A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross – Day EIGHTEEN

Mark 6:1-13, The Message
He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”
But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.
 
Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.

 

Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:
“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.
“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.
 
“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.” 

Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits. 
_______ 

Such an interesting juxtaposition of Jesus-stories Mark has chosen to put here in the opening verses of chapter six. 

Take another look at this phrase from the last paragraph – 

“They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing…” 

Lay that line out against another one, taken from the early part of this passage: 

“Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there; he laid hands on a few sick people there and healed them – that’s all.”

What’s the difference between these two? 

Why such dynamism in one story and the lack of it in the other?

Jesus brought his traveling band back to his hometown. And initially, he preached with power. 

“Yeah, man!” say some of the neighbors. “That guy can PREACH! Who knew?”

But then those townsfolk think about it a little – often a bad sign. Because when we have second thoughts, we usually share them with others, right? And we can really do a number on people when we whisper about them in the corners of life.

“Hmmm…we knew that kid. Didn’t he live down the street and run around the village with our children? He acts like he’s got the answers to all the world’s problems!  Who does he think he is?”

ZING.

And Jesus sees this for exactly what it is: prideful stubbornness. An inability to believe their own eyes and ears, an unwillingness to acknowledge that this nondescript carpenter could possibly have grown into a full-fledged prophet/teacher/miracle-worker.

And here’s the power-point-great-big-starred-item for me in this text: 
     their own refusal to see 
          led to…
     the shut-down of Jesus’ ability to work his healing power in their midst. 

Talk about scary. 

God has given us an incredible amount of power, hasn’t he? 

Our refusal to see and to believe, our willful choice to say ‘no,’ seems to limit what God can do for us. 

But you see what happens next? 

Jesus blows right on by that town – he leaves and heads out to places where his ministry is welcomed. 

And then… 

Then he turns to his closest associates – the 12 disciples – and he pairs them up and he looks ’em in the eye and tells them they now have HIS authority and power to preach/teach/ heal/exorcise. 

And he sends them out to do exactly that. 

AND THEY DO IT!! 

Who knew?

_______

Jesus, your story just gets curiouser and curiouser. Our attitudes, our choices can somehow limit what you will do for us? Well, that’s just plain mind-blowing. And if that weren’t enough – you follow that little tidbit up with this one: those guys – those 12 who were so much like we are, all squirrely and confused and inappropriate – you authorize them to do the wild kinda stuff you do?

Gulp. Does that mean we have that authority, too? 

Lord, have mercy.

Click here for day one of this series and an explanation of what it’s all about. 

 

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