President Donald Trump was born and raised in Queens, New York City. He rose to the highest office in the land. Yet the mayor of NYC and the governor of NY State both speak very badly of President Trump. Most of the people in NYC do not welcome President Trump. He illustrates the Biblical principle that a prophet is not without honor, except in his own hometown (Mark 6:4).
Have you ever experienced that? Maybe you have found honor at work, but in your own family you are not honored.
The principle is that it is possible to be accepted and even praised in many places and yet not accepted or praised in your own hometown or even in your own home.
Our Lord experienced ridicule, rejection, and dishonor, even among the people of the city in which He grew up.
John tells us in John 1:11 that Jesus came to His own, Israel, and yet Israel did not receive Him and His message.
Mark 6:1-6 gives us one example of this, in the town that Jesus grew up in, Nazareth.
We think that if we had seen and heard Jesus, we would have believed in Him and followed Him. Maybe. The sad truth is that most who saw and heard Him rejected Him.
Sometimes familiarity leads to unbelief.
Chapter 6 begins with Jesus and His disciples moving from Capernaum, on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee, to Nazareth, west and a bit south of the Sea of Galilee. It was about 20 miles away.
On the Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown), Jesus began to teach at the synagogue in Nazareth. The initial response, reported by Mark, seems promising: “many hearing Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!’”
But then things take a turn. They go on and say, “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?”
Notice that Mary had other children beside Jesus. Four brothers are listed here by name. James and Judas, that is, Jude, each wrote NT letters bearing their names.
Mary also had girls. That is, Jesus had half-sisters as well as half-brothers.
Grassmick in The Bible Knowledge Commentary suggests that the reason why Joseph was not mentioned was possibly because he had already died.
Then Mark’s report turns bleak. After saying, “they were astonished,” Mark now says, “So they were offended at Him” (v 3).
Mershon in The Grace New Testament Commentary says, “Apparently they focused more on His humanness than His supernatural abilities” (Vol 1, p. 163).
Jesus then quotes a proverb that was likely popular in His day: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house” (v 4).
The result? “He could do no mighty works there, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them” (v 5).
Why could He “do no mighty works there”?
It was not that He lacked the ability and power to do many mighty works there.
It was that He had determined not to do many miracles in a location where most people were rejecting Him. He could not do many mighty works because their unbelief dictated that He scale back His ministry.
Grassmick comments, “There was no limitation on His power, but His purpose was to perform miracles in the presence of faith. Only a few here had faith to come to Him for healing” (BKC, p. 127).
Mark reports, “He marveled because of their unbelief” (v 6a).
The Lord Jesus was astonished at their response of unbelief. Faced with His healings, His casting out of demons, His raising the dead, and His amazing teaching of God’s Word, the only reasonable response was faith in Him. Yet most people rejected Him and His message.
Lenski comments, “We are twice told that Jesus marveled at great faith, we are told here that he was marveling at great unbelief” (Mark, p. 238).
He did not abandon all ministry there, however. Instead, His healing ministry was greatly reduced, and He turned to teaching in the villages around Nazareth.
The Lord Jesus did not live for honor from men. While He should have been greatly honored by all in Israel—and will be one day soon —He was not. The honor He sought was from God the Father.
That should be true of us as well. If we proclaim the gift of everlasting life by faith alone, apart from works, then many people will reject that message and us with it. We should be prepared to share in the sufferings of our Savior and Lord. If we do share in His sufferings, we will be laying up eternal rewards. We should desire to hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”