What Did You Expect?
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Mark 6:1-6:6 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
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What Did You Expect?
For most of us, the most powerful negative feeling we will ever experience is the feeling of rejection. People are rejected by their parents, children, spouses, co-workers, friends, peers, and even fellow church members! In our scripture for today, Jesus visits his hometown, where he is rejected!
These six short verses tell of a homecoming, a reunion of sorts, which ends on a bad note. Jesus, a local boy, has come home. But he has come home as a prophet, not as the “carpenter” who left town. In the eyes of the town, he’s not a prophet. They’re too familiar with him, know him to well, to accept the “new” Jesus.
We must note that Jesus has come home to the church of his childhood, the place where he was nurtured, the place where he first learned the scriptures. Obviously he had learned his lessons well. But the people could not get past “little Jesus” to Jesus the teacher and prophet.
Jesus had been gone for awhile now. He had spent some time wandering with his cousin, John the Baptist. He had assembled a group of guys to assist him with his ministry. He had met people who were hurting. He had met people with bruises, tears, suffering, pains, beggars and other people that would never be welcome in church on a Sunday morning. And he ministered to them.
So his travels bring him home. And he’s prepared to minister to them, because that is what he does now. But he is snubbed.
“Wait a minute! Who does he think he is? That’s Mary’s boy. He just a carpenter!” You see an artisan, a carpenter, bricklayer, etc. was pretty low on the social scale compared to the prophet he was now calling himself. Prophets were up here and artisans were down here below peasants and just above beggars.
“And he was amazed at their unbelief.” Jesus knew who he was. Why couldn’t they see it?
This reminds me of the movie that came out many years ago called “Oh God”. John Denver was a store manager who meets God, played by George Burns. John Denver gets a letter telling him he has been called to meet with God. He thinks it just a big joke but he goes to the designated meeting place anyway.
There is just an empty room and the voice of God. He wants God to show himself. Reluctantly God appears, looking quite a bit like George Burns. God stands there as an old man with thick glasses, dressed in baggy pants, tennis shoes, a windbreaker, and a golf hat! John Denver stares, mouth open. God replies, “Well, what did you expect?”
This is what happened in our scripture for today. God, in the person of Jesus, stands before these people in Nazareth, the town where he grew up, in the church where he was taught. He had the right to say, “What did you expect?”
I can relate to this story. I spent 18 years in another church, so I guess you could say that I grew up in that church. I was taught in that church. When I became a Methodist pastor, I thought it would be great to be the pastor at that church. I realized later that would never work. Many of the people in that church had known me since I was a baby. It would never work.
Case in point. Many of you know Dean Ribordy, a farmer who lives north of here. When I was a little boy, he told me a joke. “How do you top a car? You tep on the brake, tupid.” 35 years later he always greets me, Hi Tupid. I could never be his pastor. He knew me too well. I would always be “Pastor Tupid”. It would never work.
Lee Parsons was my bus driver the first seven years I went to school. So he has known me since I was 6 years old. He told me the other day when I was visiting with Him in Celia’s hospital room that he never imagined I would grow up to be a preacher. He knew me too well. To him I would always be the little boy who sat up next to him operating the flag sign that comes out form the side of the bus when it stopped.
Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” Their hometown, their own kin, and in their own house.
We need to remember the image of Jesus that people had in their minds. He had left Nazareth alone, the carpenter, and returned with 12 guys, a prophet. Now Nazareth is a town probably not a whole lot bigger than Union Mills. Probably, like Union Mills, many of the people were related. And possibly upset because Jesus had his family when they needed him.
Joseph was dead and Jesus, being the eldest male child, was expected to take on the role of the head of the household and breadwinner for the family. These people, relatives some, maybe felt that Jesus had shirked his family duties by leaving the family to fend for themselves. He had stepped away from his “role”, what he was expected to do according to the customs of society. And his “extended family” wasn’t too happy to see him striding back into town as a “Rabbi”. That’s not his “role”.
I can relate to that, as well. In my “role” as a Pastor, I have been rejected by most of my family. They know me too well and can’t accept what I do now. I’ve stepped outside of the perceived “role” in the family that they see me fulfilling. One even went so far as to send me an e-mail saying they were going to contact the “real pastor” of this church to tell the “real pastor” what a bad person I am. I already know I’m not worthy. I guess, in that case, I’ll have to put them in touch with God.
Jesus had stepped outside of the role his hometown people and kin had assigned to him and had returned to town to minister to them. And he was rejected. That had to hurt. He had come home to minister to the people he cared deeply for.
“And they took offense at him……and he could do no deed of power there…” The people there would not allow him to minister to them. They could not get past the image they had of Jesus. “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary……” The people of Nazareth, his hometown, had the Messiah right there in front of them and they didn’t even know it. What did they expect?
Can you imagine it? God in the flesh. Standing right there in front of them. And they’re going, “Ahh! It’s just that carpenter. Mary’s kid. He’s no prophet!” Rejected!
We’re the same today as those people were back then. We watch the children of our church and town grow up and we’re amazed at what they become. We sometimes refuse to believe how they turn out. And, in doing so, refuse to allow them to minister to us.
Let me close with a question. Was Jesus serving his heavenly Father while he worked in the shop or was he just killing time until he could get out and REALLY begin his ministry? While he was working in the shop, was he doing secular work, or was he doing ministry even then?
We have these notions that secular work is work with no spiritual content and sacred work is work that is spiritual in nature. We could say that a preacher’s work is sacred and a carpenter’s work is secular. One works for God and the other pounds nails into wood.
We COULD say that. But a job isn’t secular just because it is outside the scope of the church. And a job isn’t sacred because you minister in holy things. This is determined by your attitude.
If, in whatever you do in life, you do it to the glory of God, then your work is every bit as sacred as that of a full-time minister of the gospel. Every one of you is a minister and every one of you has a ministry.
And if you keep that in mind throughout your daily living, when others look down at you or discount your ministry, you can answer their disbelief by saying, “Well, I’m a Christian. What did you expect?”
Sure, you may be rejected by your family, your friends, your hometown. But you will never be rejected by the one who matters most.