Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Devotional: Jesus’ Mission and Opposition, Mark 6:1-29

Mark 6.1-29 outline

The next three chapters intersperse Jesus’ teaching and miracles with examples of misunderstanding and rejection from the people to whom he was sent. Mark’s point here is that Jesus is a superior king who brings a superior kingdom, and yet, people will misunderstand and reject him because he does not fit with their personal agendas. The section starts with two instances of rejection of Jesus; one by Jesus’ peers in Nazareth (the not powerful) and the other by Herod (the powerful) bracketing the sending out of the apostles to preach and demonstrate the kingdom. The kingdom will go out with God’s power, but those who preach it should expect opposition. It is amazing how much blessing we miss because we are not willing to accept God working beyond our expectations and in a way that conflicts with our own desires.

In the middle section (6:7-13), Jesus sends out the 12 to announce that God’s kingdom had come and to show this by doing the same signs Jesus was doing. In this case they were to make no preparation for the journey because, like Elijah and Elisha, God was going to raise up people who would hear their message and provide for their needs. However, they would also face opposition, to which they should not resist, but just turn and walk away. The 12 were God’s messengers and represented God’s authority so God was responsible for the results. Mark simply says that people were freed from the forces of darkness and were healed. Despite the opposition, the mission was a success. This is also our calling: to announce and live out the kingdom and leave the results to God!

The section begins (6:1-6) with the opposition to Jesus in his own home town of Nazareth. The amazing thing here is that the people recognized his superior teaching and wisdom, and saw the kingdom miracles, but refused to accept him because they insisted on evaluating his credentials by human standards alone, rather than being open to what God was doing and saying through him. Imagine, They had the 2nd person of the Trinity in their midst who was doing mass healings and they missed out on most of it because they did not like his pedigree! They could not see Jesus as Paul learned to see him, “Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.(2 Corinthians 5:16 ESV) Because the people failed to regard Jesus correctly, many continued to be blind, lame, bound and defeated. Don’t make the same mistake.

Finally, the other half of the bracket tells the story of Herod’s opposition to God’s kingdom and execution of John the Baptist. Herod recognizes the connection between John’s preaching and that of the disciples and Jesus. John's death prefigures Jesus' death and gives a concrete example of the type of opposition that the disciples should expect. The success of the disciples’ mission is seen in the fact that even Herod had heard about the miraculous events of their ministry but, he rejects it because it threatens his own honor and power. This same dynamic will also bring about the death of Jesus and most of the 12.

We can be sure that God’s kingdom will succeed but God's people will suffer first in this evil world. The reassurance is that God Himself has experienced this, walks with us through these trials and will bring victory now and in the end. The challenge to us is how do we “regard Jesus.” Will we trust him as God or regard him “according to the flesh?”

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