History teems with epic expeditions and victorious voyages:
- Magellan’s triumphant voyage around the globe in the 1500s
- Lewis and Clark’s remarkable excursion to the American west in the 1800s
- Apollo 11’s momentous moon landing in 1969
History also records plenty of troublesome trips and ruinous journeys:
- Christopher Columbus’ attempt to reach India in the 1400s
- Henry Hudson’s hapless search for a northwest passage in the 1600s
- Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition in the Antarctic in the early 1900s
What do all these trips, expeditions, and journeys have in common? They all required great persistence. Whether a journey ends in complete success or total failure, persistence is almost always a central facet. For example, in Shackleton’s unsuccessful attempt to cross the continent of Antarctica from sea to sea, only persistence—and lots of it—kept the explorer and his crew alive through many terrible ordeals and brought them all safely back home.
Jesus’ journey to the cross demanded greater persistence than all these put together. It demanded greater persistence than any journey in all of history. That journey took our Savior to places far more challenging than the Antarctic! Going toe-to-toe with Satan in the wilderness took much more courage than a trip to the moon. Judas’ betrayal, ending in Christ’s crucifixion, was colder by far than the icy waters of Hudson Bay. Bearing the full weight of your guilt and mine took far more strength than any challenge Lewis and Clark overcame.
Despite every obstacle that stood in his way, Jesus persisted in the journey our heavenly Father had laid out for him. Despite temptations to doubt and to deviate from his course, Christ persisted in his mission, faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will. Jesus’ journey took him all the way to the cross and from the cross into death—all for you.
We see that persistence early in our Savior’s earthly ministry as he visits his hometown—Nazareth. Nazareth was a small, backwater sort of place. Small towns usually celebrate and often even exaggerate the successes of any locals who have made it big. Not this place.
As Jesus comes to his hometown, he is met with immediate resistance. “Where did this man get these things?” the locals ask (Mark 6:2). In other words, “Who does he think he is? What gives him the right to try to teach us? How is he really doing those miracles we’re seeing? There must be some trick to it.”
The skepticism doesn’t end there. They stop asking questions, only to pull out insults: “Is not this the carpenter?” they ask (Mark 6:3). These cynics couldn’t fathom the fact that Jesus, the neighbor they had known for 30 years, had amounted to anything after he moved away. After all, he had worked as a common laborer, hadn’t he? His hands were as calloused and his fingernails were as dirty as their own. Right? So what could he possibly teach them?
Then their insults grew even more personal. “Isn’t this the son of Mary?” they asked. In most cases, they would have referred to Jesus as the “son of Joseph,” for lineage was traced through a person’s father. Scholars believe they brought up Mary for a reason. The gossip that had surrounded Jesus’ birth decades before still floated around in Nazareth. People had done the math, and rather than trusting God’s angelic messenger, the residents of Nazareth chose to believe the rumormongers.
Simply put: The people of Nazareth took offense at Jesus. In every way, he scandalized them.
Have you ever hid your faith because you thought someone would be offended by it?
Has anything in the Bible shocked or offended you?
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Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.