Ezekiel 2. 1 – 5

Mark 6. 1 – 13

Fr Alex


‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ as the saying goes, and that certainly seems to be the case for Jesus in today’s Gospel passage.  Despite performing great miracles around and even in the sea of Galilee, as we’ve heard over the last couple of weeks, he returns to his home town of Nazareth and is rejected by his own people.

News of his miracles has spread to the town – the people wonder “what deeds of power are being done by his hands?”  His teaching in the synagogue amazes them – “what is this wisdom that has been given to him?”

But instead of simply believing what their eyes and ears are telling them, they treat him with contempt.

“Is not this the carpenter?” they say.  In other words, “Surely he can’t be doing all this – he made my kitchen table!”

They can’t get beyond their limited view of who he is.

As if to highlight the ridiculousness of the situation, Mark uses a really quite funny bit of understatement: “and he could do no deed of power there… except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.”  He couldn’t do much then, only a few more miracles! 

But this bit of dramatic understatement makes the point: even though they rejected him, still he healed some of the sick who were there.  Imagine what he could’ve done with them if they’d accepted him and believed in him.

All the evidence for who Jesus is, is right there before them – but they can’t see it, because they don’t have faith.  Their lack of faith has blinded them to all that is possible with Jesus.  And it is faith that unlocks the great potential for transformation that comes about through relationship with him.

Faith is at the heart of this Gospel passage, and indeed the preceding stories over the last few Sundays.  Two weeks ago the disciples were terrified in the storm on the sea of Galilee, but Jesus was asleep.

When they woke him he said “have you still no faith?”  And he showed them what faith can do: he calmed the wind and the storm.

Last week we heard more about what faith can do: the leader of the synagogue had faith that Jesus could heal his dying daughter, and sought him out.  And his daughter was saved.

The haemorrhaging woman had faith that Jesus was the only way she could be healed, and reached out and touched him.  Jesus didn’t try to heal her – he didn’t even know who had touched him.  But when the woman admitted it, he said it was her faith that had made her well.

Today’s story is the climax of this sequence of readings, because it goes even further, and shows what is truly possible for those who reach out in faith to Jesus.  It goes beyond just being kept safe from storms at sea; even beyond being healed from sickness and saved from death.

It shows us that the destiny for those who have faith is to become like Jesus – to share in his divinity, and his great power.

“He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.”  They “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”

Jesus shares his divine authority with those who come to him in faith.  And he creates, through faith, a new community, a new family: not one based on “home towns, one’s own kin, and one’s own house.”  But one based on faith, and open to all who believe in him.

This is exactly what St John wrote of in his wonderful prologue to his Gospel account.

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”

This is the amazing destiny for people of faith.  If we reach out to him in faith we will share in the power of his divine life and be adopted as his brothers and sisters – children of God.

But just how much faith must we have?  What if our faith is small and halting; what if we can only wish we had the kind of faith that could bring about such a transformation?

Well we mustn’t think of this destiny as a reward for having the greatest or the strongest faith.

The disciples weren’t rewarded with power because of their great faith.  In fact, time and again they failed to understand what was going on.

Their faith – our faith – is itself a gift from Jesus, and if we choose to receive it – if we “receive him and believe in his name,” as St John said – we will share in his divine life: and we will share in his divine faith.

Jesus derived his authority from his own obedient faith in God; faith that brought him to earth, took him past the terror of Gethsemane to the suffering of the cross; and through the grave to victory over death, and life for ever with God.

It is Christ’s faith that is the pattern for our own faith, and it is Christ’s faith that will be ours, if we reach out to him.

So may we seek to renew our faith in him.  To believe what our eyes and ears tell us – and when they don’t tell us anything, what our heart tells us.  That the promises of Jesus are true – and they are for us, and all who believe in his name.  Amen.