Followers of Jesus are Faithful in Spite of Rejection

Pastor Jake Schram

Mark 6:1-6 (NIV) Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.

This was going to be it. It was a celebration! The little town of Nazareth had its very own celebrity. The town that supposedly nothing good ever came from had finally produced the greatest of names: Jesus. Jesus was an A-list celebrity at this time. He was well-known for traveling around and doling out wisdom. On top of that he was producing miracles like Oprah used to give out free stuff. “You get a miracle. You get a miracle. EVERYONE GETS A MIRACLE!” And now, finally, Jesus was going to return to his hometown of Nazareth. Needless, to say, everyone was extremely excited for Jesus to return. I’d dare to say they were even more excited than most people because they were such a small town.

Quick show of hands. How many of you grew up in a small town? I’m talking about towns with 500 people or less. For those of you who didn’t grow up in a small town, we will all picture what it is like. I want all of you to think some of your favorite stores. Now make them disappear. You wouldn’t have most of that stuff if you lived in a small town. Now, think of all the cool things you can do around the area. Now make them disappear. This is a small town. There’s nothing to do. You have to make your own fun! And it seems that small towns have people with similar opinions for better or worse. Something unique about small towns is they often have a way of being lost in time, unchanged in a changing world. This was Nazareth. It had a population of 400 people and to this day, the most famous person or thing to ever come from Nazareth was Jesus.

Jesus was coming back to his hometown. Most of them probably knew him when he was growing up. At this point everything seemed to be going right. For a while, everything did. Jesus arrived in Nazareth accompanied by his disciples. Jesus got to see some familiar faces. When the Sabbath day came, they all went to the synagogue and the synagogue gave Jesus the opportunity to preach. So far so good. Jesus got up and started preaching and teaching from God’s Word and the people were absolutely amazed at Jesus’ power, wisdom, and perspective. People were probably saying things like, “Wow, I never thought of it like that before,” or “I have never learned so much in my entire life as I have today.” Then things took a turn for the worst.

The sinful nature of the congregation revealed itself. Jealousy and stubbornness reared their ugly heads. People were still talking to each other about Jesus, but now there was a different tone. Contempt dripped from their words as they questioned, “Where did this man get these things? What’s this wisdom that has been given to him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?” After all, they figured he was just the son of a carpenter, just a common worker. “He’s no better than the rest of us. In fact, we knew him growing up. We know his mother Mary. We know all his brothers whom Mary and Joseph conceived after Jesus was born. We even know his sisters. They married local men and still live among us. Surely, there can be nothing special about Jesus. Surely there can be nothing great about him!”

Can you imagine that? Here Jesus is, pouring out wisdom from the Scriptures better than anyone has ever done or ever will and the people of his own hometown say he doesn’t know what he is talking about. That would be like Michael Jordan coming back to his hometown in his prime and people saying things like, “You’ve never played basketball before, have you? You’re not very good and you are certainly not better than us!” Utter ridiculousness is coming from the lips of the people in Nazareth. It can all be summed up in verse 3 of our text. “They took offense at him.” Jesus didn’t offend them. They took offense at him for no good reason. They were tripped up by their own familiarity with him and didn’t come to the logical conclusion of who he really was, the Son of God.

The crazy thing is, our text for today may be the second time Jesus’ hometown rejected him. Recorded for us in Luke 4:16-30 is either more information on our text for today or perhaps another time Jesus was rejected. Jesus had told them he was the long-awaited Messiah for all people. They didn’t believe him. Jesus said that there were many people who were righteous and cared about God outside of the nation of Israel. And you know what the people of Nazareth did? They got so angry they tried to prove their holiness by throwing their own Messiah off a cliff (and by breaking the 5th Commandment).

Both accounts show instead of rejoicing over the fact that God had given one of their own family to be the Messiah as well as gifts and abilities to accomplish something for His honor, they did everything in their power to discredit him. That was Christ’s experience in his own hometown.

However, Jesus didn’t back down. He knew God’s Word and he knew who he was. He spoke plainly to the people, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town among his relatives and in his own home.” And how true those words are. Jesus stuck around to do miracles and yet he couldn’t do many because barely anyone came to him asking for help. Here was an opportunity for people to be healed and hear the life-saving message and meet with the Messiah of the entire world and no one was interested. Even Jesus was amazed at the unbelief within his own hometown.

