13 June 2021
Series: Hope Emerges
Book: Mark

Hope That Presses On

Bible Passage: Mark 6:1-13

Hope That Presses On

Jesus faced heart-wrenching rejection from his own family and hometown. But his mission never waivered.

Mark 6:1-13

If you’ve been around very long at Venture you’ve heard me say, “Go Man Go.”  It’s a phrase I picked up from Coach Beamer when I played at VT.  It’s the last thing he would say to us before we left the locker room to go play a game.  Since I was a teenager, I had always made Philippians 3:14 a focal verse of my relationship with Christ. 

Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14). 

So, when I heard Coach Beamer say, “Go Man Go” it just connected with me.  It summed up what the Holy Spirit had inspired me within Philippians 3:14, that no matter how hard it gets, no matter how many people reject you, no matter what loss you suffer, keep loving and following Jesus; keep pressing on to know Him and labor with Him because it’s worth it, “GO, MAN, GO!”

Now, so far in Mark, we have seen the crowds going wild about Jesus; but in general, it’s not to hear and follow Him as the Messiah, but rather to be healed and see healings.  In their seemingly popular and enthusiastic love for Jesus, they were actually rejecting Jesus, and He knew it.  Furthermore, the religious leaders made no attempts to suggest they were even the slightest bit enamored by Jesus.  So far in our study of Mark, they have done nothing but try to find ways to convince people that Jesus is a fraud.  At every turn, they are there trying to throw cold water on the work of Christ and turn people against Him.  

At one point even his family showed up to try and get him to stop!  They busted into a crowded scene and suggested that Jesus had gone mad; something that gave fuel to the religious leaders accusing Him of being demon-possessed.  It’s one thing to get rejected by people you have no relationship with, to have them constantly attacking you and trying to undermine you; but it’s a whole different thing when it’s the people you admire the most!  It’s an entirely different thing when it’s the people you love the most – your family!  The pain of that cuts deep!  But listen, what we have seen in Mark so far doesn’t paint the full picture.

Remember that Mark is the shortest of the 4 Gospels.  It’s the shortest because he not only gives fewer details about the stories and teachings of Jesus but also because Mark doesn’t include some of the stories and teachings found in the other Gospels.  One such story opens us up to the gravity of what’s getting ready to take place in our passage today. In the Gospel of Luke (which is much more committed to telling us the order of events in the order that they occurred), we find out that right after Jesus was baptized by John and started his official ministry, He went to his hometown of Nazareth.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem and from there His parents took him to Egypt to avoid being killed by Herod.  But when they returned from Egypt they moved to Nazareth.  This is where Jesus grew up.  So, to no surprise, after being baptized Luke tells us Jesus quickly went back home to Nazareth to preach in the synagogue.  Why wouldn’t you?  I mean, home is the first place you would want to go, right?

I don’t have time this AM to go into the details of that story but you can read it in Luke 4.  What’s important for you to know today is how it ended.  When it became clear that Jesus wasn’t there to perform miracles, but rather to preach the Gospel, here’s what happened,

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. 31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. (Luke 4:28-31)

You would think that would be it!  That is, if some people tried to throw me off a cliff I would likely consider that to be the end of our relationship.  But Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost and Nazareth was lost!  So, later in Jesus’ ministry, he heads back to Nazareth again.  And it’s in this story that you and I get a really good lesson on what it means to press on in the midst of rejection.  Specifically, there are two examples in Mark 6:1-3 that show us what it means to press on in our call to know and labor with Him!  To GO, MAN GO no matter what!

There are two examples in the story of Mark 6:1-13 of what it means to press on in our call to know and labor with Him.

The 1st example is the testimony of Jesus himself.

Jesus confidently stayed on mission in the face of gut-wrenching rejection. (Mark 6:1-6)

We learn three things about Jesus in this example.

Jesus was an offense to his family and friends from home. (6:1-4)

1 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.  2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?

“The Greek word that is translated here as “astonished” appears regularly in the gospel accounts as Jesus’ teaching, His authority, and His miracles provoked amazement.” 1 But, these people are not astonished in the way you would think.

The questions that come next are where we start to see more of why they are astonished and why they said, “How are such mighty works done by his hands?”

