Many successful people have been rejected.
For example, Woolworth’s founder Frank Winfield Woolworth.
He was not allowed to wait on customers when he worked in a dry goods store; his boss said he lacked the sense needed to do so.
Soichiro Honda is the founder of the Honda company, one of the well-known large car companies. When Mr Honda went for a job interview to work for the Toyota Company as an engineer, he was rejected and was told that he was not fit for the job!
Walt Disney was hired to work at the Kansas City Star newspaper. He was later fired from the paper for his “lack of creativity”.
Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years old and did not read until he was 7. His parents and teacher thought he was “sub –normal” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable.”
Thomas Edison: his teacher said he was “too stupid to learn anything”
Beethoven, his music teacher once said of him "as a composer, he is hopeless".
Jesus did so many miracles; including healing the sick, calmed the wind and sea and brought people back to life. Yet he was rejected by people in his home town.
Jesus is just like these famous people, people rejected them just because they didn’t have faith in them. They didn’t trust them.
Let’s find it out from today’s bible passage.
From verse 1-2, Jesus went to his home town and began to teach in the synagogue.
And people gave two comments about his teaching in verse 2.
The first comment was: where did this man get all this? It means that Jesus’ teaching must have struck their heart, so at the end of verse 1 we read: people were amazed at his teaching.
The second comment was: “what’s this wisdom that has been given him, what deeds of power are being done by his hand.” People were surprised by Jesus’ wisdom and his power. Since he did lots of miracles, these things were just beyond their imagination.
Therefore, from verse 1-2, people found that what Jesus has done was incredible. Jesus must be an extra-ordinary person.
But soon the people from this passage changed their attitude from being amazed at him to being offended by him.
What made them change? Because they lacked faith. Firstly, they used a secular view to test Jesus, we can see that in the three questions they ask in verse 3,
First “Isn’t this the carpenter?” They were testing his social status. He was only a carpenter, not a governor, not a teacher; of course he was not a prophet.
Surely Jesus was an ordinary person just like one of them in their eyes;
Then they questioned his family background in the second and third questions. Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?”
They thought that Jesus was just one of the sons of Mary. They knew Jesus, his brothers and sisters. His family was very ordinary just like their families.
But with these three questions, they only focused on Jesus’ occupation, social status and his family background. Even though Jesus performed lots of miracles, healing the sick and bringing people back to life. They still didn’t have faith in him. They took offense at him.
The second reason for their lack of faith in Jesus is that they didn’t search the truth.
Because they were from Jesus’ home town, they found that Jesus’ teachings and his wisdom didn’t match his social status and background, so they rejected him straight away without finding out the truth.
If they were willing to search the answers; I am sure that they would have known that Jesus was the Son of God, and they would have had faith in him too,
In Mathew chapter7:7 Jesus said:…seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.”
There was a guy, he was very different from Jesus’ home town people. His name was Lee Strobel. He was an atheist and, he was a journalist.
One day, he arrived home and his wife told him that she’d just become a Christian. He was surprised and couldn’t believe it. So he started to investigate whether Jesus was the Son of God.
After two years he got lots of evidences to prove Jesus is the Son of God. He became a Christian, and he is a pastor today.
Why did Lee change so much? From an Atheist to a pastor; it was just because when he doubted Jesus’ identity, he started to search for the truth.
Another example is from the bible, in John chapter 1, verse46. When Philip invited Nathanael to follow Jesus, Nathanael asked “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”
His reaction was just like the people at Jesus home town; but Philip said: “come and see,”
In verse 49, when Nathanael met Jesus, he said: “Rabbi, you are the son of God, you are the King of Israel.”
So the people from Jesus’ home town didn’t have faith in Jesus, simply because they didn’t search out the truth when they doubted Jesus’ identity.
The third reason for them lacking faith in him was that they couldn’t accept Jesus’ new social status.
In verse 4 Jesus said to them, “prophets are not without honor except in their own town, among their own kin, and in their own house.”
Why is that? Why can’t a prophet get honor from his home town? As we know, a prophet’s role is to teach people the word of God, and act as God’s representative.
In verse 3, we see that the people in Nazareth looked at Jesus as an ordinary man, a person the same as one of them, a person who came from an ordinary family, not a noble family.
Therefore they didn’t accept his teaching, even though his teaching was full of wisdom. Because they couldn’t accept Jesus’ role change, from a carpenter to a prophet, they took offense at him.
Today, sometimes we want to share our faith with our parents and it can be very hard. Since they think that we know less than them and they have more life experiences too, they don’t want us to “teach them” or go over their authority.
Therefore, from verse 1-4, the people of Nazareth lacked faith, because they were using a secular view to test Jesus; they didn’t search the truth, even though they found what Jesus did didn’t match his identity as a carpenter. And the thirdly they didn’t accept Jesus identity had changed from a carpenter to a prophet.
In verse 5, we read: Jesus could not do any miracles there. In other words: “Jesus could not do any miracle, because they didn’t believe in him.”
