Jesus and His disciples come to Nazareth after a series of amazing healing miracles. The disciples of Jesus must have been in a state of euphoria. What an amazing tour this was! There was the calming of the sea when they were stunned and exclaimed, “Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Then the healing of the Gerasene demoniac, the woman with the haemorrhage and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. They must surely have felt that the kingdom would come swiftly. How wonderful it was to be on the winning team.
Then came Nazareth. The townspeople of Nazareth were surprised that this “local lad” was teaching and doing all that He was. “Why – isn’t this Mary’s Son? Doesn’t He work with His hands just as we do? He’s nobody special.”
Jesus is amazed at the response. Interesting statement for Mark to make. Jesus taught frequently about His ultimate rejection and crucifixion which would come at the hands of His opposition – so how is He “amazed”? This provides wonderful insight into Jesus’ humanity and His identification with us. There is a sense in which we can know something is going to take place, but when it happens, we are still amazed. It is not so much that Jesus did not expect the rejection – but it is startling when people who had been a part of His upbringing suddenly take this great offense at Him.
One of the barriers we will face when we enter our world as sent persons is the unbelief of the world. Even Jesus is amazed at the unbelief of the people in His hometown. There is more than unbelief in our world. We will also encounter resistance to the whole message of Christ. Jesus’ hometown folk not only did not believe, “…they took offense at Him.”
There has been a progression in the Western world particularly with respect to the Christian faith. We’ve moved from a culture that was friendly to Christianity, to one that is neutral to Christianity, to a time when much of the culture is unfriendly to Christianity. Have you ever noticed that it is okay to refer to God in our society, or even to Buddha or Mohammed – but often, people take offence if the name of Jesus is mentioned. If you take seriously the fact that you are one of the sent ones of Christ, you will encounter resistance.
But Jesus’ teaching mission goes on, and in some ways this event in Nazareth is a “reality check” for the disciples. Not everyone is going to be thrilled with the ministry of Christ, and ultimately with the ministry of Christ’s followers. They are commissioned and sent out into the real world where they must bring the ministry and message of Jesus Christ to everyone. Some will receive and some will not receive – but all must hear and witness the call of God to repent and believe the Good News. (JOHN JEWELL)