"He was amazed at their lack of faith" (Mark 6:6).
Mark wastes no time in introducing the theme of rejection into his Gospel. After a spectacular start to his public ministry in nearby Capernaum, including miracles of healing, exorcism and even resurrection, Jesus and his band of disciples come to his hometown of Nazareth to teach in the synagogue.
The reaction to this hometown boy is both astonishment and resistance. "Who does he think he is?" some ask, for to them, Jesus is just a carpenter, familiar to family and neighbors since childhood. Where did he get all this wisdom and miraculous power? And they reject him.
Jesus quotes an adage: “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own native place, families and countries.” This only adds to the town's disdain. Now this upstart is calling himself a prophet! Their skepticism about Jesus blocks his ability to work miracles, another theme in Mark -- that faith is essential to experience the power of the reign of God flowing through Jesus. He is amazed a their lack of faith.
How strange that the greatest obstacle to new ideas and promises is familiarity. We already know the answer, the source, the situation, the person. We doubt that anything new or surprising can happen, and so it doesn’t. Jesus’ message was not just new, but also challenging, calling for a change of heart, a leaving behind of old prejudices and limits. Even when they had seen and heard the powerful signs he offered, his own family and neighbors drew back in disbelief, not just in Jesus but in themselves. They were small town, ordinary people. “What good can come from Nazareth” was a common attitude and saying about the hill country people from Galilee.
To bring us Good News, Jesus must first break through our doubts and fears about change, newness and challenge. Imagine if our first thought at waking was this: “Something wonderful is about to happen today!” Faith prompts us to be confident that God’s love is always present and active, waiting only for our “yes” for grace to flow into our lives right now.