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Sermon II for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost Year B
July 7, 2024

Rejection expands God’s Mission (Mark 6:1-13)

Our Gospel reading holds in tension the rejection of Jesus and his authority with the sending out of Jesus’ disciples in that same authority

Last week, Jesus was near the sea, where Jairus a leader in the local synagogue reached out to him to heal his daughter. Jesus was welcomed there, and he taught and healed the people he met.

This week, Jesus has left that place. He and his disciples have gone to his hometown, they’re in Nazareth.

The gospel says, “on the Sabbath he(Jesus) began to teach…”

In the first century, one of the duties of the leaders of the synagogue was to schedule and invite a rabbi to come to the synagogue, read the scriptures, and then preach and teach on them.

So, Jesus has been invited to the synagogue in Nazareth.

 He doesn’t just show up willy-nilly and take over the worship!

Jesus was invited!

He didn’t demand it as a right, or bully his way in,

Jesus was invited!

Jesus was invited to the synagogue to read God’s Word, preach, and teach.

I can’t stress this invitation strongly enough, because what do we expect when we are invited someplace?

We expect to be treated with dignity and hospitality.

We certainly do not expect to be rejected!

 We don’t expect the people we’re here to help to turn against us

And yet that’s precisely what is happening here…

Jesus is invited to read God’s Word, then preach and teach in the synagogue.

An invitation that comes from the leaders of the synagogue

Jesus, being faithful to his call, comes to Nazareth and does exactly what he was invited to do---

 he reads God’s Word for the day, then he preaches and teaches the people.

Immediately after Jesus finishes teaching God’s word, his hometown buddies and family take offense and reject him—rejecting also the teaching and healing that he does.

In Luke’s gospel, this rejection of Jesus is so strong that the crowds want to kill him... they run him out of town and try to throw him off a cliff to his death!

Surely this is not the way we treat a guest!

 In Mark, Jesus is genuinely flabbergasted!

 He’s amazed that his friends, family and neighbors took offense at his teaching and had no faith in him.

He leaves Nazareth, its unexpected hostility, and he goes to neighboring villages, doing some teaching.

Now Jesus’ disciples were there with him in the synagogue, they witnessed his rejection, they witnessed the hostility shown to him in his hometown…

And I wonder what they were thinking.

Here is their teacher, their rabbi rejected in his hometown…

What did the disciples make of that?

 Did they wonder how they might be received when they returned home?

Did they begin to understand that as Jesus’ students, his disciples, they too would be rejected?

Did they think- maybe this proclaiming God and his coming kingdom to people, might not be the smartest thing they’ve ever done?

In fact, might they begin to wonder at the foolishness of it all?

This is an important insight for the disciples because Jesus, undeterred by his rejection, now expands his mission by sending the disciples out into the area around Nazareth to share God’s Word,

  to preach to and teach the people in the nearby villages

People who haven’t invited them or their teaching,

people they don’t know, haven’t met,

People who might reject them just as the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus

Do you think the disciples would have been upbeat, excited to go out and share God with people who have not invited them?

   Probably not

Do you think that they might consider Jesus foolish to send them out?


And yet, maybe they were excited, after all not only had they witnessed Jesus’ rejection, but they also witnessed him leaving Nazareth and continuing on to other villages, teaching them, inviting others to hear the word of God.

Now Jesus is sending them out-- sharing not only his authority but also the risk of rejection.

Jesus even tells them that if they are not received, they should leave that place, knocking the dust off their sandals.

Evangelism is what the disciples were being called to do.

They are being sent out to share the good news of who God is, to share his love, to heal and cast out demons in his name…

 And they are being sent out without Jesus by their side

Jesus who had call these men to be his disciples- students of his teaching, preaching and healing- now giving them authority over unclean spirits-

Sharing not only his mission but his authority expanding the kingdom of God.

And when Jesus sends them out, he does so in an unexpected way:

First Jesus sends them out in pairs. This would provide some safety, it provided relationships, it provided the opportunity to support and lift up one another when the going got rough.

Next Jesus sends them out with only the clothes on their back, the sandals on their feet, and a staff to protect them if they come upon wild animals.

They weren’t allowed to take a bag, or money, food, or a change of clothes…

They were totally dependent on the hospitality of strangers, totally dependent on someone they don’t know offering them a place to stay and food to eat.

They don’t have a set destination.

 there is no GPS,

  they are instructed to go and stay in the first house that offers them hospitality.

Would any of us be willing to go out,

 totally unprepared,

  trusting God to be with us,

   trusting God to protect us and provide for us,

    trusting God to give us the words we need to share his love and plans for the world?

 For me, I often feel vulnerable when asked to preach at a church, especially for the first time.

At first, I’m excited, and then the doubt sets in.

I don’t know these people.

what if I do something they don’t do?

What if they don’t like the way I preach?

What if what I say is not what this congregation needs to hear?

Fear of rejection rears its ugly head in many ways

Before I leave for worship, I am a mass of nerves,

 I always have butterflies in my stomach,

But arriving at church, being greeted and welcomed into the faith community always calms me.

When I am greeted by y’all I picture Jesus welcoming me, showing hospitality to me.

Your greetings and smiles bring me peace.

I forget to be nervous about doing things right and concentrate on sharing Jesus with the community that has gathered,

a community eager to listen- hear -and respond to God’s call.

Do I make mistakes?

Sure, I do, but I have learned a very important lesson…

    following God is not about being perfect,

let me say that again- following God IS NOT about being perfect!

 God is bigger than me and my fears.

following God is trusting and sharing God’s love,

  it’s about sharing my story as part of God’s story,

it’s about listening as others share their story

 it’s about joy and reverence

 and it’s about being vulnerable in order to be faithful.

You are also called to share God with the people you meet. You may not be a preacher, but you are called to witness to the people sharing God’s influence and blessings in your life.

We are all called by God to witness to the good that God has done in our lives, to witness to his presence in our times of need, to witness to a better life as a child of God than what the world offers us.

  Jesus sends his disciples out without any personal belongings emphasizing just how vulnerable they are.

Emphasizing their dependence on others for all their needs-

Jesus gives the disciples a gift,

The awesome gift of community and hospitality

Gifts that we often take for granted and even deny in our attempts to be successful individuals.

Jesus reminds the disciples -and us- that success depends on many people working together,

He reminds us that because we’re created in God’s image,

we need relationships to complete us,

 to strengthen us,

  to fulfill us.

We need to serve one another, just as we need to be served by others.

The disciples go out, they preach, teach and cast out demons, then they come back to Jesus marveling at all they were able to do.

Now it’s our turn, we need to go out, sharing God’s story with the people we met.

and when you are discouraged, rejected by others, we shouldn’t take it personally,

 after all Jesus was rejected by his friends and family, and yet, he continued proclaiming God and his kingdom to all who would listen.

  May God send his Spirit to be with us and guide us, today and always. Amen