciples once asked Jesus a question.

It’s from the gospel of Luke, it says this: 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” -Luke 17:5-10

That is the key to having strong faith: We must regard ourselves as servants of God, like a servant in a house, waiting to serve His master. Basically always listening for the voice of the master, to do His will at any moment. And to regard ourselves as servants who are simply doing our duty. That’s humility. That’s seeing ourselves as humble servants of God. There seems to be this link between humility and faith.

If we know that we’re completely dependent on God, and that humbles us, we will have strong faith. If we think we can do it on our own and don’t really need God that much, we’ll have weak faith.

Pull it all together now, first, Be amazed by God, and let God be amazed by your faith.

Secondly, don’t be offended at God. Wrestle with the harder truths. Wrestle, and humble yourself, and embrace the harder truth, don’t push it away.

Thirdly, have a strong mighty faith, a faith that accepts Jesus words humbly, and puts them into action in your life.

Fourthly, humble yourself at Gods’ feet, and as a result your faith will grow, as you sit at the feet of Jesus, and wash the feet of his people.

In response to all this, I want you to come to humble yourself on your knees, declare yourself to God as his humble servant, ask him to humble you, and ask him to increase your faith. God bless you today.