07072021 – Mark 6. 1-13

 

Mark is such “an important gospel” for so many reasons.

 

It may be the briefest of the gospel accounts, but it packs a lot “into” some very few chapters and verses.

 

Mark is the only gospel that makes mention of Jesus’ profession before becoming a teacher in Israel.

 

He was “a mere tradesman.” 

 

Often time incorrectly and specifically translated as being “a carpenter,” but he could have been a stoneworker, a mason, as well.

 

A MERE “tradesman.”

 

This was a profession at the bottom of the social structure of first century Israel.  Tradesman actually ranked even below peasant farmers in the scheme of things…

 

Besides that, tradesman often had to be away from home in search of work – and this made them less desirable as sons, husbands, fathers, and even as town residents.  WHO KNOWS what happens when people ARE NOT under everyone’s watchful eye?

 

It is also Mark that gives to us the names of Jesus’ brother’s and mentions his sisters, although, not directly by name.

 

Mark also gives us insight into “the family dynamics of Jesus.”

 

No matter how OLD he is, the homies in Nazareth will not let loose the fact that he is the SON of MARY.

 

Joseph is not mentioned.  That is important, especially in a patriarchal society.

 

There obviously still is a stigma.

A stigma that Jesus grew up with.  It was a SLUR…taking direct AIM…and still remembered some thirty years later.

 

And, once again for today, the Lectionary gives us two stories in one lesson.

 

Jesus has been successful thus far in his ministry.  Drawing crowds wherever he went and being honored by most, if not all the people.  He has already found himself to be “at odds” with the powers that be and with the movers and the shakers.

 

Jesus has just left the region of the Judean elite and headed for home.

 

Ah, home sweet home – Nazareth.

 

Because of their faith, their trust, their loyalty, their bonding with God, in spite of their hopeless circumstances two members of the Judean elite had received “healing and new life.”

 

Jesus was riding that wave.

It was a jubilant feeling…as they walked toward the small village of Nazareth…

 

You have to wonder what sort of “faith and trust” Jesus will find and encounter in his old-all-too-familiar digs…

 

The good news being – that he would once more be surrounded by the love of family and friends again.

 

Again, Mark gives us further insight.

 

Simply “stepping forward to teach or preach” in his hometown synagogue – would quite literally be stepping OUT OF HIS – and HIS FAMILIES “assigned place” in the “village pecking order.”

 

It did not matter…that he “had to be asked and invited,” to step forward.

 

“Visiting Teachers” were always given the opportunity to share “new incite” and “new ideas” with the people.

 

It was an exciting, much anticipated time.

To decline was not really a possibility.  To decline brought only personal SHAME…and would bring shame to his family, as well.

 

Your honor and your status were automatically raised by saying, “Yes!”  This was called “ACQUIRED HONOR.”

 

There was also an “INHERITED HONOR” which was based on your family and their assigned place in society.

 

But then too, the people in the synagogue had to “like what YOU had to say!”

In the case of Jesus, stepping forward to preach or teach, as it were, “would immediately demand” public, CRITICAL EVALUATION by those in charge of keeping people in their place.

 

Maintaining one’s “social standing” is always fiercely protected.

 

Mark adds an important insight — that people thought, someone – somewhere HAD GIVEN wisdom and power to Jesus.

 

In Jesus’ time, wisdom, power, and honor were all understood to exist in a fixed, limited amount, distributed unequally, and GIVEN AT BIRTH.  SO, any increase could ONLY HAPPEN by being GIVEN – or TAKING from someone else.

 

In Jesus’ case.  Everybody knew who he was.  Everyone knew of the shaming gossip about his family and his background.

 

He would be HEAVILY SCRUTINIZED.  And scrutinize him they did.

 

Why are we like this?

Why are we so judgmental?

Why do we still point fingers today?

 

We may not live in an honor/shame society anymore, but we still do our fair share of shaming others…

 

Judgment is mine, saith the Lord.

 

Enough said, don’t you think?

 

Amen.