Archive for the ‘Mark 6:1–13’ Category

Travel Light

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Pentecost 7B
July 8, 2018
Mr. Rick Stark, Vicar of
Trinity Lutheran Church,
7210 Lisbon Street
San Diego, CA 92114

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In my previous vocation I had to travel every so often for various reasons. Those trips could last a couple days or a couple weeks. The amount of luggage I would take usually depended on the type of trip and the length of the trip.   

If I were going just overnight, to pick something up and return with it, I would probably throw a change of underwear, socks, and my toothbrush in my backpack and go.  I would take only what I needed, the bear minimum, and that’s it.

But, then again, there have been times where I’ve gone on vacation and way over-packed. I mean, when you’re on vacation you‘ve got to have comfortable walking shoes. And you need to have clothes in case it’s hot, and in case it cold, or raining.  If you want to go out somewhere nice, you got to something more than shorts or jeans, and shoes other than flip-flops or tennis shoes; Am I right?  You really know that you’ve over-packed when you get home and the entire bottom half of your suitcase is filled with clothes that you didn’t wear.

We are half way through the Book of Mark and the main topic most of the time over the past several weeks has been FAITH:  

  • Faith like a mustard seed,
  • Faith during the storm,
  • Faith that God keeps His promises as in Zechariah and Elizabeth,
  • And last week, we heard of a woman who believed if she could just sneak in and touch Jesus’ cloak, that she would be healed, healed after trying everything else over 12 years.
  • And Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, risked everything he had to come to Jesus that his sick daughter might be saved and live.

Today, we see the importance of faith in the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth and in the sending of the 12 on their first missionary trip. 

In the beginning of our Gospel lesson today, Jesus was in his hometown of Nazareth.  And, on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue. And it says that, “…many who heard him were astonished, [Initially, they were amazed, making comments like]: 

  • “We had no idea he was this good!” 
  • “How did he get so wise all of a sudden?” 
  • And they said, “Where did he get such ability? What are these remarkable things he is doing?”

Then the crowd began to turn and in the very next breath they were cutting him down:

  • “Isn’t this the carpenter…”
  • “That’s Mary’s boy, isn’t it?…” 
  • [Yeah, he’s the] brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?

 And it says.  “they took offense at him.”

Richard Lenski, who’s Bible commentary is still used by the Lutheran seminaries, translated the phrase “they took offense at him.” as, “They became entrapped in connection with Jesus.”  Lenski explains that the Greek translation implies that the people of Nazareth were trapped, or caught and killed, as in the springing of a trap. He says, “to come into contact with Jesus… to see and recognize his Word and his power; [that it would be] fatal for all who to react with unbelief to this nature of contact with God.” 

You see, once you’ve heard the Gospel of Jesus, you have a decision to make… you either believe it or you don’t. That decision has eternal consequences; it is an eternal matter of life or death.

And, the people of Nazareth, because of their preconceived beliefs of who Jesus was, couldn’t believe that He was the Messiah.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Familiarity breed contempt”?

Jesus makes the comment, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own home.”

“A prophet has little to no honor where he grew up, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.”  It’s hard to believe that someone could be the Messiah when all along, up to this point he was simply one of us.

The Gospel goes on to say that Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s it, that’s all. And it says,  [Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith.

This story is also told in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.  Both relate that it wasn’t that Jesus was unable to perform more miracles, Jesus chose not to do more in his hometown BECAUSE of their unbelief.  

As a result of the people’s lack of faith, the Nazarene’s failed to see Jesus as He truly is , the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Their familiarity with Jesus blinded them to HHIs true identity. Because they thought they knew Him, they failed to ever really get to know Him.

The people of Nazareth didn’t see their need for Jesus. As far as they were concerned they didn’t need his help and they didn’t want his help.  Faith is demonstrated when we confess our need and ask for Jesus to move in our lives.

The people of Nazareth didn’t think Jesus could help them. They only saw him as a carpenter and the son of Mary. They questioned the stories of Jesus’ miracles.  When we approach Jesus we are acting on our belief that Jesus can intervene and will help us.

Are we sometimes so familiar with Jesus that we fail to see who Jesus really is?  Is it enough to know that Jesus died for our sin, or do you want that personal relationship with your Lord and Savior that only comes from time spent in prayer and studying and meditating on the Word of God, waiting and expecting His response.  Sometimes we get so familiar with Jesus we don’t see Him moving in our lives and we don’t see the things He does for us in the everyday relationship.

We as Lutherans have always placed a premium on God’s grace. God does the work. He blesses us with His gifts.  St Paul tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — And this is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God and not a result of your works.” (Eph. 2:8)

This salvation we have, it’s all His idea, and it’s all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. Everything we have is a gift from Him from start to finish!

