Sunday, July 08, 2012

The trap of familiarity

"Jesus' teaching rejected by his 
townsfolk in Nazareth" 
by William Brassey Hole

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Mark 6:1-13

TO CHEW ON:  "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?' So they were offended at Him." Mark 6:3

Jesus' people—His own countrymen, neighbors, family members, clients or customers—were astonished when He knew so much and could do amazing things. They discussed among themselves: "Isn't this Jesus, the Son of Mary... etc.?" They were offended by Him.

Offended here does not mean that Jesus' actions offended them because He was disagreeable or rude or sinful. This is offense in the form of a snare or trap.

["Offended - skandalizo originally to put a snare or stumbling block in the way. The noun to which it is related referred to the bait-stick of a trap. In the N.T. skandalizo is always used metaphorically of that which hinders right conduct or thought, hence 'to cause to stumble'" Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1309.]

Thus offended, the people of Jesus' home town, who knew Him as a kid, His own family members, seemingly couldn't believe in Him. His familiarity hindered their faith so "...He could do no mighty work there" - Mark 6:5.

Can we likewise be offended or tripped-up by our knowledge of people, their past, their humble beginnings, their lack of education or experience, that we fail to acknowledge the power of God the Holy Spirit working in and through them?

  • The Holy Spirit can teach people - 1 John 2:27.
  • God can give ordinary folks authority and power - Acts 4:13.
  • Paul reminded his readers that the effect of his ministry was due to God revealing Himself to, and working through him—a clay container - 2 Corinthians 4:6,7.

Let's not get hung-up or offended—tripped or trapped—by the appearance or history of the clay container through whom God Himself would pour out His grace on us.

Dear Jesus, please help me to be open to You working through the humblest—the children, the poor, the simple. Help me not be an education, or status, or novelty snob and so miss the blessing You have for me through the uneducated, the lowly, and the familiar. Amen.

MORE: Qualified to serve
"Nay, but we will serve the Lord." It is not an impulse, but a deliberate commitment. You say - But God can never have called me to this, I am too unworthy, it can't mean me. It does mean you, and the weaker and feebler you are, the better. The one who has something to trust in is the last one to come anywhere near saying - "I will serve the Lord."  

We say - "If I really could believe!" The point is - If I really will believe. No wonder Jesus Christ lays such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. "And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." If we really believed that God meant what He said - what should we be like! Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?" - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 9th reading.
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