2019-11-24 – Mark 6.1-13 – You Are Welcome Here
2019-11-24 – Mark 6.1-13 – You Are Welcome Here
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Story: When I was yet a young private in the Army stationed at Fort Bragg, NC,
I was blessed to be partnered up in the barracks at with a fellow named Tim Hatampa who was a Christian. At some point we decided to go to church together, but since neither of us knew the area, we just picked a church out from the Yellow Pages that was close to us. We got to the church a little early and was sitting in the parking lot listening to music on our car radio. As people started arriving, we noticed one fellow as he started walking towards our car. It was warm outside and we had our windows rolled down as we were listening to music. The guy came up, reached through our car window and turned off our radio. He pointed his finger and told us to never play music in their parking lot again, then walked away. Welcome to church we did not feel, sad to say. We still attended but never returned. In contrast, I am happy and blessed to say that we have a very welcoming church here in Orion, and it is largely because of you all. Thanks for showing your love to me and my family, and also everyone that enters into that door. Our message today is entitled: You are Welcome Here.
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 6.1, pew Bibles pg. 892 in God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, but let us first start with Prayer.
Setting: Jesus had just left the area of Galilee in the northern part of Israel where He had setup His home away from home, and where He had been effectively introducing Himself and His ministry to the Jews and Gentiles of that area. Last week we saw how Jesus healed a lady on the street, when she just touched the fringe of his robe as He was passing by. Jesus told her “Daughter your faith has saved you”. Then He subsequently went to the synagogue leader’s house and raised his twelve year-old daughter from the dead. Jesus showed so much compassion and love to the people He never even met before. And that takes us to our first scripture verses today, Mark 6:1, subtitled “Rejection at Nazareth”:
61 He left there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him.
2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom that has been given to him, and how are these miracles
performed by his hands? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” So they were offended by him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, among his relatives and in his household.”
5 He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. He was going around the villages teaching.
So this is a record of Jesus’s second visit to His hometown of Nazareth [MAP]. This is not to be confused with His first visit which was shortly after His baptism. In His first visit, recorded in Luke's gospel, He went to the synagogue and stood up to read the scriptures from Isaiah 61, saying “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He then sat down and declared, " Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your eyes." He then began to teach them, and they marveled at His gracious words and asked, "Is this not Joseph's Son?" But then it says as He continued to teach, they became angered and they took Him to the cliff outside of Nazareth and were going to throw Him over the cliff, but He passed right through their midst and escaped.
Again, this is now the second time He returned to Nazareth, and in the mean time He had been doing exactly what Isaiah had prophesied, He had been preaching the gospel to the poor, and healing the broken hearted. He had been preaching deliverance to the captives and had healed the blind and all manner of sickness.
Mark tells us that again they were astonished at His teaching and wondered how He ever learned all this mighty wisdom. They recognized that there was something extraordinary about Him, yet they still would not believe. Here in Jesus’s own home town their seemed to be such apathy toward Him, it caused Jesus to even marvel at their unbelief. I would argue that they knew him, but they didn’t know Him. Jesus’s Mother, brothers and sisters were still living in that town. His step-father Joseph is not mentioned, leaving us to surmise that He had already died somehow. Jesus was the eldest son of Mary and was probably the bread-winner for the family at some point. But sadly no hometown greeting for Jesus. I am sure He knew this would happen but it still pains me a little knowing that they rejected Jesus my Savior. He was not welcomed in His own hometown.
Why such unbelief? They obviously knew a few facts about Him. When Jesus was born, the fact that Mary had Jesus out of wedlock. And they probably knew Him when He was younger, growing up in Nazareth as the carpenter’s son. They had probably brought their horse and buggies to Him and His father to be repaired, or maybe they ordered their plows from His shop. Perhaps they had a table or chairs made or repaired by Jesus or Joseph, but it is obvious there was much about Him they did not know as well. Their unbelief was based upon insufficient knowledge of Him. There are many people today as well that are in unbelief because they think they know Jesus. They have formed their opinions upon the remarks or statements of others. However they have never searched for Jesus themselves. In Matthew 7, Jesus said “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened”.
Jesus also said, "Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned." The claims of Jesus are so radical, and the consequences of not believing are so great, that you would be wise to examine all the evidence personally before forming an opinion. What do you know about Jesus? Where did you learn it? Have you ever read the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, and asked the Lord that if He were real that He would reveal Himself to you as you read it? Do you know Jesus Christ?
Our verses today say “He was not able to do a miracle there”. Does this mean that their unbelief restricted His power to do miracles? I hardly think so. Does it then mean that He just decided to reject them because they had rejected Him?
I don't believe that either. I do believe that sadly their unbelief kept people from coming to Him. Think of all the benefits they could have received if they had only come to Him. Their lame citizens could be walking, their blind would be able to see. Those who were possessed with evil spirits could have been delivered. They could have known the love, joy, and peace of the kingdom of God. So sad indeed.
