2 Cor 12vv2-10
Mark 6 vv1-13
Last week we heard how two people approached Jesus in order to receive healing. One came in through the front door, the other came in through the side door, so to speak.
The first was a man called Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, who came to ask Jesus to go with him to minister to his sick daughter. News came to them as they journeyed there that she had died, yet Jesus went to her, and he raised her from the dead. Jairus could have had a lot to lose by approaching Jesus, especially if his friends numbered among those who despised Jesus or were at the least very suspicious of him.
This did not stop Jairus. His love for his daughter came first, and he thought nothing of falling at Jesus feet, in his great need, to beg his help, and great must have been his joy when she was restored to him. We’re not told how long it took him to make the move though.
The second was the woman who had had a haemorrhage for 12 years. It was she who came in the side door, approaching him from behind, reaching out without even asking Jesus, in order to touch the hem of his garment in faith, so that she might be healed. She had great faith, and believed in his power to heal. And she was healed, after admitting to Jesus the reason why she had approached him and touched him.
From the front door and side door of last week's readings from Mark 5, we journey this week to a closed door at the beginning of Mark 6.
The closed door was his own home town, where he taught in the synagogue, and where all who heard him were amazed.
So why did they close the door to him?
They acknowledged that he was full of wisdom, they knew that he performed miracles. So why was this not enough to convince them.
"Isn't this the carpenter?" they asked.
In other words, "Wasn't he one with us, did he not grow up here with us, and learn a humble trade. He's no different to us. Why has he taken the role of teacher when he has not been trained for the post? He's one of us! Who does he think he is?
The second question in their minds is, "Isn't this Mary's son…… Note they don't say, son of Joseph, Jesus bar Joseph, which was the way they addressed all Jewish men, after the father. Already in their minds they suggest that Jesus' birth was a scandal.
Mary's son, perhaps! But not Joseph's. You know how gossip goes. Therefore again there is the question, who does he think he is!
And they took offence at him.
Jesus replied to them," Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour."
Jesus could not do any miracles there, and he healed only a few sick people.
He would not force his way in through a closed door, yet he was present because he had a special affection for his own people.
A primitive tribe in Africa, were once given a very special gift, by some foreign travellers who had visited them. It was a gift which could have revolutionised their lives, and given them order and direction, but they didn't realise its true worth.
It was a sun dial.
They were proud and excited with their gift, and they wanted to make a neighbouring tribe jealous, so they built a hut to house it, and honour it, and it was never ever put to good use.
Had Jesus' home town submitted themselves to Jesus in the way that Jairus had done, or even the way the woman with the bleeding had done, they too would have had their lives revolutionised, and ordered and directed.
But it doesn't stop there, does it.
Even today we have our closed doors, with our preconceived ideas, and our set way of doing things….our hum drum routines that are fixed for life….. routines we're comfortable with, because they don't challenge us too much, anyway we have so much else to do.
And we have our prejudices about the upbringing, the background, the character and the respectability of others. We suspect others motives, we are selective in our loving, we weigh people up, just like they did in Nazareth. And we make our assumptions and jump to conclusions, just like they did, without getting our facts correct.
We too make our judgements and put others down, to make ourselves look big.
We too have our careless tongues, and have hurt others by what we have said, and we've hurt others with our disapproving glances, and our neglect and rejection of them.
We too live in the comfortable home towns and synagogues like those of Nazareth, and despise those who want to change things and make progress.
I heard of a church warden who once said to someone,"Yes there have been many changes in this church in my lifetime…. And I've opposed every one of them!"
We resist the spirit of Jesus and his power even today, when we close our doors, to him moving within us and through us. We bury and hoard his treasures, his gifts, his talents, just as if we were putting huts over sun dials to block out the sun.
The church of Jesus is his home town today, and he comes to visit his own.
What is it he will find when he comes?
We must each ask ourselves that question, for each response will be different. Will he find a welcome?
If these attitudes are ours, then no wonder the world has not received him. No wonder those places we visit have not seen Jesus.
We need nothing for our journey; no bread, no bag, no money, in fact no material possessions, we need only the presence of Jesus within. He is the staff we must lean on. In our weaknesses, his power is the staff we must lean on, in order to have strength for our journey, and the New Testament reminds us that his grace is sufficient for us, that's God's power is made perfect in our weakness.
I received a gift myself just recently from a very dear friend. It was William Holman Hunt's picture of The Light of the World. In it, Jesus stands knocking at a door. It is a very old and unused door, which hasn't been open for ages, and in front of it the weeds of sin, stand between him and the door, but he is knocking, and begging to be allowed in.
He desires that his light be allowed into every corner of the room that lies behind the door. Unfortunately the handle is on the other side of the door. It is a door that an only be opened from the inside.
And still Jesus whispers,"Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I WILL come in."
He stands there waiting. He visits, because he has a special affection for those who are his own.
Be ready for he will revolutionise our lives with his patient love, when he is allowed entry.
Let us pray
Lord, by these words of scripture today, I begin to see that perhaps my door is not open fully enough to you and miracles cannot be performed and my own healing is only partial.
I need you to come in and fill the empty parts of my life.
I want you to bring your light into those parts today, and chase away the shadows, and root out the weeds of sin as you enter. Leave no part in shadow, so that I may reflect your light more fully to others.
I promise that my life will be an open door to you from now on.