Mark 6:1-13 (NRSV)
Chapter 6He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. Verse 2On 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! Verse 3Is 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. Verse 4Then Jesus said to them, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." Verse 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. Verse 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching. Verse 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. Verse 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; Verse 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. Verse 10He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. Verse 11If 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." Verse 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. Verse 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
“And he was amazed at their unbelief.”
This gospel story seems to be a bit lacking in the “good news.” Confronted by unbelief, Jesus could only cure a few sick people in his hometown. Stories of unbelief veer uncomfortably close to our hometowns, where the power of Christ is diminished whenever, through unbelief in another person’s value, gifts, and potential, we diminish them.
The stories of people in the Bible often attest to God’s calling or choosing the unworthy, the unlikely, the surprising. They testify to God’s desire and power to work in and through all people and even through God’s creation. Yet how many times has the kind of unbelief Jesus meets here hindered the hands of Christ to accomplish God’s will?
God of all, praise to you for every time unbelief is overcome. Open our eyes to your grace at work everywhere. Open us to the gifts of all, so that the richness of your kingdom becomes our reality. Amen.