No Faith, No Hope

Posted: December 2, 2013 in Mark

Mark 6:1-13, “No Faith, No Hope”

It’s exciting to preach about faith!  We love to hear the accounts of what God has done for those who believe in Jesus.  We love to hear about miracles – about salvations – about how seemingly impossible odds are overwhelmed by God, and how it is all witnessed by those who have simple faith in our glorious Savior.

But what about the times where there is no faith?  The band Kutless has a song that says, “That’s what faith can do,” but what happens when faith is non-existent?  That was the case when Jesus came to Nazareth.  Jesus had an incredibly active ministry & news about Him had spread not only throughout Galilee, but all over Judea.  We would think that upon His arrival home, He’d be greeted to parades & newspaper headlines of “Local Boy Did Good!”  We would think He would be welcomed & cheered…but instead, He was jeered.  The men & women Jesus grew up with in Nazareth mocked Him & in their lack of faith they not only missed out on Jesus’ ministry, but they apparently limited what Jesus did there at all! 

Sadly, it wouldn’t just be Nazareth.  There would be other cities and towns that rejected Jesus & His gospel, though that wouldn’t stop Jesus from sending out His disciples to them.  Those cities needed to be told of Jesus before they could reject Him.  The whole process of telling them would be a time of training for the disciples, as they learned to walk by faith, trusting God to guide them in their journey.

Contextually, Mark is continuing in his narrative of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.  His chronology differs from Matthew & Luke a bit, having a bit more of a thematic approach.  Jesus had calmed a storm in front of His disciples who seemingly abandoned their faith in the moment.  Jesus had been to the Gentiles and freed a man from a demonic army, who initially could not even express faith, but was willing to dedicate his life to Jesus upon receiving his freedom.  Jesus went back to the Jews, and a woman had enough faith in Jesus to even reach out and touch His robe to be healed, while a desperate father was willing to lay his reputation on the line to see his daughter live.  The man believed, and kept believing even in the midst of every reason to doubt, and he saw Jesus raise his daughter from the dead.  Ch. 4-5 showed the possibilities and importance of faith.  Ch. 6 shows what happens with a lack of faith.  The people in this town will reject Jesus, and Jesus will send His disciples out among other towns that will reject Him as well.

By rejecting Jesus, they reject all hope.  They have no faith, so they see no miracles.  When other towns reject the gospel, they reject eternity.  They have no faith, so they see no salvation.  The moral?  Don’t reject Jesus!  Jesus came to His own people, and they refused to see Him as who He truly is: the Lord God, the Messiah.  May we not make the same mistake!

Mark 6:1–13
1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.  …

  1. As vs. 1 begins, the first question we might as is “From where?”  From Capernaum.  Jesus had been to Gadarenes among the Gentiles in Decapolis – He had returned to the Jewish region, and now goes on to His hometown.  Although the town is never mentioned by name, there’s little doubt that Jesus had come to “His own country” of Nazareth.  He may have been born in Bethlehem, but He was raised in Nazareth (after Joseph and the family returned from a brief flight to Egypt).  Nazareth was His hometown, and He was known far & wide as a Nazarene.
  2. When Jesus comes, He doesn’t just come on a family visit; He comes as a well-known rabbit, prophet, and healer.  He has “His disciples” with Him, and He is well into His ministry.  Word about Jesus had spread all throughout the region of Galilee, and it would have made quite a splash to see Jesus come into town.  
  3. What He began to do in Nazareth is the same thing He had done in Capernaum & everywhere else.  He goes to town, and upon the Sabbath morning (Saturday), He goes into the local synagogue & begins to teach at the appropriate time.  What He taught isn’t said in Mark, though in Luke’s account (providing it’s the same event), it was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61, that God had anointed Him to preach the gospel to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Lk 4:18-19).  (It is possible that these were two different events, with Jesus rejected at Nazareth both times.)
    1. There were many things that were consistent in Jesus’ ministry…one of which was His teaching.  Jesus was known as a teacher of the word of God.  Everywhere He went, He taught the Scripture with authority.  Whether or not people listened to Him and believed His message was up to them.
  4. Apparently the people weren’t very impressed, and they reject Jesus out-of-hand.  See the rest of vs. 2…

