1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”
Jesus is in His hometown now. These are the people that saw Him as He was learning to walk and talk. The simply knew Him as Mary’s son, her illegitimate son. They knew His profession to be a carpenter. That is how Jesus left their area. Now He has returned for a visit and is powerful in both word and deed and has a following of disciples with Him. He left a carpenter with no training under a Rabbi and especially not a prominent one, and has come back different. For Jesus it is not that He was a bad, troubled kid that makes it hard to believe He is the Christ. He was perfect, He never sinned, even as a child. They simply knew Him as a plain man, as someone who is commonly. It hurt, I am sure, for Jesus’ friends and family not to accept Him. But He took it as the price paid for being a prophet. There is a good probability that this will be true for each one of us. If you grew up in a believing family maybe not. But for those who did not your unbelieving family is going to have trouble accepting who you are as a believer. At least that is likely to be the first reaction. That does not mean that we should stop coming around or stop telling them about Christ. That just means to know that is a reality and not to get our feelings hurt by it, but count it the cost of being a disciple.
5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
Their unbelief is what hindered Jesus from being able to do much there. But we do not see Jesus just throw His hands up in surrender and leave out of that region. We see him marveling at the disbelief. He was amazed at their level of disbelief. That did not stop Jesus from doing what He could while He was there. He laid His hand on a few sick people and healed them. Jesus never forces Himself on us, He never forces us to accept His healings. But for as many who want Him and are looking to Him for things He is right there with open hands wanting to give. He left that region and went into the villages and began teaching in a circuit there. That means He started at one village spent some time there teaching and then moved on to the next. When He went through them all He cycle back through.
7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8 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.
Jesus has spent time with His disciples now. They have seen the miracles. They have gotten to know His heart. He has told them specifically what the parables meant. Jesus has trained them up. Now it was time for them to go out on a trip preaching the Gospel as they went. Well not entirely by themselves. They went in groups of two. This is important for us to see as well. There will be times that we are out there all alone, but, especially in the beginning, we should be in groups of two’s whenever possible. It’s a good accountability as we are people so prone to sinning. And it helps the workload not be as much. When a difficult situation comes up you do not have to face it alone. You and the one you were sent out with can inquire of God and make a decision together. He told them to go out with pretty much nothing with them. There are a couple purposes in this. First it was customary for teachers of the law to go without a staff or a money bag into the synagogue. This was to signify the importance that they placed on their job as teaching and to allow others to know that they were here for no other business other than that of teaching. Likewise I am sure that Jesus did not want them to be distracted by anything else that was going on. Also when you are sent out with nothing you are dependent upon God for everything. This would help them stay humble and to look to God in all things while they were out there.
10 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!”
This is so important for us to hear. We are a culture that cries out that they just want to be accepted. The truth is that you will not be accepted by everyone all the time. That is especially true as preach the message of Christ. Not everyone is going to accept that. And our job is not to make everyone accept it. Our job is to teach the Word effectively, to leave nothing out. Then those that we are speaking to have the right to choice. We are to respect their choice. The shaking the dust off their clothes is a huge statement against them. This is a practice that the Jews had when they would walk through Gentile territory. They would shake the dust off their clothes as a statement that they did not want anything that was gentile traveling with them. This is what the disciples were saying. We do not want anything of your unbelief accompanying us on our journey. That is what we are to do. Preach where we are if they accept the message awesome. If not, well then shake the dust off and move on. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities back in Abraham’s day that the Lord judged by raining fire down on them. Rejecting Christ will apparently be dealt with more severely. There are clearly levels of judgement. No part of Hell will be good, but some will be worse than others. The same is true for heaven. All of Heaven will be great, but there are different levels of reward.
12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.
The disciples were obedient. They went out and taught just as they were asked to do. Because of their obedience they were able to take part in some pretty amazing things. They were able to cast out demons and heal sick people by anointing them with oil. That most of been an experience. One that was needed so that later when Christ is crucified they have these things to look back on and remember. Our God is good like that. He gives us things now that will bless us in the moment, but that will also be things for us to look back and remember when things get tough.
14 Now King Herod heard of Him, for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”15 Others said, “It is Elijah.”And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.”
Jesus fame has spread and king Herod hears of Him. He wrongfully concludes that this John the Baptist raised from the dead. He likely thinks this way because of the guilt He feels over killing him. Others thought that He was a prophet or like a prophet. Some think it is elijah because it is said that Elijah must come again before the Messiah. All these people have their thoughts and opinions, but that does not make them right. Only the truth is right, Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus is the Messiah.
16 But when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
John the Baptist rightly spoke out against the king and his messed up marriage to his brother’s wife. His brother was still alive and he took his wife from him. Because John was bold and spoke the truth he was put into prison. Because Herod did know that he was wrong and that John was a good man he did not have him killed right away. Instead he put him in prison and left him there for a while. Herod in good conscious could not kill him, but because of the way in which his wife did hate him Herod could not release John either.
21 Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. 22 And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” 23 He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24 So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!”
This whole thing is just sick. This dance that was down was a seductive type of dance. This is his niece that is dancing seductively in front of him. It worked, well in a sick way it worked. She got Herod distracted and pleased to the point where he is willing to give her anything she wants. Since she immediately runs to her mom to figure out what to ask for I suspect that her mom was the one that set it up from the beginning. Herodias is finally going to get what she wants. She tells her daughter to as for the death of John the Baptist. But not in any cute kind of way, but for his head to be brought in on a platter. That is terrible.
25 Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.
John was beheaded over speaking the truth. The head was given to the girl and the girl gave it to her mom. This is sick beyond words to me. The disciples came and took John’s body and gave it a proper burial. Do not let that intimidate you from speaking the truth. Even if it were to cost us our lives to speak the truth and to stand before God with a clear conscious makes it all worth it. What happens to be in this life is not as important to me as what Jesus says t be when I reach heaven. The desire of my heart is to hear Him say “well done, thy good and faithful servant, enter into your Father’s rest”. Let’s live our lives like there is a kingdom age that we are actually living forand that we want to bring as many with us as possible.