Trading Places

Sunday morning sermon from Mark 6:1-13

Our old saying says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The way Jesus said it was “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown” (Mark 6:4). The truth is that the more familiar we are with someone, the more likely we are to take them for granted. Jesus humbled Himself completely, leaving behind all the trappings of heaven, and He became someone so “regular” that the people of His hometown rejected the idea that He could’ve been the Messiah. He wasn’t handsome (Isaiah 53), He had no home (Matthew 8:20), and He sent His followers out with nothing (Mark 6:8). The only thing He had to recommend Himself to us is that He was God in the flesh, which is far more than we need or deserve. And that’s the only thing we need to be able to share Him with others as well. All that matters in the kingdom of God is whether you are bearing the name of Jesus Christ. Then, if people reject you, it can’t hurt you because all they are rejecting is Him.

Watch the full sermon:

Trading Places – Sermon by the Rev. Charlie Holt from The Church of St John the Divine on Vimeo.

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One thought on “Trading Places

  1. The description of Jesus in Isaiah probably refers to his appearance after torture. In the New Testament, he is described thus: “the child grew up strong and filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) This doesn’t sound like someone who was not attractive. The expression “the grace of God was upon him” can refer in the Hebrew mind to someone who is physically beautiful, just as in the same language, “a time of favor” means a time in which everything seems to be going right in an unusual way. There are very few physical descriptions of persons in any book of the Bible outside of the Song of Songs, so when there is such a phrase, it can legitimately be taken to reflect something exceptional about that person. For example, “David was ruddy [red-haired? sunburned?] and had beautiful eyes [blue or green?] and was handsome.” 1 Samuel 16:12 Since almost no one else in the Hebrew Bible is described in such terms, we can assume that David was really a picture of masculine beauty.

    That Jesus was somehow charismatic is without question, and additionally it is only human nature to want to be close to someone who is unusually good-looking. This could explain why his first disciples dropped everything to follow him. Also, in the New Testament the phrase “he looked” and “he lifted up his eyes” appears often in referring to Jesus, so his eyes may have been unusually brilliant and even mesmerizing. But after torture, the description of a bloody, beaten body would answer the description in Isaiah 53:3, which is a description of Jesus’ torture and death. Anyone who has seen crime photos or photographs following a terrorist attack, or has been present at such a dreadful event, will know what I mean because mangled, bloody bodies literally do not look human. As Isaiah puts it, “there was nothing in his appearance that we should esteem him” and after this brutal treatment was “like one from whom men hide their faces.” Jews hoping for a messiah in the style of King David would not even want to look upon such a sight, a man reduced to little more than meat after a beating by Roman soldiers and then a flogging with a Roman “flagrum” which was a whip with several tails, to which bits of bone and metal were attached so as to rip through flesh. MH