August 22, 2021

A Lit Match for a Pile of Wet Sticks

Pastor KJ Kim

Mark 6: 1-6

In today’s passage, Jesus’s visitation of his hometown was much different from visiting other places. Jesus was their hometown boy, so they all filed in to hear him, smiling and nudging each other before Jesus even got started, at least until they heard what Jesus had to say.

Today’s passage does not tell us what it was, but it was strong enough to astound them at first and then to make them start asking questions, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?”

Obviously, Jesus was familiar to the people in his hometown as a child like their own children, but they doubted Jesus’s power. If you have ever pressed a lit match to a pile of wet sticks, then you know what it was like.

This is a fine story, as long as we can keep it at a distance. Like a lot of other stories in the Bible, it is about people who never woke up to Jesus’s power, and it is easy to judge them from this distance. How dumb scribes and Pharisees were. And how dumb was Jesus’s neighbor who was so-called extended family.

Do you have any guesses about who that family is? And where that Jesus’s hometown could be today?

It is us. It may be our story. We are Jesus’s hometown people, who do not always honor him. We are one of Jesus’s toughest audiences, especially when what Jesus says offends us. Maybe, we have already become like a pile of wet sticks, the one who can hardly be burned by a lit match.

The biggest truth in today’s passage is that Jesus cannot make us listen to him as Jesus did not change the people in his hometown. All he can do is light his match and wait to see what we will do. In addition, we are reminded that God still sends us people to wake us up, to set us on fire, and even to disturb us.

Sometimes, it is a mysterious stranger, but more often, I suspect, it is people so familiar to us that we simply overlook them—our own children and parents, our own friends and neighbors—all of those hometown prophets who challenge us and love us and tell us who we are.

Let’s keep being open to listen to the message that God speaks to us, even though it may be spoken by the most unlikely people who disturb us.

Let’s keep listening to each other and live together like people who believe in the same God.

Amen.