Lord, help us to act less like the people of Nazareth, not because we are better than them, but because we are more like them than we care to admit. We have many of the same characteristics. We are jealous and stubborn. We have the same sinful nature. Often, we refuse to accept the truth right in front of our noses.

How many of you here have ever had a doubt about the existence of God or that Jesus is the Messiah, even if it was just for a moment? Go ahead, raise your hand. How many of you have ever doubted the way God has run things here on earth? Most of us have had a doubt at some part of our lives and we are in good company. The Bible shows us that God’s own prophets and kings sometimes doubted the one true God and the way he runs things, at least until they realized they were wrong. doubting is so easy to do. We often take God’s Word and the message that Jesus as our Messiah for granted because we are so familiar with it. We hear it all the time and to our own ears it might have lost some of its zing. It’s not new or fresh anymore and it’s easy no longer be impressed by the unchanging greatness of the message itself. Or maybe we doubt because God isn’t how we expected him to be or he does things differently than how we would. When we think like that it is easy to see how we might come to the same conclusion as the town of Nazareth. But unbelief is not always as reasonable as it seems.

With all the proofs that Jesus gave, how he fulfilled all the Scriptures about him, the miracles he did again and again, all those doubts and reasons for Jesus not being the Messiah become simply unreasonable. We can see his handiwork all around us in the sky and the stars and sunsets. It can’t just be a coincidence. We also see his handiwork in our hearts, turning sinful people into people who want to live lives for him. That certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence either. Most importantly we have God’s own Word, unable to be disproved. God tells us Jesus is the Messiah and that for sure is no coincidence. We even have old manuscripts of the Bible that foretell of Jesus’ coming before he was even born. The most reasonable explanation is that Jesus is our true Messiah.

We are so blessed and thankful God has revealed this to us. He has placed the message of Savior in our hearts and cultivated it so that we believe in everything Jesus has done for us and find delight in the ageless message that Jesus lived a perfect life, died on a cross for the sins of the world because he loved you. Through faith in him we grasp all the promises and blessings he wishes to bestow on us.

We don’t have to follow Nazareth’s example. They found ways to cling to unbelief. Pointing at Jesus’ family was the only way out for the people of Nazareth. They had been backed into a corner by God’s truth and chose the only alternative to believing in Jesus.

People are good at that aren’t they? Always finding a way to cling to things which aren’t true. I have a little snapshot of life to illustrate that. Way back when I was little Pastor Jake, my friends and I created a jedi order. We actually had an organized council, ranks, factions, plastic lightsaber battles, everything. I know what your thinking? I must have been the coolest kid in school.

Within that order my calling card was that I didn’t lie. I always told the truth within that group and yet no one believed me. If I told someone of a plan against them, they never believed me regardless of my past record of never lying. And I never understood that. Why would they believe someone else who lies all the time rather than me, who had always told the truth.

Being a Christian can be a lot like that. It can be frustrating to be telling the truth to others and yet they still refuse to believe. It hurts. As we spread the gospel message to others, often we will be rejected over and over again. It’s a part of life, even if you explain the gospel message perfectly. People will often reject the message and cling to unbelief. And it hurts the most when it’s within your own friend group or your own family, your own hometown. You are not doing this for you. You are doing this for them. And yet they get angry at you even though you are trying to help them possess life after death. They don’t want to listen and it just tears you up inside.

At these points we look to Jesus again. Even after Jesus was rejected by his hometown, he died for their sins. They mocked him, didn’t trust his words, and even tried to throw him off a cliff. In return, Jesus died for them (and us) and only ever told the truth. That is not only a source of comfort for us, but also motivation. When people reject the gospel message you share, not if, then continue to stand firm in the truth as a follower of Jesus. Use tact, but do whatever you can to save people with the message. It is the most needed thing in our lives here on earth. They might not want Jesus’ gift right now, but because of our Savior Jesus’ death on a cross it’s always right in front of them if they want it. Don’t give up. The gospel message is powerful. After all, it worked on us. Amen.