Welcome to Christ’s Community Church. This morning we’re beginning a brand-new series called Forgotten Virtues and to be honest with you I believe that I began to feel this burden to share this message after hearing so much of the wrangling back and forth with our presidential candidates. As I read the news and watched the debates, it became overwhelmingly apparent to me that not just in this election but in our culture today we have forgotten the virtues of honor, of purity, of loyalty, and of integrity. America is no longer a culture of gratitude.
And so first, today what I want to talk to you about is the virtue of honor, because sadly we live in a culture where many of us live without honor. It doesn’t seem to matter who you are or where you live, we’ve become a culture that is really without honor. Today I want to share with you a story when Jesus was actually limited in what he could do. We’re going to read this in Mark chapter 6, where Jesus was in his hometown and the people who should have honored him the most, honored him the least.
To give you a little bit of the context as you’re turning there, we find that Jesus has returned to his hometown, back to the place where he grew up, a place where just a year earlier he was actually run out of town and his own neighbors threatened to kill him. Now he returns with a little bit more notoriety, he’d been on a teaching tour, teaching the Word of God, doing all sorts of miracles, and if you remember he’d turned water into wine, he’d raised the dead, he’d opened blind eyes, healed deaf ears, multiplied the loaves and fish to feed thousands and so he’d been doing all these miracles when he came back to his hometown, and he actually couldn’t do much because of the lack of honor.
Look with me at Mark Chapter 6 and verse one 1, the Bible says: “Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.” Jesus went to his hometown. Now, I wonder how many of you ever heard of Carl Perkins? Anybody? Well, Carl Perkins was known as the king of rockabilly. He wrote songs like Blue Suede Shoes, Matchbox, Honey Don’t, Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby, and Mama Sang Bass among others. When the Beatles met Carl while he was on tour in England in the early 60s, they were star struck and even recorded some of his songs. For those who follow and are interested in the early history of rock ‘n roll music Carl Perkins is a legend. But what’s amazing is that Carl Perkins never got the respect he deserved locally. Many musicians dismissed him, they made fun of his toupee, and even criticized his music. Even though he’d done great charity work in his hometown of Jackson, Tennessee, even though he’d established a Foundation for Child Abuse, even though he had quite a few number one hits, had traveled the world performing with the likes of Eric Clapton, Elvis Pressley, Paul McCartney, Roy Orbison, and many others; he never got the respect he deserved. Carl was often dismissed and overlooked, because he was just a local guy. This is how the people saw Jesus. Now obviously, the stakes for ignoring and overlooking Jesus are much higher than Carl Perkins, but Jesus’ words weren’t taken seriously, because to them he was just a local guy. He was nobody special, just a carpenter, you know, he was Mary’s son, and so nobody really paid attention to what he had to say. Even his own family didn’t take them seriously. Mark wrote about the crowds following Jesus and said this in chapter three, “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind" (Mark 3:21).
Can you imagine the people so close to Jesus having so little discernment? Could you imagine Jesus living right here, having him near you, being able to talk to him, being able to listen to his teaching any time, and yet not having a clue about who he is? Well in many ways, we’re just like the people of Nazareth, because we dismiss Jesus far too easily today. We’ve allowed ourselves to become desensitized and immune to his teaching and sometimes we find ourselves not taking him seriously. I mean, Jesus calls for radical discipleship, total commitment, and complete obedience, but we try to have this casual relationship with him.
For example, Jesus says in Mark chapter 11, “If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25). But we continue to cherish unforgiveness.
Jesus said in chapter 9, "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23) But we continue to nurture our doubt.
Jesus said in chapter 12, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" (Mark 12:17) and yet we often do our best to give to neither that which they have every right to receive.
He said in Matthew’s Gospel, "The harvest is plentiful..." (Matthew 9:37) and yet we complain that there’s never enough.
He said in John chapter 6, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35) and yet we keep looking to the things of this world to satisfy our hunger and to quench our thirst.
We know Jesus words, we can repeat his words, but sometimes we're reluctant to believe his words. The tragedy is that Jesus is often dismissed by those who should honor him the most. And so today I want to encourage you not to make that mistake, because dismissing Jesus means that you’re missing out on his power in your life today and your hope for life tomorrow.
