Gospel: Mark 6:1-6

Going Home

Popular Translation

1 Jesus left the Sea of Galilee and went home to Nazareth with his followers. 2 On the Sabbath, Jesus began to teach in the synagogue there. The people who heard him teach were overwhelmed. "Where did this man get these teachings? What kind of wisdom has been given to him? Others have talked about such amazing things he has done! 3 But, isn't this the wood worker, the son of Mary? Aren't James, Joses, Judas, and Simon his brothers? Don't his sisters live with us?" Clearly, they did not like what Jesus had become.

4 "God's spokesperson has honor, except at home with his own family and relatives!" Jesus shot back.

5 Jesus was not able to do anything powerful except to heal a few of the sick when he put his hands on them. 6 He was surprised they didn't trust him. So, he went to the nearby village and taught.

Familiarity breeds contempt. This is especially true in families. How many of us do not get respect from brothers or sisters simply because of our family "pecking order?" Certainly, Jesus got this abuse when he went home and preached in Nazareth.

Literal Translation

1 HE departed from there and went to his hometown. His disciples accompanied him. 2 When it was the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many hearing (his teaching) were astonished, saying, "From where to this (MAN) did these (teachings come)? What (is) the wisdom that has been given to this (MAN)? And (there are) such great works having occurred through HIS hands! 3 Is this (MAN) not the craftsman, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon; are not his sisters here with us?" They took offense in HIM. 4 JESUS said to them, "A prophet has honor except in his hometown, with his relatives, and with his family." 5 HE was not able to do anything powerful there except a few feeble (that), having laid (HIS) hands on, HE healed. 6 HE was surprised at their mistrust. HE toured the surrounding villages teaching.

6:1 "home town" (Nazareth) is literally "fatherland" (Galilee). The context suggests a specific point rather than a general area.

6:3 "craftsman" is literally "carpenter." Carpenters actually worked with wood and stone. They were traveling laborers for hire who built walls, fences, and buildings. They worked as day laborers in a specific trade.

"brothers...sisters" The question of Jesus' immediate and extended relations have divided Catholics and Orthodox from Protestants for centuries. We do know Nazareth was a small hamlet in the time of Jesus, most likely populated by extended family and those families related to Jesus by marriage. But, we may never know how they used the titles of "brother" and "sister" in Nazareth. Literary and anthropological studies based upon this text (and ones like it) have proven inconclusive.

6:4 "prophet" is not a seer of future events, but one who proclaims God's message. It is the equivalent to a preacher or missionary.

"A prophet has honor except..." Actually this sentence has a double negative that makes a literal translation difficult ("A prophet is not dishonored except...")

"family" is literally "house." "relatives" would be those from other extended families related to Jesus by marriage.

Jesus went home. But, he wasn't at home. In spite of his powerful teaching, his family and old friends met him with skepticism. In a static culture that measured a person's worth on their place in society, Jesus had clearly overstepped his bounds. Carpenters had the lowly reputation of traveling salesmen. Men who left their wives and mothers without physical and economic security to seek work did not even have the respect of their own families. People gossiped and speculated about carpenters' activities away from their families. Jesus came from such a profession.

The static culture also cast a critical eye toward those who stepped above their station in life. Such people did not fit into the world of family and old friends, no matter what these people did, no matter what kind of reputation they built up.

Jesus exercised a ministry different from his previous profession. He went from the marginally honorable to the highly respected (notice Jesus referred to himself in the third person as a "prophet," while those in Nazareth insisted on calling him a "carpenter"). But, he was no longer what people of Nazareth expected him to be. So, he could not lead family and old friends to faith in God through his miracles, simply because they did not trust him. Any acts of "power" would be futile. So, he went back out on the road to serve the surrounding villages.

Jesus came home, but he wasn't at home.

How have you been disrespected by those close to you? How does their opinion affect you? Have you ever treated old friends or family in the same way? How have your opinions and acts against others affected you? How can God help you in these areas?