In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. When I am alone, give me Jesus. When I come to die, give me Jesus.
We’ll continue to slowly move through Mark, digesting bites of scripture as we go. Today, read Mark 6:1-6. Yes, just six verses. But read them several times, and take your time. When you “see” something in one reading, try “seeing” something else in the next pass. The scripture is alive—let it teach you something new as you read and re-read.
You know what really blows my mind about this passage? People in Jesus’ hometown, who thought they knew him, saw him in action and got offended. They acknowledged his superior wisdom and the “mighty works” he performed (verse 2). And rather than celebrating what he was doing, they “took offense at him.”
It’s true, I think, that our default posture when someone we “thought” we knew surprises us is to get offended. I’ve seen it in myself. You think you know someone, and they you discover that they’re smarter, more clever, more talented than you knew. And I can’t explain why it is, but instead of being delighted by the surprise, we’re offended.
Because we were wrong. And no one likes to be wrong.
I think that’s what was going on here. Jesus is back in his hometown, doing the thing he was created to do. He had grown up, he was a carpenter, he was a son, and then he left. He was ordained. He began his ministry, and then he returned. People thought he was still the same, but he wasn’t. He was no longer “just” Jesus, son of Mary, brother of James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and at least two sisters. He was no longer a carpenter. He was no longer predictable.
It’s hard to let people change. Growing up, people are often labeled: he’s the artist, the creative one. She’s the scientist, the math whiz, the “gifted” child. When the artist decides to go into finance, we’re shocked—and sometimes offended. When the intellectually gifted child decides not to pursue college, but rather to pursue a trade that she loves, we are offended.
When the carpenter down the street, who has been living with his mother and supporting her for thirty years suddenly goes away and comes home acting like a prophet, performing miracles, it freaked them out, and they couldn’t take it. They get offended, and their offense causes spiritual blindness.
Jesus’s ministry was hindered. “He could do no mighty work there…”
I wonder how often our offense at God’s unpredictable ways causes us to have spiritual blindness? Can we accept God’s ministry through people who don’t fit our ideas of ministry? Can the uneducated working class church member preach more effectively than a trained minister? Sometimes. But will we let him?
This is the message for me today: watch the offenses. Don’t let offense cause spiritual blindness. Don’t miss what God is doing because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would—because it’s unpredictable. I am praying that God will let my vision be ever-renewing, that I will always be able to see when God is at work, and never be offended by his surprising wisdom and unpredictable ways.
What are some ideas you have about Jesus or about God’s ways that might cause you to grow offended if/when he operates outside of your mold? I’ve often heard people refer to the fact that God created us in his image, but we not try to create God in our image. Ask God to show you how you might be offended by his ways and to help you have a humble heart, eager to accept Christ for who he really is, not who you think he is.