Sunday

05 July 2015

“And they took offence at him.” (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 123

Background

There's a theme in our passage today about prophets and the occupational hazard they often face of turning people off.

In the first few verses Jesus has returned to his home town and received far from a hero's welcome. In the second section the twelve are sent out, with a warning from Jesus that they will not always be welcomed and may need to leave some places in haste. The chapter continues by recounting the beheading of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29), a prophet who paid the ultimate price for speaking truth to power.

Jesus' comment about prophets not being without honour except in their home town was well-known in his day (verse 4), and he found it painfully true in his own case. According to Mark this wasn't the first time his family had found his behaviour troubling: in chapter Mark 3:21 they "went out to restrain him" when he returned to his home village because they were worried about people saying he was "out of his mind".

It's always difficult to take seriously someone who comes from the same background as us and who appears to be 'making something of themselves'. We feel we know such people too well. We've seen the side of them the general public hasn't. We know their weaknesses, their failings, and, well, their ordinariness. We know better, therefore, than to show them too much respect.

Perhaps there's a lesson here about being humble enough to accept that a person's origins say nothing about their worthiness - or otherwise - to be heard. In Jesus' case, the price paid by his family, and the friends he'd grown up with, for being sceptical about him was extreme: "he could do no deed of power there" (v. 5).

The passage also reminds us that preaching the gospel can cause people to 'take offence', regardless of how well they know the preacher. Unveiling the truth and calling for repentance - whether in individuals or society - does not always go down well.

As Steve Turner wrote in his poem '7/8 of the truth, and nothing but the truth', those who are uncompromising in saying such things "do not get asked back. They get put in their place, with nails if necessary".

 

To Ponder

  • Should the gospel cause people to 'take offence'?
  • Why should a people's lack of faith affect Jesus' ability to perform miracles? Was the reverse often true?
  • Is it generally true that a prophet is not without honour except in their home town? Why?


Bible notes authors: Andrew Bradstock and Phil Jump (members of the Joint Public Issues Team: Baptist, Methodist, United Reformed Church and Church of Scotland working together)

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