Devotional #16 (1/14/13). Jesus marvels at unbelief and the disciples sent out two by two.
Intro: Last week we finished chapter 5 which had two people dealing with superstition and one who had faith. Jesus showed he does things differently than we expect but it’s always for the best and for His glory. Remember Jesus has healed sick people (in every chapter we’ve read), has power over nature (chapter 4) and can raise people from the dead (chapter 5) so there is nothing He can’t do. Keep this in mind while we read this section as Jesus is amazed at people’s unbelief in Him
This Week’s Reading: Mark 6:1-13.
vv. 1-3. Jesus leaves the Sea of Galilee area and goes into Nazareth (“His own country”) with His disciples (Source 1). Then Jesus goes into the local church and begins to teach and people were surprised. They were amazed at how He taught and that the words He said matched up to His actions of healing people and not sinning. But they weren’t amazed like “pleasantly surprised”, it says they were “offended.” Why? Because they knew His family and they had known Him since He was a little boy. They still remembered Him as a poor kid not a wise teacher. They thought He was trying to be better than them and they were going to bring Him back to humility and remembering His roots!
vv. 4-6. Jesus responds that He is honored everywhere except in His hometown for the reasons I just mentioned. This can be the case when a person becomes a Christian. Their family and friends remember who they used to be and can’t forget it or let the person forget it. Then in verse 5 it says, “He could do no mighty work there.” It’s important we realize it’s not that Jesus lost power because He still helped people (“…a few sick people and healed them”) but it wasn’t a “mighty work” like it had been in other places. If people don’t show up they won’t be healed (Source 2). Jesus never forces anything on people who don’t want it. Then I think it’s really interesting that He “marveled” (meaning He was ‘surprised’) at their unbelief. He probably shook His head and thought ‘I showed up to teach you and heal you but you were too stubborn’. So He moves on, He continues on to other towns.
vv. 7-9. Now we see Jesus sending the disciples out in groups so they can tell other people about what Jesus has been doing and to cast out demons (“power over unclean spirits”). Notice the power comes from Jesus but is given to the disciples. Jesus has given each of His children tremendous power but often we don’t use it. An example is prayer. We can pray to God any time we want, but we don’t. How different our lives would be if we just prayed to God for others!
So Jesus sends out His disciples with barely anything except a “staff” (“for hiking and protection” – Source 2), sandals and not to wear two tunics. What was a tunic? A tunic was kind of like a jacket (Source 3). OK, so why didn’t Jesus want them to wear two jackets? Because wealthy men would wear two tunics “but Jesus wanted the disciples to identify with common people and travel with just minimum clothing (Source 4).
vv. 10-11. Then Jesus tells them what else to do: when they went into a town find one place to stay and don’t move around. If people didn’t want them there they were supposed to physically take their sandals off and actually shake the dust off then move on. This was to leave an impression in their mind that they had tried to bring healing but had been rejected. David Guzik makes an interesting point here*. When Jesus said that it would be “more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah,” He meant if the sinful people of Sodom and Gomorrah had seen Him and heard His gospel they would have repented! In my mind this is another proof that denying the Holy Spirit’s calling is the unpardonable sin. Also see Mt. 11:20-24 for more on this.
vv. 12-13. The disciples actually went out! They didn’t procrastinate or come up with excuses they left and preached Jesus. They didn’t argue and debate, they just told people the truth. I can’t help but think Jesus was giving them a practice run at telling people about Him so it would be easier when He was gone. Notice that they “anointed with oil many who were sick.” The oil was both an analogy of the Holy Spirit working supernaturally, and a physical “medium the people could identify with” (Source 4). This means that the oil was showing the Holy Spirit flowing over them but it was also something that people could feel and knew about because of their cultural history (see Source 5 for more).
* “In that day, if Jewish people had to go in or through a Gentile city, as they left they would shake the dust off their feet. It was a gesture that said, “we don’t want to take anything from this Gentile city with us.” Essentially, Jesus is telling them to regard a Jewish city that rejects their message as if it were a Gentile city” (Source 1).
Conclusion: In this section we saw how people didn’t show up to get healed by Jesus because they thought they had him figured out. They recognized He was a great teacher, they heard all of the miracles He was doing but they didn’t step out in faith, to be blessed. Also Jesus sent out the disciples to take His power to others. In the same way we can take Jesus’ gospel and tell others about the healing He has done for us and our friends and the healing He can do for them. The great thing about Jesus is He recognized that the earthly body would only last a while but the spiritual is eternal. He showed them His power in healing their earthly bodies so they would trust Him to heal their spiritual needs. I have seen Jesus’ power in my life because He has healed me!
Source 2: John MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1470.
Source 3: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunic
Source 4: John MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1471.