I have been drawn to three scripture settings this past year that have identified with my own experiences in faith. I decided to share them with you and hopefully encourage you this season.
The first scripture is found in Mark 6:1-6, “He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.”
There are 2 points here that my heart keeps being drawn toward, first, is the thought of becoming over-familiar with Jesus. That may sound wrong at first glance. I know that we all need to draw nearer to the Lord and that our love for Him and our awareness of His love for us needs to be continually growing, but I’m more talking about becoming so familiar with Him that we lose sight of His holiness and His deity. I am troubled that, in our attempts to overcome our sense of being unworthy, we have emphasized familiarity in an unhealthy manner. Some might argue, based on their own struggles to draw near to God as Father, that it’s necessary to think of God in terms of a daddy figure. My own study of holy men of God who have truly entered the very presence of God has shown me that He will always be other than us. Whether we consider, Isaiah in Isaiah 6 seeing the Lord high and lifted up and crying out that he is lost and that he is unclean and lives among unclean people; or perhaps Job, the most righteous man in his day, who had heard about God but when he beholds Him, he cries out, “I despise myself and repent.”. Perhaps you are thinking that it was because they didn’t have salvation in Christ yet and the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. John who had leaned on the chest of Jesus, when he sees him in Revelation 1 says that he fell at his feet like a dead man.
There are a couple of thoughts in my heart and mind about this idea of becoming over-familiar with Jesus. The first thought is; when we are with him in eternity, do we ever want to stop seeing Him as Holy? Will we ever become so familiar with him that we won’t fall at his feet and worship? Secondly, and this leads to my second thought in this passage in Mark 6, has our familiarity with Christ led to a lackadaisical and overly casual approach to His presence and His power? I often watch individuals enter the sanctuary on Sunday morning, where we are all gathered to worship Him, and I am amazed that they come to the service at their own convenient time and often enter with a cup of coffee. Is there really an expectation of meeting with the Holy God? Mark 6:5 says, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.” This sounds so much like our present situation in charismatic circles that I can’t help but wonder whether we’ve taken a wrong turn without even realizing it.
Secondly, in this passage, I am drawn to verse 6 which says, “And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.” I would like to compare this with Matthew 8:5-10 “When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” First, notice the contrast between the 2 contexts. In one there is a familiarity that breeds contempt, in the second setting there is a gentile soldier whose attitude is that he is not worthy for Jesus to enter his house. Secondly, notice the statement in the last verse of our passage, “he marveled”. Which response do we evoke from Jesus? Perhaps the reality of the power and presence of God has already identified which story fits our reality.
In our next blog, we’ll look at another passage from Mark that has drawn my attention this year. Be blessed beloved.