The beginning of Mark chapter 6 has Jesus going home to Nazareth. He gives a talk that’s a big hit. I love the Eugene Peterson way of putting it in The Message: “We had no idea he was so good!” It continues: “But in the next breath, they were cutting him down: ‘He’s just a carpenter — Mary’s boy . . . Who does he think he is?'” And the passage ends by saying that a prophet has little honor in his hometown and that Jesus wasn’t able to to do much there. The implication is that he wasn’t able to do much because he was not taken seriously. People weren’t expecting miracles, so they didn’t get many.
As we saw yesterday, the adoring crowds on Palm Sunday are frequently contrasted with the crowds calling for Jesus to be crucified on Good Friday. Here in Mark 6 we see another example of how the opinion of people can swing to wild extremes. When Jesus came back home, some were were praising him and others were ridiculing him. I can imagine how Jesus would have been thoroughly confused if he got his bearings from what other people thought of him. Fortunately, as we discussed yesterday, Jesus had self-esteem that didn’t rise and fall with popular opinion. His self-esteem came from God. He knew that no matter what others might say or might think, he was a beloved child of God.
So are you! It’s one of God’s greatest gifts, this ability we see in Jesus to have an inner calm and confidence that the world can neither give nor take away. I believe that as we grow as Christians, we grow in this “serenity”. And by the way, that’s the same word we find in that wonderful prayer:
God, grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.