I am astonished. I read and listen to Jesus. Where did He come up with all that He has to say and do? I can only come to the conclusion that He is the Son of God, the Messiah who is the King of God’s country. My Savior and redeemer.
I cannot get offended by Him. That is the other direction to go. I must stay on the side of Jesus and proclaim His good news. I must have faith. There is so much to that world to live in.
He left there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him, and how are these miracles performed by his hands? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” So they were offended by him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his household.” He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. He was going around the villages teaching. | Mark 6:1-6 (CSB)
Jesus returned to Nazareth where a year before He had been rejected by the people and evicted from the synagogue. It was certainly an act of grace on His part to give the people another opportunity to hear His Word, believe, and be saved; and yet their hearts were still hard. This time, they did not evict Him: they simply did not take Him seriously. Yikes, I must take Jesus seriously. That is essential.
Our Master’s reputation had once again preceded Him, so He was permitted to teach in the synagogue. Keep in mind that He was ministering to people who knew Him well, because Nazareth was His “hometown.” However, these acquaintances had no spiritual perception at all. In fact, Jesus reminded them of what He had told them at that first dramatic visit, that a prophet is without honor in his own country and among his own people.
Two things astonished these people: His mighty works and His wonderful wisdom. Actually, Jesus did not do any mighty works while He was there, so the people must have been referring to the reports they had heard about His miracles. In fact, their unbelief hindered Jesus from having a greater ministry among them. I must believe. I can’t hamstring Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit.
What was their problem? Why were they unable to trust Him and experience the wonders of His power and grace as had others? They thought that they really knew Him. After all, He had been their neighbor for nearly thirty years, they had seen Him at work in the carpenter’s shop, and He appeared to be just another Nazarene. He was a “commoner” and the people saw no reason to commit themselves to Him!
“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a well-known maxim that goes all the way back to Publius the Syrian, who lived in 2 B.C. Aesop wrote a fable to illustrate it. In Aesop’s fable, a fox had never before seen a lion, and when he first met the king of the beasts, the fox was nearly frightened to death. At their second meeting, the fox was not frightened quite as much; and the third time he met the lion, the fox went up and chatted with him! “And so it is,” Aesop concluded, “that familiarity makes even the most frightening things seem quite harmless.”
The maxim, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, can you imagine a loving husband and wife thinking less of each other because they know each other so well? Or two dear friends starting to despise each other because their friendship has deepened over the years? Phillips Brooks said it best: “Familiarity breeds contempt, only with contemptible things or among contemptible people.” The contempt shown by the Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus the Messiah and King, but it said a great deal about them!
A tourist, eager to see everything in the art gallery, fled from picture to picture, scarcely noticing what was in the frames. “I didn’t see anything very special here,” he said to one of the guards as he left. “Sir,” the guard replied, “it is not the pictures that are on trial here—it is the visitors.”
A carpenter was a respected artisan in that day, but nobody expected a carpenter to do miracles or teach profound truths in the synagogue. Where did He get all this power and wisdom? From God or from Satan? And why did His brothers and sisters not possess this same power and wisdom? Even more, why did His brothers and sisters not believe in Him? The people who called Him “the son of Mary” were actually insulting Him; because in that day you identified a man by calling him the son of his father, not the son of his mother.
The people of Nazareth were “offended at Him,” which literally means “they stumbled over Him.” The Greek word gives us our English word scandalize. Kenneth Wuest wrote in his book Wuest’s Word Studies (Eerdmans), “They could not explain Him, so they rejected Him.” Jesus was certainly a “stone of stumbling” to them because of their unbelief.
Twice in the good news record you find Jesus marveling. As this passage reveals, He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews, and He marveled at the great faith of a Roman centurion, a Gentile. Instead of remaining at Nazareth, Jesus departed and made another circuit of the towns and villages in Galilee. His heart was broken as He saw the desperate plight of the people, so He decided to send out His disciples to minister with His authority and power.
There is one thing I know about this. I don’t want Jesus amazed by my unbelief. I want to be a faithful servant. I want to be fond doing the work Jesus has given me to do. He gives me the power. Now that is some good news.
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Mk 6:1–56). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 129–130). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.