A Christian at Home

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Mark 6:1-6 (Jesus Rejected at Nazareth)

INTRODUCTION: One of the hardest places to live out our Christian life is in the home. Home is where we know each other best, and home is where our real self comes out the most often. And seeing that for everyone of us our real self is a sinful person, we get to know each other’s sins and weaknesses at home pretty well. Happy is the home that learns to love and forgive and extend grace to each other.

It is hard enough to live out the Christian life when everyone at home is a Christian, but it gets even harder when your home is a mixture of believers and unbelievers. When Christ is the center of your life but not the center of your home, that can bring division and heartache, and it can be very difficult to live out the Christian life in a non-Christian home.

Now part of that is because we are sinful people, but part of that is just the fact of the gospel itself. The gospel brings salvation to those who believe, but it also brings division between believers and non-believers. When you take a stand for Christ, those who do not follow Christ can feel uncomfortable or even threatened by your faith. And so it is not easy to be a Christian in a non-Christian home.

We see this illustrated for us in Jesus’ visit to his hometown of Nazareth where he was rejected by the townspeople, by his relatives and even by his own family. But we can also learn some valuable truths from this passage that will help us in our own struggle to live out the Christian life at home, especially if we have non-believing family members.

I. You are called to share the gospel (verses 1-2)

The first thing I want us to learn from this passage is that you are called to share the gospel. Look at verses 1-2:

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. (Mark 6:1-2)

Now I am not going to spend a lot of time on this point, because we will be looking at it in more detail next week, but the point here is you are called to share the gospel. In these verses Jesus is the one doing the teaching and the preaching, but you will notice that his disciples are with him. Why? Because Jesus is training them and getting ready to send them out. You see, as followers of Jesus, we are supposed to do the things Jesus did. And one of the main things Jesus did was share the gospel with other people. “When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.” (Mark 6:2) You may never stand up in front of a whole group of people, and you will never teach like Jesus did, but each of you is called to share the gospel with the people that God brings into your life. That’s point number one. You are called to share the gospel.

II. The gospel is offensive to people (verses 2-3)

Which would all be well and good if it weren’t for point number two, which is this: The gospel is offensive to people. If no one was offended by the gospel, we would all be sharing the gospel all the time. If people were longing to hear the gospel, and every time you shared it they immediately confessed their sin and put their faith in Christ, no one could stop you from sharing the gospel. But the truth is, the gospel is offensive to people. It always has been and always will be, at least until Christ returns.

In what ways is the gospel offensive to people? We find three things in these verses.

    A. People reject the source. (“Where?”)

First of all, people reject the source of the gopsel We see this in the “where” question of verse two:

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. (Mark 6:2)

The people were amazed at Jesus’ teaching, but they questioned the source of his teaching. They were impressed by Christ, but they were not willing to admit that his teaching came from God, because that would mean they would have to submit to it.

It is the same way with the gospel. When you share the gospel with unbelievers, they will dismiss it as foolishness or as one way to God among many or as just your personal religious belief, but they will not accept it as coming from God. Why? Because if the gospel is truly God’s revelation, then they are accountable to it. And so they reject the source, even as the people of Nazareth did with Jesus.

    B. People reject the content. (“What?”)

Secondly, people reject the content of the gospel. We see this in the “what” question of verse two:

What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! (Mark 6:2)

Once again, the people were impressed, Mark says they were amazed, but their amazement did not result in faith. They were amazed at both Jesus’ wisdom and his miracles, but they still rejected the content of his teaching. They didn’t trust it. They weren’t sure what to make of it all.

We will learn in verse 5 that Jesus didn’t actually do a lot of miracles in Nazareth, so apparently the miracles they talked about here were his previous miracles. They had heard about all the miracles he had been doing in other cities, they had now even heard him teach in their own synagogue, but instead of exercising faith, they seem suspicious of it all.

Isn’t that the way people often are about the gospel? When you accept Christ into your life, your family and friends often treat you with suspicion. They say things like, “You’ve got religion.” They’re afraid you’re going to try and convert them … as if they needed converting! The gospel is offensive to people, and so they reject both the source and the content of the gospel.

    C. People reject the person of Jesus. (“Who?”)

But what it really all comes down to is that they reject the person of Jesus. So we move from the “where” and the “what” questions of verse two to the “who” questions of verse three:

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. (Mark 6:3)

They are offended by this man with whom they grew up who is now demonstrating such miraculous wisdom and powers. They start off with, “Isn’t this the carpenter?” Jesus was not a trained rabbi or teacher. Mary’s husband Joseph was a carpenter, and Jesus followed in his trade. It wasn’t until Jesus was thirty years old that he suddenly began this public ministry of teaching and healing. And so they are offended at him teaching them about the kingdom of God. After all, he’s just a carpenter.

Next they say “Isn’t this Mary’s son?” Now this is a very unusual phrase. Normally you would refer to someone as the son of their father. Even if Joseph was already dead by now, which most people believe, you would still refer to Jesus as the son of his father, not of his mother. Of course, there had been rumors that Jesus was born out of wedlock and was an illegitimate child, and so this may have been intended as an insult or a slur on him. At Jesus’ baptism God’s voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love.” (Mark 1:1) We have seen that even the demons confessed Jesus as the Son of God, but the people of Nazareth just call him “the son of Mary.”

You notice they also mention Jesus’ brothers and sisters. The most natural reading here is that Mary and Joseph had children together after Jesus was born, so these were Jesus’ younger brothers and sisters. Some have argued that these were actually older brothers and sisters from an earlier marriage of Joseph, but there is no evidence for that, and it seems the theory is mostly put forth to try and preserve Mary’s virginity even after Jesus was born.

