SynopsisIn this passage Jesus goes back to his hometown and tries to teach there. To my mind, the story takes a very sharp turn; in verses 1–2 (ESV) it seems like it’s going one way:
He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?”To my ear, that is starting to sound like people are pretty impressed with Jesus. But then in verse 3 (ESV) we see the reverse:
“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.Jesus seems to take this in stride, however, at least from what we see in the text. In verse 4 (ESV) he says that, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household,” and we are told that he is not able to do any “mighty works,” except for the healing of a few sick people. However, in verse 6 (ESV) we are also told that he “marveled” because of the unbelief of the people.
ThoughtsSince Jesus is both fully man and fully God, it can be difficult to talk about his reactions to particular situations; as God He seems to understand that He is being rejected just as other prophets have been by their relatives, but as a man is he hurt by their rejection? Did he hope for more? We are told that Jesus marvels at their unbelief, so to me that seems to indicate that he might have been hoping for more, even though he understood the reasons why he didn’t see it.
To a lesser extent, I think we still see this today. Many Christians feel that it’s more difficult to give the Gospel to close friends and relatives than it is to give the Gospel to complete strangers. In Jesus’ case it was difficult because people had known him all his life; they couldn’t believe that he was more than they’d been believing for all that time. Is that the same for us? Is it that, when we become Christians, others who have known us can’t believe that we’ve become better than we were? Or is it because we’re afraid that they see how sinful we are, day by day, and that therefore they won’t understand what we’re saying about changing; if they haven’t seen a change in us (we worry), then all that we’re saying must be hokum. Hopefully, for most of us, it’s more the former than the latter…