“They were truly amazed. But as they began to talk among themselves, a malignant contempt crept over their souls.” 2

3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”

Remember that Rabbi’s/Scribes were the “scholars” of their day.  They were extensively trained and as such seen as superior people.  People moved out of their way as they walked down the street and the front seats at the synagogues were reserved for them.  People stood when they entered the room.  Being a carpenter was by no means disrespectful in this society, however, they also knew that Jesus had none of the training or pedigree (in their view) that possibly compared with the Scribes/rabbis.

“The problem was that these people knew Jesus. They knew He had not studied under any of the great rabbis of the day. Thus, for all intents and purposes, He was not qualified to be a teacher. They were simply shocked that He entered the synagogue and began teaching there without having the proper credentials. They did not understand that it was the Word of God incarnate who was teaching them, so He had no need for a degree from the great rabbi Gamaliel to be an expert in theology” 3

“Jesus was known as a lad who had grown up in Nazareth and worked as a builder. But in that time and place, builders did not have a lot of prestige. They were not high on the ladder of status. They were considered menial laborers. So the people looked at Jesus and said, ‘What is this carpenter doing here, teaching in the synagogue?’”4

Furthermore, “It is also curious that the people asked, “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary?” Why did they do this? It surely was not because they were enamored of the virgin mother. This was not a thinly veiled testimony to the virgin birth or an expression of honor for Jesus’ mother. In almost every case, the Jews identified men according to their relationships to their fathers, not to their mothers. Legally speaking, among the Jews, Jesus was the Son of Joseph. Even if Joseph was dead by this time, it still would have been customary to call Jesus the Son of Joseph, but instead, they called Him the Son of Mary. The best guess as to the reason for this is that they still believed Jesus was an illegitimate son, that Mary had conceived Him out of wedlock. Perhaps they were saying: “Isn’t He that carpenter who was the son of that woman? We know that family.” If so, this comment is nothing short of ridicule.” 5

“So, the people of Nazareth were “offended” by Jesus. The Greek word used here is skandalizamei. The noun form of this word is skandalon, which comes over into the English language as the word scandal. These people were scandalized by Jesus. They were profoundly offended. They did not want to have any identification with Him because He embarrassed them and shamed them.  The word skandalon was also used of a building stone that was rejected.” 6

“Jesus, of course, is seen as the rejected stone in Scripture. Psalm 118:22 says, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”  The One whom God appointed to be the cornerstone of His building was considered flawed and repulsive by His contemporaries.” 7

Ironically, instead of the people of His hometown being excited about having this hero come from their town and family, they instead saw him with disdain.  If God was going to raise up a hero from their town they wanted it to be somebody they were already proud of – not a humble carpenter they that possibly believed was born out of an adulterous relationship!  Jesus was an offense to them, so there was no way this Jesus, whom many of which likely saw themselves as superior to, could possibly be an anointed and powerful rabbi, much less the Messiah!

So, part of the identity of Jesus is that He is rejected as a literal offense to the people who knew Him most!

Jesus didn’t rely on the approval of His friends and family. (6:5)

5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

It’s important to note that it’s not that Jesus was unable, as in His ability to perform miracles wasn’t strong enough, but rather than performing these miracles had no chance of serving his purpose. Why?  Well,  “Matthew makes this clear: “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (13:58).” 8

This doesn’t mean that Jesus couldn’t heal people because their faith wasn’t strong enough.  In the previous chapter, He raised a girl from the dead right after everybody laughed at Him!  The point however is that nobody is interested in His message, or His miracles, because they are not interested in Him, even to the point of being offended that it would be suggested that they should be interested!

Jesus, being secure in who He is, wasn’t about to put on a desperate show for them, or anybody else, to try and convince them.  This isn’t being arrogant, because He has done thousands of miracles at this point and they all know about them, but rather reminds us that Jesus is God.  He doesn’t live for our approval.  He demonstrated His love towards us so that we can love Him, but God is in no way desperate and in need of our love.  God, Himself is love!  His offering of love to us is not from a lonely God but a loving God.

Therefore, Jesus wasn’t defeated as a person because his friends and family rejected Him.  When you truly know who you are you don’t have to have the affirmation of others, it’s nice, but you don’t need it.

Rejection didn’t distract Jesus from His mission. (6:6)

6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

“But here Christ is astounded at his own people’s lack of faith. How terrifying it is to amaze God with one’s unbelief!” 9 “Marveled” is to look on with wonder and amazement, that is, to look at something positive or negative that has no reason for being that positive or negative.  In this case, it’s a negative. 

