SENT OUT TO SERVE!
As we move into Mark chapter 6, we are going to see in the life of Jesus, and in the life of the apostles, how they ministered to unbelievers. You see, it is easy to minister to those who are desperate. In fact, many times they will come looking for you. We saw that with Jairus, the leader of the Synagogue in Capernaum, whose daughter was dying. Jairus came looking for Jesus. The woman who was bleeding for 12 years and had finally exhausted all her efforts, all her money, and in desperation she comes to Jesus. Those people are easy to minister to, they are seeking help!
But for those that see no need for the Lord, those that can care less about a relationship with Him, it is very difficult to reach them! And many times people will hear what you have to say until you personalize the message. Until they have to make a decision on what to do. And then they will many times get angry with you, walk away from you, want nothing to do with you. And maybe you have already experienced that kind of response to what you have said, and it isnt easy to take.
When Jesus began His ministry in Nazareth, as He entered the Synagogue on the Sabbath day, He read from the scroll of Isaiah, and said "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth..." Luke 4:18-22a.
They were all excited at what Jesus was saying, they marveled at the things He said. And then Jesus went too far, He began to expound on the Scriptures to the point of making them too personal. Until He said things they didnt want to hear, and it didnt matter if it was the truth or not. Their response is like the response of many people today who hear the Gospel message. Beginning in verse 28 of Luke chapter 4 we read, "So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way." Luke 4:28-30.
But now in Mark chapter 6, Jesus is going back to Nazareth to try and minister to his hometown friends and family once again. Of course He loved them or else He would never have gone back, since they tried to kill Him the first time He taught there!
1. As Jesus moves southwestward, from Capernaum some 20 miles or so, He comes to His hometown of Nazareth. Only this time He is not coming back as a local kid, a carpenter, but as a teacher, a Rabbi, with His followers at His side.
1. As the Sabbath day comes, they invite Jesus to teach in the Synagogue. They would read a portion of Scripture and then expound on it. For the teachers or Rabbis of that day, they would always speak of the authority of other Rabbis, what others had said in regards to that portion of Scripture, never standing upon their own authority. But Jesus spoke with His own authority the Words of God, and the people, upon hearing those things, were blown away!
2. That word "amazed" or "astonished", EXEPLESSONTO in the Greek, speaks of being "astonished, struck out, overwhelmed." They could not believe it! They were mesmerized at the things that Jesus said. They were amazed at His teaching, the wisdom He spoke forth on matters, and also of the power He had to heal. Remember, Im sure word quickly spread of the two men who were delivered from their demon possession. Jairuss daughter who was raised from the dead. The woman who was bleeding for 12 years who was now healed. They couldnt deny these things, but only by what power these things were done!
3. Now comes the problem. They had all the right information presented to them, but they are now going to reject it. They could not get beyond what they knew of Jesus, He grew up right before their eyes, and that was going to be a stumbling block to them. In fact they are going to allow it to become a stumbling block, it didnt have to be!
1. Jesus was a tradesman like they were. He was a carpenter, not the Messiah. Maybe they thought the Messiah would come with all the pomp and circumstance of a king, not as a common laborer! This offended them.
2. The next thing they couldnt get beyond was that Jesus was the "son of Mary!" In that culture you were always known by your father. So this statement was a derogatory one. They were accusing Jesus of being born illegitimately. That His mother Mary was a tramp and didnt even know who the father of Jesus was! Thus, how in the world can Jesus be the Messiah, is what they are thinking.
3. And lastly, Jesus had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters. James became the head of the church in Jerusalem and wrote the epistle of James. Jude also wrote an epistle. We know nothing of the others, and none of His family accepted Him as the Messiah until after His death and resurrection! But I think the thought here is, how can the Messiah have brothers and sisters? You see, they were amazed at what Jesus said, and yet they talked themselves out of believing because it didnt fit with what they believed the Messiah would be, even though their concept was wrong, it went against the Word of God.
4. It says that they were no longer amazed at Jesus teaching, but they were "offended at Him" or "took offense" to what He had to say. It is the Greek word SKANDALIZOMA, which means "to cause to stumble, to be repelled." Their familiarity with Jesus caused them to turn from Him. They could not explain Him, so they rejected Him! And there are consequences to their actions, as we are going to see as we look at the next couple of verses. The result of their unbelief, is what we might call this!
