SS Lesson for 07/19/2020
Devotional Scripture: Luke 20:9-18
“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a very old saying. Over time, we become so accustomed to the things we experience frequently that we lose respect for them. Though outsiders remain in awe, those of us who have experienced a wonder over and over can cease to realize it is a wonder. Imagine the children of a great chef. Do they realize how good their family meals are? Extraordinary talent risks being rendered ordinary simply through everyday exposure. Jesus, though extraordinary, seemed ordinary in many ways. He was born into a poor family from an insignificant village. For most of His life, He received no notice. In what we call His public ministry, He attracted great support as a rabbi and prophet, but also great opposition. In His lifetime, Jesus was known only in His own small part of the world. Worst of all, He died the shameful, tortuous death of a notorious criminal (compare Isaiah 53:2, 3). Today's text narrates one of the most dramatic instances in which people responded to Jesus out of their familiarity with His ordinariness. We will wonder how anyone could have ignored how exceptional Jesus was, but we will also realize our own tendency to take for granted our Lord who has become so familiar.
Mark's Gospel is the shortest of the four accounts of Jesus' life in the New Testament. Its focus on Jesus' mighty deeds exposes a contrast between the faith of some and the disbelief of others. Mark begins his Gospel with stories highlighting the joyous excitement of people who are blessed by Jesus' healing (Mark 1:21-34, 40-45). But soon we see religious leaders who object to Jesus' words and deeds (3:1-6). Confronted with danger, the 12 disciples Jesus had appointed (3:13-19) failed in their faith (4:35-41). In the middle of a very mixed set of responses to His ministry, Jesus tells a parable of seed falling on different kinds of soil (Mark 4:1-9). The varying results represent different responses of faith and unbelief to God's good news (4:10-20). Jesus' experience at home leads us to today's text. (Matthew 13:53-58 and Luke 4:16-30 are parallel.)
2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him.
6:1. From Capernaum Jesus went about 20 miles southwest to His hometown, Nazareth (cf. 1:9, 24), where He had lived and ministered previously (cf. Luke 4:16-30). He was accompanied by His disciples, returning as a Teacher (Rabbi) surrounded by His students. This was a public mission, and He was preparing His disciples by example for their own missions (cf. Mark 6:7-13).
6:2-3. On the Sabbath... He taught in the synagogue (cf. 1:21), probably expounding on the Law and the Prophets. Many... were amazed (exeplēssonto, “astounded, struck out, overwhelmed”; cf. 1:22; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18) at His teaching. But some asked disparaging questions about the origin of (a) these things, His teaching, (b) the wisdom... given Him (lit., “to this One”), and (c) His power to do miracles elsewhere (cf. 6:5). Only two answers were possible: His source was God, or Satan (cf. 3:22). Despite His impressive words and deeds, He was too ordinary for them. The derogatory question, Isn’t this the carpenter? implied, “He is a common laborer like the rest of us.” All His immediate family—mother, brothers, and sisters—were known to the townspeople, and they were ordinary people. The phrase Mary’s Son was also derogatory since a man was not described as his mother’s son in Jewish usage even if she was a widow, except by insult (cf. Jud. 11:1-2; John 8:41; 9:29). Their words, calculated insults, also suggested they knew there was something unusual about Jesus’ birth. His brothers and sisters (cf. Mark 3:31-35) were most likely children of Joseph and Mary born after Jesus’ birth rather than Joseph’s children by a previous marriage or Jesus’ cousins. James became a leader in the early church at Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:13-21), and authored the Epistle of James (James 1:1). Judas was probably Jude, author of the Epistle of Jude (Jude 1). Nothing more is known of Joses and Simon or His sisters. Perhaps Joseph was not mentioned because he was already dead. Thus since the townspeople could not explain Jesus, they took offense (from skandalizomai, “to be caused to stumble, to be repelled”; cf. Mark 14:27) at Him, finding no reason to believe He was God’s Anointed One.
6:4. Jesus responded to their rejection with the proverb that a prophet is not appreciated at home. He was like an Old Testament prophet (cf. v. 15; 8:28) whose words were often rejected and who was dishonored most by those who knew Him best (cf. 6:17-29).
