SERMON TITLE: Unexpected Responsibility
TEXT: Mark 6:1-13 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
It’s good to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know — even if it’s your first time with us — I want you to know that God loves you and I love you too.
And we’re in week six of our Unexpected series — a series in the gospel of Mark where we’re finding Jesus doing and saying things that are unexpected. And we’ll see that once again today.
ANNOUNCE THE TEXT
So if you have your Bible please turn with me to Mark chapter 6. We’ll be looking at verses 1-13.
And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text it into the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.
RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT
Here are the words found in Mark chapter 6. Beginning in verse 1.
“He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household." 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. 7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in their belts — 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:1-13 ESV)
Something to know about me is that I’m a reader. I love to read and I read a lot — my wife’s a reader too. And this love for reading has been passed down to our kids. Now a fun season of life — and mom and dad — if this is where you are — take advantage of it — but a fun season of life is when your kids start asking you to read some of their books so you can talk about them. When this began with my kids it was pretty cool. My boys were reading all kinds of adventure books. But with Alice — she’s my daughter — and our youngest — well when she saw me reading the boys’ adventure books — she asked me to read some of her books too. So I read a lot of books about Magic Kittens and Magic Puppies.
And I remember — in the midst of reading another book about a magical pet — needing to read something less “magical” and “pet” focused — so I read a book written by a Navy SEAL. ( Thom Shea, Unbreakable) Now what was interesting about the book was the author’s thoughts on the power of what we say to ourselves — the dialogue that goes on in our mind — the internal dialogue about what you believe — what you believe about yourself, your situation — and for him — what he believed about his fellow SEALs. He writes about there being a costliness to what you believe in.
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of what Navy SEALs go through — how they refuse to abandon one another — how many of them have paid the ultimate cost of giving their life for their teammates — all because of something they believe in. And what they believe in comes with great power — they’re the best of the best for a reason — but what they believe in also comes with great cost.
Now all of that — for me — was interesting — but what surprised me is how the author then talks about the opposite of belief — unbelief. And his observation is this: Just like belief — unbelief is powerful and costly.
Having spent time as an instructor for BUD/S — the training program every Navy SEAL must go through — he had witnessed time and time again the dropout rate of men who gave up on believing they could be a Navy SEAL. The power of unbelief took over their mind — affecting their will to continue through the program. And their unbelief cost them — many of them had the physical ability to be a SEAL — but not the mental endurance — the belief — that’s needed to complete the training. He saw the power and costliness of unbelief as well as belief.
And here was the takeaway from the book: Belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly. And this is true — not only for Navy SEALs — but for all of us — both belief and unbelief are powerful and costly. And none more so than our belief or unbelief in Jesus.
And here’s the big idea for us.
Because both belief and unbelief are powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus. All of us must evaluate how we respond to Jesus.
And in our text we find three things we must evaluate in order to know how we’re responding to Jesus. Here’s the first.
RESPONDING TO JESUS’ TEACHING
Because both belief and unbelief are powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ teaching. We must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ teaching.
Look with me in verse 1.
“He (that’s Jesus) went away from there (the town of Capernaum) and came to his hometown (of Nazareth), and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to (do what? Jesus began to...) teach in the synagogue, and (notice that) many who heard him were astonished (they’re surprised — Jesus’ teaching is completely unexpected — and they were), saying, "Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And (look at how they respond to Jesus’ teaching...) they took offense at him. 4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household." 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And (look at Jesus’ response...) he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.” (Mark 6:1-6 ESV)
Because belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ teaching.
Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth and he goes to the synagogue — a Jewish place of worship — and he begins to teach. Now everyone in Nazareth has known Jesus since he was a boy. So they know his education. They know his family. This is the ultimate small-town scenario — everybody knows everything about everyone.
This helps us understand why the crowd’s astonished when Jesus begins to teach. “Where did he learn to teach like this? Where did he get this kind of wisdom? And have you seen the mighty works — the miracles — he’s been doing? What’s up with that? Isn’t this Jesus?” That’s how they respond to Jesus.
So what was Jesus teaching that got this kind of response? Mark doesn’t give us the details, but Luke does. In Luke chapter 4 we read, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."” (Luke 4:16-21 ESV)
Jesus tells them that Old Testament prophecies are being fulfilled because of the work he’s doing — and that — is completely unexpected.
