The Apostle Paul, freely admitted to anxiety, discouragement, pain, troubles, and weakness. He was but a jar of clay, a weak, flawed and unattractive vessel out of which shone the glory of the Lord. He boasted in those things which put him in a bad light, that made him look weak: illness, cold, hunger, thirst, persecution, imprisonment and beatings. In today’s church, a man with such a resume would never be selected as a pastor or church leader. We want strong, powerful, dynamic and visionary leaders who have no weaknesses.

In fact, the man Jesus, the simple carpenter who grew up in the small town of Nazareth in Galilee would not qualify either, judging from the reactions we see in His fellow Nazarenes we see in the gospel of Mark.

Now Jesus’ reputation was growing at this time. He had amazed the people in neighboring areas for He went about preaching about God’s love and forgiveness, calling for repentance as well as touching and cleansing unclean people, healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons, things which no one had ever seen on such a scale. His popularity grew even more as He sent forth His disciples to preach, heal and cast out demons. Everyone could see He was more than just an ordinary teacher or prophet.

Not so in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. There the people refused to acknowledge that Jesus was anything special or had any authority. The questions they raised may seem to be legitimate ones about His authority and credentials.  

“Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is 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?” (Mark 6:2-3)

These people seemed to be asking in a scoffing and dismissive manner. They did not want a legitimate answer. They could not accept Jesus as a prophet. They knew Him only to be a mere carpenter, one who worked with His hands making mundane and common place objects. He had no formal religious training. Therefore anything He had to see could be easily dismissed. Consequently they rejected what He had to say about the Kingdom of God, about His call to repentance and faith. Consequently, they lost out on the blessings of the Kingdom. Perhaps years later many of them may have come to faith in Jesus, we do not know, but for others their hearts may have been too hardened by their preconceived ideas and prejudice. 

That same hardness of heart exists today among billions of people across the globe and here in our own country. In our own contemporary society many find Jesus too common, familiar, lacking in the credentials they expect in their gurus, sages, philosophers, teachers, pastors, and politicians. These tickle their itching ears with easy advice that focuses on and exalts the self, one’s rights, feelings, emotions, and desires. Jesus’ call to repentance is easily dismissed as naive, irrelevant, and out of date with science, psychology, social progress, and cultural norms.

But the Lord exalts the weak, the humble. He cannot use strong people. They think they can do His job more effectively than He and so they feel they have little need to rely on Him. How wrong and foolish they are. The Lord lifts up the weak to accomplish His will and bring Him glory. Only the weak cannot rely on their own strength, effort or determination to overcome and persevere, because they have none. Only the weak know their need for Jesus!