September 25, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 6:1-6a


He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 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. And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household."And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.
(Mark 6:1-6 ESV)

Jesus teaches in the synagogue in Nazareth. As usual, people are amazed at His teaching, and wonder at the authority He is showing that He has. But their reaction is different. "Who does he think he is? He's from around here! We saw him grow up!" Some of the older women were probably thinking the ancient Hebrew equivalent of "I changed his diapers, and now HE thinks he's going to teach ME this new stuff?"

And they weren't proud of Him. In fact, they were mad. "Who do you think you are, to tell us this stuff? What do you think you are, God or something?" They wouldn't hear Him.

I think it's interesting that He didn't do any miracles there. Nazareth would have been a perfect place to pull off a water-into-wine, or a feeding of 5,000. But the people there had no faith. They wouldn't have been persuaded even if He had done those things. Their hearts had already been hardened, because they couldn't get past who they thought Jesus was -- the dirty-faced kid who they saw playing in the street. The teenager helping his dad build houses. The young adult, doing his own construction work. They couldn't get past Jesus' humanity, to see the divinity that was there.

People have this problem all the time. The Jesus Seminar has sold a LOT of books catering to people who cannot see the divine Christ because they are too focused on the human Jesus. Of course, the other extreme is just as bad -- sometimes we look at the divine Christ so much that we miss the very human Jesus. The man who grew up with these people in Nazareth. The man who had probably built some of their homes. Who had grown up playing with some of them. These are the people Jesus the man cares about the most, and they totally reject Him and His message. It had to have broken His heart, to see these people reject Him.

Often, the hardest thing for us to do is to witness to unsaved relatives. They know us too well, and they know our faults and shortcomings. They remember the temper tantrums we used to throw when we didn't get our own way. They remember the time we pulled the tablecloth off the picnic table full of food -- and dumped hamburger all over everyone. They see our imperfections -- and they can't get past that to see the message we bring them. And when they don't accept Christ, we feel like we are the ones they are rejecting.

But we cannot stop planting seeds. Some plant, some water, some harvest, and God grants the increase. Never stop planting seeds. Never stop watering other people's seeds. Rejoice when you can harvest what someone else has planted, and rejoice when someone else harvests something that you planted. Because there's no tote-board in heaven, to see who scores the most souls. There's only one who brings people to Christ -- God, who draws all men unto Christ. All we can do is be available for Him to use, and be faithful when we are called.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:38 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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September 19, 2004

Study of Mark: Mark 5

(I figured it had been so long, I'd go ahead and do tha whole chapter today).

I'm also not going to cut and paste the whole chapter. Go here and read it.

Jesus starts off the chapter by showing His sovereignty over demons by casting them out. The demoniac has been afflicted for some time, and has either left or been run out of the city. He lives among the tombs -- caves, in other words. The Bible also makes sure we know just how strong this guy was -- his shackles and chains had been broken many times before. Nobody wanted to mess with the guy.

The demons know exactly who Jesus is. Verse 7 -- "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me." The demons are begging for their survival -- they are afraid that Christ has come to finally condemn Satan and his followers to the pit or all eternity. Christ knows that that time has not yet come. But He delivers the man from the demons.

I don't know why He sent the demons into the swine. I DO know that this caused the people who owned the swine to be VERY upset at Him. Maybe these people were Jews who weren't supposed to be tending pigs (unclean animals), and Christ was rebuking their rebellion. In any case, when word got around about what had happened, people came to check things out. I think their reaction is interesting. "... they were afraid. ... And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region." They didn't know who this guy was, but they knew they didn't want Him around. He was causing problems. He was making them re-evaluate the way things were.

That's what Jesus does when He enters our lives. We have to re-evaluate things. Our priorities change. Our goals change. Even our speach may change. Our attitudes and outlook change. Christ challenges us to think the way He thinks. And many people don't like that. They are afraid of changing the way they think. They don't want to view the world the way Christ does -- as sinful people in need of a Savior. They don't want to feel what He felt as He looked over Jerusalem. They want to continue to pursue their own goals and dreams, and not subordinate them to Christ's will. And they know that Christ requires them to do exactly that.

Unfortunately, many Christians don't recognize that. We pray the prayer, walk the aisle. We get dunked. We sign a membership card. We go to Sunday School. And Christ never makes an impact on our lives at all. We are living with the form of Godliness, but we deny it's power. Power over our world, but also it's power over us. Our challenge is to live each day, more and more conformed to the image of Christ, and to see everything the way He sees it.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 03:45 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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