Jesus had been at the task of preaching and teaching, accompanied by miraculous signs, including the raising of a dead child (Mark 5:40-43) throughout the region. News would reach His hometown of Nazareth about all that was happening in His life and ministry. The residents were anticipating a visit from Him sometime, and He did not disappoint them. The response of His neighbors and friends was not what He was expecting. He had come with His disciples as a Rabbi sent from God to teach the people. His teaching, however, was not greeted with honor, but contempt!
Some People Reject Good News (vv. 1-6a)
There are always those who reject the teaching of truth. We are not told what Jesus taught that Sabbath in the Nazareth synagogue, but whatever it was, it was the truth. Probably it was from His own heart, mind and words—nothing they’d heard from the rabbis before. However, their stubborn hearts rejected His teaching. More than His teaching, they rejected the Person—Jesus.
He was rejected because He had grown up in their midst, and they saw nothing unusual about Him as a child, a teenager or adult. He was just the craftsman from the carpenter’s shop. Sure, He was a good kid, didn’t get into trouble as a teen and assumed the family business at such a young age after His father’s death. He worked hard to make a living for His mother and siblings.
After they were able to fend for themselves, He decided to move and become a rabbi. A rabbi? Him? In their minds they were asking, “What gives Him the authority to be God’s spokesman? When did He go to rabbinical school to get the spiritual knowledge needed to be a rabbi?”
As Jesus spoke that day, the atmosphere was charged with negative feelings. William Barclay wrote, “In an atmosphere of critical coldness or bland indifference, the most Spirit-packed utterance can fall lifeless to the earth.” That is exactly what happened that Sabbath morning in Nazareth! They voiced their concerns to each other. When that happened, little could be done.
Insights Along the Journey:
• Listen to the Savior’s teaching.
• Rejecting the Savior leads to negative indifference.
• Nothing is accomplished in an atmosphere of negativity.
• Help (or miracles) don’t happen by accident.
• Choices to accept or reject Christ are ours to make.
• Living in expectancy can lead to changes in life.
• Having hope ignites the fire of faith.
“Jesus still retains the power to do mighty works in the face of unbelief. What He cannot do is compel acceptance” (Donahue and Harrington 2002).
Some People Respond to Good News with Action (vv. 6b-11)
Rejection of Jesus and His divine teaching by the people of Nazareth did not stop the work of Jesus. He responded to the rejection with a renewed sense of mission as He traveled from village to village preaching. He multiplied His efforts to reach the lost, help the hopeless and release the captives by commissioning His disciples.
He commissioned His disciples to action. “The mission of God announced by Jesus is the mission of His followers” (Kent Brower). As disciples of Christ, we are sent as ambassadors of God to a lost and dying world. Our mission is to keep the message simple, trust in God’s leading, and give out of hearts overflowing with His love.
Jesus empowers disciples with authority. We must understand it is not on our own whims or authority that we testify, share or preach; rather, it is on His authority alone. He empowers us and gives us the spiritual insight and direction we need.
Jesus instructs His disciples. He tells them to take only minimal provisions. No exorbitant self-reliance would be tolerated. Provision would be from the heart and hand of God and the generosity of others.
Modern day disciples are called to bring the message of God through Christ to others. We are called to action with God’s authority and His instructions to carry out His mission in 2015.
Insights Along the Journey:
• The mission is God’s, never ours.
• The mission is to proclaim Jesus and the kingdom.
• The mission is shared by all followers of Jesus the Nazarene.
• The mission is under His supervision and direction.
• The mission is an overflow of the heart.
We Can Respond to Good News by Being on Mission (vv. 12-13)
The mission the disciples accepted produced incredible results. People responded to the message, and subsequently repented and were delivered from their sins.
William Barclay relates a passage from the novel Quo Vadis, in which the young Roman, Vinicius, has fallen in love with a Christian girl. Because he is not a Christian, she will have nothing to do with him. Slipping off to a secret meeting of the Christians, he lingers in the shadows as Peter preached the gospel. Vinicius’ thoughts are on the girl, but he shifts his attention to Peter’s message.
As he listened, something happened. He felt that if he wished to follow this strange teaching, he would have to place on a burning pile all his thoughts, habits and character. His whole nature up to that moment would have to be sacrificed on the burning altar of faith. He would then have to fill himself with a totally different life and an entirely new soul. As Barclay wrote, “That is repentance…Repentance is no sentimental feeling sorry; repentance is a revolutionary thing…that is why so few repent.”
Jesus came and challenged us to repent of our sins. He will deliver us from the bondage of sin and release us to live life to its fullest. Christ will heal our bent toward evil and straighten our hearts toward righteousness.
Today, will you respond to the good news? Will you share it with others?