English Prayer: Sermon

Mark 6:1-13 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 9, Year B, July 4, 2021

Rev. Misa Furumoto

Are you the type of person who immediately trusts someone? Or are you the type of person who has to doubt first but as you get to know that person better, gradually open your heart and become able to trust? If you were the latter, you may have had too much experience in your life. You know too much about this world or about human beings. Or you may just think you know much about this world and human beings. You would say, “This type of person tends to lie. That type of person cannot keep secrets.” Like that. You don’t know that person truly, but you want to judge him/her from superficial things. Yes, we all have prejudice in our mind.

Jesus was rejected in his hometown. People who had known him since he was small came and said, “Where did this man—yeah, they say “this man”! – get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done 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?” They took offense at him, instead of welcoming and admiring him.

We sometimes see on TV that an athlete who got a gold medal at an Olympic game or a scientist who won the Nobel prize return to their hometowns, and them receiving enthusiastic welcomes from people who had known them when they were small. Many of the times, teachers from their elementary schools appear and tell us how they are so very proud of them. This is normal for us. We are naturally happy to see someone we’ve known well become famous and prestigious, aren’t we?

But exactly the opposite had happened to Jesus. “No way.” “How can he be our Lord? He is a healer? A prophet? What? Some people say that He is the Messiah? No kidding. We know him. He had lived here with his family as a carpenter until last year. One day, he suddenly left his elderly parents and young brothers and sisters behind and disappeared. Now you say he returned home as Messiah? You don’t fool me.”

This is just my imagination, but this may be what they had thought. Then I wonder, what is the difference between a gold-medalist or a Nobel-prize winner and the Messiah, Son of God? The former holds the proof, visible ones like a gold medal or a certificate. But the latter, the Messiah holds nothing visible to show as a proof.

Then how did people back then know that Jesus was the Savior? Simply by faith. They only had to believe what he did and what he said. Just before today’s reading, the Gospel according to Mark tells two healing stories, one the dying daughter of Jairus and another the woman who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years. Both Jairus and the woman had never met Jesus before, and yet, they both had a strong faith in him. They knew and trusted that Jesus would make miracles and save them. And Jesus answered them. They were looking at what they could not see and believed. As for the people in Nazareth who knew the visible side of Jesus too well, they could not believe the invisible side of Jesus. What they saw with their eyes hindered them to see something very important with their hearts.

Because they did not believe, Jesus could not do any miracles there. They could not hear what God was trying to say through Jesus. They could not see what God was trying to do through Jesus. What a pitty.

After he left his hometown, Jesus decided to send his twelve disciples to different villages two by two to spread the words of God. Jesus gave them instructions. “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.”

What did Jesus mean by this? I think he wanted to say that the disciples should have taken off all the unnecessary things that would hinder people from meeting God. I used to imagine if I were so good looking model like beautiful lady or a brilliant speaker with so much sense of humor and so good at making a speech, maybe people would rush to the church. You may think so too. But wait, think about it. If I were too good to see or listen to, people would come just to see me, and not God. People can meet me but not God. Ah, so I was chosen to be a disciple, I now think. And it’s the same to you also. You are all chosen by God to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. Let us just be ourselves so that people can see Christ through ourselves.

As Paul said, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.