Jesus went back to his hometown, and Mark 6:5 says, “Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all” (The Message).

When I read this last week, it took me by surprise. Jesus … not able to do much of anything? In the midst of healing thousands, calming storms, raising dead people to life, and feeding thousands with a Lunchable, Jesus experienced a “failure.” Of course, his power was sufficient. It always is. But their stubbornness and unbelief was the obstacle to his work having any effect. The problem was not in Jesus’ power; the problem was their hearts, which were hard, shallow, or full of weeds (see Mark 4:1-20 and my post about it here).

We can only imagine Jesus’ dismay over the fact that he could not bring healing or insight to these people, his own friends and family. Jesus was simply too familiar to them. They knew of the Jesus from the past–the son of Joseph and Mary–but they did not know the Jesus of Today, the Son of God who had the power to bring healing and transformation to their lives. So he moved on to other places.

Hmm…. does this still happen? Have we become too familiar with Jesus (and the way we’ve always done things) to be healed and transformed by him? Do we know the Jesus of the past from Bible stories we learned as a child, or do we know him and how he is working Today, in our midst?

As you meet as a small group, move beyond the stories of what Jesus did. Talk about–better yet, experience–what he is doing. He is indeed present in your group meetings–right now. Don’t just meet to study the Jesus of the past through Bible study. Be sure your hearts are softened and prepared to experience his presence, power, and purposes Today.

Otherwise, Jesus may have to move on to other places.

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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