There are only two times in the gospel that Jesus is amazed and both times it has to do with faith. Jesus was amazed by the faith of the Centurion (Luke 7:9), in Mark 6:5 Jesus is amazed by the lack of faith among the people of his home town.During this series I have been amazed by the power and authority of Jesus in his teaching, over demons and demonic hordes, feverish mother in laws, a twelve year old disease, even death itself. Now in this passage we find an absence of faith. Unbelief caused Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, kept the Israelites out of the promised land for 40 years, caused the Jews to ignore their prophets and at the end of the gospel to lead them to crucify their Messiah. Unbelief keeps us in pride and selfishness, stops people receiving forgiveness and favour from God and causes a whole home town to reject Jesus.Here are the people who knew Jesus and should have been the ones most likely to receive his ministry. But familiarity breeds contempt. They had put him in the box. Many of us have experienced that where people who have watched you grow up have kept you in the box of immaturity.
Jesus has returned to Nazareth where he grew up, where he had learned to walk and eat and had been a craftsman as he prepared for public ministry. He know returns to witness to them of their need of salvation and dependence on God. He came with his devoted disciples, a respected rabbi and teacher. These men and women had seen him teach crowds, calm storms and heal the sick. They will now see a rejection too.
Jesus began to teach in the synagogue (v2). He starts his message, but it hints that reaction of the congregation did not encourage him to continue. This will be Mark’s last mention of synagogue – his later teaching done in houses, courtyards and hillsides. The early Methodists – the Wesley brothers and Whitefield, were booted out of the established church too!
The crowd were amazed – astonished in most versions. The Greek word is literally overwhelmed – we’d say blown away – not a wow, but an astonishment that rapidly became cynicism and unbelief. As they watched and listened they could not get away from the box he had grown up in. They couldn’t see past his humanity. He was a hometown boy – not a graduate and no doctorate.
There comes a series of questions building up on each other.
1 Where did he get this authority?Where did he get these things? This is not where did this rabbi study – who trained him? But an agitation at the change. They couldn’t see that Jesus was more than a man stood before them.
2 Where did Jesus get this wisdom?What is this wisdom given to him? The implication is that the questioner is critical that Jesus has not studied for the wisdom but been given it with no question of who from! “To him” is not honouring Jesus as teacher or rabbi but more like “Why wisdom given to him?”
3 Where did He get this power?They had not seen any miracles as Jesus grew up. So where did he get it? A demon. They are not seeing God at work, Jesus speaking as God for God. They are not seeing the source of Jesus’ authority, wisdom and power – they are burning with unbelief, anger and harshness
4 Isn’t he illegitimate?Verse 3 Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary. Sons were identified by their father’s name, so when a person is identified as the son of his mother, it was because the father is unknown. In Jesus’ earlier visit to Nazareth, he is spoken of as Joseph’s son. Now he is being stamped as a bastard and Mary a whore. In John 8:41 the pharisees imply the same “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
5 Isn’t he just the carpenter?James and Judas (author of Jude) will become Christ followers like Mary, but not yet. Likewise the townsfolk, can’t see Christ’s greater identity.Jesus has displayed power and authority of the deep, demons, disease and death and they respond with unbelief.
Jesus is amazed and unbelief freezes the exercise of God’s power. Jesus is amazed, awestruck, literally astonished at their unbelief and its cause. They thought they knew him but didn’t.If you get to really know me, you become aware of my faults and foibles, issues and weakness. But when you get to know Jesus, you get to know his amazing perfection, compassion, truth, love, graciousness and mercy and much more. They thought they knew him and Jesus is blown away that they don’t.Believe in Jesus, believe in his power and authority and his love for you.