“But this doesn’t stop Jesus from doing what He came to do – preach the Good News about the Kingdom of God and call people to repent, believe and follow Him!  So, “Jesus again embarks on a mission circuit, “teaching from village to village” (1:14, 39; also Matt 9:35). As earlier, the defining element of his ministry is teaching. Jesus is popularly conceived of as undertaking a ministry of “presence” or of compassion and healing. These were indeed important elements of his ministry, but they do not identify the dominant purpose of his ministry, which, according to Mark, was teaching.” 10

Jesus commissioned His disciples to press on no matter what! (Mark 6:7-13)

The disciples have just witnessed the rejection of Jesus in His hometown.  They have seen His own family suggest that He was insane, and now they see the very people who grew up with Him totally reject Him.  This had to shock them big time.  It also must have had a profound impact on what they were thinking when Jesus commissioned them to go out and repeat the process.

There are 4 key components to how Jesus equipped His disciples when He commissioned them: the first component is that.

Jesus sent them out with His authority to both preach and do His works. (6:7)

7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

“The sending of the Twelve appears premature and may catch us by surprise, for the record of the disciples to date has not been reassuring. Heretofore they have impeded Jesus’ mission (1:36–39), become exasperated with him (4:38; 5:31), and even opposed him (3:21). Their perception of Jesus has been and will continue to be marked by misunderstanding (8:14–21). The willingness of Jesus to abide by the intractable nature and behavior of his followers is further testimony to his divine humility. The sending of these particular individuals and at this stage of their understanding of Jesus testifies to the beleaguered believers in Mark’s church, indeed to believers of every age, that the fulfillment of the word of God depends not on the perfection or merit of the missionaries but on the authoritative call and equipping of Jesus.” 11

It is these men, who have so far proven to be totally insufficient, that Jesus gives authority to preach His sermons and do His miraculous works!  Talk about having confidence placed in you!  Mankind may reject them but Christ has chosen them and literally empowered them to represent Him both in Word and Deed!

Jesus intentionally sent them out with insufficient resources. (6:8-9)

8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in their belts– 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.

Now, this sounds totally backward and counterintuitive to the idea of equipping, so let me explain!

First, there is a striking similarity that can’t be missed.  “The four items required of the Twelve are, in fact, identical to the belongings that God instructs the Israelites to take on their flight from Egypt: cloak, belt, sandals, and staff in hand (Exod 12:11).  These four items of clothing recall the haste and expectation of the Exodus. They suggest that the mission of the Twelve announces something as foundational and revelatory as the Exodus from Egypt and that the disciples must be as free from encumbrances as were the Israelites, to serve their God in a new venture.” 12

Second, it’s important to remember that the average person in the first century only had one tunic and at most one pair of sandals. Remember that these men were not impoverished men who had nothing else better to do than follow Jesus.  But rather, we know for a fact that at least some of them were successful businessmen.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John all had successful fishing business and Matthew was a tax collector (a very lucrative business), therefore, it can’t be missed that Jesus told them to not take another tunic but rather to go dressed looking like the majority of the people they were going to interact with!

Finally, and most importantly, it placed them in a position of faith for their provisions.  They would travel with the question on their minds as to whether or not God would provide!  

“… the overlying reason was so they would be dependent upon Christ for strength. The minimum of provisions was meant to call out the maximum of faith.” 13 “The barest of essentials, however, ensures that they place their trust not in their supplies and training but rather in the one who sends them.” 14

“They were to depend on God to provide food and shelter through the hospitality of Jewish households.” 15 We are not called to live a life for Jesus, but with Jesus!  Likewise, we are not called to go out and do things to impress Jesus on how awesome we are, but rather, we are called to go out and let Him show everybody How awesome He is.  How awesome He is in and through us as we live in obedience and trust to Him!  Jesus was putting them into a situation where they would have to trust God!

Jesus taught them the platform of discipleship committed relationships. (6:10)

10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.

