Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
- Are you overwhelmed by who Jesus is? His wisdom, character, and authority should floor us, yank the carpet right out from under us. Those in Nazareth were astounded by Jesus, a man they thought they knew. The NIV translates this verb “amazed,” but the stronger word choice (used in other translations) is “astounded.” The Louw-Nida Greek Lexicon defines this verb as “to be so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed.” Seventeen times in Mark we read of people being astonished or amazed (he uses five different Greek verbs). The take away is this: Jesus stood out radically among the teachers and leaders of that day. He rendered his followers speechless, even his closest friends. We cannot consider ourselves people who know him if we are not likewise dumbstruck by his greatness.
- How do you identify Jesus? This is a huge question in Mark, a question that structures his entire Gospel. “Isn’t this the carpenter?” “Isn’t this Mary’s son?” (In other words, a jab at the unknown nature of Jesus’ father.) Mark is building his Gospel to its first climax in chapter eight where we read Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ. Identifying Jesus as the Christ today immediately places you under the microscope for uncomfortable observation and labeling. Claiming Jesus as Lord and Savior comes with a cost, part of which is the astonishment of others.
- Do you find Jesus offensive? And if so, what road is that offense leading you down? “They took offense.” That Greek verb occurs twenty-five times in the Gospels, meaning literally to cause someone to give up belief, stumble, fall away. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon suggests several meanings, “to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away,” and “to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority.” Don’t be one who lets offense take you away from Jesus.
- Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. The Greek verb here is different than previously when Mark states that the people were amazed. The verb here implies wonder, marvel. Rather than being overwhelmed or astonished, Jesus ponders their lack of faith. It doesn’t shock him. It wounds him.