I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way – either because you are dried up or have been away from it, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.
What follows is one of the pieces I wrote on Mark. You can find the full plan HERE.
“I remember when you were just a little tyke! You used to cruise around this neighborhood on your bike and cause all sorts of trouble.”
One visit to the town you grew up in and you’ll hear something like this. It even happened to Jesus. The problem was that Jesus wasn’t just in town for the holidays; He was on a mission to save the world and He wanted to begin with those He knew and loved most.
Instead, all He got was “Isn’t that Mary’s boy? I think He made me my end table a while back.”
The closeness of the people in Nazareth to Jesus blinded them to His identity. They could not hear the truth or power of His words, and He could not do any miracles there, because of their unbelief. All they could see was the son of the carpenter.
So Jesus gathered His twelve disciples and commissioned them to take His mission to other parts of Israel. And did they ever – preaching with power, seeing people repent, and even casting out demons in Jesus’ name.
It was a shame that the people of Nazareth missed out, but the story turns here. The mission is progressing nicely. Right? Well, about that…
In a remote place, Jesus preached to a crowd of 5,000 men and likely as many women and children. They are hungry; so He told His disciples, those same twelve, to feed the people and they panicked. “How can we? Should we spend half a year’s salary on food?” So Jesus miraculously provided. Only this time, it was the disciples who did not believe.
Hours later, as they sailed to their next stop through high seas and strong winds, Jesus came walking across the water toward them. When they panicked and cried out, “It’s a ghost!”, Jesus reassured them. Still, the disciples did not believe.
It’s easy to look at the people of Nazareth and shake our heads at their hard hearts. It’s easy for us to look at the disciples and tsk tsk just a little. How could they preach and perform miracles and still not believe? What we should see is ourselves. We should see our own blindness and unbelief and our own ability to overlook the great things Jesus has done. We, too, see miracles and brush them off or fail to understand. We see them in Scripture. We see them in our own salvation. Yet still we panic. We doubt. We wander.
Thankfully, Jesus provides and reassures and draws us close to Himself. He continues to reveal Himself to those seeking to believe, so that over time we truly can.