Some commentators point out this would address the temptation to leave one person’s house for a better house if that scenario ever came up.  There’s nothing to say that wasn’t the motive of Jesus’ command, however, what we do know is that Paul and others made a practice of this in their missionary journey and the results were that the owners of the home they stayed in often became key leaders in the church of that town when they left.  The point is discipleship is centered on relationships.  Therefore, staying in the same home as long as you were in that town maximized that relationship and did so with somebody who already demonstrated the kind of generous and kind heart that God wants to make in all of us.  It also demonstrated the kind of leadership that God uses to fulfill the great commission, a commitment to love people. Jesus wasn’t just sending them on a mission to preach and perform miracles, he was sending them on a mission to make disciples and disciples are always and exclusively a product of genuine relationships!

Jesus refused to allow them to compromise the message for acceptance. (6:11-12)

11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

“If the disciples are rebuffed they are instructed to “‘shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.’” This is a searing indictment since Jews traveling outside Palestine were required to shake themselves free of dust when returning home lest they pollute the holy land. This commandment is tantamount to declaring a Jewish village heathen.” 16

“Does this suggest a bumptious, short-fused, hostile approach to spreading the gospel? Not at all! It was customary for pious Jews who had traveled abroad to carefully shake the dust of alien lands from their feet and clothing. This act dissociated them from the pollution of those pagan lands and the judgment which was to come upon them. The same action by the apostles symbolically declared a hostile village pagan. It was a merciful prophetic act designed to make the people think deeply about their spiritual condition. We surmise that this ceremonial act made a strong impression on the countryside and brought some to grace.” 17

12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

 “In short, the Twelve experienced great power in bringing the gospel to an unbelieving world. It was repentance, deliverance, and healing, just as if Christ were physically there. There was a foretaste of what the Church would do through the centuries when it operated in the power of the Holy Spirit.” 18

Challenge: Are you more concerned about offending God or offending your friends and family?

I’m not suggesting trying to convince a lost world to act as followers of Jesus.  I’m not suggesting that we should be preaching to the United States as if it is God’s people who are in violation of God’s covenant with them. 

Preaching to the United States as the prophets preached to Israel, or as the Apostles preached to the church is fundamentally flawed.  The prophets and apostles were preaching to people in a covenant relationship with God.  The United States is not in a covenant relationship with God, only the people in the United States who are actually followers of Jesus: The Church!

So, in our engagement with our lost society, I’m not talking about being a cultural warrior to make the lost world act like Christians. But I am talking about us not hiding the fundamentals of the Gospel from others out of fear of offending them.  I am talking about not compromising our covenant relationship with God, that is, living our lives in glad submission to Him and as such obeying His very clear moral and ethical expectations of us so that we can gain acceptance by a lost world that places no value in those expectations.

I’m being very careful here because so many of you grew up with the wrong idea of this challenge.  Not compromising meant you were supposed to be a confrontational jerk to a lost society. However, what has happened is that the opposite has now become the norm.  Out of fear of offending people, we now refuse to share the truth that Jesus claimed to be God; that we are sinners; that His death paid the debt of our sin; that He rose from the grave proving His deity and accomplishing all that is needed for our salvation; that He ascended into Heaven and is coming back to judge the living and the dead on whether or not they surrendered their life to Him!

We cannot compromise sharing this truth with others. We cannot compromise by testifying with our words and our life that living life loving God and loving others the way He defines love is life! We cannot compromise sharing our faith that Jesus is real, heaven is real, and obeying Him is worth it! We must press on in the hope of His calling to know, follow, and labor with Him. We must not compromise to try and find hope in a world that has no hope!  We must not compromise to try and find hope in a world that is under the condemnation and judgment of God and in so doing rob those around us of an opportunity to be graciously pointed to where hope is actually found!

Stop worrying so much about how Jesus in you offends others and “worry about” whether or not you’re living your life as an offense to Him! NO matter what happens.  No matter who rejects you.  No matter who mocks you.  No matter what it costs you. 

Go, man Go!

Venture Church
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Footnotes

  1.  Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 116). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  2. Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant and savior (Vol. 1, p. 132). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  3. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, pp. 116–117). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  4. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 117). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  5.  Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, pp. 117–118). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  6.  Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 118). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  7.  Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 119). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  8.  Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 134). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  9. Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 134). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  10. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 177). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  11.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (pp. 177–178). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  12.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 180). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  13.  Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 135). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  14.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 181). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  15.  Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 128). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  16.  Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 181). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  17.  Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 136). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.
  18.  Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant, and savior (Vol. 1, p. 136). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.