Fran and Dad :)

Jesus Fails?!

 [Jesus] could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6)

Hi Fighter,

I think it’s worth pausing at these verses from Mark’s Gospel. This is the only place in the New Testament where Jesus is depicted as failing at something He’d set out to do!  Is that really what Mark is saying? Is that really what happened?

We call God ‘the Almighty’ for a reason. We believe that God can do anything. Likewise with Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, our theology tells us that Jesus can accomplish anything He sets out to do. Yet here we have this verse! The meaning seems quite clear. Jesus “could do no deed of power there” (Mark 6:5).

This raises a lot of questions, doesn’t it? I’ve been waiting for Jesus to do something powerful for the people of Gaza. Could the reason for the continued carnage there be because Jesus just can’t do anything to stop it? Surely not!

Of course, the Gospel writer does add, “except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them” (Mark 6:5), which makes me wonder what undoable ‘deeds of power’ Mark had in mind. Was he thinking of the spectacular deeds recounted in previous chapters, like the calming the storm (Mark 4) and the raising of the little girl who had died (Mark 5)? If so, in neither of those accounts was there any obvious display of faith. The little girl didn’t exhibit any faith – she was dead when Jesus reached her – and the story about the storm finished with Jesus marvelling at the unbelief of His disciples – “Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40) – paralleling today’s story where Jesus marvels at the unbelief of the residents of Nazareth (Mark 6:6).

I haven’t come up with any straightforward answers to the questions raised by this passage. Even so, one thing does come through to me load and clear. Jesus wants to work with us and not simply on us.

I don’t understand the exact relationship between our faith and God’s miracles. Even so, the Gospels makes it clear that they’re connected, and while there are examples of Jesus healing people at a distance (e.g. Matthew 8:5-13), for the most part, Jesus’ deeds of power connected Him quite intimately with the people He was working with. Touch often played a crucial role, as it did in both of the miracles we looked at last week – the woman with the haemorrhage who was healed when she touched Jesus (Mark 5:28) and the girl Jesus raised by taking her by the hand” (Mark 5:41).

Jesus was never simply ‘a healer’ in the same way that his father was ‘a carpenter’. It was never just his trade. His healings were a series of relationships He entered into. Jesus connected with people and gave them life. The people in Nazareth that we read about in today’s Gospel seemed to be unable to connect with Jesus.

“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?” And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:3)

It seems to be a case of familiarity breeding contempt. From the perspective of those who had grown up with Jesus, he was just another Nazarene. Who did he think he was – God’s son or something? It’s also possible that these people in Jesus’ hometown had very fixed expectations about how He was supposed to behave.

Note that the people say, “is not this the carpenter?” and not “is this not the carpenter’s son?” This suggests that Joseph was no longer on the scene and that Jesus, as the eldest son, had officially taken over the trade. That’s how the system worked, and if Joseph was gone, it was Jesus’ responsibility to be the breadwinner for His family – providing for His mother and for all of His younger siblings. If that was the case, we can understand why, from the perspective of the townsfolk, Jesus’ choice to become an itinerant preacher and healer was irresponsible. How would the rest of His family survive?

This is as far as I get with this passage. The power of Jesus seemed to be limited by an environment of suspicion and by a dominant narrative that refused to recognise Jesus as anything beyond a tradie. Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t persist with these people and try to convince them that He was more than a carpenter. Just as He tells His disciples to “wipe the dust off their feet” (Mark 6:11) when they are not welcome, Jesus moves on, looking for other people He can connect with. Deeds of power, it seems, require a genuine connection, just as healings are a two-way process.

Our Sunday Eucharist

We had a bizarre Sunday Eucharist last weekend. I thought I’d lined up a full panel, including Andrew LoganDavid Baldwin and the controversial media personality and political commentator, Mimi al-Laham.

I’ve been looking forward to introducing you all to my old friend, Mimi. You may know her as ‘Syrian Girl’ or by her Twitter handle – Partisan Girl. If you don’t know her, I encourage you to get to know her. She is wise, articulate, charming, persuasive and …Syrian. A powerful combination!

Anyway … come broadcast time it was just Andrew and me on the panel. Apparently, I’d sent David’s information to the wrong email address, and apparently Mimi’s mum had had an accident and Mimi was trying to locate her father. Mimi was in Sydney while her parents are in Perth so it was not a simple process. Andrew and I held the fort, and Mimi did eventually join us towards the end of the broadcast, where she lasted for about a minute before mysteriously being cut off! God knows what happened but, as I said, she is controversial.

I’ve immortalised Mimi’s minute with us in the short below. Alongside it you’ll see a clip from the chat that took place shortly afterwards, where Andrew and I wondered whether we could get Julian Assange on as a guest on The Sunday Eucharist. Our speculations were interrupted by a question from my friend, Steve (who was sitting alongside me at Binacrombi) who asked, “how long do you think he’d last?”

If you enjoy these two shorts, there are two more at the end. 😊

This coming Sunday I am confident that David Baldwin will be with us as I’ve now updated his email. We will also have our Muslim brother, Tom Toby, back with us – hopefully, with great stories to share from his latest international adventures. Dr Stephen Sizer is also contributing a pre-recorded reflection on the Gospel reading.

Join us, please, this Sunday from midday at or on Facebook , YouTubeTwitterLinkedIn or Streamyard. I do look forward to sharing this Eucharist with you. 😊

Let me work your corner

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What’s On?

Father Dave's Old School Boxing AcademyThe boxing team will have to forgive me if we’re missing a Saturday training session. It’s school holidays and I’m taking my darling daughter, Fran, to the Gold Coast! 😊

Yes, thanks to the miracle of Amex points and the generosity of my friends, Grant and Cheryl, Fran and I have our flights and accommodation covered for a trip to Surfers where we’ll be enjoying the ‘Snowy Nights’ adventure at Dreamworld this Saturday night. Expect lots of cheesy pics in the next newsletter. 😉

In terms of publications, Father Mark is still posting to, even while travelling, including an article on Fatima Payman – the Labor MP who broke the party rules by crossing the floor for Palestine (God bless her).

I’ve also republished an article by our friend, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, concerning the dubious role of funds manager, BlackRock, in Malaysia’s infrastructure development. The article is entitled, “Blackrock – no compromise with evil!

Speaking of Dr Muzaffar, he has recently published an excellent new book, entitled, “A Changing World: Emerging Realities”. The book explores the emerging trends and realities shaping our world and is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of our rapidly evolving environment. You can download it free of charge here. Thank you, Chandra. 😊
Stay strong, sisters and brothers, until we next connect.

Your brother in the Good Fight,

Keep praying for Palestine and for our broken world. To me, the Gaza Genocide looks ever more like a vortex that is going to pull all of us into its bloody orbit. I don’t see any way of stopping this. Even so, I had no inkling that Julian was about to be released either! We keep protesting, petitioning and praying. Peace is possible. Justice is possible. When we least expect it, the Kingdom comes!

Your brother in the Good Fight,


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About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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