… And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

  1. The people were “astonished,” but not in a good way.  When they asked “Where did this Man get these things?” they weren’t so impressed that they were amazed that such wisdom could come from Someone they had always known; they were wondering why they ought to listen to this Man for wisdom at all.  Jesus may have come in as a rabbi, but He certainly wasn’t trained as one (or so they thought).  Jesus was raised among them.  He would have attended synagogue with the rest of them – as a boy, He would have played games with them – He would have gone to bar mitzvahs & weddings & funerals with them.  Nazareth was a small town, and everyone knew everyone (and everyone’s business!).  The people of Nazareth did not know Jesus as a rabbi, but as a carpenter.  They did not know these 12 men following Jesus as His disciples, but they certainly knew His brothers & sisters.  (And at the time, not even His brothers believed in Him!)  They even knew His parentage, mentioning Mary by name, but no mention of His father.  This would have been an insult on 2 levels: (1) Sons were always identified by the name of their father, even if their father had passed away.  (2) It indicates that the townspeople knew that there were some questions about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth.  They do not identify Him as the son of Joseph, but they definitely know He is the Son of Mary.  … If anyone from Nazareth was to come in as a rabbi with a reputation for supernatural powers, surely it would not be Jesus!  He was a carpenter with no formal training, and He was thought to have been an illegitimate child in the first place!
    1. BTW – the mention of Jesus’ family is important, in light of the number of churches that teach that Mary was “ever-virgin.”  The Biblical record is absolutely clear that Jesus had brothers and sisters.  Yes, the word used to describe them could refer to cousins or even friends, but the context would have to plainly demand such an interpretation.  The normal usage of the word is simply “brother/sister.”  Here, the context obviously refers to Jesus’ close family (i.e. the mention of His mother).  The people of Nazareth aren’t claiming to know Jesus’ cousins; they’re claiming to know His siblings.  They are half-brothers & half-sisters, to be sure – but they are siblings.  Mary is truly special & worthy of honor as the woman specifically chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus.  In that, she is unique among all women in history.  There’s no reason to invent miraculous events to her beyond the Biblical record.  She was special, but she was also a normal human like the rest of us.
  2. The people of Nazareth thought they knew Jesus.  They were wrong.  They knew Him as the boy & even the young man – but they did not know Him as the Messiah.  It’s not that Jesus would have given them any reason to doubt Him.  From a young age, Jesus showed Himself to be well-versed in the Scriptures, even impressing the scholars at the Jerusalem temple.  No doubt, the people in His hometown would have known the wisdom of Jesus – but that’s not how those chose to see Him.  They chose to see Him as just another citizen in Nazareth, and certainly no better than they.
    1. People still do this today.  They think they know Jesus.  Unlike Nazareth, they see Him as a teacher, but that’s all they see Him as.  Or they see Him as a really nice compassion man, but no more.  They’re wrong. We can’t pick & choose what we want to see about Jesus – we need to see Him in all of His fullness as God, or we’ve missed the point entirely.
  3. Notice they do not only doubt Jesus’ words, but His works.  “And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!”  We don’t know of any miracles performed in Nazareth at this point, but certainly the news of His miracles had spread all over.  He was known for healing cripples, cleansing lepers, exorcising demons, and even raising the dead.  Yet no matter the number of eyewitnesses to these events, the people of Nazareth still could not believe.  They refused to receive the doctrine Jesus spoke, and they refused to believe the reports of His power.  They could not bring themselves to accept that everything that Jesus said & was said about Him was true.  Their unbelief was a problem of the will.
    1. Likewise today!  Many times (most times?) people reject God out of a lack of will; not out of a lack of evidence.
  4. In the end, the people of Nazareth were “offended” by Jesus.  The word for “offended” is the same Greek word from which we get the English word “scandal.”  They were scandalized by Jesus – they were stumbled by Him – they took great offense at Him.  1 Peter 2:7–8, "(7) Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” (8) and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed." [] People stumble over Jesus every day!

4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

  1. Jesus relates a non-biblical (though well-known) proverb to the people of Nazareth in response to their skepticism.  We have a similar version: “familiarity breeds contempt.” Strangers seemed to have an easier time receiving Jesus than the people He grew up with.  They witnessed the work of God and saw it for what it was; the people of Nazareth refused to even look at the work because they thought they knew about the Man already.
    1. Sometimes this happens with Christians today.  They grew up one way among their friends & family, at some point encounter Jesus Christ & come to faith & experience a miraculous change.  Yet when they go back to the people they knew, their family refuses to believe anything is different.  They keep trying to force the new Christian back into the old mold.  Or they don’t believe the Christian really knows what he/she is talking about.  After all, eventually the person will come back to doing the things he/she always used to do, right?  For some, the answer is sadly yes – but for many others, it’s gloriously no!  And there is a good reason why: in Christ, you are a new creation!
  2. What occurred in Nazareth was somewhat representative of what would eventually happen in the entire nation.  All of the Jews would reject Jesus as the Messiah.  They would see the evidence of Jesus, and still turn on their God & King, calling out for His crucifixion.

