Scripture for the week: 2 Samuel 5.1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12.2-10; Mark 6.1-13
Does familiarity breed contempt? It certainly doesn’t necessarily breed respect. When we say of someone, “I knew them when …,” it is all too easy for that to become the definition of them now. It is all very well to say that we are formed in childhood, and our cores are certainly established early (“Give me the child at seven, and I will give you the man.”), but we are moulded and shaped by life.
Jesus encountered the rejection of over-familiarity in his home town. Sadly, those closest to him could not see beyond their narrow experience of him, to see the fruition of God’s Spirit and its power within him. This is actually a focus of rejection experienced throughout Jesus’ life and ministry by his own people.
And, in turn, it reflects the rejection of their God by the people of Israel throughout the ages. Yet imbedded in the Pandora’s box of the home town incident is the tiny bird of hope, in the words, “except that …” Except that he laid hands on a few people and cured them. Everything is relative, so it says a lot about Jesus’ ministry that this sounds almost dismissive – yet it is remarkable.
In fact, this is also a reflection of the history of the relationship between God and Israel. Time and again a majority turn their backs on God; yet time and again, God finds a small remnant to benefit from God’s healing touch.
Meanwhile, Mark introduces us to the despatch of disciples and the success of their ministry. This is about Jesus’ ministry of magnification, and God’s magnification of ministry, something brought into sharp focus in the Spirit-fuelled Church arising from those disciples.
This is who we are: ordinary people, called to be agents of an extraordinary God and a challenging Messiah, quite likely to face difficulty and rejection, but reminded that God’s purpose is very often fulfilled by unlikely underdogs in vulnerability. And Jesus is foremost amongst the vulnerable underdogs.
We should be inspired by words given by God to the Apostle Paul when he was dismayed by his own weakness: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
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