Jesus’ Purpose Was to Bring the Kingdom of God to Earth by Changing Lives For the Better. What About Us?

Mark 6:1-13 – Jesus’ rejection by his hometown of Nazareth.

Jesus Teaching -  Charlotte M. Yonge, Charlotte M.: “Religion in the Home” (1913).  US public domain

Jesus Teaching in the Temple –
Charlotte M. Yonge: “Religion in the Home” (1913). US public domain

Going home as a changed person is not an easy task.  Our friends and family expect to see the person we were when we left but upon our return, we are no longer that person.  As Jesus found out, returning home as a changed person was nothing short of an awkward and disappointing homecoming experience.

When Jesus went home, like we all do at times, I’m willing to bet that there were rumblings of discontent just at the way he acted.  Rumors may have even swept through town that this Jesus person was different than the last time he was there.  Things did not come to a head, however, until he arrived at the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach.

The response from the villagers and his friends and family?

Where’d he get all that knowledge?  How does he knows about all this stuff and where did he get that power to do all those miracles we keep hearing about?  He’s a carpenter, Joseph’s son right?  His mother Mary, and his brothers James, Joses, Judas and Simon are here too right?  So who in the world does this young man think he is?

A prophet is welcome everywhere except at home.

The village of Nazareth knew Jesus.  He grew up there and was guided and disciplined by them.  But going from carpenter to prophet is a huge jump and everyone there knew their village was not one that raises prophets.  They were sure of it.  And because of that proud confidence, they were repulsed by his actions.

Who does this carpenter’s boy think he is?

It seems that they all thought Jesus was reaching for a position in society that wasn’t his to attain.  And with those thoughts, they were stuck.  All they remembered was the person who left just a few short months ago.  The person now standing in front of them they did not know and they were not going to know because they could not get past their preconceived notions of who Jesus really was.

Jesus’ mission field was society at large and his purpose was to bring the kingdom of God to earth by changing lives for the better.  He made the blind see and the lame to walk.  He touched the untouchables and brought the outcasts back into society.  Best of all, he restored relationships.

When he went home, he wanted to do for his home village what he did everywhere else but they would have none of it.  We’re told that he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.  That’s it.

Jesus’ home village rejected him and because of that, much healing went undone.  They were so entrenched in their preconceived notions that they rejected their own, the boy they raised to a man, and in doing so, they rejected his message of hope and love and healing.

What about us today?  Are we so entrenched in our preconceived notions that we’re rejecting Jesus’ message of love and hope and healing and his desire for the restoration of relationships?  That’s a hard question to honestly ask of ourselves.

An even harder thing to do is to go deeper, thoroughly examine ourselves and question that as Christians how serious are we really in following Jesus.  Jesus stood up to the status quo and changed the world by bringing forth a new way of living and loving he summed in two short statements:

37 Jesus said to [the lawyer], “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.  Matt. 22:37-40

I have to ask, are we actually doing this?  Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves?  And by the way, just who is our neighbor anyway?

It’s easy to love those who are just like us but what about those who are not?  Those we think are loud and obnoxious.  Those who go unbathed.  Lawbreakers.  Haters.  Those who pick fights just because they can.  Those who live differently than we do.  Those who have different beliefs than we do.  Because they’re not like us, are they less worthy of Jesus’ message of love and hope and healing and the restoration of relationships?

The world is a hurting place.  Has been for a long time and Jesus insists that the only way to address it is to love.

Are we really prepared to live like this?  To stand up and, like him, work to change the world for the betterment of everyone?  Even if this work means our end?  Or will we remain entrenched in our own preconceived notions and reject Jesus’ message just like his home village did?

Jesus’ purpose was to bring the kingdom of God to earth by changing lives for the better.  What is our purpose?

Even When Disaster Looms, God’s Grace is Still There

John 2:1-11 – The Wedding at Cana.

Marriage at Cana by Martein de Vos c. 1596

Marriage at Cana by Martein de Vos c. 1596

Contrary to common perception, Jesus was not averse to having a good time.

The wedding at Cana, like most weddings, was a most likely a grand party.  And it was a party in which Jesus and his mother were in attendance.

Let’s start with a little background.  In the ancient world, hospitality was a sacred duty so the host did everything they could to make sure full hospitality was extended to their guests.  If they did not, they ran the risk of humiliation.

Part of extending hospitality was providing food and drink and since water was not the mostly pure liquid we think of today, the drink was usually some kind of wine.  Sometimes it had a weak alcohol content, which was appropriate for youth, sometimes it had a fuller alcohol content which elevated it to an adult beverage.  At the wedding, where hospitality was in full swing, I’m sure it was full blown wine.

Full wine = happy juice.  This was to ensure, like it does today at any gathering, that all in attendance were to enjoy a good time.

Unfortunately, the wedding at Cana was a disaster in the making because the wine ran out.

Mary, Jesus’ mom, turned to him and said,  “Yo, son.  There’s no more happy juice.”

Jesus, apparently not caring too much about the dearth of wine probably because it’s not his party, said, “So?  What does that have to do with me?:

Mary could’ve scolded him and told him not to get smart with her, reminding him of that pesky commandment #5 which says that he is to to honor his father and mother so that his days may be long upon the land which the Lord his God gave him, but she did not.

Mary was a very wise woman.  Instead of reacting, she ignored the smart remark and forced her son into action by going to the servants and telling them to obey him:

Mary to the servants: “Whatever he says to you, do it.

The servants to Jesus:  “Tell us.  What do you want us to do?”

Jesus now must do something to prevent the humiliation that comes from the failure of hospitality and in doing so he brings joy back to the party.

Miriam-Webster defines joy as (1) a feeling of great happiness; (2) a source or cause of great happiness or delight; (3) something or someone that gives joy to someone; and (4) success in doing, finding, or getting something.

Life is meant to be enjoyed, not to be drudgery or to be dull.  And to experience the joy in life, we must often go beneath the surface of our existence to see it.

There are always challenges to be overcome but the challenges are not meant to take away the joy.  In every life darkness comes.  Things happen.  But none of that is ever meant to take away the joy.  Remember, even in the desert, flowers bloom.

The wedding party = joy for everyone.

The turning of water into to wine = continued joy for everyone.

Jesus took a disaster and turned it into joy.

He took the ordinary and changed it to extraordinary.  That’s joy too.

Let’s go a little deeper, to a more spiritual level, and let each of those jars represent God grace.

God’s grace is special.  It’s extraordinary.  That’s joy.

Even when disaster looms, God’s grace is still there.  That’s joy too.

There is enough grace, a gloriously abundant amount, to spare for all.  That’s the best joy of all.

So let’s look not at the disasters that are all around us but instead work to focus on the extraordinary, the joy that can be found in the midst of our lives.