Pentecost 7 + July 5 & 8, 2018 + Pr. Dale Reckzin Download PDF
Text: Mark 6:1-6
St. John’s Lutheran church does not pay property taxes or business taxes. That’s because we are a non-profit organization. Even though we collect money, spend money, and have money in the bank, we do not exist for the purpose of making money. We do not exist for the sake of profit.
But—please pardon the obvious play on words—we do exist for the sake of Prophet. That is, we exist for the sake of the Prophet, Jesus Christ. Just like a business wants to receive as much money as possible, we want to receive as much of Jesus as possible through his Word and Sacrament. Just as a business wants to increase its profits by selling its product to as many people as possible, we want to give Jesus away to as many of our friends, relatives, and neighbors as possible. Just as a healthy business has money in the bank, we want to keep the bank of our hearts filled to the brim with Jesus and his grace, and his forgiveness, and his power. So, although we are a non-profit, P-R-O-F-I-T, organization, yet, at the same time, WE ARE A FOR PROPHET ORGANIZATION. We are for Jesus Christ, God’s greatest prophet, our Savior, and God’s one and only Son.
But not everyone saw Jesus this way. Our text shows how the people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth gave Jesus mixed reviews. Our text says, "Jesus…went to his hometown... 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." (v. 1-3)
On the one hand, the people of Nazareth gave Jesus a “thumbs up.” They were impressed with his sermon. They recognized that he possessed uncommon wisdom. They marveled at his miracles.
But on the other hand, as Mark tells us, they took offense at him. They rejected Jesus because he was just a local boy. Perhaps they were thinking, Jesus isn’t so special. We knew him when he was in diapers. Yeah, he was a good kid, but he wasn’t anything special. And we know his family, too. They are nice. But they are nothing special, either. So, where does Jesus get this idea that he is so great? Why does he think he’s so wonderful? He’s no better than we are. So, Jesus can find another place to do his work. We don’t want him.
The people in Nazareth rejected Jesus because of the old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” They were so familiar with Jesus they could not recognize Christ’s true nature as their Lord and Savior. They only saw him as an arrogant hometown kid who thought too much of himself.
Unfortunately, a version of this contempt can easily infect you and me. That’s because most of us are very familiar with Jesus. Many of us have heard about Jesus ever since we were little kids in Sunday school. We heard about Jesus in Lutheran Elementary School and catechism class. We hear about Jesus every time we come to church. Sad to say, our familiarity with Jesus can lead us to say, I’m kind of sick of hearing about Jesus this and Jesus that. Yes, yes, I know Jesus died to pay for all my sins. He’s my only Savior. But I hear that all the time. Can’t we get a little variety? Can’t I come to church and learn how to use God’s Word to manage my business, improve my self-discipline, win friends, and influence people?
Like the people of Nazareth, we can know Jesus so well, we can grow tired of hearing about his love, his forgiveness, and how he rescues us from sin, death, and the devil. But this contempt for receiving the abundant blessings of Jesus just doesn’t make sense.
Let’s use the world of business as an illustration. Let’s say a business is doing really well. For the last few years, its sales and profits have been increasing dramatically. Now, do you think the business owners would say, Gee, I think we are making too much money. I wish our business would start losing money. It’s really getting boring to hear about how our business is so successful.
Of course, that’s ridiculous. No business owner would ever say that. Sure, a business owner might complain about long hours, unreliable employees, and unfair taxation. But a business owner would never complain about earning a profit. That’s why businesses exist - to make money.
Well, like a business exists for profit - the money kind - so also, we exist for Prophet - the Jesus kind. Now, like a business owner might complain about hours, employees, and taxes, we sometimes complain about things that go along with being members of the Holy Christian Church. We can say, I don’t like that particular hymn or liturgy. Sometimes the preacher gets a little long winded. I don’t like kids fussing in church and I don’t like how people talk too much before church. Sure, there are things about coming to church that you might not like. But just like a business owner deals with the unpleasant parts of a business in order to make a profit, we use our Christian faith and our Christian maturity to keep the focus on what we are really all about. We keep our focus on Jesus Christ, our only Savior from sin.
So, in faith and in Christian maturity we say, I know my church is not perfect. And I know it’s not always easy being a Christian. But I can deal with the imperfections of church life. I can put up with the things I don’t like because I need Jesus. I need to hear his Word that builds my faith. I need to confess my sins that burden my conscience. I need to receive Christ’s forgiveness through his called and ordained minister of the Gospel. I need the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. I need God’s peace to fill my heart, and soul, and my everyday life. I need to pour out all my cares, all my fears, all my sorrows, and all my delights—I need to pour out my heart to my heavenly Father in prayer, through his Son, Jesus Christ. And I need to have that mysterious but very real union with Jesus when I receive his sacrament of Holy Communion. I need the fellowship of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I need to express my faith in hymns of praise. And I need hear that final blessing to get me through another weak of fighting my own sinful nature and doing battle against this sin-filled world.
Yes, you and I need Jesus. We are a for prophet organization. And the last part of our text shows us why Jesus is, indeed, so special and so necessary, even though we do sometimes take him for granted. Our text reads, "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." (v. 4-6)
After his hometown rejected him, Jesus was hurt. But he felt hurt for them. Jesus continued to care about his hometown. He still performed a few miracles there. And he did not let their rejection stop him from his ministry. He kept on "[going] around teaching from village to village." (v. 6)
That’s what Jesus still does with you and me. Even when we do not appreciate Jesus as much as we should, he still cares for us. Even when we do not hunger and thirst for his grace and forgiveness, he still offers us the full measure of his love in Word and sacrament. Even though we are not always so eager to hear his Word, or eager to come to church, Jesus is still here inviting us into his house for his blessings. Jesus still washes us clean in his holy precious blood. Jesus still calls us to find rest and peace in his presence. Jesus still promises that he will be with us always and bring us safely to our heavenly home. That’s why we are a "For-Prophet Organization." We are for Jesus because Jesus is always for us.