6:5-6a. Because of such persistent unbelief Jesus could not do any miracles there except to lay His hands on (cf. 5:23) a few sick people and heal them. There was no limitation on His power, but His purpose was to perform miracles in the presence of faith. Only a few here had faith to come to Him for healing. Even Jesus was amazed (ethaumasen, “astonished”; cf. 5:20; 12:17; 15:5, 44) at their unbelief, their unwillingness to believe that His wisdom and power were from God. So far as is known, He never returned to Nazareth. The people of Nazareth represent Israel’s blindness. Their refusal to believe in Jesus pictured what the disciples would soon experience (cf. 6:7-13) and what Mark’s readers (then and now) would experience in the advance of the gospel.
1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.
2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!
18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.
21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
48 "Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" So they were offended at Him.
4 But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house."
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
39 "Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself." 42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.
7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.
6 Your brothers, your own family--even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you.
4 "Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.
30 "As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, 'Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.' 31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
21 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.
5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
17 that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things'
19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?"
24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
Mark mentioned the disciples" presence with Jesus, but Matthew omitted that detail. Mark evidently recorded this incident because it constituted another occasion of discipleship training, a particular concern of Mark’s in this section of his Gospel. Jesus visited Nazareth as a rabbi preparing His disciples for their ministry. This was the second rejection in Nazareth that the synoptic writers documented. The first one came when Jesus left Nazareth to establish His base of operations in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:16-31).
Even though Jesus gave ample evidence that He was more than a mere man (Mark 4:35 to Mark 5:43), those who knew Him best on the physical plane still refused to believe in Him (Mark 6:1-6 a). This refusal led Jesus to turn increasingly from the multitudes to the training of His disciples (Mark 6:6 to Mark 8:30).
The reaction of the people in this synagogue contrasts with that of Jairus, the ruler of another synagogue (Mark 5:22). Mark recorded three questions the observers in Nazareth raised. They wondered where Jesus got the teaching and the authority that He demonstrated. They asked each other who had given Him the wisdom He manifested, and they questioned where Jesus had obtained His ability to do miracles. Obviously they had not concluded that they came from God. Their questions manifested unbelief and hostility. Their personal acquaintance with Jesus" family and Jesus" former manner of life among them made it hard for them to think of Him as anything more than a mere man. This is the only place in the New Testament where the writer referred to Jesus as a carpenter. A "carpenter" (Gr. tekton) worked with stone and metal, as well as wood. [Note: Ibid, p310.] Jesus" critics asked rhetorically if Jesus was not just a common worker with His hands, as most of them were.
"It was the common practice among the Jews to use the father’s name, whether he were alive or dead. A man was called the son of his mother only when his father was unknown." [Note: Hiebert, p139.]
Formerly the people of Nazareth had referred to Jesus as Joseph’s son (Luke 4:22). Evidently they now called Him Mary’s son as a deliberate insult implying that He was an illegitimate child (cf. Judges 11:1-2; John 8:41; John 9:29). The Jews did not speak insultingly about such a person’s birth if they believed he lived a life pleasing to God, but if that person became an apostate they spoke publicly and unreservedly about his illegitimate birth. [Note: See Ethelbert Stauffer, Jesus and His Story, pp207-8, cf. pp16-17.] Consequently this appellation reflects the belief of the Nazarenes that Jesus was not virgin born and was displeasing to God. [Note: Cf. Cranfield, p195.]
Jesus quoted or invented a proverb to reply to their rejection. It expressed a principle, namely, familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus implied that He was a prophet, which He was. The people of Nazareth could not even appreciate this aspect of Jesus" character because they identified Him as someone just like themselves.
Mark stressed that Jesus performed miracles in response to faith. Here we see the other side of that coin. The Nazarenes" refusal to believe in Jesus resulted in His not being able to do miracles among them. Unbelief limits God’s working (cf. Acts 14:9-10). This is the only time Mark said that Jesus was amazed. He marveled that the unbelief of the Nazarenes was as strong as it was. This implies that their decision not to believe was in spite of evidence adequate to lead them to another conclusion. They were morally blameworthy for their unbelief.
