As we come to this text this morning here in Mark we summarize the whole by saying, that Mark has intertwined the two stories in 6:1-13 with the common theme of Kingdom work. Because Kingdom w0rk is the overarching theme we will spend some time speaking about the Kingdom.
When we come to this narrative we summarize it as follows. After days at sea and on the road Jesus astounds his hometown with His teaching (Mark 6:1-2). Next we see that familiarity with Jesus breeds contempt (6:3). Jesus response suggests that He expected their refusal (6:4) and so cannot do a thing for them (6:5a) save, incidentally, heal a few sick folk (6:5b). While such works that the Lord Christ does accomplish, to date has culminated in audience astonishment (1:27; 2:12; 4:41; 5:20b; 5:42), now Jesus is the one astonished — by rank disbelief that is so thick (6:6a) as to be a barrier to the Kingdom. This rejection catalyzes fresh ministry (6:6b-7) by empty-pocketed ambassadors (4:13, 35-41; 5:31; 6:8-11) who get the job done (6:12-13). In Mark there’s no stopping the good news (13:10) — but no telling how it breaks through (16:1-8).
If we take the two accounts together it seems that the linchpin issue that connects them is the purposeful contrast between Jesus questioned status in the first account and His unquestioned status in the second account. In the first account the Lord Christ has no honor (6:4) and so the irruption of the Kingdom of God is minuscule and negligible (6:5). In the second the Lord Christ delegates His power to the disciples (6:6-7) with the consequence that the irruption of the Kingdom is everywhere seen where His deputies are sent (6:12-13)
That is a synopsis of the text this morning. Now let us spend a bit of time looking closer.
1.) Familiarity & the work of the Lord Christ
“The Carpenter” — Perhaps a snipe at a comparatively low trade status.
“Son of Mary” — The fact that Joseph is not mentioned may have been an attack on the alleged bastard status of Jesus … an issue that was brought up in John’s Gospel,
“We have not been born from fornication; we have one father – God!” (John 8:41)
Clearly there is some dismissing of Jesus here because they think they know him.
The tension between Jesus and his family or hometown was an on-going sub-plot of the story in Mark, (cf. 3:20-21, 31).
21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.
Mark 3:31 There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. 32 And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
What is going on here? Why the lack of receptivity? Why the offense (3) at Christ?
In the book, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, we might find an answer, for there we learn about the cultural norms in antiquity.
“Honor was a limited good. If someone gained honor, someone else lost. To be recognized as a ‘prophet’ in one’s own town meant that honor due to other persons and other families was diminished. Claims to more than one’s appointed (at birth) share of honor thus threatened others and would eventually trigger attempts to cut the claimant down to size.” This seems to be what is going on in the text.
Aside — Mention of Jesus siblings and Roman Catholicism on Mary’s perpetual virginity.
2.) But we see that Christ as more than a Hometown boy
a.) Christ as Prophet
4 But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
By referring to himself as a “prophet,” he associated himself with a long line of counter-cultural figures within Israel. In the Gospel of Mark, others would also view him in this way (cf. 6:15; 8:28). The role of the Prophet was often the role of one isolated. The prophet was to the Culture what a chicken bone was to the gullet.
In an honor/shame society, “prophets” would have received honor (cf. 11:32). But the traditional wisdom of the age was that this occurred generally in places in which prophets were less familiar.
But to demonstrate that Christ did indeed have both authority and honor Mark gives us 7-13.
The rejection at Jesus’ hometown synagogue did not hinder the mission for long. In point of fact, as suggested earlier, the whole thrust of putting these two narratives back to back may have been to contrast the paucity of Kingdom irruption among Christ’s own people, with the expansive Kingdom irruption by the Deputies of Christ under the umbrella of His power and authority.
3.) Rejection of ministry — Dust and feet
Shaking dust off the feet appears to have been a prophetic demonstration: from those who repudiate the kingdom’s herald, nothing should be received — not even their dirt (see Nehemiah 5:13; Acts 13:51). Those who reject are rejected. The time for the forced bowing of the knee has not yet come. If there are those who prefer the culture of death as opposed to abundant life conferred by Christ then their choice is their misery.
4.) Question of Authority
Mark 6:2 From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
Note the contrast between the locals who questioned his origins and the power later declared that would have been a testimony of Christ’s origins. It may be that Mark is purposely setting up this contrast so that we might see the authority of Christ.
This isn’t the first time that Jesus and His authority has been doubted like this,
Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him
5.) Note the character of the Kingdom of God
4.) Now the question that begs being asked at this point is, “If the Lord Christ brought this Kingdom of God, “where is this Kingdom now”?Where is this renewal of the World, and the establishment of God’s justice for the Cosmos we might ask?
Well, remember we have consistently taught that there is a “now, not yet,” dynamic to this Kingdom. Scripture teaches that with the confluence of Redemptive events in the Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost of our Lord Christ, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated — which is to say it is present in its full and promissory beginnings.
And this is the language of Scripture everywhere. We have been translated from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13). Consistent with that Paul can say elsewhere that, “as belonging to Christ the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (II Cor. 5:17). Indeed, so much are we members of this NOW Kingdom of God that we already “have been resurrected and ascended with Christ; “God raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).
These are all eschatological statements communicating that the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated and that those who look to Christ have been swept up into it by the sovereign power, favor, and grace of God.
The early Christians were so convinced that this Kingdom of God reality was true that they organized their lives around this reality that they who were once not the people of God’s Kingdom were indeed now the people of God’s Kingdom. The first Christians re-decorated their thought world so that their symbols, their liturgy, and their habits, all communicated their conviction that the Kingdom of God was present.
But the Scriptures also teach a “not yetness.” The full leavening effect of the fully present Kingdom was and is not yet present. We still pray “They Kingdom come, thy will be done — on Earth as in heaven.” We still live in a time when the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
As Dr. Joseph R. Nally has succinctly put it,
So, Already we experience God’s presence through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we await the complete presence of God (Eph. 1:13-14; Rev. 21:3). Already we worship, but we know that someday there will be perfect worship (Rom. 12:1; Rev. 22:3-5). Already we have fellowship with God and one another, but the perfect fellowship is yet to come (1 John 1:5-7; Rev. 21:1-22:6). Already we experience peace, joy, and love, but these will be perfect some day (Gal. 5:22-23; Rev. 22:3). Already we have experienced a resurrection, but we await a future one (Rom. 6:110; Rev. 20:4-6, 11-15). Already we participate in a special meal with Christ, but we await the wedding supper of the Lamb (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Rev. 19:9).
Well, having said that what might we summarize with?
Well, it explains why Christians are Christ centered. Christ is the Kingdom and the Kingdom is Christ. Christ is the one by whom the Exile is ended, the captives are set free, and the Cosmos is re-made. By His stripes we are healed and in, through, and by Him we have been reconciled to God and so have peace with God.
We believe that as Christ brought the Kingdom of God, that Christ marks the pivot of all history. Before Christ there was only anticipation and post Christ there is the emphasis of fulfillment. Because that is so, we further believe that in Christ alone can meaning be found. If Christ is the pivot of all time He is therefore the pivot of all meaning. He, therefore is the King of History, and the King of Epistemology, as well as being the King in whom is found forgiveness and the relief from guilt.