1. That is so true. The greater the distance from home you go, the greater the honor you tend to have. People can become so familiar that they loose the emotion they once had. That can happen to us as we become so familiar with the Lord and we take Him for granted. We can go through all the motions, for instance as we worship Him with songs of love, we can become so familiar with them that we sing, "I... love...... you.................L..o..r......d!" (Yawn, stretch), and not have any emotion for Him. It is still a privilege to be a child of God and come to worship Him. It is a privilege to read His Word and have His Spirit teach us. It is a privilege to pray and-so-on!
2. Now here is the consequences of their actions, Jesus was only able to heal some minor illnesses, like colds, because of their unbelief. As J. G. Miller put it, "Such unbelief as this has immense consequences for evil. It closes the channels of grace and mercy, so that only a trickle gets through to human lives in need." That is what we see here, no great healings done because of their unbelief.
3. Now dont come to the conclusion that they had some faith, they didnt! What we are seeing here is the hard hearted unbelief of these people. It was not doubt, not at all. It was all out rejection of Jesus Christ. And thus, God did not do much for them. Also, dont come to the conclusion that God is subject to the faith of His followers, He is not. He does chooses to work in this manner with those that know Him. But God is in control, He does as He pleases, He is sovereign!
1. As Jesus saw their unbelief, He was amazed at it. He marveled that their hearts could be so hard to the truth that was before them, but they were! And as far as we know, Jesus never returned to Nazareth!
2. As we move into verses 7-13 of Mark chapter 6, understand that this takes place some time after the events in Nazareth. And now it was time for a field trip for the 12 apostles, they were going to put into practice those things that they have learned. And their mission was to minister to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the Jewish people. It was not time yet for them to reach out to the Gentiles.
1. Jesus sends out the 12, preparing them for the ministry. They need to get out and put into practice those things they have learned. And Jesus sends them out with the power to be witnesses of Him. Isnt that what He does with us? Of course it is. At first it may be difficult, but as you take those steps of faith, you will grow and stand strong as a witness of Christ!
1. Jesus wanted them to travel light, just carrying with them the basic necessities of life. Why would Jesus send them out like that? Because He wanted them to live by faith, to learn to trust in the Lord to provide for them. Remember this, if God is going to use you He will provide the means for you to do those things He has called you to do. He wanted their faith, as He wants our faith in Him to grow. And that is done through the Word of God and applying those truths to our lives!
1. They were to be satisfied with what God provided for them, not looking for the best place to stay. You see, they were servants and sent out to minister. Their priority was not to find the best place to stay with the best meals. I think that is important for us today, to be satisfied with what God has provided for us and use that to minister to others.
2. Now here is an important lesson. If they refuse to hear what you have to say, move on! Dont waste your time talking with people that dont want to listen. Yes they are accountable for what they heard and rejected, but you cant beat people into the kingdom of God, although at times I think we try! And because they have heard and rejected the truth, the things that they have seen and heard, they will endure a stricter punishment than those who have not had the opportunity to hear and see all that they have.
3. So what can we do about going out and ministering to people? Pray that God would open a door of opportunity for us so we can minister to the lost. You never know what God is going to do unless you ask and listen to His leading.
1. Notice, they went out preaching of repentance, that was the focus of their ministry. They wanted people to have a change of mind, to turn to the Lord, which then would lead to a change in their actions, their behavior. The miracles they performed authenticated or confirmed their work, the things they were saying. But their focus was the Words of God, calling people to repentance!
2. In James 5:14 we read "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and it also becomes a point of contact for a persons faith to be released and healing to occur. The oil doesnt heal you, but your faith in the Lord that is released by the anointing of oil for healing.
3. Why dont we see the power of God working today like He did back then? I believe we are putting forth to much perspiration, to much work, and not enough inspiration, waiting upon God to open doors for us to walk through, doors of opportunity. Instead we kick down those doors and then we dont see much fruit from our labors. As Zechariah 4:6 says, "...Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." Let us not forget that!