Mark 6:1-13 - Be careful who you reject

Updated: Jun 5

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Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did 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?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.


Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.


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This is the Gospel reading choice for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost {Proper 9], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. This will be accompanied by either a Track 1 reading from Second Samuel, where David is asked to be the King of Israel and Judah, when he took Jerusalem to be his city; or, a Track 2 option from Ezekiel, where Yahweh chose the prophet to go tell the leaders of the people that have done wrong. The Epistle reading will be from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, when he told them of a near-death experience he had, when he went to Paradise but then later carried a thorn of Satan that would always bring him pain.


I wrote deeply about this reading in 2018. I recommend anyone wanting to get to know Yahweh better, through deeper reflection on missed meaning in Scripture, read that posting here. Everything written in 2018 still applies today, as the translations of the original text have not changed. Now, I will address this from a different perspective, based on new insights about the Second Samuel, Ezekiel, and Paul’s letter readings that accompany this Gospel of Mark selection.


On the broad stroke view of this recollection of Peter, as written by Mark, it can be summed up as Jesus returning to Nazareth new to ministry; and, he was asked to speak [probably after offering his ministerial services] on a Sabbath meeting at the synagogue.


When he spoke, the people were shocked and angered. They struck out at Jesus for having the gall to use their offer as some way of making a name for himself. By mentioning the names of Jesus’ family, they were threatening him with holding them responsible for his actions. Such mention could have produced bad side effects, such as them being banished from their house of meeting. In the same way the Jews of Nazareth were shocked at what Jesus said, Jesus was led to wondering how anyone could reject the presence of Yahweh [by extension into flesh] in their midst. After all, the only reason for Jews meeting on a Sabbath was to keep in touch with Yahweh.


After Jesus left Nazareth, he commissioned his disciples to go out in pairs into ministry. He gave them specific instructions, along with the same powers of Yahweh to heal and cast out unclean spirits. Most likely, the disciples would go to their hometowns, where they would be recognized and more readily accepted. Jesus prepared them for the same rejection he experienced by telling them, “If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” They would do feats as Jesus had done in Nazareth. The unspoken message says they too were rejected in their hometowns, simply because everyone knew them as mere mortals.


The direction I want to take this rather simple reading is to see how the Jews of Nazareth were not ever expecting any real sign of Yahweh watching over them. For all the time they spent ritualistically doing the same things, Sabbath after Sabbath, nothing ever changed. The leaders of the synagogues and the rabbis would read dry scrolls and offer a few words that had little to do with the truth; and, then everyone would all go home happy, feeling like Yahweh was pleased with their rituals that were designed to impress Him. Woe be it to anyone who would come in and rock that boat and make waves.


For a people to consider themselves to be the children of God, one should expect them to be happy that Yahweh would send someone to fulfill the prophecies of the prophets, those which all expressed belief in. The problem the Jews had – and that problem went all the way back to the beginning with Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt – is they never could take hold of the model intended for them all: to actually be a child of God. That model was designed so each individual Israelite was supposed to be a holy priest of Yahweh, which meant they were all supposed to be souls married to Yahweh. As such, they were all just as Jesus had said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21 addition to this same story)


The problem was they all expected some kingly warrior to come in and announce, “Everyone stay where you are while I single-handedly defeat the Roman Empire and any others who object to my returning this land to its rightful owners!” Had Jesus said that – and looked the part (which he did not) – then everyone in Nazareth would have stood up and cheered. “Hip hip hooray for Jesus, our new king has arrived! Long live the king!” Then, they would have happily gone back to pretending to please Yahweh.


The significance of Jesus sending out his disciples after his being rejected in Nazareth says Jesus (himself) was the epitome of what a true synagogue was. When Jesus said, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house,” that said the responsibility for being a “prophet” [from “prophētēs”] means being “a person gifted at expositing divine truth.” (Strong’s Usage) Outside the family of kin - primarily those living under the same roof - everyone else was suspect. Rather than looking for reasons to believe, they were trained to look for flaws.


