"Faith is Required!"
Falling in Love with Jesus…all over again! An epic journey through the Gospel of Mark (message #33)
Pastor Jerry Ingalls
September 11, 2011 ~ Patriot Day!
The Word of God from Mark 6:1-6 (NAU), 1 Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. 2 When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not 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 hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household." 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching. [Prayer]
FAITH REQUIRES YOU TO SEE PEOPLE DIFFERENTLY THAN THE WORLD SEES!
Mark 6:1-4 tells the story of how Jesus was received in his hometown of Nazareth even after word had gone ahead of Him of what had happened in His ministry throughout Galilee, "Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown [Nazareth]; and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?' And they took offense [skandalizō] at Him."
Because they looked at Jesus through the eyes of the world, they took offense at Him. The Greek word is skandalizō (the word we get scandal) is best translated, "to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another my fall or stumble". With verse 3 in mind, listen to it this way, the Nazarenes (not the church denomination, but the people of Nazareth) evaluated Jesus based upon externals ("Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?") and incidentals ("Are not His sisters here with us?") causing their perception of Jesus to became a stumbling block to knowing who Jesus really was…that's the scandal. Friends, you cannot know Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of the World if you look at him with worldly eyes!
They despised Jesus because He was a working man like them, because they thought they knew Him, when they never knew Him at all. They could not see passed their own past with Jesus to see ahead to their future with Jesus.
We must beware of the temptation to evaluate people by externals and incidentals! You will miss people for who they are in God if you judge them by their past or by what you think you know about them! By what standard do you evaluate others and yourself?
What is even more scandalous is that the Nazarenes had everything they needed to see Jesus through the eyes of faith. Jesus came to town as a Rabbi with His disciples following Him (v. 1). He taught in the synagogue with great wisdom and clearly His reputation of performing miracles had gone before Him (v. 2). Verses 1-2 give us the evidence that the Nazarenes had all that was necessary to see Jesus through the lens of faith, but they choose to see Him as the world sees—to rely upon externals and incidentals.
We must not be like the Nazarenes and see as the world sees. We must see Jesus, not through externals and incidentals, but through the fruit of His life—His testimony and ministry—His death and resurrection!
When John the Baptist was put in jail and became unsure of Jesus' identity, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah. Listen to how Jesus Christ responds to John's disciples. Matthew 11:4-6 states, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense [skandalizō] at Me.'"
Friends, we are not to look at people the way the world does by evaluating them according to externals (color of skin or family heritage) and incidentals (job or appearance), but rather we are taught by Jesus' example to evaluate people by the fruit of their life (Luke 6:44)!
The world will not return you this favor, so plan on being judged by the world according to the world's standards. Jesus teaches in the Gospel of John 15:18-19, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."
Jesus was judged and rejected by worldly men from within the religious and political establishments. Let me give you a word of insight and potential warning, just because you are religious person doesn't mean you look at people with eyes of faith. Many Christians have never been taught to look at people any other way than how the world has taught us (externals and incidentals!), but today God is confronting us with this truth (evaluate the fruit of a person's life; the content of their character!)! If God is working on you today, don't get defensive about it; confess and repent! That is the only way to true freedom in Christ. You have been chosen by God to be His child and this leaves you with a choice that will determine the fruitfulness of your life: Will you live for the approval of the world or for the approval of God?
God's Word in Colossians 3:23-24 requires of us, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." Truly, we live for an audience of ONE! Easier believed than lived!
With this perspective, you will be able to persevere through whatever you are going through at school, in the work place, at home. And it is clear from Jesus' example in our Scripture lesson that FAITH REQUIRES YOU TO PERSEVERE IN THE FACE OF UNBELIEF!
Listen to the end of the story from Mark 6:5-6, "And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered [marveled] at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching."
Mark is pointing out a stark contrast between the miracles and healings of Mark 5:21-43 (Jairus' 12 year old daughter resuscitated and the unclean woman's healing of 12 year infirmity) and the lack of healings in this sections. In Mark 5:34 we read, "And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.'" Contrasted by Mark 6:5, "He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them." There were a few sick people who were desperate enough to push away from the overall disdain and contempt for Jesus in Nazareth and they were healed. Jesus saw their faith and healed them, but other than these, no other miracles were performed.
Friends, are you ready to experience God's miracles and healings in your life? Then regardless of what the culture is saying around you (whether at school or at work or even in your own home), Faith is required for a miracle to happen in your life. Have your created an atmosphere of faith in your life?
We must cultivate an atmosphere of expectant faith in our lives if we are to experience the miracles and healings of the abundant life in our midst. As an example, we do this in our everyday lives in the same way we should be creating an atmosphere of expectant faith when we gather together for Sunday service:
· It is impossible to receive God's Word in a wrong atmosphere. We will either create an atmosphere of expectancy for God to speak to us or we will create an atmosphere of cold critique and indifference.
· It is impossible to worship in a wrong atmosphere. We will either create an atmosphere of expectancy for God to move amongst us in truth and Spirit or we will create an atmosphere of emotional self-centered preference and dead human-centered performance.
· It is impossible to have fellowship with one another in a wrong atmosphere. If you come to love, then you will find love. If you come to share life and be open, then you fill find friends and accountability. If you come with open arms, there is a very good chance you will not leave without at least one hug.
Have you created an atmosphere of faith in your life? Not just on Sundays, but you must persevere in creating the right atmosphere of faith in your everyday lives!
I want to conclude with a subtle and easily overlooked emphasis found in Mark 6:6 which states, "And He wondered [marveled] at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching." When Jesus was confronted by such an atmosphere of unbelief, He did not stop, He did not give up the Mission, He did not cultivate an atmosphere of fear because of their reaction; He did not let the culture's unbelief determine His faith. He persevered in the face of unbelief and He carried on the mission—He kept on teaching! And so must we—we must carry on the ministry of reconciliation. We must continue to witness of God's love in our lives, especially in the face of unbelief!
We see this example in Jesus and then in His earliest disciples. Acts 5:40-42 narrates, "After calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." PERSEVERANCE!
In an unbelieving world that demands of God evidence of His love, but is blind to the sign given for all to see (Matthew 12:38-41), I pray that the perseverance of your faith will witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ no matter the obstacles. Will you persevere?
Prayer leading into Response Time