Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

4th Sunday After Denaho (Baptism of Jesus Christ)

Sermon / Homily on St. Mark 6:1-6

You Cannot Go Home Again

by Alan Carr

Mark 6:1-6

Introduction:

Thomas Wolfe wrote a novel entitled “You Can’t Go Home Again”. The book is about a man named George Webber. He is an author who has written a successful book about his hometown. When he returns home, he expects to receive a hero’s welcome. Instead, he is driven out of town by his own friends and family. They feel betrayed by what he has written about them in his book. Webber is shaken by their reaction to his work and leaves his hometown behind to go find himself. George Webber discovered that those who know you best tend to respect you the least.

Our text finds Jesus returning to Nazareth. He is going home again. Our Lord’s return to His hometown does not go the way one might expect it to. After all, Jesus is something of a celebrity by this time. He has been going around the countryside preaching, teaching, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead and controlling the forces of nature. He has proven that there is something very special and very different about Him.

Of course, the last time Jesus was in Nazareth things didn’t go too well for Him. He went to the synagogue and preached from Isa. 61. (Luke 4:16-20) In that service, Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Jewish Messiah. The people of Nazareth rejected His message and tried to kill Him by throwing Him over a cliff! He left Nazareth and preached in other places in Galilee. Now, a year later He returns to the very place He was so cruelly rejected. He wants to give His family, His friends and His neighbors another chance to receive Him and His message. That is grace! (Ill. I am amazed that God would give you and me one chance, much less opportunity after opportunity to believe in Him and His Gospel! Thank God for His good grace!)

When Jesus arrives in Nazareth, He is not greeted by anxious crowds. It seems that they ignored Him until the Sabbath Day came and they all went to the synagogue. I want to consider our Lord’s visit to Nazareth today. What happened there has something to say to those who are saved and to those who do not know the Lord. What is of real interest is the people’s reaction our Lord’s preaching and His person. Their reaction cost them His power.

Let’s take a look at the events of that Sabbath Day visit to the synagogue in Nazareth. Let’s notice the ways the people responded to the Lord and what their response cost them.

I. v. 2 THE PEOPLE WERE SHOCKED

BY HIS PREACHING

A. When Jesus began to speak, the people who heard Him were “astonished”. This word means “to be seized with panic; to be struck with terror; to be stricken with startling and sudden alarm.” When they heard Jesus, they were actually filled with fear.

They immediately began to speak among themselves and talk about three areas of the Lord’s ministry that amazed them.

· His Words – When Jesus preached, He did so with grace and charm. His words were filled with divine authority. He did not speak like the local rabbis. They quoted other rabbis and had no sense of certainty in their words. When Jesus spoke, He did so with the sense that He knew what He was talking about. He left no doubt in the minds of His hearers that His words must either be accepted or rejected. He left His hearers no wiggle room. In fact, when some officers were sent from the Pharisees to hear what Jesus had to say, they came back and said, “Never man spake like this man”, John 7:46. When the people of Nazareth heard Jesus speak, they were amazed.

· His Wisdom – When Jesus spoke, His words were filled with truth. The people heard Him declare old truths in new ways. They listened as He taught spiritual truth by using the common everyday things around them. While His illustrations may have called on the common, the truth He preached was anything but common. The Lord’s wisdom left them shaking their heads in disbelief.

· His Works – The Lord’s fame had preceded Him to Nazareth. They had heard about the miracles He had performed elsewhere. They could not believe that a young man from their own town could do the miracles that were attributed to Him.

The people of Nazareth could not believe what they were hearing and Who they were hearing it from. They heard what Jesus had to say and they were left with their mouths hanging open.

B. Our Lord’s message still affects people that way. When you read the Bible and study the message of the Gospel, it can cause you to be astonished. Consider some of the claims of the Bible.

· All people are sinners – Rom. 3:10-20, 23; Gal. 3:22

· All sinners are headed to a place called Hell – Psa. 9:17; Rom. 2:8-9

· There is only one way to be saved from sin and its penalty – Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:23; 5:12

· All other religions in the world are false religions and they all lead to Hell – John 3:18, 36

· The only way for anyone to be saved is for them to place their faith in a man Who lived, died and rose again from the dead 2,000 years ago – John 14:6; 10:9

C. Those are amazing claims because they condemn much of the world to a lost eternity. When people in our day hear the claims of the Gospel, they react in anger. They reject the message and attack the messenger, just as they did in Jesus’ day.

What do you think when you hear the claims of the Gospel? Do you rejoice in its truth, knowing that it has saved you soul? Or, do you hear it and reject its message, thinking you know a better way? Ill. Pro. 16:25

II. v. 3 THE PEOPLE STUMBLED

OVER HIS PERSON

A. As the people of Nazareth heard the message Jesus was preaching, they rejected His message because they thought they knew everything there was to know about Him. He had grown up among them and was one of their own. They had seen Him play there as a child; they knew His family; they thought they knew Him. They knew that He had never been to the divinity schools. They knew that He had no formal training. They knew everything there was to know about Jesus, or so they thought! To them, Jesus was just another boy from Nazareth. He did not deserve their respect. They saw Him as a common man!

