Mark presents to us the reception Jesus received when He returned to Nazareth. The townsfolk must have heard news of Jesus’ ministry around the Galilee region. Even though He was one of their own, they rejected Him. Their attitude towards Him illustrates just how wickedly people react when the name of the Saviour is mentioned.
“And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him” (Mark 6:1-3).
The people of Nazareth knew Jesus and had watched Him grow up from a child. How could one who had lived for thirty years in their town be the Messiah, the Saviour of the world? What right had He to come to them and teach about the Kingdom of God? They may have received Him if He were a rich man or a priest, but He was only a common carpenter.
Nazareth was privileged and blessed by God. For three decades the Saviour walked its streets. The people must have known that the boy Jesus was different from other children, never getting into trouble and living a blameless life. The problem was that they could not see beyond the level of the flesh. This boy they knew was now telling them that they needed to repent. The wisdom, teaching and miracles of Jesus were undeniable, yet they wickedly closed their hearts, eyes and ears to Him. They were offended at Him.
It is no different today. It is still very difficult to get through to those we grew up with. The nation we live in was once great because it was built upon godly principles, but now the majority are offended at the Scriptures and any mention of Jesus Christ. Just like those Nazarenes the people of our day only have contempt for Christ. No matter how difficult is may be, we must continue to stand, even alone, for Christ and the truth. He was despised too. “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house” (Mark 6:3-4).
Jesus’ trade was that of a carpenter rather than a goldsmith, for He made things out of wood not gold. The One who made the universe, and all things in it, with His hands was willing to spend most of His earthly life as a humble tradesman. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1) … “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers” (Psalm 8:3) … “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16). He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). No wonder Paul wrote that Christ “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Throughout His earthly life He had only known poverty. He humbled Himself so that those who follow Him might live and reign with Him for ever.
There is no sin in poverty. God rarely chooses the great and mighty for the work, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). The vessels He pours His glory into are usually earthenware rather than of precious metal, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). If we had have visited Jesus’ workshop, we would have seen a man working to put food on the table rather than rings on His fingers. Following Jesus has nothing to do with wealth, health or education. If we think that we are as “thick as two short planks” , the Carpenter can still make something useful out of us.
“And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching” (Mark 6:5-6).
The people of Nazareth had “an evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12). The Lord could do very little amongst them except heal a few sick people. This illustrates the fact that unbelief can rob us of the highest blessings that God is willing to grant, for it causes the channels of His grace and mercy to close. When He returns, will Christ be surprised by the unbelief and hardheartedness in the church? “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
It was unbelief that brought about the Fall, for it is found in those who listen to the devil rather than the Lord. Unbelief makes people fit for Hell rather than Heaven, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Unbelief is not only a matter of the heart, for it affects the way we live our lives too. Unbelief is that wicked persistency to be unwilling to accept the plain and simple teachings of God’s word. We need to be on constant guard against unbelief by being “stedfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9) and being “unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The sin of unbelief grows in the heart of those who reject and neglect the Scriptures. We need to constantly ask the Lord to “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). The people of Nazareth could not receive the blessings because they had shut out Christ in their hearts. How many blessings do we miss out on for exactly the same reason?