Now you have to understand that the Jewish people have been waiting hundreds of years for God to begin speaking to his people again. Most of the people were unaware of Jesus’ birth and all of the things that happened on that first Christmas day. And for the first thirty years or so of Jesus’ life, he wasn’t healing people or doing miracles — like raising people from the dead — he was a carpenter’s son who was learning the family trade.
So you can imagine why the people in his hometown are astonished. Jesus — the kid who grew up under their watchful eye — is now claiming to be sent by God as the fulfillment of Scripture. It’s crazy sounding isn’t it — it’s unexpected.
“And (at first) all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And (then some started to doubt and) they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" 23 And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, '"Physician, heal yourself." What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.'"” (Luke 4:22-23 ESV)
So they’ve heard about the lady being healed and the little girl being raised from the dead — the stories we looked at two weeks ago. And these people want Jesus to do similar things for them — but not because they believe in him. We know this because Jesus goes on to say…
“And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."” (Luke 4:24-27 ESV)
Jesus basically gives them a history lesson. He reminds them of times in history when God displayed compassion and love — even doing the miraculous among Gentiles — people who were not part of Israel — yet his own people weren’t experiencing those things. “And you all are my people,” Jesus says, “but I’m going to show compassion and love — I’m going to do the miraculous in other towns — not here — why? — because of your unbelief.” And that explains why…
“When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.” (Luke 4:28-30 ESV)
Because his time to be killed had not yet come.
Belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly. And how you respond to Jesus’ teaching — by either believing or rejecting it — will have a powerful impact on your life. And it will cost you.
For instance, the Bible is God’s Word. Jesus tells us that the whole Bible is meant to point people to him. And your belief — or rejection of God’s Word — will have a powerful effect upon you. And it will cost you.
Believing that this book is God’s Word is a powerful experience. And it’s costly because — it being God’s Word — means — you must submit to it.
And that means there will be times when you have to admit you’re wrong because none of us obey God’s Word perfectly.
It’s costly because to believe that this book is God’s Word means you must read it and spend time with it. You study and memorize it. Believing this is the Word of God costs you your time.
I’ve met a lot of people who claim to believe that this book is God’s Word, but they never spend time with it. I think their life motto is something like “a verse a day keeps the devil away” — that’s why they’re content with an email in their inbox with a verse or two and a feel-good devotional that follows.
Well, there’s another motto I’ve heard which is “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And guess what? A verse a day is about the equivalent of an apple a day. But only an apple. Try eating one apple a day — and nothing else — and see how long you last before you physically flame out and have to go to the doctor. You see, an apple a day — and only an apple a day — doesn’t actually keep the doctor away. You need the apple to be supplemented with other nutritious food.
Yet we wonder why we’re spiritually flaming out and malnourished when we’re intaking no more than an apple a day of God’s Word.
Believing in this book is powerful — and it’s costly — because you’ve got to spend time in this book to experience its true life-changing power.
But not believing this is the Word of God is also powerful and costly. And listen — if you’re here and you wouldn’t be quick to call yourself a Christian — I understand why you think your response to Jesus’ teaching and this book isn’t a big deal. And honestly, there’s nothing I can say to change your mind because God’s Spirit is the only One who can change your heart and make it soft towards God’s Word.
But there’s a cost to not believing this book — in not believing in Jesus’ words. And it’s an eternal cost. Because not trusting in God’s Word means you trust in a lesser word — either yours or someone else’s — but it’s a less powerful word you’re believing in.
It’s a word that doesn’t bring healing or hope.
A word that’s powerless against disease and death.
A word that’s useless in bringing restoration to your brokenness and overcoming the evil you see in this world.
That’s the cost for you — for those who don’t believe in God’s Word — you run around in this life without any lasting hope because everything you believe in lacks power to change things.
You see belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly, so we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ teaching as found in God’s Word.
Here’s the next thing we learn.
RESPONDING TO JESUS’ COMMISSION
Because both belief and unbelief are powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ commission. We must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ commission. Here’s where Jesus gives his disciples some unexpected responsibility. Verse 7.
“And he called the twelve and (look at what Jesus did. He...) began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in their belts — 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place (if the people there) will not receive you and they will not listen to you ( — some will not believe the message you have for them — ), when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." 12 So they went out and (look at what they did. They went out and...) proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:7-13 ESV)
Because belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ commission.
