Rejection and Disdain

Jesus experienced growing conflict as he began his journey to the city of Jerusalem. In Galilee, he displayed his lordship over nature, demons, disease, and even death, and the crowds welcomed him, at first, enthusiastically. However, among his own people, he was met with unbelief and rejection, and in the Gospel of Mark, this serves as the prelude to the execution of John the Baptist. More importantly, it becomes the pattern for what disciples of Jesus may expect when they preach the Gospel.

Previously, the crowds had MARVELED at his authority and deeds. However, in his hometown, he MARVELED at the lack of faith that he found, and because of the rejection by Nazareth of God’s final “prophet,” the Messiah of Israel - (Mark 1:22, 5:20, 6:1-6. Parallel passages: Matthew 13:53-58. Luke 4:16-30).

Church empty - Photo by Stefan Kunze on Unsplash
[Empty - Photo by Stefan Kunze on Unsplash]

Nazareth was a small and insignificant village. It is never mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, and apparently, was viewed with disdain by some Jews - (John 1:45-46, “
Nathaniel said to him, ‘can any good thing come from Nazareth?’”).

The Greek word rendered “hometown” in Chapter 6 refers to Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up and learned his trade. The Greek noun in the passage that is rendered commonly as “carpenter” (tektōn) was a generic term used to refer to an artisan. It could refer to several skilled trades, including carpentry and masonry.

The crowd acknowledged the wisdom and mighty deeds of Jesus. His miracles could not be denied. But the villagers reacted with skepticism due to his lowly origins. They were offended by his ordinary pedigree and low social status. He was not a man of great prominence or wealth.

OFFENDED AT GOD’S VESSEL


Where did Jesus get his wisdom? He did not attend any of the rabbinical schools, and he lacked the appropriate “credentials” to teach the Hebrew scriptures. The men of Nazareth did not deny his insight, but they could not comprehend how he acquired it.

They were offended by the vessel that God had chosen and sent into their midst, not by the contents of his message or the miraculous deeds that he did.

In this ancient culture, heredity and geographical origin had much to do with determining any man’s place in society, and so, the crowd was “scandalized” by his origins and lack of education. A carpenter was one who engaged in manual labor, something one would not expect the Messiah of Israel and the descendant of the royal house of David to do.

The passage does not say whether his immediate family was present at the synagogue on that day, but the crowd knew his relatives. On a previous occasion, his family had questioned what he was doing - (Mark 3:21, 31).

REJECTED AND DISDAINED


No one denied his mighty deeds. Nevertheless, his own people rejected him. It was not his teachings or miracles that caused offense, but the person who performed them. Previously, he was rejected by the Pharisees and Herodians, and in Nazareth, he was rejected by his hometown and family.

Not only would this kind of negative reception typify his ministry, as John put it in his Gospel, “He came to his own and they received him not.” His treatment by his contemporaries was also in fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus was the “Servant of Yahweh” prophesied by Isaiah the Prophet – (John 1:11):

  • He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not” - (Isaiah 53:3).

The paragraph ends with Jesus “going around the villages in a circuit teaching.” The proclamation of the Kingdom was his primary activity, not miracle-working. All too often, his miraculous deeds produced the wrong kind of reactions, including unbelief, confusion, offense, and rejection.

Storm Farm - Photo by Kacper Staszczyk on Unsplash
[Photo by Kacper Staszczyk on Unsplash]

The passage serves as a warning to everyone who would follow Jesus of his or her possible rejection even by close associates and family members. To emulate him is to offend the world, often including individuals who are the closest to the would-be disciple.

Later, Jesus warned his disciples that the time would come when “brother will deliver up brother unto death and children will rise up against parents to put them to death; you will be hated by all because of my name.” His followers should not be surprised when they are rejected and even betrayed by their friends and relatives - (Mark 1:14-3:6, 3:7-6:6).

Hence, discipleship entails great personal risk and cost. Moreover, in the account in the Gospel of Mark, rejection and opposition become the normal and even expected reaction to the preaching of the Gospel. Rejection for his sake is not exceptional, and true disciples should be prepared to encounter resistance to the same Gospel that Jesus proclaimed in Nazareth.



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