5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.

  1. Surely these are some of the most curious words in all of the Bible.  There is no doubt that the Scripture plainly shows Jesus to be the Omnipotent God – there is nothing He cannot do.  The gospel of Mark just got done demonstrating this very thing by showing Jesus calm the vicious storm on the sea of Galilee, and raise a young girl from the dead.  Jesus has run across other difficulties, but His ability was never in doubt.  Yet here, it is.  Matthew’s gospel puts it softer saying, “Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief,” (Mt 13:58).  “Did not” is different than “could not.”  (Negated form of δύναμαι)  One is will; the other is ability.  Yet here, the text is plain: Jesus was without the ability to do a “mighty work” (miracle) in Nazareth.
  2. Actually, Jesus’ will & His ability seem to be related here.  Was Jesus limited?  Yes & no.  Jesus limited Himself by to the will of God.  Jesus chose to act in accordance with the faith of the people. Keep in mind, Jesus didn’t need MUCH faith for Him to act in His omnipotent power – before Ch. 6 ends, we’ll see Jesus walking on the water, and we remember what happened when Peter attempted to do the same.  He began to sink, cried out to Jesus, and Jesus immediately caught him asking Peter why he doubted, “Oh you of little faith.”  This was an amazing miracle, and Peter seemed to have less faith in Jesus than some of the Gentiles they had encountered.  So it’s not that Jesus worked in proportion to their faith; Jesus chose to work only in the presence of faith.  Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." []
    1. Be careful not to get the wrong idea here.  Some people teach that people bound to wheelchairs stay there due to their lack of faith.  If they only believed, they could see the work of God – but they are the ones limiting God because they don’t believe.  Or if diabetics were just willing to leave their insulin behind and trust God, then they could be healed, etc.  Not only is this an exceptionally cruel teaching, it’s downright false & dangerous.  What Nazareth shows us is a town that outright rejects Jesus as being the Messiah; not a townspeople who believed that Jesus could do some miracles & not others.  There are many diabetics who truly believe in Jesus that walk into healing crusades just as sick as when they walk out.  They had faith in Jesus all along & still aren’t healed.  Faith did not determine their physical healing, but it most definitely determined their spiritual salvation.  THAT is the critical issue.  Nazareth rejected the latter, so they never truly experienced the former on a large scale.
    2. Interestingly enough, the “few” miracles Jesus did do in Nazareth were some healings.  Overall, the town rejected Jesus but there were a handful of people who did not.  There is always a remnant…
  3. If the people were unwilling to believe in Jesus, God was unwilling to make them.  The lack of miracles in Nazareth was the people’s fault; not God’s.  God could force people to believe in His Son – God could force people to have faith.  He doesn’t.  He graciously allows us to have free will.  Some people use their free will to spit in the face of God & viciously deny His very existence.  But others see the truth of God, come to faith in Jesus, and freely love the One who created us.  But that takes a response of our will.  We have to choose to put our faith in Jesus – we have to choose to believe.
    1. Some people never make the choice.  Today, you have that opportunity!

6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

  1. The “unbelief” of the people was amazing.  All over Galilee, people had marveled at the works of Jesus and His teaching.  Now, Jesus marvels back at those who refused to receive Him.  They were unique among all the towns He had visited.  Nazareth stood out, for all the wrong reasons.  “We never read that Jesus marveled at art or architecture or even the wonders of creation. He never marveled at human ingenuity or invention. He didn’t marvel at the piety of the Jewish people or the military dominance of the Roman Empire. But Jesus did marvel at faith – when it was present in an unexpected place, and when it was absent where it should have been.” (David Guzik)
  2. If Nazareth would not believe, what would Jesus do?  Go elsewhere.  He seemed to use Nazareth as a home-base for a bit, but He “went about” to some of the neighboring villages, continuing to teach the gospel of the kingdom of God.  Nazareth would not receive Him, but others would.  There was too much work to be done to be bogged down in the one place that had rejected Him.  (A principle He will teach His own disciples in just a few verses!)