Look with me at verse two, “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 that he even does miracles! 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. Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor” (Mark 6:1-4NIV).
You see, just like any other well-known Christian teacher, we tend to think that the Max Lucado, Swindoll, Warren, Hybels, and all the rest are somehow different than us, that they're better than us, that they have this high speed connection to God while we're still on dial-up. You know, even with Christian worship music we’re inclined to think that we can worship God better if it’s Chris Tomlin behind the microphone instead of our neighbor. And the reason why is because our culture is just like the culture where Jesus lived. We want celebrities, we want heroes, and so it’s difficult to accept the ordinary, yet Jesus became one of us and lived like one of us. He went to his hometown and many who heard him were amazed. They were like, “Wow! This guy is amazing, his teachings are powerful, and the miracles, how can he do these things? Isn’t this that guy that we grew up with? Isn’t this the guy who made your kitchen table? And here’s my point, in verse four Jesus said, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor" (Mark 6:4).
What Jesus is saying is that, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house is a prophet dishonored and treated as common or ordinary.” And so when you dismiss Jesus for who he is, when you dishonor him, and fail to take him seriously you miss out on his power and his promise. You see if you’ll begin showing him honor, valuing his word, respecting and holding him in the highest esteem, and if you’ll honor him and treat him and his word as something precious, weighty or valuable, and give him great worth, which really describes the word worship, then you’ll encounter the power of God.
Jesus has made his power available to you. He wants to fill your life with joy and peace and happiness. He wants to help you through your struggles. He wants to move that mountain that stands in your way, to defeat the enemies that oppress you, and to overcome the obstacles before you. His power is available to you, but I challenge you not to let the veil of familiarity prevent you from encountering the real Jesus and take him at his Word. You see honoring someone lifts them up, but dishonoring them devalues them and tears them down. To honor someone is to believe the best about them; while to dishonor is to believe the worst. Honor lifts and dishonor tears down. And so the first point I want to make is that respect is earned and honor is given.
Now we don’t know much about the first 30 years of Jesus life, but we do know that many people who knew him during those years didn’t realize that they were in the presence of greatness. They didn’t expect him to become famous, they didn’t realize he was the anointed Son of God, because he walked among them, lived among them, worked with them, and so they had no clue about who he really was. Today’s story in Mark chapter 6, gives us a glimpse of Jesus from a different angle. In this story we see that others didn’t recognize him as the Messiah, the Son of God, or even a great prophet. They saw him only as a carpenter, as Mary’s son, and though they thought they knew him, he was nothing like they imagined him to be. Therefore they never took him seriously and as a result they missed out on experiencing God’s blessing in their lives.
Watch what a spirit of dishonor does to the Son of God, check out what it does. A prophet in his own town is without honor, and the very next verse, verse 5 says: “He (Jesus) could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:5-6). Isn’t that an interesting statement? At first glance it appears to say that their unbelief, their lack of faith, somehow limited Jesus power as if he was made weak because of their lack of faith. But Jesus wondered at their unbelief. He could do no great work there, because the people never gave him a chance. It wasn’t that he tried to heal people and he couldn’t. It was that he never had the opportunity, because you can’t heal many people in a room full of empty chairs.
Jesus couldn’t do a great miracle there, because the sick didn’t come asking to be healed, the blind didn’t come asking to see, the oppressed didn’t come asking to be delivered, they just stayed home and Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. And so, where there was a lack of faith, there’s a lack of honor. Where there was a lack of honor, you miss out on Jesus power that’s available to you. You see, Jesus couldn’t do what he could do in other places where they believed in him and where they honored him. When you fail to take him seriously, you miss out on his power, and tragically we have become a culture that for the most part is without honor.
And so what we need to understand this morning is that respect is earned, but honor is given. And therefore, you can choose to honor someone just because of the position where God has placed them. Honor is freely given. To honor someone is a choice. And we can honor someone before they are living honorably, because to honor someone empowers them and encourages them. The reason our country may be the way it is, is because over and over again we’ve been tearing people down, we’ve been demeaning and discouraging people, by being dishonoring.
So number two, who are we called to honor? Of course there are many, but today I want to highlight three groups that we are biblically called to honor. I think these three stand out and are important for us to note.
