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Mark 6:1-13

Lesson Focus: Jesus is rejected in his hometown, and he warns the disciples that they’ll face rejection, too. However, we shouldn’t focus on rejection because God is with us.

Lesson Outcomes: Through this lesson, students should:

  1. Understand that rejection is a normal part of the Christian life.

  2. Learn to focus on the mission to which we have been called.

  3. Be encouraged to focus not on the inevitable rejection we will receive but on Christ’s presence and power among us as we engage in our mission to love God and others as ourselves.

Amazing Unbelief Do you remember Dikembe Mutombo? He is a Hall of Fame professional basketball player for 18 years. He’s from the Congo and rather tall, 7’2” to be exact.  He has the second-most blocked shots in NBA history. I remember watching him play, and after he’d block someone’s shot, he’d wave his index finger back and forth and shake his head no, taunting the player who he’d just blocked, heaping a bit more shame and humiliation on the poor soul.

To some, his finger-wagging became so prolific and obnoxious that the NBA began giving him a technical foul if he continued to do it. So Mutombo adjusted, and instead of waving his finger at the opposing team or player, he’d wave it at the crowd.

He’s still around these days, notably on commercials, particularly one from GEICO. I’m sure Mutombo is a nice guy; in fact, he’s done a lot of humanitarian work, but boy, he’s the king of rejection.

In our passage today, Jesus receives a Dikembe Mutombo-style rejection in his hometown.

Previously… Before heading to his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus and his followers had been in a town on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.  It was there that Jesus was confronted by a man whose daughter was deathly ill.  The man wanted Jesus to come to his house so that his daughter might be healed.

Jesus agrees, and he and his disciples head out for the man’s house. While they were on their way or at least trying to move, they were surrounded by a great crowd. Somewhere in that great multitude of people was a woman who had a bleeding problem that had plagued her for 12 years. She had spent all she had on doctors who promised to be able to help her, but with no success.

So desperate for the healing that would allow her to regain a place within her society, she hatches a plan. If only she could touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak, she would be healed. She just knew it. And so, she makes her way through the crowd. If only they knew how defiled she was because of her condition, they all would have stood back so as not to catch her uncleanness.

Finally, she reaches Jesus and touches his cloak, and instantly she was healed. Jesus knew someone had touched him as well and inquired as to who it was. The woman, grateful for her salvation, fesses up and is blessed by Jesus and sent on her way.

Meanwhile, the man’s daughter has died, and a servant has come to inform his master. Upon hearing the news, the man tells Jesus that there’s no more reason for Jesus to go to his house. Undaunted, Jesus insists that the girl is only asleep. Upon arrival at the home, Jesus heals the little girl, who was 12 years old.

Trouble at Home Mark tells us that after this incident, Jesus and his followers leave that place and head to his hometown. It’s the sabbath, and Jesus does what all good Jews would have done on the sabbath; he goes to the synagogue.  Now, synagogues didn’t have a specifically designated preacher, like many churches have today.  Any Jewish male could read the scriptures or provide a bit of insight or interpretation.  No doubt, Jesus had taught in his hometown’s synagogue before.

This time might have been different because Jesus has begun to gain some notoriety for the miracles he’s done. The ancient world was rather strictly structured. If you tried to exceed the level you were born into, others might take offense and try to bring you down a notch or two.

Now, Jesus isn’t trying to brag or intentionally flout his status as a great teacher or healer, but some sure seem to take it that way. After all, they know who Jesus is. They’ve watched him grow up. They know who his mother is and the questionable circumstances around which he was conceived. They know what he did to help provide for his family before he left and became the talk of the country. He was just a common laborer, working with wood.

We often translate the word Mark uses here as a carpenter, but that might be a little limiting. The term used refers to someone who works with wood in any type of manner. So maybe Jesus made tables, and maybe Jesus built barns. We just don’t know.

Either way, a laborer who works with wood wasn’t exactly high on the socio-economic ladder. I’m sure the townsfolk are wondering who it is that Jesus thinks he is?

Anyway, Jesus gets up and teaches in the synagogue. We don’t know what he says, but it was not well received. The town’s folks exclaim, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by these hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”

These words aren’t spoken curiously. They’re spoken with a bit of disgust and sarcasm. Simple carpenters don’t deserve the kind of honor that Jesus’ words and behavior ask of them to show. Then Mark tells us that “they took offense at him.” This isn’t just a simple offense, as in you told a “your mom” joke or called someone fat. They were scandalized. That’s the word Mark uses is, scandalized. Everything that Jesus has said and all that he’s done has caused the town’s folks to stumble in anger. And they reject him because of it. It’s like the townsfolks are Dikembe Mutombo, and they have swatted Jesus’ jump shot twelve rows up into the seats and are now wagging their finger at him, telling him to take that weak sauce somewhere else.

In verse 4, Jesus voices his lack of shock at the rejection he receives in his hometown. It’s nothing new. It seems to be the way things have been for so very long. If the prophets who carried God’s message to Israel were rejected, well, then Jesus might accept the same fate. Even so, Jesus was “amazed at their unbelief.”

Shake the Dust off… Undaunted, he leaves his hometown and heads to the surroundi