Mark 6:2-3 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! 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.
Sometimes in life we come across things which donít make sense, for when we look at them, they seem contradictory, such is the nature of a paradox. Some are able to treat it as a puzzle, and seek to unravel the mystery. Some say its a mistake, as only one can be true. And some are rightly reminded that we are not the smartest and wisest of all creation, and stand in awe at the wisdom of God, and of his work, much of which is beyond our understanding.
And so we rightly praise God for revealing to us his person, his will, his love, his mercy, and the way of salvation which is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God may not reveal everything, but he does reveal everything that is necessary, that we might have peace with God through the forgiveness of sins, which comes to us by grace through faith, which leads us to repent of our sins, and to receive the free gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus blood.
All this leads us to the central questions: Who are we? Why are we here? What should we do? The funny thing is, that while the worldís answer to these questions always begin with "I," the real answer always has God as its center. When "I" is at the center, there is a grave danger because "I" often leads to the sin of pride. So it has come to pass that alarm bells begin to sound when we here people boasting about themselves. But this does not necessarily mean that it is our duty to put them in their place. (which is only another form of pride.) So here is the paradox as we hear it from scripture:
Romans 12:3 "I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him."
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come."
On the one hand, we should not think of ourselves too highly, and on the other, we are a new creation and the old has passes away. And this paradox is played out before us in our Gospel lesson, Jesus goes to Nazareth, and the people will not receive him as who He is, but they insist on treating him as who they remember he was. It is as though they have closed their eyes and stopped their ears, so that neither hearing nor seeing, they can prevent God from working on their hearts and lives, and stop any changes. The unbelief of the people prevented Jesus from doing any mighty work at Nazareth, not because he was unable, but because it would not serve his purpose. You see Jesus doesnít do miracles for the sake of miracles, but as signs which point to who He is and that witness God at work in the world.
Now while this has one message which encourages us to believe, on another level it also advises us that we too might have trouble in our own homes, and in our own families with people who only want to remember us as we were, and who resist coming to know who we are now, and to see the hand of God at work in us, and the new creation that began at baptism and continues to grow within us. We also may find that nothing we do can persuade them, never the less, we can still speak to them of Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by grace through faith, for while we may have limited power, Almighty God is not limited, and His Word has great power, even if we cannot always see its immediate result.
But there is yet a third level, and a third use of the law that Christians are wise to hear. For if we know from experience that it is hard to always put God first. If we know that it is hard to live as the new creation. If we know that it is hard to hallow Godís name, and for Godís will to be done among us, and for Godís kingdom to come not only to us, but through us -- then this text also encourages us to get to know, not the old me, but to come to know the new creation in all our friends, neighbors and family. And not just to know it, but to encourage it to grow. And this dear friends is the reason and purpose of the church. As we grow in Christ we continue to change, and it is important that we continue to meet together to come to know all that God is working in us, and in those around us, and to encourage one another in faith, in love, and in good works, for Jesus sake.