We shouldn’t allow ourselves to think that God’s power can be limited by people’s lack of faith. If that were the case God would not be able to do anything in this world, because everything he tried to do would require people already here, with absolute faith.
On the other hand, we shouldn’t think that Jesus refused to heal them because of their lack of faith. That would be out of character with the Jesus we know from the Gospels. And at the end of verse 5, we know that he did heal a few of people.
There were so many times when Jesus healed people through his compassion; so it would be very difficult for us to think that he lacked of compassion for the people he grew up with.
People lacking faith meant that there were only very few who were willing to ask for help. If they didn’t believe that Jesus could heal them, why did they go and ask him?
Therefore, Jesus didn’t do miracles there, just because people rejected him, included his teaching and miracles.
Let’s carry on the stories of faith. From verse 7 to 13, we find a story that’s the opposite to the one we’ve just heard.
In verses 6-7, Jesus went around teaching from village to village. And he also began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
It was time for his disciples to exercise what they’d learnt. So he sends them out to the surrounding villages two by two.
Jesus asking them to travel in pairs is not for protection, or health and safety reasons; it’s because they are to be witnesses to what Jesus has done and is doing; according to Deuteronomy chapter 19:15, “…..at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”
Then in verse 8-9, Jesus gave them a task. They didn’t need to prepare anything before starting the journey, they were to rely on what they could get on the road. No food, no bag, no money and not even an extra coat.
The only things they were allowed was a staff, which was for protection from wild animals and sandals which were essential for long walks.
If Jesus asked us to do the same thing today, would we have faith to accept his task?
I am not going to tell you my answer today. Let’s change the question.
How did the disciples have so much courage to accept this challenge?
Because they had faith in Jesus;
Where did their faith come from? Because they had a close relationship with Jesus, they knew Jesus well compared with his home town people.
They lived with Jesus, and they experienced lots of things together. Not long ago, they had had a lesson about faith when they were on a boat facing a storm. So their faith was growing day by day.
On the other hand, they were willing to put all things in Jesus’ hand, even their life, when they decided to accept his task; it meant they put their life at a big risk. It also tells us that they were willing to rely on Jesus to live, not on their possessions.
The Lord became their only possession. Just as the bible says, in Joshua, chapter 13:33: the tribe of Levi had been given no inheritance by Moses; the Lord of Israel was their inheritance, as he promised them.
The disciples were just like the Levites; they served the Lord alone, the Lord was all they had, and they fully relied on the Lord’s provision to live.
Back to the question I asked before, would we have faith to accept Jesus’ task?
In 1948, there was a person who did something very similar to what the disciples did.
Her name was Mother Theresa. When she was 38, she decided to walk out of her comfort zone to serve the poor and sick for the Lord in India.
On the day she left, all her possessions added up to just 5 Rupees. Today one dollar buys about 50 Rupees. That means 5 rupees was about 10 cents.
Mother Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with difficulties. She had no income and had to resort to begging for food and supplies.
Her ministry started with herself alone, but now, her ministries are in 127 countries and many men and woman are involved in her ministries. They still follow in her footprints to serve the poor and the sick for the Lord.
Why did Mother Teresa have such a big faith just like the disciples? From her autobiography, she says it was just because she wanted to put all things in the Lord’s hand and live for him alone, and she relied on his provision.
And she also says: if she had possessions, then she’d need to think how to protect them or earn some more and she couldn’t serve the Lord with her whole heart.
Therefore she didn’t have possessions and lived in a simple live. Mother Teresa has done so many great things to glorify God. Putting her faith on Jesus was the key of her success. 2010 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa and the Indian bank issued a special 5 rupee coin to remember her.
How about the disciples? When they put faith on Jesus, what did they get?
In verse 12-13, their ministries were very successful. They drove out many demons and healed the sick.
Although they didn’t prepare anything when they left; they didn’t lack anything during their journey and they came back with so many spiritual experiences. Spiritually they were wealthy.
Today, do you have faith on Jesus?
Would you like to accept him or reject him?
In verse 10-11, the Lord said that there’d be two types of people. One type would welcome him, accept him and listen to his teaching. This type of people were the ones who accepted Jesus.
The others wouldn’t welcome him, wouldn’t accept him and his teaching. For those who didn’t accept him, Jesus instructed the disciples to shake the dust off their feet.
The Jews would always shake the dust off their feet at the border to ensure that they didn’t bring anything unclean back into Israel, and make themselves unclean in the process.
So this is Jesus telling the disciples to leave, and let the people know that they have excluded themselves from the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let’s come to today’s conclusion, Jesus is the Son of God; he was a carpenter and also a prophet. He is the God for the poor and also for the wealthy. He is everyone’s God. We need to have faith to accept him.
Many successful people have been rejected, Such as the people I mentioned at the very beginning. They have later received honor and acceptance from people.
But Jesus, who changed thousands and thousands of people’s lives, including me is still rejected by some people; they still don’t give him honor.
When his home town people rejected him, even though he did so many miracles and healed the sick, Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. The same is true today. He died on the cross and rose for us; if we still don’t accept him, he might be amazed at our lack of faith in him too.