They also knew His occupation. They call Him “the carpenter”. A carpenter in those days did not always build houses. Typically, they built ox yokes and plows. Sometimes they would build things like tables, chairs, beds, etc. Sometimes, the word carpenter referred to men who could do anything from carving a plate to building a house. The people of Nazareth probably had things in their possession that Jesus had built for them. They saw Him as a common craftsman. They looked at Him and said, “You are no better than we are! Why should we listen to you?”

B. We are told that they were “offended in Him”. The word “offended” has the idea of “to cause to stumble or to be repelled to the point of abandonment”. Because these people could not explain Jesus, they refused to listen to Jesus. They could not see past the carpenter; and they refused to receive their theology from a common carpenter.

These people did what all people do when they cannot understand someone. They resorted to ridicule! Ridicule is the final refuge of a small mind! They called Him “the son of Mary”. This was never done in that society! A male was always referred to as the son of his father, even if his father was dead. To call a boy the son of his mother was to imply that is mother had played the harlot. The people were calling the birth of Jesus into question. Of course, the people of that day rejected the notion that Jesus was born by supernatural means through a virgin womb. They consistently called His birth into question, John 8:41; 9:29.

The people of Nazareth could not explain Jesus, so they reacted to His words, His wisdom and His works with contempt and unvarnished ridicule. Listen to the contempt in their voices in verse 2 as they say “from whence hath this man these things?” these people could not accept what they could not explain!

C. This state of mind is still with us today. People reject what they cannot easily explain. When it comes to Jesus, there is much that cannot be explained to people’s satisfaction.

People seem to have little trouble with the manger scene. They seem to be able to accept a little, harmless baby lying in a manger. But, when you tell people that the little baby was born of a virgin and that He is God in the flesh, they can’t handle that!

People seem to have little trouble with Jesus going about from place to place preaching His message of peace, love and acceptance like some itinerant philosopher. But, when you tell them that He is the only Savior and that rejecting Him will lead to Him sending the sinner away into Hell, they can’t handle that!

People seem to have no problem with a dead Jesus hanging in shame on a cross. But, when you tell them that He rose again after He died and that He still lives today to save all those who will accept Him by faith, they can’t handle that!

If your concept of Who Jesus is stops with a baby in a manger or a dead man on a cross, you are missing the whole point! You must come to the place where you understand that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, John 3:16. You must understand that He died for your sins on the cross and that He rose again from the dead, Rom. 10:9. You must come to a place where you turn from your sins, and believe on Jesus for your soul’s salvation or you have no hope of Heaven, Rom. 10:13!

D. There is much about Jesus, the Bible and the Gospel that I do not understand. I can’t figure out why He would love me. I can’t figure out why He would even care where I am going to spend eternity. I can’t understand how He was able to save me from my sins when I simply asked Him to. But, my questions do not stop me from believing! What I don’t understand does not prevent me from acting on what I do understand.

Here is what I know and believe to be the absolute truth:

· Jesus Christ is God in the flesh – Phil. 2:5-8; John 1:1, 14

· Jesus Christ was born of a virgin – Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:25-38

· Jesus Christ lived a sinless life – 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5

· Jesus Christ died for my sins on a cross on a hill called Calvary – 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:4-6; John 1:29

· Jesus Christ raised again from the dead three days later – Matt. 28:1-6

· Jesus Christ ascended back to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father – Heb. 1:3; 10:12

· Jesus Christ is coming back to this world to receive His people unto Himself, 1 Thes. 4:13-18

· Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – Rev. 19:16

· Jesus Christ is the only Door to Salvation. He is the only Way into Life. He is the only Truth. Apart from Him, there is no hope, no salvation and no Heaven, John 14:6.

Is that what you believe? If it isn’t, please do not allow the claims of the Bible cause you to stumble. Believe the message just as it is given and receive Jesus. Do not allow that which you do not understand to cause you to stumble and send you to Hell!

III. V. 4-6 THE PEOPLE WERE

SHUNNED BY HIS POWER

A. The people rejected Jesus and they rejected His message. His response to their unbelief is to quote a common proverb. In summary, the proverb Jesus told them simply means “familiarity breeds contempt”.

The people of Nazareth, like people everywhere, took for granted what they had and wanted what they didn’t have. They looked at Jesus and saw one of their own. They treated Him as a common thing.

Ill. Preachers who grow up in a church experience this problem all the time. The people in the church know you. They have watched you grow up. They have seen you succeed and they have watched you fail. They cannot get past what they know about to hear what you are preaching. If you are a preacher, the hardest place you will ever preach is your home church! You will find less acceptance there than you will anywhere else.

B. Verse 5 tells us that because of their unbelief, Jesus was unable to perform many miracles there. Only a few sick folks were healed. Let’s get one thing straight now; their unbelief did not hinder His power. Jesus was and is absolutely sovereign. He could have done anything there that He wanted to do. He possessed the power, but He refused to demonstrate His power in the face of blatant unbelief. The hands of Jesus were not tied. A few people came to Him in faith and those people received His help. The rest rejected Him and were rejected by Him.

