by Daniel McCabe
Rejection of Jesus
Mark 6:6, “And He marveled because of their unbelief.”
Looking down upon the ancient battlegrounds of the Plain of Esdraelon directly to its south, the small village of Nazareth has witnessed in its history the clash of countless dueling armies, including those of Sisera, Gideon, Saul, Solomon, Jehu, Jezebel and Josiah. From its perch in the fading foothills of Lower Galilee, located halfway between the Sea of Galilee to its east and the Great Sea to its west, Nazareth will also come to witness the modern armies of a desperate monarch in a future battle known familiarly as Armageddon.
But sandwiched between its ancient past and its prophetic future, Nazareth faces another battle. Wading through the yellow-petaled wildflowers that wave in a steady western wind and passing one familiar sight after another, Jesus returned to his boyhood home after a short time away to do battle for the hearts of his family, friends and neighbors. The small-town son of promise arrived with a following of disciples, entered the synagogue to read and teach the Bible and then declared himself to be the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. As he spoke a buzz in the synagogue grew quickly to a panicked pitch. “‘Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ And they were offended at Him” (Mark 6:3).
According to Luke 4:24-27, Jesus continued his teaching with a personal comparison to the revered prophets of Elijah and Elisha who like him were also rejected by their fellow Jews, but accepted by Gentiles—specifically, the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian. At this obvious affront to their religious sincerity in being compared to “lowly” Gentiles, the worshippers could stand it no longer. Enraged, they thrust Jesus out of their synagogue, out of their town and out of their hearts forever. They led him to the brow of a hill, but failed in their attempt at vigilante justice, for in much the same way that God held back the rage of caged lions from hurting the prophet Daniel five hundred years earlier (Daniel 6:22), Jesus simply stepped through their midst and went his way (Luke 4:28-30).
Mark 6:5-6 records these telling words, “Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.” Even Jesus marveled at their lack of faith! His teaching among them and his display of divine power could not sway them, and as far as we know, Jesus never returned to Nazareth.
Just to the south and west of the city today, one can stand atop the Hill of Precipitation, the traditional location where the residents of Nazareth intended to push Jesus over the side to end his life. Looking to the south you will see the ancient and future battlegrounds of Esdraelon, but looking back over your shoulder toward the city you will be reminded of the historic battleground of faith between Jesus and the residents of Nazareth.
These battles serve to remind us of a present ongoing battle between self and the Savior. Is it our daily desire to live for our heavenly Father? Or will our lives be captioned in the end with these sad words, “And He marveled because of their unbelief”?
Further Reading: Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6; Luke 4:16-30
Dr. Daniel McCabe is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Spring, Texas. He is a contributing editor for The Jerusalem Connection Report. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.