Today, I was waiting for the hurricane, but it slowed down. We have not had any troubles so far while others have lost electricity. We’re grateful. The video includes a link to a video from East Africa Energy Solutions. The link I included with their name is to their gofundme page. I expect great things from this ministry and I want to call your attention to it.
1. And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
After all the previous events, Jesus came back home from Nazareth. He came with His disciples. I know that Jesus knew everything, but if it were me coming home, I might expect some applause as a conquering hero. Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath and the people were astonished. But they were astonished for the wrong reasons. Instead of marveling at His teachings and the miracles He had performed (elsewhere) they blew Him off because they remembered how He was as a little kid. They knew His brothers and sisters. They weren’t impressed by His teaching, they were offended by it. “Who did this Jesus think He was?” was the question on everyone’s mind.
4. But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
Jesus made the observation that still holds true today. Greatness doesn’t seem to be recognized by those who knew you growing up, or by those among whom you live. In some cases, even competence is ignored by the people who know you. A while back, I offered my services to an organization that I’ve supported over the years. At the time, I was trying to raise awareness of my devotional books. When I offered to come and pray with the organization, the person I talked with gave me a look that said, “Who do you think you are?” I, obviously, am not in the same league as Jesus, but I was just another home town guy trying to work with a home town ministry who was rejected. When I worked with the school district as a teacher, we joked about what we needed to do to be recognized as an expert: you had to be from out of town, with a briefcase and a big fee. Even though Jesus had performed many miracles and shown great teaching while out of town, when He came back to town, their lack of faith hindered His work. I do get a chuckle though when Mark mentions that He couldn’t do much that was great, except for healing a few people. Seriously, how would you feel if someone described your bad day as only being able to heal a few sick folks. Two of the things that caused Jesus pause were great faith, and lack of faith. Nazareth amazed Jesus because of their lack of faith. What Jesus didn’t do because of His discouragement was give up. He continued going around to other villages teaching. He didn’t try to win the people of Nazareth over by working harder. He found the Father’s plan and continued following it.
7. And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8. And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9. But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
In addition to His own teaching, He sent His disciples out to teach. He gave them the power they would need and He gave them marching orders to teach and depend on those who would hear the word to support them. They had the clothes on their back and a walking stick. He forced them to become better teachers and to live by faith.
10. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
They were to teach by entering the first house that welcomed them. They were to stay there until it was time to leave. That may seem strange to us, but it kept the disciples from going some place, preaching, and then taking a better offer which would make it look like they were in it for the money. There was no doubt in Jesus’s mind that some would reject the disciples as they taught. They wouldn’t be received in a home; their teaching would be ridiculed. The natural inclination would have been to seek to convince the skeptics of how wrong they are. That’s how we react today. If someone disagrees with us, we seek to convince them of the error of their ways. Jesus told them to shake the dust off their feet and move on. That dust shaking was a major statement in that culture and Jesus highlighted the severity of rejecting them and their message by noting that they would be in worse shape than Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment if they rejected the message.
12. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
The disciples knew what to do, because they had lived it with Jesus. They preached that men should repent, and men did repent. They cast out demons. They anointed many who were sick with oil and healed them. They had heard Jesus teach, and they were able to share the same message. They had seen Jesus cast out demons, and they were able to do so also. They had seen Jesus heal others, and now they were able to do so themselves. As I think of this story, I think of Jesus, Peter, James, and John coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration to the demon-possessed child. I can’t help but wonder that these disciples who had been effective in casting out demons before, were suddenly impotent in that area. Perhaps they forgot that they went out in the power of Jesus here, and they depended on their own power at the foot of the mountain. We must remember to do all that we do in the grace and power of Jesus Christ and not depend on our own strength.
14. And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15. Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.
I don’t think I’ve ever thought about this before today, but it’s interesting that Herod’s first thought when he heard about Jesus was that He was John, risen from the dead. Apparently the idea that someone could rise from the dead wasn’t totally foreign to the culture of the day. Perhaps Herod thought of Jesus as more of a ghost, than a resurrected being, but he was convinced that Jesus had been dead, and was now hanging around, perhaps just to get back at him (and his guilty conscience.) Others saw Jesus as the return of Elijah, or just another prophet, but Herod was convinced that Jesus was John, risen from the dead.
17. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. 18. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. 19. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Why might Herod have a guilty conscience regarding John? It seems like John understood what it meant to speak truth to power. He let Herod know, in no uncertain terms, that what Herod did was wrong when he took his brother’s wife as his own. The wife, getting what she must have thought was the better, more powerful brother, didn’t like what John was saying, so Herod arrested John. Herodias wanted John dead, but didn’t have the power. Herod knew that John was just and holy, and, I imagine, right, so he didn’t execute John and still arranged to hear his message in spite of the truth that John spoke.
21. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; 22. And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.
Then, Herod had a birthday bash. All the chief officials, anyone who was anyone in Galilee showed up. Herodias’s daughter, Salome, danced for the party and Herod, who probably had imbibed a little too much alcohol, offered Salome (we learn her name in another gospel) up to half of his kingdom. Those dance lessons really paid off. Salome, given the opportunity to gain amazing riches, wasn’t sure what she should ask for.
24. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.
With the offer of immense wealth before her, Salome went to her mother and said, “What should I ask for?” Herodias saw her chance and told Salome to ask for John’s head on a platter. Girls were different back then. Salome didn’t look at her mom and tell her how gross that was. She decided that it was a cool beans idea and went to Herod and relayed mom’s wish as her own.
26. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28. And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.29. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Herod was stuck. He didn’t imagine that Salome would ask for John’s head. But he didn’t see a loophole without embarrassing himself in front of his guests and disappointing his daughter, so, rather than telling her what a ridiculous request this was, he indulged his daughter and had John beheaded in prison. The executioner arranged the head on a platter and brought it to Herod, who gave it to Salome, who gave it to Herodias. I’ve often wondered what Herodias did with it. We don’t see that here, but it’s possible that his head was buried with John’s body. I say that because no one told Herod that Jesus couldn’t be John because He still had his head. John’s disciples didn’t give up when John was put into prison, and, even in the midst of tragedy, they showed love and respect enough to bury the body of John. And even in his death, John continued to speak to the conscience of Herod.