Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Training For Discipleship
Sports teams always like to play before a hometown crowd. Here in Portland they say that the "fan factor" can really help the Trailblazers win games. But when it comes to ministry, often playing to the home town crowd is a disappointing experience. Either because of past relationships or whatever, it is sometimes hard for people we know to see the Lord working through us.
That's what Jesus experienced when He went "home" to Nazareth. And He uses the experience - along with a couple of other tough situations, to teach His disciples what is going to be like to take the gospel "on the road."
Unbelief At Home
1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
This is Nazareth, of course. Earlier Jesus' family came to Capernaum to "rescue" Jesus from Himself - now He comes home and suffers the same sort of disdain.
"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
Basically they were saying that because they knew Him growing up - that He couldn't possibly be the Messiah - he was just Jesus, Mary's son.
But look at what happens - first it says in verse 2 they were "amazed." The word means to "strike with astonishment." Compare that to the amazement felt by the people in Capernaum in chapter 2. That word is akin to: "blowing your mind."
The people in Nazareth "took offense" which means to scandalize - its like "Oh man! "How could this man claim to be these things - its embarrassing!"
They couldn't look past the humanity of Jesus to see His divinity. I think that happens a lot today too. People like to pigeon-hole Jesus as just a "good man". We do that because if we really acknowledge that the miracles He performed were from God then we have to deal with the possibility that Jesus IS the "way truth and the life."
A side note here - look how verse 3 identifies Jesus' brothers? This really pokes a hole in the claim that Mary was and is a virgin.
4 Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Jesus quotes a rabbinic proverb. Isn't it amazing that the unbelief of the people of Nazareth actually affected the extent of Jesus' ministry in that area. Does it mean that no one believed or had faith or does it mean that the lack of faith of the majority actually stopped the flow of the Spirit to those who were hurting?
Regardless - Jesus revealed His power to those who had faith - it works the same with us. If we come to Jesus in faith He will move mightily on our behalf - otherwise He won't seem to be all that powerful because we ignore who He really is.
It says that Jesus was "amazed" - this is the word "to wonder" - its kind of like shaking your head in amazement.
Jesus I think was further preparing His disciples at what it would cost them to follow Him.
On A Mission
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
8 These were his instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them."
12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
The "shake off the dust" was a way of showing contempt. The Jews would shake off the dust when they passed gentile towns - "I don't even want your dust clinging to my sandals."
Jesus is sending His disciples on a training mission - student teaching if you will. It was a short term mission with a very specific agenda: travel light, stick together, preach and heal.
There's nothing wrong with training. We sometimes think that we should just be able to do anything after we come to know the Lord - but its clear that discipleship takes time and training - don't be in too much of a hurry, just be deliberate in growing your relationship - be available as a disciple.
The next story really drives home the ultimate cost of discipleship. It's a gruesome story - but befitting the man who brings it about and the sin that infested his life.
The Death of John
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying,"
John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
15 Others said, "He is Elijah."
And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"
17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
21 Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.
The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." 23 And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."
24 She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"
"The head of John the Baptist," she answered.
25 At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."
26 The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27 So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29 On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Man, what an awful story. Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee - one of four rulers in the region of Palestine. He was the son of Herod the Great, who had ordered the babies in Bethlehem killed soon after Jesus' birth. He was also known as Herod Antipas.
Herod was a cruel and evil man - known for his debauchery. We shouldn't have much pity on him. Its odd, though, that he liked listening to John the Baptist. Herod realized that John was a righteous man - and Herod probably superstitiously didn't want to harm him - who knows what might happen to him?
It was really his wife Herodias that hated John. Without going into great detail - Herodias had been married to Herod's half brother - Philip. Herod was Herodias' half brother and half uncle - so he committed incest and adultery in marrying her.
Herodias waited for the opportune time to trap Herod - probably drunk - by having her daughter perform a raucous dance that elicits Herod's promise of offering "up to half my kingdom" - something by the way that he couldn't do - he didn't have any real kingdom at all.
Look at how the moral cesspool infected Salome - Herodias' daughter. We need to set a good example for our children.
So Jesus finds out what had happened:
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
The combination of John's death, the mission, and the busyness of the ministry finally leads Jesus to call His disciples away for a time of rest. We'll find out next time that He was actually taking them into an amazing miracle and an amazing trial.
Don't let relationship hurt ministry
We can make the same mistake that Jesus hometown made - doubt that God could work through someone because we saw them grow up - or we went to school with them or we work with them. We see people in different roles and can actually choke out our ability to believe in God's working through them.
You are not in it alone
Notice how Jesus sent out the disciples two by two. Its so easy to get discouraged when we live life alone - that's why we need each other, to encourage and pray for each other.
Sin without repentance leads to further unrighteousness
Herod was a cruel man - no doubt about it. But you can tell by the narrative that something about John was getting to him. But in the end - Herod was more interested in external appearances than in internal realities.
Romans 1:28-29 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
What happens when someone continually rejects the gospel is that they are given over to things that are more and more depraved. It also happens when we ignore our conscience - that innate sense of right and wrong given to us by God.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
Continually rejecting the gospel or silencing that little voice inside you will make it so that you are unable to tell right from wrong - and then the enemy will have a field day with you.
On the opposite side - Hebrews 5:14
14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. KJV
So the more you listen to God's Word, the more you heed His voice - the less likely you are to do things that are evil and the better you can tell good and bad apart.
So- Be open to God's Word - it is a "two edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb 4:12-13)