7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.

  1. The rejection at Nazareth is contrasted with the commissioning of the disciples.  Just as Jesus was going into the world with the gospel of the kingdom, so were His disciples to do the same.  Just as Jesus was rejected by some & received by others, so would His disciples. Where the difference comes in is in the response of the disciples and the Nazarenes.  Those who grew up with Jesus and knew Him best (including His own family) had no faith to even receive Jesus.  Yet those who had only recently known Jesus had received Him & followed Him as Lord.  Now they were willing to go to all the land as His ambassadors.
  2. What does Jesus do with the 12?  Three things.  First, Jesus sends them.  This was not something that the disciples chose to do of their own accord.  They didn’t wake up one morning in Nazareth & decide to just head out of town and start casting out demons like Jesus; they were specifically sent out by Jesus for the task.  They remained close to Jesus’ side & would stay there until Jesus sent them out, and at that point they would go.  More than that, they were sent out by Jesus to represent Jesus.  The word used for “began to send” is the very word we translate “apostle.”  An apostle is simply “one who is sent.”  They had a message from the King to all the land, and they were sent out by Him to deliver it.
    1. We obviously do not carry the title of “Apostle” as the 12, but we are ALL sent by our King as His ambassadors in a similar fashion.  The commissioning the 12 receive here is a preview of the Great Commission they would receive after Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This was the dress rehearsal – the practice run.  For the time being, they would just go among the Jews; later they would go into all the world making disciples of all the nations.  That commission is OUR commission.  We have been sent by our King, and that “sending” is not something we should take lightly.
    2. BTW – why did Jesus send them out “two by two”?  (1) It’s practical.  Having someone to help on their journey is simply wise.  (2) It’s legal.  Jesus would be giving the disciples the authority to pronounce judgment on cities, and two witnesses were needed for such a thing. … It’s still wise for us to go 2×2 – but the most important thing is simply to go!
  3. Second, Jesus empowered them.  He gave them power/authority “over unclean spirits.”  Demons had to obey Jesus when He spoke because He is the Son of God…they had no choice other than to respond.  They did not have to respond likewise to Jesus’ disciples – not until Jesus gave the disciples authority to command the demons in His name.  At that moment, even the least of the 12 apostles outranked the chief of demons.  The disciples would be able to command them just as Jesus had commanded the legion of demons out of the man in Gadara.  (The problem for the disciples is that they did not always trust Jesus’ authority to grant authority – Mk 9:18)
    1. What Jesus called the disciples to do, He equipped them to do.  As the disciples went out, they went in the empowerment of their Lord & King.  That was true for this first commissioning, and it would be true for their later commissioning.  Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." []  The apostles were to be witnesses of Jesus, when?  After the Holy Spirit came upon them.  Only with the power of God the Holy Spirit would the disciples be able to go into the world and make other disciples of the Jews, Samaritans, and other Gentiles. 
    2. The exact same thing is true for us, today.  The things that God calls us to do, He equips us to do.  And the equipping comes the exact same way: when God the Holy Spirit fills and empowers us for the task.

