The Stone of Nazareth
After Capernaum, the Master heads back to His hometown of Nazareth where He grew up. As we read the account, try to notice the sudden turn of events as His walk towards the tav (cross) begins.
Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown; and His disciples followed Him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?” Is not this the carpenter, the son of Miriam, and brother of Jacob and Joseph and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark 6:1-3
Here we see Yeshua at a synagogue on a Sabbath. Perhaps this was the same synagogue where He had entered a year before but was rejected. He was even evicted from there because Luke 4 tells us the people were filled with rage as they heard His teaching. (Luke 4:28)
Had they improved after this time away? By grace, He returns there, but once again they will reject Him. It will be the last time we read of Yeshua in a synagogue. We know that at this point, the religious leaders were at work to excommunicate anyone who would have anything to do with Him. The full rejection had begun.
Notice that the people of Nazareth saw and must have understood who He was, to some degree. They were amazed, astonished by His words and works, yet they could not explain Him. They asked three questions:
- Where did this man get these things?
- What is this wisdom given to Him?
- And such miracles as these performed by His hands?
It was enough evidence to see that He is the Messiah, for they had never seen anything like it before. But there is that one statement in this passage which brings us to see that something supernatural was happening. It is found in these last words: they took offense at Him. As they had three questions following what they saw, we have three in return for them:
- Why would they do that?
- Why would they switch from being amazed to being offended?
- And why so suddenly without apparent reason?
Luke sums up his growth in Nazareth and says: And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52
Yeshua proved to be wise, gentle, and considerate. He healed the sick and raised the dead but, in the end, “they took offense at Him”. Again we ask, why?
Satan’s Sudden Surprise Attack
Do you remember the first parable Yeshua taught? He said that if we don’t understand it, we would not understand the rest? Its understanding lays the foundation.
When the Sower sowed the first seed which fell beside the road, birds came and took it away. Yeshua explained it by saying that Satan immediately comes and takes away the Word which has been sown. (Mark 4:15) Notice the word immediately, straight away, without delay.
It seems that at that moment, the parable began to see its application in Nazareth. Satan was doing what he does best, removing the knowledge of God. He was removing the Words of God through which the Lord had revealed Himself and was instead instilling offense and resentment against Yeshua.
Have you ever experienced this kind of sudden opposition? Every time it happens to me, I am so surprised but then I remember passages such as this one where Peter says:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 1 Peter 4:12
They are indeed strange when we are confronted by these ordeals, but the Lord is master and knows all things. These situations help us learn to always rely on Him.
The Scandalous Stone of Nazareth
In this passage the Word offense carries with it a load of history and prophecy.
The Greek word is skandalon which describes anything one stumbles over. Paul used this word three times when quoting a verse from Isaiah to describe how the people stumble over a stone which he, Paul, and Isaiah describe as being the Messiah and the Lord Himself.
Let me bring you to one of the three mentions in Romans 9:33 which is right at the start of Paul’s passionate thesis on Israel, past, present, and future. The full passage is found in Romans 9 to 11.
For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense (skandalon), And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” What is this stumbling stone, this rock of offense which the Lord laid in Zion – the stone that will cover and bless those who believe? It is the Messiah Himself as we see in Mark.
This passage from Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16 is so well chosen. When we consider them, the message becomes even more powerful. In the Isaiah 28:16 passage, the Lord God lays down this stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone who is the Messiah. But in Isaiah 8:14 we learn that this stone is the Lord Himself. “It is the LORD of hosts …He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over.
Here again we see who the Messiah really is. It is the Lord Himself who is the skandalon in Nazareth. No doubt then, and for that very reason, Satan would snatch up anything that might take root in Yeshua. The full rejection had begun in Mark 6, and continues on through the gospels up to today. Many Jews and Gentiles continue to take offense at Yeshua and for no other reasons than supposition, speculation, and unfounded theories about Him as the text will soon demonstrate.
The Memra’s Rejection
The Targum of Isaiah on this passage, from the Aramaic Bible, is very powerful. In the synagogues, at the time of Yeshua, they used Aramaic Bibles. In this version, the Name of the Lord is replaced with the word Memra, which is Aramaic for “word” or logos. For Isaiah 8:14 it reads: And if you do not attend, his Memra will become among you an avenger, and a stone of smiting and a rock of stumbling to the two houses of the princes of Israel.
The Memra is the Word Himself. Around the same time as Mark was written down, John tells us, in the opening of his gospel, that the Memra is Yeshua. In the beginning was the Word (or the Memra), and the Memra was with God, and the Memra was God.
Note that His rejection, and their stumbling over Him was indeed prophesied by Isaiah. As all prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures were rejected, so the Messiah would experience the highest rejection.