July 5, 2009
Preaching before my home church was intimidating. I saw the faces of Sunday School teachers whose classes I had disrupted, friends who knew me in high school and family members who had wiped my nose and other body parts as a child. While they encouraged their preacher boy, the message seemed to lack the power experienced in other venues.
Jesus had a similar experience when He returned home to Nazareth to preach. Through Mark’s story, we discover that we can miss God’s power or we can manifest God’s power.
I. We can miss God’s power (
A. Because of Familiarity (vv. 1, 3) This synagogue was Jesus’ “home church” (
The people allowed familiarity to blind their faith. Similarly, we can get so accustomed to the things of God, we can miss God.
B. Because of Confusion (v. 2) The people were confused about the source of Jesus’ power. Mark says they were astonished at His wisdom. Where had He received such spiritual insights? They also were amazed at His works. They thought of Him as the carpenter and a son of a carpenter. They knew the craftsman, not the Creator; the handyman, not the Healer. They knew the son of their neighbor, Mary, not the Son of God. Because they knew His brothers and sisters, they thought they knew Him-but they didn’t.
When we adopt the world’s way of thinking, we, too, can become confused about Jesus and miss His power. We disbelieve anything we cannot prove in a test tube or explain with a mathematical formula.
C. Because of Self-centeredness (vv. 3b-6) Instead of congratulating Jesus as a hometown boy who made good, the people were offended by Him. Self-centered people tend to judge others by the effect on themselves. Their reaction reminded me of our experience when we began to wash the windows. Our neighbors complained that our clean windows made theirs look dirtier by comparison.
Jesus marveled at their unbelief, yet He chose not to overpower their doubt with miracles. Because of their persistent disbelief, they missed God’s power. While He healed a few sick people, Jesus did not do many wondrous works among them. Instead, He moved on to more receptive places.
Whenever we choose doubt over faith, we miss God’s power. On the other hand, we can manifest God’s power by following the example of Jesus’ disciples.
II. We can manifest God’s power (
A. Through Obedience (v. 7) Jesus called the 12 to Him and then sent them out in pairs. The disciples’ success in going was predicated on their coming. Only by coming to Him did they receive the power to go. They obeyed Him without hesitation. As a result, they experienced God’s power as they preached and healed in His name. Obedience is one proof of faith. We will obey only if we believe the One Who commands us.
B. Through Dependence (vv. 8-9) As the disciples traveled, they were totally dependent on God’s provision. They carried no money, food or extra
clothing. They stayed in whatever home welcomed them.
If we trust God, we can experience His power not only in the results of ministry, but in witnessing His provision for that ministry. A friend has preached
to millions of people on over 200 mission trips over the past 25 years. Following George Meuller’s plan of trusting God through prayer alone, my friend has seen God’s hand provide the means to go and the results of going in Christ’s name.
C. Through Faithfulness (vv. 10-13) God blessed the disciples’ faithfulness with His anointed power. They preached, and people repented. They commanded, and devils were cast out. They anointed, and people were healed. Their joy upon returning to Jesus lay not in themselves, but in the expression of God’s power.
Faithfulness resides not only in beginning a task, but accomplishing it. Godly faithfulness produces glory to God and good for mankind. When we commit ourselves to trusting the Lord completely, obeying the Lord wholeheartedly, depending on the Lord totally, and following the Lord devotedly, then we can experience the wonder-working power of God.