(Ill. There is a word here for the health and wealth crowd. There is a word here for those who promote the cult of prosperity. People who have embraced the prosperity cult doctrine believe that God only responds to our faith. In other words, if you have enough faith, you will be healed. If you have enough faith you will have plenty of money. If you have the faith you can enjoy endless heal, wealth and blessing. This way of thinking holds God captive to the will of man!

I would remind you that we serve a sovereign God! He can do what He pleases, when He pleases and to whom He pleases. Our faith, or the lack thereof, does not pose a problem for Him. In this case, Jesus refused to “cast His pearls before the swine”. They refused the message, thus they forfeited the miracles.

God’s best blessings are not the works of healing, multiplying your loaves and fishes, or meeting your needs. The greatest work of God is saving, sealing and securing lost souls! If you are saved, you have experienced the greatest of our Lord’s works.)

C. When Jesus saw the depth of their rejection, v. 6, He “marveled at their unbelief”. The word “marveled” means “to stand in wonder and amazement”. Jesus is said to have “marveled” only twice. Both times His amazement was over faith. He marveled at the great faith of a centurion, Luke 7:1-10. Here, Jesus marveled at the lack of faith among His own people.

Jesus was amazed that these people had heard the truth, seen the truth and still turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to that truth. As a result, He left Nazareth, and there is no record that He ever returned there. Their rejection of Jesus was total and He abandoned them to their choice!

That is what the Lord does! He sends out a call for people to believe the Gospel and be saved, John 1:9. When people reject the truth of the Gospel and the message of salvation through Jesus, there is no more hope for them. He might call them again and He might not. Regardless, there will come a point where the Lord will call them no more and they are abandoned to their choice, Rom. 1:18-33; Rom. 9:18-24.

(Ill. There is a word here for the church. Jesus shows up when we meet, Matt. 18:20. He desires to teach us truth and He wants to help us to grow. If we come to the house of the Lord expecting something from God, we will be amazed at what He can do. However, if we come with an “I’ve seen it all and heard it all before” attitude, we can expect nothing from the Lord.

We come to the church house and expect the preacher to preach it down and work it up. The fact is, a great worship service demands the participation of both preacher and congregation. William Barclay put it this way:

“There can be no preaching in the wrong atmosphere. The congregation is responsible for at least half of every sermon. In an atmosphere of expectancy, the least effort will catch fire. In an atmosphere of coldness or indifference, the most spirit-filled of sermons will fall flat.”

If we don’t want Him here, Jesus will do what He did in Nazareth. He will leave and go elsewhere with His message and His miracles, v. 6. We can have what we want at this house of worship. We can have glory, power, the manifest presence of God and we can have worship. Or we can have cold, dead orthodoxy. We cannot have both!

(Ill. Once A.J. Gossip was away preaching at a certain church. When he returned the next Lord’s Day, his pastor, the great Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte, said “Where were you last Sunday evening?”

Gossip replied, “I was over at a certain church preaching.”

“How was it”, asked Whyte.

“Cold! I found it very cold”, said Gossip.

“Cold!” cried Whyte, “I’d say that place is cold. I preached there two years ago and I still haven’t got the chill out of my bones!”)

I pray such a statement will never be made about this church! I pray that we will embrace the Savior and all He wants to do in us and for us. I pray that we will be careful to not push Him away. I pray that we will accept His Word, His presence and His power and make Him welcome in this place of worship.

Just as He did in Nazareth, He won’t force Himself on us here. We can have His blessings, or we can turn Him away. If we embrace Him, we will experience more of His power and blessings than we could ever imagine. If we don’t want Him here, He will go elsewhere! If we turn Him away, He will bless another church. I want Him to bless them and us too. There is plenty to go around. What happens to us is up to us!)

Conclusion:

I am afraid that we Baptists have become a lot like the people of Nazareth. We are so familiar with the things of God, the message of the Bible, the crucifixion of Jesus, the burial and the resurrection that we are no longer moved by them. We are reminded of what Jesus did for and we say “So what?” We talk about the cross and no one cares anymore. Shame on us!

We have allowed our hearts to grow cold and calloused toward the things of God. Today would be a good day to get before the Lord and ask Him to warm your cold heart one more time.

Others here have never been saved. You have never embraced the death of Christ as your death. You have never confessed your sins and asked Him into your life. You need to come to Jesus today. You need to be saved.

Has the Lord spoken to your heart today? If He has, let me ask you to do something very unusual. What I am about to ask is so unusual that you might think I have gone crazy when I tell you what I am thinking. If the Lord has touched your heart on any level, why don’t you leave your seat, bow in this altar and let Him do in your life what He wants to do. I know it sounds crazy, but that is what I want you to do.

Copyright 2003 by Alan Carr

See Also:

Offended by the Nice Little Kid from Nazareth
by Edward F. Markquart, Seattle, Washington

God Wants You to Walk by Faith
by Pete Benson

I Know That Boy
by The Rev. J. Curtis Goforth, O.S.L.

Going Home
by Larry Broding

First Thoughts on Mark 6:1-13
by William Loader, Murdoch University, Australia

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 4th Sunday after Denaha (Baptism of our Lord)

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