There is so much packed into these 2 short chapters, I am not quite sure where to begin! I guess I will follow Mark’s outline and take it from the order he has laid these tidbits out. I sometimes wish there were full novels of these abridged versions of Jesus’ stories! Wouldn’t you love to read an entire book on Jesus returning to Nazareth, not just 1 chapter? It would keep me on the edge of my seat to hear the dialogue that took place between Jesus and his childhood friends and family.
Jesus says in Mark 6:4, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.”
I think we have probably all experienced some of these feelings at one point or another in our life. Have you ever though that your family doesn’t quite know who you are anymore? They still see you as the awkward preteen who couldn’t put the basketball into the net. Or maybe they see you as the reckless teenage/young adult who preferred parties over anything else. Perhaps they see you as the frightened child who couldn’t sleep without a night light or who wet the bed until age 8.
Your family isn’t trying to be mean, they just remember you differently and they have not had the new experiences you have had. When Jesus returned home, did he become angry that his family and friends didn’t get him? No, he understood. He did the little ministry work he could do and he moved on to the next town. Many in his home town wouldn’t listen to him, the carpenter’s son. They didn’t think someone from their home town could amount to much and they probably thought he was full of hot air. Even his own family took him for granted. They know him as Jesus, the brother, or Jesus the son. They grew up with him, cleaned his skinned knees, wiped his nose and washed his clothes. They weren’t used to looking at him as Jesus, the Savior! I suppose it would take some adjustments if my adult child returned and expected me to treat her differently because she was ready to proclaim something as big as being the Savior of all people!
Although it doesn’t describe in the text if these close people to Jesus ever did come around and begin to follow and believe in him, I do hope that they did come to realize what a special person they had growing up with them.
Mark’s next account in chapter 6 describes the beheading of John the Baptist. I have known this story for my entire life, yet, when I read it today, something new jumped off the page at me. In verse 26 it states, “The king was very sorry, but he was embarrassed to break his oath in front of his guests.” Ummmm….. so the king would rather behead a good man, whom he admired, then look like a fool for a day in front of guests? WOW! He must have had some self-confidence issues for sure! What I can’t help but wonder is how did his guests feel? I would be disgusted if I were attending a party and someone suggested a beheading and the host obliged as to not look foolish. I would never associate with that person again! I know we live in a different time, but there had to be some people there who were aghast at his behavior and choice, no? What do you think of this situation? I am curious!
Chapter 7 describes a definite line being drawn between Jews and new followers of Jesus, soon to be Christians. Jews were accustomed to many rules, laws and practices. Many still are today. One of these practices was the hand washing ceremony to take place before purchasing or eating food, with the belief that once you performed the hand washing ceremony, the food entering your body would keep you pure at heart. Jesus and his disciples did not follow this ritual. When he was questioned about it, he explained that food going into your body does defile your heart. What defiles a person comes from within, out of a person’s heart.
In verse 18, he says, “Can’t you see that what you eat won’t defile you? Food doesn’t come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then comes out again.” By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.”
He adds that your own thoughts are what defile you. Thoughts of sexual immorality, theft, murder, evil, adultery, greed, deceit, envy, pride and foolishness. These thoughts from your mind and your heart are what is unacceptable to God, not the food we eat.
I’m going to back up just a few verses to where Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. Here we have men who have studied the law and are calling out Jesus on his practices. Jesus returns the accusation and calls them out by saying that they have forgotten all about what God really wants from us. He tells them that they have created their own laws and rules taking the place of God’s commands and are teaching these man-made rules to the the people. Boy, would I have liked to witness that conversation!
So, what is the big picture here in chapter 7? What is Jesus trying to tell us here in this text? I’d love to hear your views of this!
Until next time, thank you for reading along with me!