Year B – Proper 9 – Mark 6:1-13

Mark 6:1–13 NRSV –    He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 6:2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 6:4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 6:5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6:6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching. 6:7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 6:8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 6:9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 6:10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 6:11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 6:12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Summary -Mark again places two stories together to show a contrast. On the one hand Jesus comes to his hometown. But he is not received with a “home-court” advantage. He is  distrusted. Instead of being inspired and hopeful through his many miracles of healing, they questioned: “Where did this man get all this?” They could only see him as a hometown boy, a carpenter and they knew, “where he’s from.” They know his mother and brothers and sisters. As a result of their distrust, “they took offense at him.” Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. On the other hand Jesus sends out the disciples, two by two, and gave them authority to cast out demons and heal and they did. While Jesus was constrained to “do no deed of power” in his hometown, he confers power to his disciples to do many deeds of power as they travel.

Insight – I know a young man. Prior to his genuine spiritual renewal he was headed in the wrong direction. He has made mistakes that are embarrassing and dumb. But God’s Spirit has been at work in him; he desires to grow spiritually; he is talking of how he wants to serve in God’s kingdom; he is trying to deal with his sins. It is clear that the most important work that God ever does is being accomplished in his heart. But others certainly see him as just the same old kid. One saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The people in Jesus’s hometown viewed him as just the same old kid. But God anointed and empowered Jesus (at his baptism) preach the Good News and bring healing and life. They refused to believe that a humble and simple carpenter, the son of Mary no less, could be someone special. The most special person ever. A few chapters earlier his own family thought he was out of his mind and sought stop him. Jesus summed it up well: “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” So while Jesus was working miracles of God’s power all around, his closest relatives and neighbors’ unbelief tried to “cut him down to size.” It is just because we believe that a humble carpenter was the Messiah and saved the world, that we should be ready to see others with new eyes. We must see that the same God and Father of Jesus who empowered him by the Spirit is able to empower us. He empowers others. We should be eager to see others as breaking the mold that their previous life made. God changes people.

Catechism – What does God do? God changes people.

Discussion – How has God changed your life in ways that your family and friends weren’t expecting?

Prayer – Father and God, we give you thanks for Jesus who lived a humble and ordinary life until his commission as the Messiah. We thank you that he did extraordinary works of power by the same Spirit whom you have given us. Give us grace to appreciate the humble and ordinary and the hope to see your calling and commission in our lives and others’. In Christ’s name. Amen.