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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Reflective Bible Study.

Flashback Episode — Just a Carpenter: Mark 6:1-6

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Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 13: When Jesus visits His hometown synagogue, discover in just a few simple sounding questions how the people in Nazareth ultimately decide to reject Jesus because they cannot get past knowing His past.

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Read the transcript:

As we continue moving through Mark’s gospel, we come to an event where one key detail is the lack of faith of those present. While all four gospels routinely demonstrate and highlight the faith of many of those Jesus healed, this event actually highlights the exact opposite. I have a suspicion that several of the gospels include this event as a warning to us about how easy it can be to choose doubt over faith, and to reject someone God sends your way because of petty details.

Let’s read this event and discover what we can learn from what happened when Jesus traveled to a place that was very familiar to Him. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 6, and we will read out of the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us that:

1 Jesus left that place and went back to his hometown, followed by his disciples. 2 On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed. “Where did he get all this?” they asked. “What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles? 3 Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?” And so they rejected him.

4 Jesus said to them, “Prophets are respected everywhere except in their own hometown and by their relatives and their family.”

5 He was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 He was greatly surprised, because the people did not have faith.

Then Jesus went to the villages around there, teaching the people.

In this event, we see Jesus returning to His hometown, which was Nazareth, and to the synagogue that He likely grew up in. An amazing detail I see in this passage is the progression of Jesus’ rejection. Stepping through the phrases of verses 2 and 3, we see that the first reaction people had was amazement: “Many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed.

When thinking about what makes people amazed, a number of different reasons can come to mind. Among those things are being amazed because something is profoundly different and/or better. Another reason might be because something is shocking in some way. A third reason might be because something that seemed impossible just happened.

In the context of our passage and event, it is likely in my mind that the amazement came because Jesus now spoke or taught differently than before. While I don’t know if He had ever spoken up or taught in the synagogue during the time He grew up in the area, the passage suggests that He might have since those present have a somewhat startled response.

The next phrase leads us to where these people start their logical progression. They asked each other, “Where did he get all this?” In the context of our passage, the phrase “all this” could refer both to the truth He taught, and/or to the band of disciples that was tagging along with Him. Unlike other places that Jesus taught, those in Nazareth would have known that Jesus did not attend any formal school and Jesus did not sit at the feet of any great teacher or Rabbi that they were aware of. For the last 10 or so years, Jesus had simply been a carpenter and the son of a carpenter, not a teacher or healer or anyone significant or noteworthy.

Following the first question, the next one begins to plant the seeds of doubt. After wondering out loud where Jesus got what He had, they clarify specifically what they are referring to by asking: “What wisdom is this that has been given him?” In a subtle way, those present understand that what Jesus shared was amazing truth, and they recognize the wisdom in Jesus’ words, but they had a hard time accepting that the wisdom Jesus shared may have been through personal study or directly from God. While those in this synagogue admit that Jesus shared wisdom that Sabbath, they immediately turn to looking for a logical source for this wisdom.

With this seed of doubt planted, they then turn to another question they cannot answer. The next question is based on rumors that they had heard. They ask each other: “How does he perform miracles?” While we understand the miracles Jesus did were because the Holy Spirit had filled His life, those in the synagogue set themselves up to reject Jesus by asking the big impossible question. While they can admit Jesus had some wise things to say, they cannot find a source for this wisdom, and asking about how a miracle is done when one doesn’t have faith means that they won’t ever find or accept the truth. With the first three questions the people in the Nazareth synagogue ask, we have questions that they are unwilling or unable to answer.

At this point, the people turn to two questions that they are able to answer, because they cannot bring themselves to admit that Jesus has an unknown-to-them Source for His teaching, His wisdom, and His miracles. The answerable questions are: “Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?

With this set of questions, the logical progression of this group of Jews rejecting Jesus is complete. They can answer this question with a yes. Jesus is the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, and according to this passage, Jesus had at least two sisters, because the plural nature of the last question. Jesus was one of five boys and several girls in Mary’s family. These last two questions pull Jesus back to reality in the minds of those present, and it allows them to step fully through the door rejecting Jesus’ divinity and only accepting His humanity.

Because of this, we read that those in the Nazareth synagogue rejected Jesus.

With this whole progression of questions, I picture in my mind different people asking each question. With each question, the door is opened a little more to rejecting Jesus. Instead of accepting and admitting that God had used Jesus to share a powerful and wise message with them that day, those present cannot bring themselves to see a carpenter as anything more than a carpenter, regardless of the group of disciples He had collected. This truth teaches us that it is always easier to reject Jesus than it is to accept Him. There will always be reasons for people to doubt. However, while it is easier to doubt Jesus, doubting Jesus ultimately cheats you out of experiencing a miracle in your life.

In our own lives, God can use people to share His wisdom and His truth. While we are never called to accept messengers without first looking at the quality of the message, God has a way of using sinners to help spread His message and His truth. Aside from Jesus, everyone has sinned, and this truth challenges us to look past the messengers God sends our way and to focus on the message calling us to return to and believe in Jesus Christ.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to place your hope, faith, trust, and belief in Jesus. Through what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross, we have the assurance of salvation when we accept the gift of Jesus’ perfect, sinless life in place of our own. Jesus took the punishment we deserved and offers us the life He deserved in its place.

Also, continue to pray and study the Bible for yourself to personally grow closer to God each and every day. While we can learn from other people, the best place to validate messages coming into our lives is by personally taking each idea and validating it against the truth of God’s Word, also known as the Bible. While customs, traditions, and society’s expectations change on a daily basis, God’s truth stays consistent, and it is as true today as it was during the Bible’s time period of history, and it will remain true throughout every generation that comes after us as well! God’s truth is the best place to build a spiritual foundation for our lives.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let doubt steal you away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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