Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Lectionary 14), Year B

by Crossings



Mark 6:1-13
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Lectionary 14), Year B
Analysis by Steven Albertin


1He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. 2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him. 4Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

From Canva

 “Jesus refuses to come down from the cross and kick some dust in the face of his enemies. Jesus dies accepting his fate dying alongside all the other rejects of this world.”

DIAGNOSIS: Smothered In The Dust

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): Stirring Up The Dust
I remember at a high school reunion being shocked when that pudgy kid who never got good grades, never was on a team, never had a date, and never had any friends shows up svelte, well dressed, confident and dripping with success. His arrival has stirred up the dust and caused a commotion. No one can believe it is him. All we can think of is that ordinary, non-descript, pudgy kid with whom we went to high school. Now look at him! Who does he think he is?

We resent the pudgy underachieving kid who showed up dripping with confidence and success at the high school reunion, because by comparison we have failed. Offended and angry we refuse to talk to him and walk away.

Jesus creates a similar reaction in this passage. Stirring up all kinds of dust, creating commotion and controversy, he returns to his home-town boldly preaching with authority. He displays amazing wisdom and even performs some deeds of power.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem): Offended By The Dust
Offended by the fact that he has been able to stir up the dust and get such attention, the home-town folks resent that the home-town boy is able to attract so many eyeballs. Even worse, he pays attention to the kinds of folk that no prophet or God-fearing man would give the time of day. They despise this guy who has dared to come back home to show them up. The dust, which he has stirred up, has clogged their hearts. They will have nothing to do with him. Who does he think he is? The messiah? God? Ridiculous!

We are no better. Our hearts, dirtied and clogged by our disbelief, respond just like they did. When Jesus is uninterested in our achievements and only seems interested in those who have little to show for themselves, we have no time for him. “Kicking the dust off our shoes,” we turn and walk away. So much for Jesus … and his church! They will never get our faith and trust.

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): Buried In The Dust
We try to bury the upstart kid at the high school reunion in the dust of our disgust. The folks in Nazareth tried to do the same to Jesus. In a parallel account (Luke 4) they actually tried to kill him. We do the same every time we turn away from those who do not meet our expectations and standards. We think we are preserving our dignity by burying them in our disdain. But the irony is that we end up being the losers. We miss-out on the good news from the home-town kid made good. Instead, we are stuck in the dust and in our own self-righteous presumptions.

Therefore, Jesus tells his disciples that when they and their message are rejected, kick the dust off your sandals and walk away. Perhaps someone else will have an open-mind and an open-heart willing to listen to the Gospel. Let these disbelieving critics sink in the dust. They like we ought to repent and “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” But we will not. So we deserve to sink in the dust. Even worse, God agrees.

From Canva

PROGNOSIS: Life In The Dust

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): Rising From The Dust
Jesus’ rejection by his home-town does not end there. He continues to stir up the dust all the way to Jerusalem. He continually creates a commotion by welcoming sinners and outcasts in the name of God, defying the expectations and assumptions of those who thought they were insiders and defenders of piety and decorum. Offended with Jesus’ daring, they finally accomplish what the folks in his home-town had failed to do: bury him in the dust and the tomb. They silence him once and for all. Even worse, Jesus’ last words from the cross acknowledge that perhaps even God has forsaken him, abandoning Jesus and his daring claims to the dust of the grave.

But there is a strange turn of events in all of this! “The third day” comes and upsets the applecart. Once again, someone kicks up the dust. The earth shakes. Dust fills the air. The stone covering the tomb is rolled back. The grave is empty. Messengers tell the startled women,” Jesus is risen!” He has risen from the dust of death and rejection.

This Divine Dustup is what God was up to all along. God has reversed his own judgment and busted up everyone’s assumptions about him. Defying what everyone thought he would do, Jesus refuses to come down from the cross and kick some dust in the face of his enemies. Jesus dies accepting his fate dying alongside all the other rejects of this world. This is the way he has loved all the rejects of this world all the way to the grave.

Therefore, when God raises Jesus from the dead, God is once again creating a ruckus. God is once again kicking up some dust. As the stone rolled away from the tomb, God declares to all of us that Jesus was right. “That’s my boy and I approve of what he has just done.” No dust can bury Jesus’ love for the world, even the dusty ire of his enemies and even God’s disgust with sinners.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution): In The Dust . . . Believing
Embarrassed by our faithlessness, ashamed by how we have treated those whom did not meet our expectations, buried in the dust of a past we cannot escape, we hear that blessed word of forgiveness. The “unclean spirits” that sought to bury us in our failures Jesus has driven out. We are amazed and stunned that God has been so merciful. No longer offended, we repent of our sin and rejoice in the good news that “Christ is risen” . . . and so are we!

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): Kicking Up the Dust
We joyfully live with a skip in our step kicking up the dust wherever we go. In a world filled with criticism where everyone falls short of what is expected of them, where people are constantly “canceled” and reproached for their failures, we live cheerfully, choosing to live mercifully, seeking to refrain from judgement and putting the best construction on everything and everyone. Along the way, kicking up the dust wherever we go, we never tire of proclaiming the good news.


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