This next selection of verses is subtitled: Commissioning the Twelve. 7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the road except a staff—no bread, no traveling bag, no money in their belts, 9 but to wear sandals and not put on an extra shirt.10 He said to them,
“Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that place. 11 If any place does not welcome you or listen to you, when you leave there, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
There is a lot for us to learn from or to heed from these verses. Jesus sent them out to proclaim the Good News Gospel to the people of the town. We should be doing likewise. Jesus had them go out in pairs for their protection and not to take any valuables that thieves would be inclined to steal. Jesus also inferred that we need to be smart, shrewd and cunning as we approach the world. And if anyone doesn’t receive you then don’t let it get you down. Just dust yourself off and keep going. Let me tell you, just like these apostles, as you choose to take that risk and put yourself out there for the purposes of Christ, He will watch over you. Sometimes you will be rejected, but don’t let it get you down. You are not alone.
In our verses here, Jesus also counted on that the people they would be visiting, most of them Jewish, would know that God demanded care and compassion for strangers. In Leviticus 19 Moses wrote, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself”. That law given in Leviticus still stands today for us. We are to be welcoming ambassadors for Christ. We should be willing to open up our homes even to strangers in need. We should also endeavor to be a welcoming church body here as well, especially to strangers or sojourners. I often think about what our church gives as a first impression to visitors. Do we present ourselves as a welcoming church?
Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it”.
We all know that Christ’s redeeming sacrifice saves us, but it does even more than this, it is intended to create communities of believers. Miraculously forming redeemed people into churches who now live as family with one another. In Romans 15:7, the apostle Paul identifies the goal of a true Christian community, he says: “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.” Every church I know says they want to be a welcoming church. But I would argue sometimes the way we think of “welcoming” is oftentimes just superficial, limited only to a warm greeting with a smile, a handshake, and perhaps a welcome packet on Sunday morning. That is good, but I argue we can do better.
Again, Paul wrote, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Christ’s welcome isn’t just a friendly handshake and a pleasant smile. It is salvation (Romans 10:13), reconciliation (Romans 5:10), reception into the family of God (Romans 8:16). And it is costly: Christ died for us and then He rose from the grave so that we could be welcomed by Him into eternity. It was a price that God the Son gladly paid in order to receive us into heaven (John 10).
Christ’s welcome of us is the basis and model for our ongoing welcome of one another: “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” Because we recognize what Jesus did for us, our welcoming of one another shows that we believe we are now all part of the same family of believers. When people walk into our door, they should be gladly greeted because we were gladly greeted. My Father-in-Law many years ago would come home from work and pronounce, “The king is home, long live the king”. Lol. When people come home, here, let us clearly make it known that You Are Welcome Here, Amen?
Here we accept one another because we’re part of the same family. We participate together in community and serve one another, because that’s what a healthy family does. We find ways, both big and small, through words and actions, to say “You are family to me, so I will sacrifice to serve you.” We now lock arms with each other, we make time and visit with one another, praying faithfully for one another, working through conflict, and in a thousand other ways.
The kind of welcome Paul calls for and demonstrates is not just the task of a “greeters ministry” or “welcome team” alone, but of the entire church. It’s not an event, but an ongoing way of life. Loving our church family requires time and sacrifice and humility, just as Christ’s welcome of us into His family required His time and sacrifice and humility, even to the extent of death on the cross at Calvary.
The result of a Christian community actually living this way is worth while to pursue and breathtaking to witness. Paul says that we should welcome one another as Christ welcomed us “for the glory of God.” I am here to tell you it is possible for a community of redeemed sinners to display God’s worth to the world. If we don’t do it, who will. There can be no higher goal for any church.
Our church glorifies God by being family to one another, by welcoming one another as Christ has already welcomed you.
In our verses this morning, Jesus was not welcomed even in His own home town, so sad indeed. Interesting to note that is estimated that the population of Nazareth at the time of Christ as "roughly 1,600 to 2,000 people". And according to the 2017 census, Orion, IL has a population of about 1,816. The dynamics of what Jesus experienced in His hometown are not so far removed from what we are experiencing here today. And Jesus cared enough to care for them, to give them another chance to accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Jesus subsequently sends out His people two-by-two to perhaps reach them with the Good-News Gospel, and I would argue that we should be continuing to endeavor to do the same here. Are you with me?
This Thanksgiving week, let us remember one of the great gifts that comes to us from the cross: true Christian community and family that shows and tells the glory of God. In your homes, let the people know You Are Welcome Here. Let us love on those that God has sent our way. Show them His compassion, His mercy and His grace, and make them feel welcomed. Everyone say with me “You Are Welcome Here”. I hope you believe it, and I hope you live it. And not just on Thanksgiving week, but at all times. That is God’s will for you, and that is the main take away for this Gospel message today. Because it can make all the difference in the world.
Please Rise, Let us Pray