Sermon Lesson: Mark 6:1-13
Psalm: Psalm 48
A Bit of an Insight
Some of you might be confused as to the title of this mini sermon, and for those of you who don’t read the lectionary faithfully every week (and why would you?) you probably have no idea what I’m referring to.
For those of you who do happen to read the lectionary (or the set list of Bible passages assigned to every week in a three-year cycle), I follow it regularly every week in the pulpit. For this reason, whether I’m preaching for several weeks from the New Testament or Old Testament, the readings tend to be right after each other in chronological order. The lectionary helps create a picture, a story that you can follow along with.
For instance, on July 11th, I preached about how King Herod finally heard tell of Jesus and the great miracles he was performing. Now, King Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist—raised from the dead—but that’s another sermon entirely.
Skip a week to July 18th, and we have the story of how Jesus is so famous that everyone has now heard of him. The people are hounding him and despite how desperately he wants a bit of peace to even just have a bit of time to eat his lunch, he cannot escape the people of Galilee.
Next, on July 25th, Jesus draws such a crowd that when dinnertime comes he performs the miracle of five loaves and two fish, needing to feed the five thousand. That is how great his popularity has become!
Of course, these are only slivers of sermons. I’m drawing a common thread between the three weeks to show you how they fit together although each Bible passage is a different story, a different sermon, and a different message.
Why I Bring This Up
I bring this up because Independence Day (July 4th) fell directly on a Sunday this year, and I decided to preach a sermon on our Independence and Faith, thus departing from the lectionary entirely. It was a decision I thought long and hard about, but in the end, I knew that the lectionary would always be there. The Fourth of July, on the other hand, would not always fall on a Sunday.
So, to make up for lost time, I am giving you “the Missing Sermon” about a month late. I know we’ve moved beyond this point at church, but I offer it to you nonetheless.
What has Been Happening – Mark 5:35-43
Jesus is told that a young girl is dead. He tells everyone that that she is not dead (to everyone’s surprise), but instead is only sleeping. When he is brought to her, he says, “Little girl, get up,” and she gets up, following to his direct command.
Now We Turn to the Text
After healing the young girl, Jesus puts himself to the ultimate test: he goes home. Speaking as a minister, there is nothing—nothing—more terrifying than going home for the first time—as a preacher. When I was still in Divinity School, I came back to my home church of Barkhamsted and was invited to preach, which was nerve wracking. Here I was in front of the people who had known me when I was a baby, when I was a child running around down the aisles, when I was in my moody teenager stage, and so on. The people who know you best—who have known you the longest—are your severest critics. There is a chance they won’t see you as you are now, a grown student. They might see some version of your younger self, and it usually won’t be the version you want them to see.—This, or something like this, is undoubtedly what Jesus was facing. I commend him, although this portion of Mark took place a good 2000 years ago, for having the courage to face his hometown.
In fact, we know that Jesus, although he got rave reviews everywhere he got, faced contempt when he taught in his home synagogue. It was a scandal that a man such as him—a man whose father was a simple carpenter, a man who was a carpenter himself—should be so learned!
He was a working man, not a scholar. He was rising above his station in life. Was there anything worth in Nazareth?
Next, Jesus is identified as “Mary’s son.” This most likely means that Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, is dead. Otherwise, he would have been identified as “Joseph’s son.” We know Jesus went out to preach around the time he was thirty, and he died when he was thirty-three. The reason why he may have stayed at home for so long was because—right here, in the text—the names of his four brothers and the fact that he has sisters are mentioned. They would have been younger siblings, siblings Jesus was responsible for. This, combined with the fact that he is identified with a trade—carpentry—would mean that he would have been supporting his family before he went out to begin his ministry.
And what son wouldn’t support his mother and his younger siblings if his father had died?
You can almost imagine how he would have waited until one or two of his named brothers—James or Joses or Judas or Simon—could pick up a craft and assume the burden before he went off to begin his career as a preacher and healer. Perhaps he waited until one of the older of his sisters was married. Jesus was, after all, the man of the house, after his father’s passing.
A Quick Note on Brothers and Sisters
If we go back to my Youtube Sermons during Advent, I argued for a different translation of “The Virgin Mary,” more specifically “The Young Woman Mary,” or “The Maiden Mary.”
However, even if we take the Virgin Mary as a Virgin, there is nothing in the Bible to say that once she gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God, she might not have had other children with her husband, Joseph. In fact, it would have been a pretty unusual marriage for the time period if she did not.
It makes her no less holy, it makes her no less chosen, or special, or sanctified.
The idea of Mary being a Virgin comes entirely from the translation of the Bible into Latin, where Mary suddenly became “virgo”, which is “a young woman” but also “a virgin.”
Healing & the Wrong Atmosphere
While Jesus was back home, he did not perform many healings. Why? Everyone mistrusted him, felt contempt for him, and so he wasn’t asked to perform them. You can’t heal someone who doesn’t want to be healed.
Similarly, his preaching did not draw crowds because of all the distrust. It was the wrong place and the wrong time—and entirely the wrong atmosphere.
Jesus did not get angry. He did not get petulant.
Instead, he sent out his disciples in pairs of two, wearing the standard clothing for traveling, and sent them out in different directions—to preach, to heal, and to expel demons. They would rely on the hospitality of strangers (a virtue that was sacred in the Middle East), for shelter, and their wits when performing miracles.
His ministry was better for it. They left a place with evil in its heart and went out to cast out demons and heal the sick. Jesus and his disciples went not only where they were needed but where they were wanted. They did not try to prove a point that could not be proven. Hearts have to be open for them to be saved. A closed heart cannot be reached.
I pray that your heart is open this day to welcome Jesus Christ.