"The people of Nazareth represent Israel’s blindness. Their refusal to believe in Jesus pictured what the disciples would soon experience (cf. Mark 6:7-13) and what Mark’s readers (then and now) would experience in the advance of the gospel." [Note: Grassmick, p127.]
This brief transitional statement introduces Jesus twofold ministry, personally and through His disciples. Mark’s interest lay in the disciples" training, so he stressed that. Matthew gave a slightly longer explanation of Jesus" personal ministry (Matthew 9:35).
Jesus continued to minister in Galilee. His ministry to the Twelve was an important part of His ministry. It prepared the disciples for further future service. It also anticipated His ministry through them following His ascension. This was the third tour of the Galilean villages that Mark reported (cf. Mark 1:14; Mark 1:39).
(Adapted from URL:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/mark-6.html)
The text leaves us to ask: Do we accept Jesus as He is? Or do we think He ought to be someone else? As we weigh the great questions of faith and unbelief, perhaps the most astonishing idea is that God did His saving work in one from a town as ordinary as Nazareth. We expect God's work to be grand. Yet in Jesus it was humble. Far from yearning to be humble, we often long to be grand. But wanting to be extraordinary can be especially problematic for Christians. This is how God's wisdom challenges us to our core. The good news of Jesus teaches us that God's goodness is usually manifested in the lives of ordinary believers and in the fellowship of ordinary churches. The gracious goodness of God surrounds us constantly. If we expect to experience it only in grandiose ways, we will overlook His “ordinary” work in our lives. Prosperity, victory, status, security—these do not happen in a village like Nazareth visited by a carpenter who used to live there. Such aspirations and outcomes certainly do not look like willing surrender to one's enemies and submission to an unjust execution! Yet in Jesus' humility, God's wisdom was fully expressed. God's wisdom is similarly expressed today. It is expressed in an ordinary church witnessing to the gospel in a community, in a circle of friends who study Scripture and pray together, in the often unnoticed acts of service rendered to others in the name of Jesus, in sacrificial gifts that provide sustenance of body and spirit for those in need. Often those who do not know the true God hold such matters in contempt. They cannot believe that people of ordinary intelligence, of limited means, and having little of what the world counts as power can be doing what God desires. Their outlook tragically reflects that of the people in Nazareth who did not believe Jesus. But the door is not yet closed on such people of today. No place, no group, no person is ever beyond the possibility of repentance. And God always welcomes the repentant. God still embodies His wisdom in people who appear utterly ordinary, defying even the expectations of the faithful. When we feel stuck in our own ordinariness and lowliness, we can take heart that God continues to do the work of His kingdom in people like us.
Unbelief - Jesus left Capernaum and traveled with His 12 disciples to His hometown, Nazareth. On Saturday at the synagogue, He announced He was the Messiah. It did not go well. The residents of Nazareth had watched Jesus develop from a child into manhood in the house of His parents, Joseph the carpenter, and Mary. Now He was popular and influential, a worker of miracles. How did this happen?
Insults - When they heard His words, they marveled at a depth of His insight. He explained the Scriptures with such skill. However, their comments were filled with doubt and insults. In Jewish culture, the son was identified by his father's name. The town's people referred to Jesus as Mary's son, a putdown. They also mentioned His siblings. Why was He acting so differently from His brothers and sisters? Those who professed to know Him growing up in their city entirely dismissed His divinity—they were "offended at him," meaning the Nazarenes stumbled over Him, seeing Him as a scandal to their town. He did a few miracles there; some sick individuals in the town darkened His door requesting healing, but the majority wanted Him out of town. While crowds in other places nocked to Him, esteeming Him as one sent from God, He was not esteemed in Nazareth. Astonished at the unbelief He found, He nonetheless kept moving forward, advancing God's kingdom. He continued His teaching circuit in the other areas of Galilee.
Suffering Rejection - Walking God's path of wisdom and doing His will is not easy. At times, loved ones and close friends will be making light of or ignore our faith and Christian service. We can listen politely, but we must let the discouraging conversations go in one ear and out the other. Close friends and relatives may keep reminding you of your past or pointing out your limitations. We can learn from Jesus' example—keep pushing ahead, following the wise way with the guidance of God.