Good morning and welcome to Thursday’s podcast. I hope you are being suitably challenged and encouraged as we journey through Mark’s gospel together.
Today Jesus heads to his hometown in Mark 6:1-13. Let’s pick up the story at v1:
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?
Over the years I have met many young leaders who are growing faith communities, seeing friends become Christians and yet still feel that they are in some way unqualified for leadership. There is a feeling, common to many that they need to go to Bible college to be equipped to do the very thing that they are already doing. There is a nagging feeling deep in the pit of their stomach that one day they will be called out and found lacking – that they are frauds and not good enough to be of service to God in his kingdom. What complete and utter nonsense!
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to learn more, to understand better and to make better sense of scripture but…
Jesus issues this challenge to the scholars of his day: (John 5:39) “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
What I love about Jesus is that he never went to theological college, he never got a degree, he doesn’t have any A-levels, not a single GCSE and yet he took on the brightest minds, the most learned people, the cream of the crop and he silenced them all.
If that were not enough, who did he call to himself? Who did he surround himself with; the brightest, the smartest and the most gifted people he could find or common, unschooled, working men? And as he shared his life with them did they ever reach a point where he said “boys… you’re doing great but now I’d like you to study with the Rabbis one day a week”? No, because Jesus isn’t looking for clever people (although he doesn’t turn them away), he is looking for people who will come to him and have life; who will listen to him, take him at his word and go and put what he says into practice.
Whether it is an instruction or a promise, maturity in the kingdom is not measured in exams passed or dissertations submitted, it is measured in our ability to hear God and obey what we hear.
The heart of our discipleship plan has to be hearing and obeying. That’s why we are doing the grow project in community, so that we can journey with others, listening together, helping and enabling each other to put all that we are learning into practice.
And what’s more since Jesus took the trouble to die on the cross we now have access to the same spirit of wisdom that Jesus had. The exact same spirit lives in us.
So… What follows is a promise of Jesus to his disciples. We are going to look at it together and then I ask simply that we would put this into practice during this week. Are you ready, deep breath? Let’s go!
Jesus says “when you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say for the holy spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Ok, so here’s the promise. When we talk to people about Jesus, don’t worry about what you will say because the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.
This isn’t reserved for special people, this is for everyone, for you and me.
Once I had the privilege of reading the Bible with some Chinese people who were interested to know more about Christianity. They knew nothing of the Bible. They had no background in faith, no cultural history. So we met, we read Matthew’s Gospel and then we discussed it together. There were many times that I left that time together having learnt just as much as they had. It felt very much as though God had given me words to say in that moment.
What about you? Do you worry about what you would say to a non-Christian? Do you worry about answering difficult questions about Jesus. Would you struggle to tell people about the gospel… so don’t say anything?
God is awesome, he’s powerful and far more aware of what others need to hear than we could ever plan. Winning an argument doesn’t mean that we will ever win souls for Jesus.
So this week, take Jesus at his word. Trust his promise to us and talk to someone about Jesus. Start a conversation about church. Drop in to conversation the fact that 1373 young people have made a commitment to Jesus through the Higher tour and just start by telling a simple story of how God is working in your lives. Give a sincere account of God’s love and guidance in your life and just watch how God can use you.
Father, thank you for your promise to give us words to say when we have opportunity to talk about Jesus. Help us to have courage to open our mouths and take the opportunities that you give us. Help us to speak about Jesus even when we are fearful. Amen.
READING: Mark 6:1-13
Jesus left there and went to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him.
Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few people who were ill and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
These were his instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’
They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed with oil many people who were ill and healed them.