So in this second part of our story — Jesus sends out the twelve disciples to do ministry without him by their side to coach them. Most Bible scholars see this as a precursor to the culminating “sending out” story — what’s known as the Great Commission. Where Jesus commands his followers — including us — to take the message about him — and all that he’s done — to the whole world. From our local neighbors to people in the most remote places on earth. Because all people are to hear the Good News of God’s love for them as demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and taking this message to them is our unexpected responsibility.
But notice how similar the disciple’s marching orders are to Jesus’ own ministry. Jesus came proclaiming that people should repent. He’s cast out demons and healed those who were sick. And now the disciples are to go out — doing the work that Jesus has been doing — they’re going to be an extension of his ministry.
And in the Great Commission, we see the same orders. We’re to be an extension of Jesus’ work.
We’re to proclaim to people to repent of their sins and believe in the Good News that God saves sinners.
We’re to be disciples who bring healing to individuals and to the communities we live in.
We’re to shine God’s light in the darkness that surrounds us.
We’re to offer his hope to a hopeless world.
Distribute his joy to joyless people.
All because we’ve responded to his commission.
And when we obey Jesus’ commission, it’s amazing the kind of power we witness. When you proclaim the gospel — when you share it with other people — you’ll see a response. One of my life resolutions is this: Remember — the gospel is the power that changes people. And it still works today. But we only see it working when we share it with others. But the opposite’s also true. When you fail to share the gospel — you won’t witness its power.
There’s a cost of being a proclaimer of God’s Good News.
People may think you’re a freak.
Or that you have your head in the sand.
Or that you’re one of those fanatics who are stuck in the dark ages of religion.
You may be mocked. Or worse.
But there’s also a cost in not proclaiming God’s Good News.
For starters — you may never see people transformed by God’s power working in and through you.
There’s the discipline from the Lord you’ll experience because of your disobedience to his command. God takes our obedience seriously — and so should we.
There’s a restlessness you’ll experience as your faith fails to live up to what you see in other believers.
You’ll wonder why your life looks nothing like the people on the pages of the Bible.
You see, both belief and unbelief are powerful and costly, and anyone who claims to be a Christian must evaluate how they’re responding to Jesus’ commission.
How are you actively, presently, and passionately proclaiming the gospel to people in your life?
How are you a bringer of healing to the brokenness in the world around you?
How are you being a witness for Christ in both your words and your actions?
One final thing we learn from this story.
RESPONDING TO JESUS’ PROVISION
Because both belief and unbelief are powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ provision. We must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ provision. Now we just read these verses, but let’s look at them again. Beginning in verse 7.
“And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take (what for their journey? Jesus told them to take...) nothing for their journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in their belts — 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.” (Mark 6:7-13 ESV)
Because belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly, we must evaluate how we respond to Jesus’ provision.
In sending out the disciples, Jesus didn’t want them to become independent of God’s provision — of his ability to provide for all of their needs — so he gives them this laundry list of stuff to not take on their journey. They’re down to the barest of bare essentials. A cloak, a belt, one pair shoes, and a staff. So there’s no way they’ll be able to trust in their supplies — because they don’t have any!
This is the equivalent of signing up for a missions trip to a remote place in the Middle East and — as one commentator said, “laying out on your bed everything you planned to take on the trip and then leaving everything but your coat and toothbrush behind.”
Who wants to sign up for that trip? Yet that’s what Jesus tells his disciples to do.
“Depend on me,” Jesus tells them. “Go out, spread the news about me, expand my ministry, but do so all while being completely dependent upon me for your provision.”
And most of us have no idea how to relate to this because we’re so used to providing for ourselves. Sure we may pray before we eat — or thank God for the roof over our head — but honestly — most of us had no doubt that we were going to eat. Most of us know when we’re getting our next paycheck and — even if you’re unemployed — our nation has a remarkable system in place to help meet our needs while unemployed.
Now I know it’s not a perfect system — sometimes people fall through the cracks. And every now and then we have a situation in life where we’re living on the edge financially, but that’s nothing compared to purchasing a one way ticket to Pakistan with only the clothes on your back and a toothbrush in your pocket.
But there’s power in being that dependent upon Jesus’ provision. And it’s a power that most of us will never experience because we’re to self-sufficient — we’re to independent.
