Proper 9 (B), July 6, 2003
Mark 6:1-13

The word stubborn means, “Firmly, often unduly determined in will or purpose: obstinate. Marked by perseverance: persistent. Difficult to handle or work: resistant.1

The scripture text describes situations of stubbornness by obstinacy and the other by persistency.

After several weeks of preaching, teaching and performing marvelous miracles of healing Jesus and His disciples go to His hometown to rest and relax. As was their custom, He and his followers attended the local synagogue. He was asked to share a word in the public service. His message touched the minds and hearts of the congregation and the burning question was, “Where did He get all of His spiritual knowledge? He seems so wise!” But wonder turned to skepticism when someone else said, “Isn’t He from here and His brothers and sisters live right here in town? Who does He think He is anyway?”

With that statement the people stopped listening to Him. They became stubborn and cold in the sense of being obstinate in their hearts. Jesus responded with the comment that a prophet has little respect in his hometown. Because of their obstinate spirit this town saw only a few healings and no more teaching of the good news that Jesus came to offer. How sad (Mark 6:1-6).
The other incident occurs immediately after leaving Nazareth. Jesus gives His disciples power to go into the village and teach and preach with authority.

What’s the difference? It is a matter of the heart or will.

I. Stubbornness – Obstinate Living (vv. 1-6a)

Obstinate living against God retards a desire for real truth that involves knowledge of his will, a desire for genuine love, a hope for honest nurturing and redemption for life. Oswald Chambers comments on the perfect redemption of the Lord through unshakeable faith. He writes, “As you do this, you do not bring an opposed will to God’s will, God’s will is your will, and your natural choices are along the line of God’s will, and the life is as natural as breathing. God is the source of your will, therefore you are able to work out His will. Obstinacy is an unintelligent ‘wadge’ that refuses to be enlightened; the only thing is for it to be blown up with dynamite, and the dynamite is obedience to the Holy Spirit.”2

The stubbornness of the people’s hearts resulted in great losses for them. They lost the teaching of Jesus. No longer would they hear His words of instructions, corrections, encouragement, or wisdom. They lost His healing power. He only healed a few sick people and did not do any miracles there (v.5), and He does not return to do any more healing. They lost their hope of redemption when they excluded Jesus in their lives because of their lack of faith.

People were shocked! The year was 1974, almost thirty years after World War II was over, but in the jungles of the Philippines Lt. Hiroo Onoda at age 52 finally surrendered his sword to President Ferdinand Marcos on the island of Lubang where he had fought World War II on the 74-square-mile island not knowing that the war had ended and peace had been made for decades. Loudspeakers, leaflets and an offer of $400,000 had not persuaded him to surrender. When he finally surrendered reporters asked what had happened during those 30 years on the island. His reply, “Nothing, nothing pleasant happened to me in all those years.”3

Lt. Onoda is a perfect illustration of stubbornness. He refused to give up and missed all those years that Strait calls, “the richest years of his life.”

Stubbornness destroys our richness of spiritual success.

II. Stubbornness – Persistent Living (vv. 6b-13)

Jesus knew that the disciples would meet opposition to His instructions when He said, “And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them” (v. 11).

The stubbornness on the part of the disciples even in the face of opposition resulted in a successful endeavor. People were healed, demons exorcized, and people repented because they were persistent in carrying out the task Jesus gave them.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.4

The key thought is PRESS ON! God has called us to be stubbornly persistent for the right things in life.
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1 Webster’s II New College Dictionary (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999), 1094.
2 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Uhrichsville: Barbour and Company, Inc. n.d.), 115.
3 C. Neil Strait, Illustrating Holiness Truths, (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1986), 31-32.
4 Charles Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998), 44.1

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Sermon brief provided by: Derl Keefer, Kansas City, MO

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