The last number of stories in the Gospel of Mark have centered around the contrast between fear and faith and the transition from fear to faith. We have witnessed the disciples in the boat – frightened to death by the storm outside the boat then frightened even more by the One in the boat. Jesus asks them after stilling the storm, “Why are you so fearful? How is it you have no faith?” Likewise, in the story of the Gadarene Demoniac we have the mass of people frightened by Jesus while the demoniac is set free from fear and given faith. In the stories of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the flow of blood this same contrast between fear and faith is highlighted and we witness both of them moving from fear to faith. “Don’t be afraid, only believe.”

The story today stands in contrast to these stories. Today we witness Jesus returning to his home town of Nazareth and the reception that he had among them. The reception was not quite what we would expect – indeed, it wasn’t even what Jesus expected. But their response unfolds for us much about the nature of unbelief and the way in which we as sinners often form hasty judgments as a result of our misperceptions.