First, we are told to honor our fathers and our mothers. This is one of the top 10 commands of God. We find that recorded in Exodus chapter 20, verse 12, where we are told: “Honor your father and your mother…” This is the only commandment that includes a promise… “So that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). And yet tragically, we can be one of the most dishonoring cultures to our parents. It’s really as simple as this, you cannot prosper if you don’t give others the honor and respect they deserve. That honor begins at home and whether you’re a teenager, a young adult, or a card-carrying member of the AARP, God cares how you treat others in your family. If your parents are living you need to give them the respect a parent deserves even if they’re not good parents.
Just think about your parents for a moment. They may have been like June and Ward Cleaver and gave you a childhood full of positive memories, or they may have been more like Archie and Edith Bunker or Frank and Estelle Costanza constantly yelling and putting you down, but either way you’re called to honor them. You may not agree with every decision they made as parents, but you can choose to honor them, and you can choose to live in a way that would bring them honor. And for those of us who are parents, we should strive to be worthy of the honor that God has called our children to give us. And therefore no matter what history or baggage there may be, out of a surrendered and submissive heart, we honor our father and mother because it’s biblically the right thing to do.
The second group that I believe we are biblically taught to honor, and even commanded to honor, is those who are in authority. Now of course these would be our parents as well, but these are all those that God has placed above us. Romans chapter 13 talks about showing honor to the governing authorities by submitting to them. Verse seven tells us, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe...respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7; NIV). You like myself, may have seen and heard a lot of conflicting views about a Christian’s response to this election, but I assure you there’s a level of responsibility and accountability for each of us as Christians and as citizens of the United States in regards to who is the next president, who is filling the seats of the Supreme Court, and the values for which your nation stands. This election is about you being honorable, you standing up, you supporting biblical values, and together we’ll make this nation great again as one nation under God. So you show honor to those who are in authority over you. For those of you who play sports, you honor your coach. For those of you who are students you honor your teacher. For those of you who are employees you honor your boss. We honor those in authority so that they may lead like God has called them to lead.
The last group I want to share with you is that we’re called by God to show honor to our pastors and our church leaders. We show honor to those who are directing the affairs of the church. 1 Timothy 5:17 says very clearly, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). The Lord commands us to honor those who are spiritually in authority, yet every church has at least one that sits around gossiping and slandering those who are serving the church and serving their family. I believe some churches even have small groups that critique and criticize the leadership, they judge and slander their brothers and sisters in Christ dishonoring them, discrediting them, and devaluing their service. Yet the Bible is very clear, Titus chapter 3 tells us, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all” (Titus 3:1-2).
And so as we close, here is what I would encourage you to do. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans chapter 12 that we’re to, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). Let me encourage you to honor those who have given you your life. Honor your mother and father.
Peter tells us, “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:13-17). And honor those who serve you every week in church, who make certain that the church is clean when you show up, who minister to you, and who minister to your children. Show honor to the ones who serve you over and over and over again. And above all else, honor the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Honor the Son of God, the Risen Christ, who gave His life and changed our hearts. Honor Him for changing you into a new creation, for forgiving you for more sin than you could ever imagine, for filling you with His Holy Spirit, and for empowering you to do things that you couldn't do on your own. Honor God for who He is!
You see, all true honor is born out of a heart surrendered to the King of kings. Psalms chapter 22 says: “You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him! Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel” (Psalms 22:23). We honor the Lord as the soon coming, returning, ruling, reigning, King of kings, and Lord of lords. He's coming back. He is the righteous One who shed His blood so that we would live. His name is on our hearts. We are made valuable by His name. Therefore the only reasonable response we have is to do something with our lives to honor Him.
Sadly though, here is what the Bible says and this is true of so many today. In Isaiah chapter 29, the Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me..." (Isaiah 29:13). Today you and I aren’t going to give God lip service, but we’re going to give Him heart honor, because He truly is the only one worthy of honor and praise and glory. When we realize who we are because of what He did, then we will see the value in others and show honor to them, because they were valuable enough for Jesus to give His life. When we know who He is and we honor Him, then we’ll lift others up, honoring them, and this world will become more of what God intended it to be as we reclaim the forgotten virtue of honor.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
October 09, 2016
Graphics, notes, and commentary from LifeChurch, Preaching Library, and PC Study Bible.
Scripture from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.