Updated: Feb 23
There are times when we experience a sense of urgency. I like to wake up early in the morning, enjoy a cup of coffee while I read the Bible, spend some time in prayer and then get ready for my day. But then there are those mornings when I have overslept. My morning routine is thrown completely off as I hurriedly look for the first thing to put on, brush my teeth, and sprint out the door hoping beyond hope that the traffic in Houston will be light.
A sense of urgency does not always mean panic. There are those times when we have urgent news to share with others. It may be good news such as finding out God has answered our prayers and we want to share this with others. There is a sense of urgency to share the goodness of the Lord.
Several times, I have mentioned Mark’s gospel is an urgent gospel. Mark has a message to share about the Messiah. In chapter 6, Jesus shares this sense of urgency concerning the message of the kingdom. However, not everyone is willing to listen.
REJECTED AT HOME
Chapter 6 begins with a story of how Jesus is rejected in His hometown. When the Sabbath had come, Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue. Many, hearing Him speak, listened, and were amazed at His teaching and understanding (ref. 6: 1-2). But the words of Jesus also became a stumbling block. Some were offended (ref. 6: 3). In His hometown, among His family, close friends, and those who knew Him as the carpenter’s son, Jesus was rejected by some. They would not hear the urgent message of the kingdom of God. Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief.” (ref. 6: 6). Those of His hometown had a preconceived understanding of Jesus. He is the guy who fixes our broken stuff and repairs our homes. How is it that this carpenter is to teach us in matters concerning God’s kingdom?
It can be easy for us to approach Jesus in this same way. In our minds, we have an understanding of who Jesus is. He is the One who is to answer my questions and prayers the way I want them to be answered. He is the One who should say the things I want Him to say. We approach Jesus with a preconceived understanding of who He is. He is to like the people I like and who are like me. He is to dislike those I dislike and who are unlike me. However, when we find His words in conflict with our understanding of who Jesus is, we should pause and consider our motives.
Do I truly listen to His words to understand them or am I just listening for what I want to hear? Have I come to hear Jesus with my own preconceived understandings and prejudices or am I truly seeking to hear and understand Him?
The message of Jesus is an urgent message. It’s one that needs to be shared and received. Jesus sends out the twelve, two by two with urgency and gave to them the power over unclean spirits (ref. 6: 7).
“He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts—9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.”
MARK 6: 8-9
There is a sense of urgency. Take what you have on and go, there is no time for preparations. Hurry! Jesus has an urgent message to share! A message people need to hear.
What was the urgent message they were to share? (Mk. 6: 12) “So they went out and preached that people should repent.”
By this point, in reading Mark’s gospel, this should be a message ringing loud and clear in our ears. It was the message of John the Baptist preached.
“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
MARK 1: 4
It is the message Jesus is proclaiming.
“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
MARK 1: 14, 15
Mark is pressing his readers. No longer is God’s kingdom coming at some point in the future as the prophets foretold. His kingdom is now. The reign and rule of God is now. The good news of God’s Messiah is now. The time to turn from our sin and receive Him is now.
HOSPITALITY IN RECEIVING
God’s kingdom news, the message of the Messiah, the message of turning from our sin and receiving Him, takes a very personal turn.
“Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
MARK 6: 10, 11
Commenting on the above verse, Gospel Preacher, C.E.W. Dorris noted the following:
“The shaking off the dust from the feet against the people originated in the practice of the Jews, when they returned from a foreign country, shaking off the dust from their clothes and feet when they returned to their native land. The land in which idols were worshiped was polluted, unholy, while the land of Judah was holy, concreted to God; so in returning to Israel they shook off the dust of the polluted land, that they bring it not into the land consecrated to the service of God. “
As the twelve went to a city and entered a house, if they refused to open the door of hospitality, refusing to receive them and the message they proclaimed, the disciples were to leave that home and city shaking the dust off their feet as a witness to their uncleanness, and rejection of the message of the gospel. They were to be seen as those who worshiped idols and rejected the message of the kingdom. They had a greater opportunity than Sodom and Gomorrah. And the judgment of those who reject the Messiah’s message will be more severe than the two wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
As mentioned, the message of the kingdom of God and repentance takes a very personal turn here. Is the door of our home and heart open to the Messiah’s message? Is the door of the hospitality of our lives open to receiving the Lord? Or have we refused to welcome Him fully into our homes?
Jesus is looking for faith. Jesus “marveled” (ref. Mk. 6: 6) at the lack of faith demonstrated by those in His hometown. In (Gen. 18: 32) God would have spared the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if there were just ten people in the city who were faithful.
Today, we have been given a great opportunity. We have the faithful and true testimony of God’s word concerning His Son and His kingdom. God has revealed Himself to us, His word is confirmed.
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
2 PETER 2: 19-21
We have the creditable witness of those such as Mark who recorded the miracles and teachings of Jesus. We have examples of men such as Paul and Peter, women such as Lydia (ref. Acts 18) whose heart was opened to receive the message of Christ and who opened her home in generous hospitality. We see lives that are transformed by the message of the kingdom. Lives such as Onesimus, who ran away from his responsibilities only to return as a person who had been changed by the gospel (ref. Philemon 1).
The message of the Messiah is a radical message. It is a message, unlike any message that has ever been proclaimed. The God of all creation has come to rule and to reign over His creation. He loves you and desires for you to be with Him as He restores order from the chaos.
GOD IS SEEKING FAITHFUL PEOPLE
God is seeking people who have faith in Him. Those who will believe in the message of His Son. Notice in the text, as the twelve are sent out, some will not receive them. Some will not open their lives or the doors of their home to His message. Are we open to Him? Have we generously welcomed Him into our homes or are there closets we keep closed off?
What do we expect from Christ? Are we approaching Him with a prejudice? Do I expect Jesus to say exactly what we want to hear? Do I expect Him to accept what I already believe? Am I expecting Jesus to fit into my world, or do I listen to hear how I can be found in His kingdom?
The message of Christ is a very urgent message. It’s a message that must be shared, but it is also a message that presses us to ask some very difficult questions. Is Jesus just the carpenter’s son? Or is Jesus the Messiah who has come to proclaim the kingdom of God and who invites us to join His kingdom? The witness of Mark, as well as the Scriptures, are given so that we can know. They are given so that we may know Jesus is the Son of God who has come with good news (ref. Mk. 1: 1).
1 Dorris, C.E.W., Commentary on the Gospel According to Mark. vol. 2, Gospel Advocate Company, 1992. p. 147
bio: Steve and Brenda have been married for the past twenty-seven years and have three beautiful daughters. In addition to producing content for and managing SimplyRevised, Steve is the preaching minister at Southbelt Church of Christ located in Pasadena, TX.