Pentecost 6 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
July 4, 2021
Ezek. 2:1-5, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Mark 6:1-13

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            After healing the woman with the discharge of blood and raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead that we heard about in last week’s Gospel reading, Jesus travels with His disciples to His hometown of Nazareth, a 26 mile walk from Capernaum.  That Sabbath Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue.  The reaction of the people is astonishment.  Some may be astonished like the people of Capernaum, Mark 1:22 (ESV) “22 … they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”  

Others it seems are astonished because Jesus is a hometown boy and now He is back acting all high and mighty.  They have all heard the stories of what Jesus has done; the healings, the driving out demons, the calming of a storm, the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Jesus is doing things that only God can do.  But Nazareth probably has only about 400 residents and as any of you who grew up in a small town know, everyone knows everybody.  They all know this Jesus fellow.  Despite all they have heard, they know that Jesus is no one special. He is a carpenter after all and His parentage is pretty questionable.  This Jesus is not one of the important people of Nazareth and here He is rolling in after being gone for a little bit acting like He is all that. Who does He think He is?

            Earlier in Mark we saw how Jesus’ family thought he was crazy, now we see the people of Nazareth reject Jesus.  They are offended that Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. Mark 6:4 (ESV) And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 

            Jesus tells them that this is not a problem with Him; it is a problem with them.  He is a prophet and more, but they cannot see past their own issues of familiarity to recognize this.  Mark 6:5–6 (ESV) 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…

        The people had been astonished wondering, “How are such mighty works done by his hands?”  Now, Jesus can do no mighty works in Nazareth.  Why is that?  What does this mean?

            Why can Jesus do no mighty works?  Perhaps it is Jesus’ judgement on Nazareth for rejecting Him. He taught in their synagogue and instead of following Jesus they bring up Jesus’ pedigree and reject Him.  So maybe Jesus is bringing judgement.  There are times we can wonder if God is judging us. You pray for healing, you pray for relief, and God does not answer the prayer they way you want Him to and you wonder, “Is God judging me for my sin?”

The disciples want judgment.  Jesus rebukes them.  John 3:17 (ESV)  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

            Judgment sounds like a reasonable explanation, but it does not fit with Jesus’ mission and ministry.  John the Baptist thought Jesus was coming immediately with axe and fire to destroy all sinners, but instead Jesus comes with water and words to bring people salvation.  We learn Jesus’ attitude toward immediate judgment in Luke 9:51–56 (ESV) 51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.” 

The disciples want judgment.  Jesus rebukes them.  John 3:17 (ESV)  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 

            Judgment day will come on the last day with axe and fire.  But until then Jesus is on a mission of mercy.  Jesus is on a mission to save.  This mission continues among us today.  The mission is to save, not judge.  People question Jesus, misunderstand Jesus, resist Jesus, but Jesus does not give up on them.  Jesus takes God’s judgment upon Himself on the cross, pays for the sins of the world and opens the Kingdom of God to all.  So it is not for judgment that Jesus can do no mighty work. 

            Perhaps it is because the people of Nazareth lack faith. Maybe Jesus is unable to do miracles because the people do not believe.  After all, Jesus does marvel at their unbelief.  This is an idea that is still very big concern among Christians today. Faith healers on the television claim that if you just have enough faith you will get a miracle.  There are churches that teach that God wants to bless you with health and wealth and if He is not blessing you it is because you lack faith.  They teach that if God is not answering your prayers the way you want Him to answer, it is because of your lack of faith. 

            To be clear, God does not need your faith to perform miracles.  The creator of heaven and earth does not need your faith to rule the world.  Jesus fed the 5,000 and calmed a storm without anyone’s contributing faith.  When Jesus returns to raise the dead, all people will be raised whether they had faith or not.  So if Jesus is not judging the people for lack of faith, and He does not need faith to perform miracles, why is he unable to work miracles in Nazareth?

            Miracles are not a reward for faith, but miracles can lead to punishment for those who do not believe.  Jesus is not pleased with those who want Him to do miracles as kind of a show.  Mark 8:11–12 (ESV)  11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  Just before His crucifixion Jesus is sent to Herod who is excited because He wants to see Jesus perform some sign.  Jesus doesn’t.

            For those who have seen Jesus’ miracles and still do not believe there are harsh words of condemnation.  Matthew 11:20–24 (ESV)  20 Then [Jesus] began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” 

            Jesus is on a mission of grace as He visits Nazareth and He is still on a mission of grace here today.  Even though His family and the people of Nazareth reject Him, Jesus wants them to be saved.  Matthew 12:20 (ESV) 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 

            Jesus does not want to harm the people of Nazareth; He wants to bring the Good News.  And so, despite their rejection of Jesus, He still loves His family and the people of His hometown and wants them to believe.  He even heals a couple of people, but quietly.

            It is so natural for us to want to reject those who reject Jesus; perhaps even punish them, but this is not Jesus’ way.  Jesus loves all people; those who follow Him and those who reject Him.  Jesus loves you.  Jesus loves even me.  Jesus wants all people to be saved.  Jesus died for all people. 

            Jesus’ mission of salvation is still for all people. Jesus has not given up on anyone yet. You can look the most ardent atheist in the eye and speak the truth to them, “Jesus loves you and He died on the cross to pay the price for your sins,” and it is true, because Jesus is still on His mission of mercy.  Judgment Day has not yet come.  There is still time.  Repent and believe the Good News. 

The devil loves to throw your sins in your face as if they would keep God from loving you.  Jesus comes for sinners.  Jesus comes for you.  Jesus has sealed you as His child in the Kingdom of God.  You are a new creation in Christ washed clean in the waters of baptism.  You have received the mighty work of forgiveness of all your sins.  Jesus has done a miracle for you and given you eternal life. Amen. 

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