8 He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— 9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.

  1. Third, Jesus provided for them.  The whole idea of what Jesus is saying is that the disciples didn’t need to take extra supplies with them because God would provide for their needs along the way.  Not only was this a test run in the disciples acting as ambassadors of their King, but it was a time to help them learn how to depend upon God’s provision for their every need.  As Jesus sent them out, He’s basically telling them not even to go home & pack.  If anything, the 12 were to leave supplies behind!  “No bag, no bread, no copper” – not a single luxury.  The idea was to just go, and see what God would do along the way.  Just as the ancient Hebrews had left Egypt in haste & trusted God to provide food & water (as He did through the manna & sweet water), so would the 12 apostles leave in haste & trust God to provide for their daily needs.
  2. If you do a comparison between the synoptic gospels, you’ll find some differences on this point.  Both Matthew and Luke show Jesus saying not to take anything, not even sandals or staves, whereas Mark records Jesus as specifically stating that they could take one staff & prescribing that they wear sandals.  This isn’t so much a contradiction as it is an illustration of the different points of view from the gospel writers.  Jesus (in every account) plainly tells the disciples not to take supplies.  Some of what they had on their person would have been assumed (such as a pair of shoes!); Jesus basically tells them not to take multiple pairs.  They didn’t need more than their normal walking stick.  They didn’t need more than one pair of shoes, or one tunic.  (The extra tunic would normally be used to keep them warm at night if they were sleeping outside.  Jesus is telling them that they would trust God for a bed each night.)  God would provide for all their needs.
  3. God still provides for our every need!  Obviously, Jesus was sending the disciples on a very specific limited mission here – He wasn’t laying down a standard for all time that they ought never take supplies with them on the road.  Here, Jesus tells them not to take anything except a staff, but later Jesus tells them to take money & even to go buy a sword (Lk 22:36).  They would still trust in God’s provision, but they would need to be wise in taking supplies for themselves.  When we go on mission trips today, we most definitely take supplies with us on the road!  To know what you’re walking into & leave needed supplies back at home would be foolish.  But even so, we still trust in God’s provision.  If God doesn’t give grace in travel, we’re not going anywhere.  If God doesn’t stretch the finances, we cannot last long.  If God doesn’t work in His provision, we can’t do much of anything.
    1. It’s been often said that “Where God guides, God provides.”  Do you trust God’s guidance?  Then trust His provision.
  4. One of the items necessary for God to provide along the way would be housing – and that’s what Jesus addresses in vs. 10…

10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

  1. On one hand, we might be afraid of overstaying our welcome if we were to come to one house & just stay as guests for as long as we were in the town – but Jesus had something different in mind for His disciples.  Obviously they would not overstay their welcome…the disciples weren’t to be staying too long in any one place to begin with. (If the disciples were rejected or kicked out, they would kick the dust off their feet anyway!)  Jesus sent them out to the villages for a limited mission; they weren’t going to establish churches in each of these towns.  The idea is that they would get to the village, find a place to stay (according to the hospitality customs of the day), and then get to work.  They weren’t to spend time trying to get a new bed every night, or (especially) trying to upgrade from the one they had.  Once God provided shelter, they had other things to attend to.
  2. That was fairly practical instruction.  Jesus’ other instruction was more serious.  Some villages would receive the disciples; others would reject them just as Nazareth had rejected Jesus.  What would happen then?  The disciples were not to take it personally.  The towns had rejected the gospel of God; not the disciples.  The disciples were merely the messengers.  If the villages of Judea rejected the gospel, then the disciples were to treat those towns as if they were Gentiles.  They were to shake the dust off their feet (just as Jews would typically do after visiting a Gentile area), and move on.  The departure of the disciples would be a witness of the town that they had rejected the message of their Messiah & their only hope for salvation.
    1. No Christian wants to see another person reject the gospel.  After all, Jesus is their only hope for forgiveness, eternal life, and a true relationship with God their Creator.  But people do reject – and sometimes their rejection is final.  That’s not to say we stop praying for them, or even stop speaking to them of Jesus – but it’s not something we ought to take personally.  Just because some people refuse to hear doesn’t mean that all people will refuse to hear.  Don’t get discouraged in sharing your faith!  Keep going – keep witnessing.  Shake the dust off your feet & move on.
  3. The disciples would testify against the cities, and those cities would be judged.  How bad would their judgment be?  Sodom & Gomorrah would have it easier, in comparison!  The latter part of vs. 11 isn’t included in many English translations, as it isn’t included in the oldest manuscripts of Mark – but it is included in the majority of manuscripts.  The phrase is definitely included in Matthew’s account (Mt 10:15), so there’s no doubt it’s Biblical.  We don’t exactly know what this kind of judgment will look like, but the idea is clear: it will be awful.  Though villages might reject the ambassadors of Jesus at the time, they will find themselves rejected by God for all of eternity.
    1. So it is with all those who reject the Person of Jesus Christ.  To refuse to receive Jesus’ gift of life is to take to ourselves the eternal death that awaits us without Him.