When a “prophet” is seen as the father-husband of a family, this brings out the truth of what Jesus said; which is: Not being a prophet is without honor.” Each head of household is expected to be “a person gifted as expositing divine truth.” When one does “Not” meet that requirement that lack means there is no “honor” coming from Yahweh. The same lack of respect for such a person who is “Not being a prophet” should make him an “exception” – an outcast – in his hometown. Their own kin should show them disdain; and, that includes a wife and children, those all under the same roof as one who does Not serve Yahweh as His priest. Jesus saying that called all the Nazareth Jews out as Not being able to tell him, "Hey Jesus, wasn't that reading from Isaiah talking about you?"


Of course, the double-edge of what Jesus said says the truth that is the translation by the NRSV, which is the only way most people [if not all] read those words. The truth stated was Jesus was a true “prophet,” who was rejected in his hometown. Rather than him being rejected by his family and neighbors, the “kin” of Jews meant anyone born of a Jewish mother and practiced what is now called Judaism was his relatives, at least in his hometown. Those who knew the kin of Jesus [they did not really know Jesus, because he had gone away from many years] knew Joseph was a carpenter. While Joseph would have been homeschooled and taught his children what he knew, he was not recognized as a rabbi. The opposite edge of the sword of condemnation said, “If anyone other than a hometown boy had come in and said such things, he would be more believable than someone everyone knows is just as wayward as everyone else.”


When Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs, he “gave them authority over the unclean spirits.” That becomes a statement that those in Nazareth who rejected him had “unclean spirits,” but Jesus' disciples had been made "clean souls." That says the past does not make the future a certainty, as things [like redemption] can change.


In the Greek that is written, what is more appropriately stated by Mark is this: “he delivered to their souls power to act of them souls impure” [from “kai edidou autois exousian tōn pneumatōn tōn akathartōn”]. Because that statement is preceded by the marker word “kai,” that marks it as an important statement that “themselves” [from “autois,” where a “self” is a “soul”] were made spiritually pure, which is how one truly becomes a child of God. Only those whose souls have been cleansed of past sins become “clean” or “pure,” and all priests of Yahweh have that expectation. Along with that purity of soul, they are then empowered to go into ministry with the “authority” to lead other souls to become clean.


The history of the Israelites led them away from ‘the big city’ that was the hustle and bustle of Egypt. It took forty years alone in the wilderness, just so all the elders who remembered what civilization was like died. After that, all who entered the Promised Land knew marrying their souls to Yahweh was the only way to survive in a land that had peoples of unclean spirits wanting to kill them for not belonging there. Canaan was not their 'hometown.' After forty year the Israelites began to regress and they became influenced by those unclean spirits. Their souls likewise became unclean; and, once that happened, then things would go bad for them … until they prayed for saving. The message Jesus told his disciples to take was for “all to repent.”


Those prayers of repentance would have some judge be given the power of authority over the unclean spirits; and, from them leading the way the other Israelite people would follow suit. After they all got back on board the purity train, they would live in peace for forty years. Then the same thing would happen all over again, and again and again. It was the yo-yo effect of the people needing some one to be their priest of Yahweh that would keep reminding them all to repent and be pure. Then, the Israelites got tired of so much responsibility being placed on the individual souls that they told their judge [Samuel] to appoint them a king.


The point made by wanting a king, rather than a judge coming from out of nowhere – a true prophet of Yahweh who communicated with Him daily – a king would be a strong man who would force the people to follow rules. When a king died [and all judges also died eventually], then the oldest son would continue that line of rule; so, a blood line would replace a spirit line. When the elders went to Samuel, they asked for a king because his sons were not pure spirits like Samuel. The same fate befell Eli, the prophet before Samuel. They proved blood has nothing to do with a soul’s purity.


David was born of normal blood, as the youngest son of Jesse the Benjaminite. When Saul went against the command of Yahweh, given to him through Samuel, Yahweh anointed a boy’s soul to be the king-in-waiting. That anointment was spiritual, which made David’s soul clean. When David became the King of Israel and Judah, he was told by Yahweh:


“You’re it. I will anoint no more kings for the Israelites. They had me as their eternal

king. You will be my hand on earth who will lead them like a judge in my name. After

you die, the people will have to make a choice. Either they make me their individual

king as it was before, or they choose your issue and become like other nations, which

rise and fall like the tides and bend every which way with the changing winds of time.”


