The journey to Mount Zion is never easy. Sooner or later, disciples who are “marching to Zion” discover the ways God’s purpose challenges the way we live in a sin-damaged world.
Jesus ran into that kind of resistance in his hometown. At first, his former neighbors were impressed by what he was saying and doing. But then they began asking, “Where did he get this? Isn’t he Joe’s boy?” (AP). In Luke’s version of this story, after Jesus announced his mission, the people were “filled with anger . . . and ran him out of town” (Luke 4:28-29, CEB).
Perhaps the memory of the questionable circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy resurfaced. Perhaps they could not believe that such an ordinary boy could grow up to do such extraordinary things. Perhaps they resented the way this hometown kid was getting “too big for his boots.” Or perhaps they questioned how someone so much like them could be the Son of God.
Whatever the reason for their rejection—and for ours—the Greek verb Mark used here (6:3), skandalizo, is the same verb he used to describe people who began to follow Jesus but stumbled along the way, turned back, or became deserters. (See Mark 4:17; 9:42-48; 14:27-29.)
In my first pastoral appointment I was deeply invested in youth ministry. Four decades later, I know the joy of seeing some of those teenagers continue to grow as faithful disciples of Christ. But I also know the pain of those who stumbled or turned back along the way.
The sad commentary on Nazareth is that Jesus was “unable to do any miracles there” (CEB). Whatever our reasons, our resistance still gets in the way of God’s power being released in our lives. Then Jesus went on to another village.
Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, to help me on to God? (UMH, no. 511).
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures this week celebrate Jerusalem, the capital of the great King David, who united the ancient Israelites and built up the city. The psalmist praises Jerusalem using the image of Zion—a name used for earthly Jerusalem but also a gesture toward a future day when God’s people will abide in a heavenly city. In Second Corinthians, Paul explains that even though he is an apostle, he struggles like everyone else. Speculation surrounds the “thorn” that plagued Paul; but his point is that when he is weakest, God is strongest. In Mark, we see God’s power working through Jesus, who sent out others to expand God’s healing work.
Read 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. What qualities of leadership are important in this reading? How do those qualities square with your experience with those in power?
Read Psalm 48. Bring to mind a place where you experience God’s presence. What is it about that place that makes you especially aware of God’s presence?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10. When have you experienced weakness becoming a source of strength and power?
Read Mark 6:1-13. When have you discounted someone because of your assumptions about them?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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