Daily Reading & Meditation

 Wednesday (February 4):  Jesus marveled because of their unbelief

Scripture:  Mark 6:1-6

1 He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. 2 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! 3 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. 4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Meditation: Are you critical towards others, especially those who may be close to you? The most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative, or neighbor or co-worker we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his home town, not simply as the carpenter's son, but now as a rabbi with disciples. It would have been customary for Jesus to go to the synagogue each week during the Sabbath, and when his turn came, to read from the scriptures during the Sabbath service. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns. What sign would he do in his hometown?

Jesus startled his familiar audience with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazareth took offense at Jesus and refused to listen to what he had to say. They despised his preaching because he was a mere workman, a carpenter, and a layman who had no formal training by a scholar or teacher. They also despised him because of his undistinguished family background. How familiarity can breed contempt. Jesus could do no mighty works in their midst because they were closed-minded and unbelieving towards him. If people have come together to hate and to refuse to understand, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others. How do you treat those who seem disagreeable to you?

 The word "gospel" literally means "good news". Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to the afflicted who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free - not only from their physical, mental, and spiritual infirmities - but also from the worst affliction of all - the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one's life. God's power alone can save us from hopelessness, dejection, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is "good news" for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

"Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings grace, truth, freedom, and abundant life. Set my heart on fire with your love and truth."

Psalm 32:1-2,5,7,11

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity;  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD";  then you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me, you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with deliverance.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers
: Distinguishing God's power and our faith, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

"And perhaps, as in the case of metallic substances there exists in some a natural attraction toward some other thing, as in the magnet for iron, and in naphtha for fire, so there is an attraction in such faith toward the divine power according to what Jesus said: 'If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, 'Move to another place,' and it shall be moved' (Matthew 17:20). Matthew and Mark wished to present the all-surpassing value of that divine power as a power that works even in those who do not believe. But they did not deny that grace works even more powerfully among those who have faith. So it seems to me that they accurately said not that the Lord did not do any mighty works because of their unbelief, but that he did not do many there (Mark 6:5). Mark does not flatly say that he could do no mighty work there at all, and stop at that point, but added, 'except that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them' (Mark 6:5). Thus the power in him overcame even their unbelief." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 10.19)

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author Don Schwager 2015 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.  

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