This conversation between David and Yahweh is unwritten; but the truth is what happened afterwards. After David’s illegitimate issue died [Solomon was born of David's unclean spirit, not a pure soul], Israel and Judah once again split. The Israelites saw Solomon’s heir like their forefathers had seen the sons of Samuel [and Eli's]. The reason for this split was a curse had been placed on the land, as the people began to worship the land [and whoever was named the king] much more than Yahweh. They called themselves the children of God, while doing nothing to repent and make their souls pure. The only ones who tried to warn them to return to Yahweh and repent were the prophets whose souls married Yahweh and became his priestly servants.


The curse began when Yahweh told David to take Jerusalem and make it his city of government. The Jebusites had played a role as servants of Yahweh, who protected the land for the Israelites. When things got bad for the Israelites, the Jebusites called out to Yahweh for a judge to be sent. When Yahweh anointed David’s soul as the King of Israel, he also told him to take Jerusalem and void that contract with the Jebusites. Once Jerusalem became the governmental center of Israel, it was up to David to lead the souls of the Israelites to likewise marry Yahweh and serve Him, because when David stopped being that judge over their souls, then there would be no more.


The loss of the lands then became the history of Israel and Judah. There is no land that is protected for them anymore. There never will be. When Jesus met with Nicodemus and told that ruler of the Jews, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again,” [NIV] Jesus said that because Nicodemus approached Jesus as a recruit who clearly had the qualities of a judge. Nicodemus had told Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” [NIV] Whether or not the ulterior motive of Nicodemus was to use this God-like powers of God, seen in Jesus, for the possible restoration of the land to renew Israel, Nicodemus was moved to speak in terms of the idiocy of that potential.


Nicodemus said to Jesus, “ How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”


That was God moving his lips to say why Israel would never be resurrected. Israel had been born through its death as a nation [twice]. The baby had been born into the world, as soiled and as unclean as it was. There would never be a return to the former glory of having been a divine fetus implanted into the womb of Canaan, watched over by the midwife Jebusites. The stupidity of Nicodemus was spewing the curse of David moving his capital city to Jerusalem. The only way to be born again was to cleanse their souls through marriage to Yahweh, each soul in the flesh becoming a kingdom of Yahweh – a priest of God – each “a person gifted at expositing divine truth.”


This all means the reason Yahweh sent Jesus to be born was so his soul could pass the purity it possessed to disciples, who would then be reborn with souls pure. They would then be sent out in pairs, in much the same way judges would appear and move the people to follow their lead. Unlike the judges, the first Apostles were sent as reproductions of Jesus, each a soul that had married Yahweh and received His Spirit and the soul of Jesus to be their Lord. They would be multiple Jesuses who would spread the reality of what a true child of God is – a wife of Yahweh reborn as Jesus. There would be no worship of land in this process, as the flesh would become the temple, with Yahweh the King and Jesus the High Priest – in the order of Melchizedek, meaning a High Priest who would never die.


Herein lies the reason this reading is read, as nothing has changed. Everything remains the same. Christians have become just like the Israelites. They reject anyone who enters their churches and tells them they have it all wrong. They are not supposed to be sitting on their asses thinking they are the chosen ones of God, because that is a condemnation of their souls for thinking such. Each needs to be touched by a true Christian – an Apostle, a Saint – and led to feel the power of authority their souls have been given by Yahweh, as Jesus resurrected in new flesh. A true Christian then goes out into the world as a servant to Yahweh, as a priest reborn in the name of Jesus Christ.


As a Gospel selection for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost, when a personal ministry to Yahweh should be well underway, this says one is either Jesus reborn or one is those who reject Jesus. The rejection of a minister given divine authority means that is a soul’s right. The lesson one must be made aware of is this: You reap what you sow. To reject Jesus [in any human form presented before you] means your soul will be rejected when the true Judge determines your fate. The lesson is to do unto others as you would have others do unto you. To reject means to be rejected.