“He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 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?” And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.” Mark 6:1-6
I’ve heard messages on this teaching in Mark which have taught us that Jesus couldn’t heal people because they had no faith. It placed the emphasis on the person whereby his or her healing was contingent on the fact that he or she had enough faith. This poison has spilled throughout our churches leaving many feeling the heavy weight of guilt upon them because, if they weren’t healed or their prayer wasn’t answered, that it was somehow their fault because of their lack of faith. This teaching is incorrect. If we think the all powerful Creator God of the universe has limited powers based on our own belief, then we are sadly mistaken about the influence and power we have over Him. If His works are based on our attitude, then we would have ultimate control over Him. Boy is that far from the truth!
For the context and underlying meaning of this story, we’ll pull a few Greek words and we will put some items in context so we can see a more accurate picture of this story. Let’s rephrase a few things….
Jesus came into his hometown and started teaching on the Sabbath in the synagogue. The people who heard him were, in Greek ‘ekpléssó’. This term means: to strike out, hence to strike with panic, to amaze, thunderstruck, utterly dumbfounded. So, this is a powerful term that said that they were so dumbfounded and even intimidated and possibly scared by His ability to preach with such power and do so such mighty works, they couldn’t understand His authoritative power and where it came from. They were utterly shocked and in panic mode.
Then, instead of accurately deciphering where the power came from, they took what they thought they knew and could not see past that. This is what they thought they knew. Jesus was…
#1) A Carpenter (or Stonemaker, basically someone who works with his hands) – This position was a humble position that didn’t pay well. It was the trade of a peasant, a blue collar job. He did not come from a wealthy family and so His status was low on the food chain.
#2) The son of Mary – Jesus was looked at as a ‘bastard’ child if you read some extra Biblical teachings from some of the other disciples that were not put in the Canon of Scripture, but we can read between the lines to see it in even this text. Everyone in small towns knows everything about everyone. We can be assured that it was known that Mary was ‘with child’ out of wedlock and no one knew who the real father was. Today, we tend to overlook this, but in Bible times, this was a sin to be condemned by death. Joseph married her anyway, which brought shame on him as well since he married a woman who was assumed to have cheated on her fiance. Jesus, then, was automatically considered a child born of sin and thus the term, ‘bastard,’ was given to Him. He was considered an illegitimate son.
#3) His sisters and brothers – Basically, I believe they were stating that his entire family was of low standing. His parents couldn’t have given Jesus the education that He appeared to have gained somehow. Again, His teaching was so shocking, that the couldn’t even fathom how He learned all of this. For sure, it didn’t cross their mind that this low-class, bastard child should have been speaking like this. They could not get passed their disgust, so they could not see where Jesus real power came from and who He was.
#4 ) He was not welcome in His hometown and with relatives because of what we’ve discussed above.
#5) He could do no might work there, except laying His hands on a few sick people. – Quite possibly this means that because of how they viewed Jesus, most would not even come to Him as they didn’t believe He could be anything but a peasant and bastard. He only laid hands on a few because only a few could see who He was and were drawn to Him. Only a few came! He could do no mighty work not because they did not have enough faith in Him, but it was in their outright refusal to humble themselves and come to Him. Jesus doesn’t force Himself on anyone, but instead calls people to them. He calls many, but few are chosen.
“14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14
If Jesus, the powerful Son of God, was rejected, then we can be assured that we will also be rejected by those who do not believe in the Truth of God. So, we can only try our best, and then when rejected, marvel at their unbelief, shake off the dust, and go onto the next person.
“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone: this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Matthew 21:42