George Mueller was a Christian who lived in England in the eighteen hundreds. And he did amazing things. For instance, he started an orphanage in Bristol, England that — during his life — cared for over ten thousand children. He also helped to start over one hundred schools, which offered a Christian education to over one hundred and twenty thousand children. Amazing stuff, right? But get this. He did all of it without soliciting people for money.
Instead, Mueller would pray asking God to provide for the needs of the children and his ministry. He didn’t do any fundraising — instead — he got on his knees and prayed. And he saw God provide for all that he and the children needed.
He spent hours each day in prayer and reading the Bible. And this stirred in him great confidence in God’s power to provide for their every need.
Now did this dependence on God cost Mueller — was this a costly way to live? Absolutely. When others were out raising funds for their work — so they’d be able to calculate exactly what their income would be for the next few months or years — Mueller was doing the work he was called to do and would spend enormous amounts of time in prayer — pleading with God to supply him with everything needed.
Were there times when it seemed as if a need would not be met? You bet there were! Did this create stress and anxiety in his life? Of course, he was human. But God always came through.
Now what about his peers? Was there a cost for doing ministry the way they chose to do so — going out and fundraising and soliciting for support? Sure. They didn’t experience God’s provision in the way that Mueller experienced it.
And the same is true for all of us.
There’s a costliness — either way you go about it — when it comes to trusting in Jesus to provide for your every need.
And this is seen most clearly in how a person responds to Jesus’ provision for their salvation.
When Jesus taught the crowd in his hometown, something astonished him — often Jesus astonishes others — but did you see here — that he’s astonished? He marveled at their unbelief.
Jesus was teaching them that he was the fulfillment of Scripture.
That he was the hope they were longing for.
That he was the Messiah — the Savior — promised to come.
And they didn’t believe him. And Jesus marveled at their unbelief.
There’s only one other time in Scripture where Jesus marvels at something. Do you know when? It’s when he observes the faith of a Roman soldier who believes in him.
Only two things amaze Jesus in all of Scripture. The unbelief of people in his hometown and the belief of a Roman soldier.
And the power of their unbelief was very costly — Jesus couldn’t do many miracles in Nazareth. As we’ve been learning — unbelief is both powerful and costly — and throughout the Bible we find this to be true.
Adam and Eve did not believe God — they didn’t trust what he had taught them — or that he would provide for them — instead they believed the Serpent and brought a curse on all of us.
The unbelief of mankind brought a flood on the whole earth.
Unbelief brought the ten plagues on Egypt.
Unbelief sends a person to an eternal hell.
Unbelief is powerful and costly.But so is belief.
Belief in Jesus reverses the curse brought on by Adam and Eve’s unbelief.
Noah believed God — what he taught and commissioned him to do — he believed in God’s provision — and his belief compelled his family to get in the Ark — Noah believed that God would save them.
Belief in God is why the Israelites put the blood of a spotless lamb on their doorposts so the plague of judgment would pass over them.
And belief in Jesus changes a person’s eternal destiny from hell to heaven.
But our belief in Jesus is not only powerful — it’s very costly. These good things that are ours — because of our belief in Jesus — are only possible because it cost Jesus his life.
What his Father taught him — Jesus believed.
What his Father commissioned him to do — Jesus did.
And Jesus trusted in his Father’s provision even as he hung on a cross to die.
And all of us must evaluate how we respond to Jesus. It’s in your eternal interest to evaluate if you’re responding to Jesus in belief or unbelief — for both are costly. The cost of believing in Jesus has been paid for you — Jesus paid it on the cross on your behalf — that’s unexpectedly Great News! But please know that the cost of rejecting Jesus is a price you will pay for all eternity — and that’s the worst news you’ll ever hear.
How you are responding to Jesus? Is he marveling at you because of your unbelief? Or is he marveling at you because you believe? Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, remind us this week that belief and unbelief are both powerful and costly. And help us to evaluate how we’re responding to Jesus. To his teaching. To his commission. And to his provision.
Jesus, in a world full of illusions and distractions, it’s easy to fool even ourselves about our relationship with You. But our eternity is nothing to fool around with. So I ask that You would help each of us to know with certainty whether or not we’ve responded to You in a way that secures the eternal hope we all long for. Give us assurance in knowing that we believe and help us to repent if we do not. It’s in Your name that we pray. Amen.
BENEDICTION (PRAY FOR: Want to respond to Jesus today — his teaching, commission, or provision.)
May you go having responded to Jesus by believing in him.
God loves you. And I love you too. You are sent.