12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

  1. The disciples heard the commission of Jesus, but they didn’t merely nod their heads in acceptance of His words – they “went out” and obeyed! 
  2. What exactly did they do?  The same things their Lord Jesus had done.  They preached repentance – they cast out demons – they healed the sick.  This is exactly the pattern of ministry we see Jesus doing throughout the book of Mark.  The disciples simply followed in the footsteps of their Master.
    1. They preached.  Jesus’ first recorded message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and apparently the disciples took up the same call.  And rightfully so!  They had been sent out as ambassadors of the Messiah, the King of Israel.  They had been sent out by the Son of God Himself.  God had come & was among the Jews…if there was ever a time that the Jewish people needed to repent, it was then!  They needed to acknowledge their sin for what it was, and to turn away from it.  They needed to turn back to God in order to receive the forgiveness that only He can offer. That’s repentance. That’s what the Jews needed to do, and that is what all people everywhere need to do.  That’s the message that we preach in Jesus.  God has come – and God is coming again.  His desire is that His creation would life forever with Him in eternity – His desire is that His creation would no longer be estranged from Him now.  God has made it possible that we become His beloved children by receiving the sacrifice that Jesus has given on our behalf…but we must repent!  We need to turn away from our past sins, and turn to God in faith, believing Jesus to be Lord.
      1. If that’s not our message, we’re not preaching the gospel.
      2. If that’s not something you’ve responded to, you need to!
    2. They had spiritual authority.  Jesus had given them the authority to cast out the demons, and that’s what they did.  Apparently, it wasn’t just 1 or 2 – they did as their Master & “cast out many demons.”  This was a big part of their ministry!  Ultimately, it was a demonstration of the spiritual authority that they had in Christ.  The 12 disciples were no longer like everyone else in Judea; they personally knew the Son of God, and they had been personally sent out and empowered by Him.  Jesus made all the difference. … Do we cast out demons today?  We might, depending on what part of the world in which we find ourselves.  But there’s no doubt that we exercise spiritual authority.  We’ve been given the responsibility of presenting the word of God in the Scripture…and that IS the authority.  That is what we take into the world around us, as the “sword of the Spirit,” and that is what God uses among us to wield all kind of power.
    3. They ministered to the hurting.  Obviously we don’t read anywhere in Scripture where Jesus physically anointed someone with oil prior to their healing – normally, He just touched them & declared them healed.  The disciples followed a bit of the normal Hebrew custom of anointing people with oil, which was both medicinal & a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  Regardless of the method, the results were the same.  Jesus gave them the power to heal, and they healed.  Today, we still anoint people with oil, and we still pray for healing.  Sometimes we see that healing, other times we don’t…but we still minister to those who are hurting.  Some people grieve, and we’re to weep with those who weep.  Some people are hungry, and we’re to help feed those we can.  The situations vary, but we’re to keep our eyes open to the people around us & remain sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  How might He use us to practically love the people around us?  Let’s do it, as the disciples did.

The people of Nazareth had no faith – the disciples walked in faith – the towns in Judea had the opportunity to have faith.  Without faith, they would have no hope.  They would see no miracles, including the most important miracle of all: eternal life.  Jesus would not force them to believe, but He gave them the free opportunity to do so.  If they reject Him, they would reject all hope they had to be reconciled back to God.  That’s not something that Jesus wanted them to do, but that IS something that Jesus allowed them to do.

God’s desire for Nazareth & for all the people of Judea was so much more!  The whole reason Jesus walked among them is so that they would be able to see their Messiah with their own eyes.  If Jesus had wanted the people to be doomed in their sin, He would never have sent the 12 disciples out in the first place.  He specifically sent out the disciples to preach and to minister in order that the people would repent and be saved.  That was Jesus’ desire for them, and that’s God’s desire for the whole world!

God wants people to be saved!  God wants YOU to be saved!  Why would He have sent His only begotten Son to die upon the cross, if He didn’t truly love people and desire that we could be reconciled back to Him?  That is plainly His desire for us – the question is how we will respond.  God chooses to act according to faith; He doesn’t force us to believe.  Will we choose to have faith?  Will we choose to repent and place our faith in Christ?

For those who do, our journey in faith isn’t over…it’s only begun!  Will we choose to walk by faith & to trust God?  Like the disciples, Jesus has commissioned us – He’s sent us out, He empowers us, and He provides for us.  We can either trust by faith that Jesus has done these things, or we can doubt & be like an unstable wave tossing to & fro.  Many Christians wonder why they don’t experience a deeper walk with Jesus when there are so many promises in the Bible to the contrary.  Perhaps one reason is because they aren’t truly walking by faith.  They’ve heard the promises of Jesus, but they haven’t actually applied them in obedience.  They haven’t gone out.

May we be those who go out!  May we be those who choose to walk by faith and see the glory of God!

  1. […] Burns provides us a study in Mark 6 entitled “No Faith No Hope,’ on his Preach the Word […]

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