Not Impossible – July 14, 2023

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:4-6

Military Devotion – July 14, 2023

Devotion based on Mark 6:4-6

See series: Military Devotions

He was the hometown boy who did good. He left to make a name for himself and now he was back with his family and the people he had grown up with.

He was Jesus, son of Joesph and Mary, the boy who had learned carpentry from his dad, who now had returned as a rabbi to preach in the synagogue he had worshiped in as a youth. It started well. We hear, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips” (Luke 4:22).

But then feelings changed when Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61, which prophesied the coming of the Messiah. Luke records the dramatic scene, “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:20,21).

The worshipers were shocked. This, they felt, was blasphemy! “‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.”

Jesus responded, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”

As our human brother, Jesus was not without feelings. This must have hurt him. But it was just one instance of the rejection he faced from those who thought they knew him best. A little earlier, after word had spread that he had appointed twelve disciples, those close to him were greatly concerned. They tried to take control of him. They said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).

We aren’t told Mary’s reaction. We trust she remembered the words of the angel who announced his coming birth. Joseph had no doubt told her what the angel said to him. At the wedding in Cana, she showed she expected special things from her son. Maybe she continued to ponder all this in her heart as she did when he was the 12-year-old boy in the temple.

His brothers and sisters did not. They took offense at him. Later, some of his family did come to believe in him. But this was only after his resurrection.

And the rest of the hometown people? Their accusation of blasphemy would remain until his execution on Golgotha. But if it had been up to them, he would have been killed right then and right there at the edge of Nazareth.

The words of Mark that make us sit up and take notice are, “He could not do any miracles there, except…”

This meant his gracious works for these people were, then and there, impossible.

How can that be? This is the Son of God. With God all things are possible. Why was it impossible for Jesus to work miracles wherever he wished? Were his powers limited after all?

Absolutely not!

It’s Luke who tells us about the furious reaction to the claim of Jesus that he was the Messiah. Of the people of Nazareth he reports, “They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way” (Luke 4:28,29).

Jesus could not work miracles in his hometown because they drove him out.

That dreadful power remains with humans today. The Lord God will not force us to accept his forgiveness and salvation. We can drive the Savior out of our lives. We can keep him out.

But then we are left to live without him. We are left to die without him. Then, we will spend a timeless and torturous existence without him.

The time of hope and grace has already passed for those residents of Nazareth. They had their chance to lay hold of the golden crown of salvation and embrace Jesus in faith. We pray many did. We hope at least some did.

The sun has set on their day of opportunity. It yet shines for us. The voice of the Holy Spirit still comes to us with the words, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today,” and again, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:13,15).

We still have work to do. Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). So it is with us.

Unlike it was for Jesus on that day in Nazareth, our work is not yet impossible.

Lord Jesus, it hurts us to hear of the rejection that you faced from people who were close to you. We are glad to see that you did not immediately call down judgment upon Nazareth as you once did upon Sodom. That shows mercy for those who did not deserve it. It is this mercy that has called us to saving faith and keeps us in it. Enable us to share this faith while we still have the chance. Amen.

Points to ponder:

  • The saying is, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Was that the problem in Nazareth?
  • Why would rejection by family and friends hurt more than rejection by strangers?
  • What are the signs that the sun is setting on the hope of salvation in our nation?

Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.

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