And they took offense at Him
Mark 6:1-13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. 2 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? 3 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. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief.
And He was going around the villages teaching.
7 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; 8 and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt— 9 but to wear sandals; and He added, “Do not put on two tunics.” 10 And He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. 11 Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them.
In today’s text it speaks of the response to Jesus, by the people of His home town. You would think that perhaps He would be welcomed and cheered, as a celebrity, a kind of local boy does good story. Instead it says: He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, 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. Not much has changed in two thousand years, people are still easily offended. The people of Jesus hometown were familiar with Jesus as a young man. They knew Jesus the man and were offended by the spiritual Jesus who returned to their town. In the same way, the people who are closest to us, family, friends and coworkers are the most likely to be offended when we are spiritual. Rarely will a waitress in a restaurant be offended if we pray before we eat. Our unsaved family members, on the other hand, have less tolerance when we pray at our own table. The world will say they are offended because we are hypocrites, that we are not like Jesus. They say we don’t do the things Jesus did. The truth is they were offended by Jesus and certainly Jesus did the things that Jesus did. Even the most well respected, humble Christian, known for good works with the poor, the orphans and widows, will offend the world if they speak of righteousness. We are, like Jesus, to love the world, to do good and to speak and teach the truth. Like Jesus, we should not ourselves be offended, even as we wonder at their unbelief.
The world today, our culture, is offended if we are not tolerant, if we don’t accept and even condone their beliefs and actions. Even in the church there are many who believe that we should be inclusive welcoming and embracing those who do not believe or receive the truth of God’s word. In today’s text Jesus sends His disciples out to minister. He gives them authority over the unclean spirits. Look though at what He tells them to do about those who do not receive them. Jesus says: “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them.” That doesn’t line up well with many people’s idea of who Jesus was or is. They, like the people of Jesus’ hometown, are more comfortable with Jesus the humble, meek and mild man, than with the righteous Son of God, the one who is fully God. Like God the Father, Jesus loves the world. They love the world so much that Jesus went to the cross for our sins, not to accept and tolerate our sins, but that we might repent and be redeemed.
After Jesus tells the disciples how they should respond to those who do not receive them or their message, the text says: They went out and preached that men should repent. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many sick people and healing them. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus again commissions and sends out His disciples. To them and to His disciples today He says: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Jesus says we are to make disciples, not friends. Disciples are disciplined ones. We are to teach them to observe all that He commanded, not just the things that they don’t find offensive. In Mark 16:15-20 Jesus commission to His disciples and us says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall ( be accepted, tolerated, included) be condemned.” Surely those words of Jesus are offensive to many, yet He continues saying: “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” The result was: So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. Moving forward from then to now, perhaps the reason that there is little evidence, few signs and miracles in the church today, is not because of the hypocrisy, the lack of love, perhaps it is because we are more concerned with not offending the world than with fulfilling the commission of Jesus, to preach the gospel and make disciples. The signs and wonders, the miracles, the authority to cast out demons are not what should draw people to the church or to Jesus, rather those things will follow and confirm the truth of God’s word.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit may I indeed live and love as you did Jesus. May my love be unconditional, but like You, may I speak the truth. Many were offended by Your righteousness, so too, will some be offended by righteousness today. Empower me with the Holy Spirit to speak the truth and by Your Spirit confirm Your word. Amen.