The brothers are all given good, sound, Biblical names which accords well with what we know of Joseph as a righteous and devout man. And although they didn’t believe in Jesus at first, we know at least some of them became believers later. James went on to be a leader in the church of Jerusalem and is most likely the same James who wrote the letter of James in the New Testament. And Judas here is most likely the same person who wrote the letter of Jude in the New Testament.

But the main point here in verse 3 is that the people took offense at Jesus, and so and asked these questions casting doubt on his person, his chracter and his credentials. What we see here in verses 2-3 is a wholesale rejection of the gospel that Jesus was proclaiming. The people of Nazareth rejected the source of Jesus’ teaching, they rejected the content of his teaching, and they rejected the person of Jesus himself.

We are called to share the gospel with people, but that will always be a challenge because the gospel is offensive to people. People do no want to be told they are wrong. They do not want to be told they are sinners under God’s judgment. They do not want to be told that they are not good enough for God. They do not want to be told that they need a Savior. And as far as Jesus is concerned, people are quite happy to acknowledge Jesus as a good man or as a wise teacher or even as a prophet of God, but they do no want to acknowledge him as God’s Son, because that would mean they are accountable to him and would need to follow him as Lord and Master of their lives. It is tough to share the gospel, because the gospel is offensive to people.

III. It is toughest at home (verses 4-6)

And you know what? It is toughest at home!

    A. Your family knows you best

One reason is because your family knows you best. I believe that’s what Jesus was getting at in verse 4 when he said:

“Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (Mark 6:4)

This was a common proverb in Jesus’ day. We have a similar one today. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Which doesn’t always mean actual contempt or spitefulness, but we do have a tendency to downplay or take for granted those we know the best. For example, people will pay hundreds of dollars to hear a certain singer perform, whereas the people in his or her family probably just take it for granted that their family member can sing. They certainly aren’t going to shell out any money for a concert. They might not even sit down for a free concert at home.

But this principle cuts even deeper in spiritual matters. Some of the hardest people to win to Christ are the members of your own family because they know you so well. They already know what you believe, they know your strengths, they know your weaknesses, and it is very difficult to persuade them to accept Christ. I am not talking about two Christian parents raising their children in the faith. That is a different thing altogether. But I am talking more about trying to bring your spouse or your parents or your brothers and sisters to Christ. That’s tough! Your family knows you best, and somehow that makes it harder to share the gospel with them.

    B. Unbelief is a limiting factor

Another reason why it is tougher at home is because unbelief is a limiting factor. Look at verses 5-6:

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:5-6)

This lack of faith in Nazareth was a limiting factor in what Jesus could do for them by way of miracles. This is in direct contrast to the woman in chapter five we looked at last week who was healed because of her faith in Christ. (Mark 5:34)

Unbelief is a limiting factor. When you live in a divided household, you are limited in what you can do for God. If there is only one Christian parent, it is that much harder to raise committed Christian children. If there is a rebellious child in the home, it throws everyone off balance. When your parents don’t believe, it is a challenge for you to keep growing in your faith. But keep at it. God is with you, and he will help you, and you need to keep trusting him.

It is interesting, we often read in Mark about other people being amazed at Jesus, but this is the only place where Jesus is described as being amazed at them. And what is he amazed at? He is amazed at their stubborn unbelief and lack of faith which is holding back the power of God to help them, to do them good, to bring them healing and salvation.

Yes, the gospel is offensive to people, and it is tough enough to share Christ with people outside the home. But it is even tougher at home. Your family knows you best, and unbelief is a limiting factor.

CONCLUSION: Let me close with three specific applications this morning from what we have learned from this passage.

1) Don’t marry an unbeliever: You know, it is tough enough living out your Christian faith at home. That’s where we let our guard down, right? That’s where we make most of our mistakes. You don’t need to make it tougher by intentionally marrying someone who doesn’t understand or support you in your faith. In fact God commands you in the Bible, if you are a believer, that you are not to marry someone who does not also believe. If you came to faith later, after you married, that is a different matter, and God commands you to stay with that marriage, to love your spouse, and to seek to lead them to Christ by your actions. But if you are unmarried and you are a believer, you are directly disobeying God if you choose to marry an unbeliever. Don’t do it.

2) Live out your faith at home the best you can: Let me mention four things in particular here.

    – First of all, pray. Pray for the members of your household. Pray for their salvation if they don’t know Christ and pray for their spiritual growth if they do.

    – Secondly, set the example. Obviously you can’t re-share the gospel with your loved ones every morning at breakfast. They will get tired of that pretty quickly. But you can set the example with your life and actions and by loving them deeply with the love of Christ.

    – Thirdly, share when appropriate. Just because you can’t keep harping on the gospel all the time doesn’t mean that there won’t be times when it is appropriate to bring it up. From time to time tell your loved ones that you are praying for them, that God loves them, that he is waiting for them, that it’s not too late for them to come to Christ.

    – And then fourthly, live in peace. Romans 12:18 says, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” And that especially means with your family.

All four of those points fall under the category of living out your faith at home as best you can. So number one – don’t marry an unbeliever; number two – live out your faith at home as best you can. And number three –

3) Learn to live with the limits of unbelief: It can be frustrating when there is unbelief in your home, and you find that your home cannot be all that you want it to be for God. Just do what you can, and then leave the rest up to God. Hey, if even Jesus was limited by the people’s unbelief in what he could do at Nazareth, then you and I are also going to find unbelief a limiting factor at home. Give it to God, and learn to live with the limits of unbelief. God is bigger than our limits, and he will help you to be a Christian at home.

© Ray Fowler

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