After Jesus’ encounter in Nazareth, He continues His ministry among the surrounding villages by healing the sick, casting out demons, and teaching them how to live in God’s Kingdom.  These are people that did not have a problem with who He is and people who believed that He could change their lives.  The same way He continues to changes our lives and the lives of every Christian even today.

It’s at this point Jesus called the 12 disciples to Himself and he begins to send them out in pairs of two.  This was the first time he sent them out by themselves to spread the Good News, but it wouldn’t be the last time.  Now was the time for these disciples to take what they had been taught about faith and put it into practice. This was going to be their exercise in faith.

The first thing Jesus did was to give His disciples authority over the unclean spirits and to heal the sick. They did not have this ability in and of themselves; it was only through Jesus and their faith in Him that they were able to accomplish these things.

Jesus’ instructions were there for more than just this trip; Jesus’ instructions stand to equip them for all their missionary trips.   And these instructions stand today for our missionary trips, trips that can be as small as taking the opportunity to share the Good News with our family, friends, and neighbors.

The disciples were instructed to “travel light.” They weren’t allowed to take any food, any money, a bag, or extra clothes— but to wear sandals and carry a walking stick. This in itself was an action of faith.  They were to trust that God would provide for the necessities and not to worry about what they have on their possession.

Jesus told them, “When you enter a town, find a household that welcomes you, that wants to hear the Good News. Don’t move around; stay there until you leave that town. And if any town will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place quietly and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”

You know growing up I played sports, little league, water polo, and I ‘ve coached hockey and high school baseball.  There’s a common saying when something goes wrong in a game, “Shake it off.”  It means, “forget about it and move on.” Too often in sports, if you dwell on mistakes during a game you lose focus the overall performance suffers.  Now I know where this phrase comes from.  Jesus was telling the disciples (and us) when we witness and it doesn’t seem to be working, people don’t want to hear it, “shake it off, forget and about it and move on.” Let God worry about it.

In St Matthew’s account, Jesus not only tells the to travel light but He tells them, “Don’t worry about what you’re going to say or how you’ll say it. The right words will come to you, because it be you speaking, but the Holy Spirit speaking through you.”

It was a matter of faith, an absolute dependency on their Lord, who was sending them. It was an exercise in faith.

With such commands, we must take this time to consider how our own “BAGGAGE” gets in the way of our witness to others. Maybe when that time comes you get quiet and you’re afraid of what others might think, “Who is this person that keep his own life straight. Remember, I know you when… (You can fill in the blank; gossip, unfaithfulness, alcohol, drugs, whatever…)”    

Maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re the one thinking, “What am I doing here?” or “Who am I with all my past deeds to tell others about Jesus?”  

You know what, my brothers and sisters, I’ve gone through those same thoughts when I was faced with a chance to share my faith.  Our faith reminds us that it’s not about us. And, that we’re not going out in the world alone. But it’s about Jesus, and it’s Jesus who is sending us, and it’s Jesus who is reaching others through us.  

It’s not about you; it’s not about who you are or what you’ve done.  No, it’s all about Jesus and WHO He is and WHAT He has done. It’s about that day on Calvary and it’s about what Jesus did on the cross for you.  

The day Jesus called you to faith, He took every sin you’ve ever committed and He laid it at the foot of the cross. He took our sin and He laid it at the foot of His cross.  

It’s about that day on Calvary and it’s about what Jesus did on the cross for you.  

And, it’s about what He did on the cross for me. And, it’s about what did on the cross for every single person that needs to hear the Good News of Jesus’ Salvation. 

Jesus said then and He reminds you today, “My grace is sufficient for you.”  When He gives us a missionary trip, when He calls us to witness to others, He sends with His Good News of salvation, that His grace is sufficient for all sin.

On the day you were baptized, and at the very time you were called to faith, the Holy Spirit planted a seed of faith inside you. And that faith grows every time you read or hear the Word of God; every time you hear the Good News of Salvation.  That faith grows every time you come to the altar for communion with Jesus and His followers. That faith grows every time you come together with your brothers and sisters in fellowship.

When you believe you become a Christian. When your faith grows, you become a disciple.  Do you know what the difference between a Christian and a disciple?  First of, ALL Christians will go to heaven.  But a disciple of Christ will take the Good News of Jesus’ Salvation to the world before he/she goes to heaven.

When Jesus gives us a missionary trip, when He sends us out into the world as His disciples, He will give us everything we need to reach others.  He will provide a place and a time. He will give us the words to speak. And, if we feel we’re not being effective, He tells us, “Shake it off” let God and the Holy Spirit worry about it, move on. 

It’s an exercise in faith. Faith is a vital part of living in God’s Kingdom.  Faith allows God to move in our lives.  Faith is also needed when we are sent out into the world to share His love, His grace, and His Good News of salvation.