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Mark 080 - Amazed – Part 1

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Mark 6:1-3[1]

For those of you that never had the privilege of using a typewriter, I’m here to tell you that you have missed one of the great experiences of life. Yes, typing on a computer or glass keyboard is perhaps more efficient, and voice-to-text is more modern, fashionable, and cool.

But typing on a typewriter has to be one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences known to the human race. That’s because there is immediate feedback and reward.

You push the key and this sliver of metal flies up, striking the paper with that exciting sound, the firework “snap” of going through the inked ribbon, pressing the typeface against the paper, leaving the image of a letter. As the typebar returns, the paper is moved to the left, awaiting the next letter from your fingers.

And once you’ve made that character on the paper, it’s there. Yes, there was Wite’ Out liquid and correction tape, not to mention the competition, Liquid Paper. But they were exceptions.

The best way to make a correction was to “strike over” what you had typed. You went over the mistake with other letters, blocking out what you had written. There was a certain satisfaction when you rapidly typed over your mistake, making a “machine-gun” like sound as the keys flew.

The modern equivalent is just not as satisfying. In “You’ve Got Mail[2],” Tom Hanks starts an apology email. But after a couple of lines, realizes that he wants to start over. So, he uses the backspace key on his laptop to erase each character, one at a time. Yes, it eliminates the mistake, but it just makes it disappear. It does not cleanse his soul. Yes, it’s digital, it’s modern, it’s cool. But is it satisfying?

In an emotional manner, this is what happened to Jesus’ friends and neighbors when they heard him talk and teach. Here’s “the kid” returning to his hood. Having grown up around them, now speaking incredible words of life with power, conviction, and authority.

But rather than receiving this gift, many pushed back. He got a little bit too close for comfort, a little bit too convicting. They were “struck out” with astonishment. Here was Jesus’ speaking, and it “pushed their buttons” to the point of bringing them to a fork in the road. Accept or reject. Change or remain the same. Take the new road or stay on the well-worn path that they were on.

They had words and experiences from Jesus based on his parents, his upbringing, his life lived there with them. And now here comes Jesus as more than a man, the God-man, speaking like they’ve never heard anyone before.

And when you add the reports, the stories of his miracles, it was too much for them to handle. Their reaction was to “strike over” or “strike out” the new experience of hearing his teaching and reports of miracles.

It’s easy to criticize them, point our finger at them, accuse them of faithlessness. But don’t we do the same thing? When God does something that we don’t understand, something that we didn’t anticipate, something we didn’t plan, something out of the ordinary, it’s inconvenient if not downright painful. Don’t we want to “strike it out” from our memory? Don’t we want to “strike over” it with another memory? A more pleasant experience?

Here's Jesus, the returning son of Nazareth to his people. And what does he find? People that are ready to question and criticize. They have their fingers on the keys, ready to type over so it’s not readable anymore.

We want the same, easy, erasure of our past. But there is something very unsatisfying about what some call “easy confession.” Say the right words, whether we believe them or not, or even feel them, then we’re done. It’s been confessed. Let’s move on like it never happened.

But God will not leave us alone. He comes after us, pursues us, seeks us. We may want to question him, we may even deny him, we may walk away, or even run away, but this does not deter or discourage him.

Forgiveness with God is more than “backspacing” over what we’ve done. It’s more than putting Whit-Out or Liquid Paper over it. It’s more than overstriking it with other letters. No, a payment required. A price has to be paid to make things right between us and God. And only God could pay that price. Not our miserable solutions or feeble efforts. It took God come down in Jesus to remove the error, the stain, the sin.

His willingness to do everything to bring us back to himself is truly amazing. So, what’s our response?

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Bible references are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. [2]

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