Drama In Nazareth! Jesus’ Hometown

The Gospel Lesson for the 5th Sunday in Pentecost comes from Mark 6:1-13. Here we have that dramatic account of Jesus preaching in his home town synagogue.

The synagogue was packed that night! Everyone wanted to hear Jesus preach. They began the service that night much like we do. They sang hymns, read the lessons and offered prayer and then it came time for Jesus to preach. He opened the ‘book’ and read from Isaiah 61:1 The spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.

The ‘me’ in the verse means Messiah so Jesus was announcing the fact that He was the Messiah. That did not go over well in his home town. People said: Who Does He Think He Is! Aren’t his brothers and sisters with us? He is just the home town boy we have known for a long time. In one of the other gospels the story goes on to say that people were so
upset that they planned to lynch him and throw him over the cliff to die for such blasphemous remarks.

The real difficulty here was that Jesus was telling them that they were more interested in ‘doing religion’ than ‘doing Justice’, And although just before this visit, he had performed three miracles—The Calming of the Sea, The healing of the hemorrhaging woman and the raising from death Jairus’ daughter. In his home town, he could do nothing.

Karnes City is also Jesus’ hometown. God his made his home with us right here. If Jesus came to preach here at St. Pauls, we would no doubt have people from all over Texas coming. The place would be full. We might hear the message quite differently, but I wonder. Are we also more interested in ‘doing religion’ than in ‘doing justice’? Justice ministry is hard work. Going to church regularly, praying and reading our devotions, putting fresh flowers on the altar etc. are relatively easy but justice ministry is difficult Jesus was surprised at how little faith they had. Their religious practice rules had led them to have faith in themselves but not in God. It can happen to any of us, and clergy and religious leaders are not immune. And Jesus pointed out that people of different religious persuasions than Jewish had more faith than the Jewish folks in his own synagogue.

What are we to learn from this? It might just be that people outside of the Christian Community, people from other world religions might have more faith? It was true of The Good Samaritan, the Sanhedrin, the Roman Centurion and others. Faith is not reserved and gifted only to Christians or more specifically Lutheran christians. Faith in today’s context also exists in the world of all world religions. God is one and faith is not only give to specific religions.

After talking about all of this, Jesus sends out his disciples two by two. And he tells them to go into homes and villages all around and present the loving and wonderful truth of God’s love and concern for justice for all people. And, after having done so, move on and if they were not received with inviting hospitality, to simply ‘shake the dust from your feet’ and continue to tell the story and work justice for all.

We have a saying ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’. The Jewish saying is much the same. Do what you can—tell the story of good justice news for all—work it out and be assured that it will not always be accepted. But don’t stop! Keep on! Wonderful reminders for us today. May God give us the courage to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God”.

Pastor Dorn

St Paul’s Lutheran Church