“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? 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. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.’ And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” - Mark 6:1-6
After Jesus restored Jairus’ daughter to life with his healing touch, he and the disciples departed Capernaum and traveled 25 miles south to Nazareth. For Jesus, this was a homecoming, a chance to see his family and the friends with whom he was raised. We might expect the town to be excited about his visit and welcome Jesus as a local celebrity. After all, they would have heard all about how he taught with authority, healed diseases, drove out demons, and even calmed a storm. That’s a fairly impressive resume!
And yet, the people of Nazareth greeted Jesus with skepticism and outrage. Others might be empowered by God to perform such works, but this was Mary’s Son. He grew up down the street, and they knew he was just a carpenter. While today we value the opportunity to achieve, advance, and make a new way in the world, the people of Jesus’ day were defined by their families and their upbringing. Jesus did not come from a line of teachers and preachers; he was not a scribe or a priest. And so, the people took offense at what he was doing and who he claimed to be. They felt entitled to define Jesus according to their terms.
In response to their unbelief, Jesus quoted the proverb about a prophet having no honor in his hometown. Not only did those words describe Jesus’ reception in Nazareth, they foretold the rejection he would face in the future. Jesus knew that his popularity would be short-lived, that the religious leaders and teachers would continue to oppose and persecute him. In the meantime, the townspeople were unmoved and, as a result, Jesus could not do mighty works in their midst. Mark tells us he was only able to heal a few sick people during his visit.
There is irony in that last statement. The fact that anyone was healed by the laying on of hands was truly amazing, yet there was so much more Jesus could have done if only they had believed. Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman would attest that faith led to miracles. Jesus was looking for followers who would recognize their helplessness and turn to him with faith, hope, and expectation. Instead, the people of his hometown disparaged and dismissed him. As a result, they missed out on the joy and power of the kingdom and mighty works of Jesus.
How does your skepticism keep you from experiencing the full and awesome power of Jesus? Have you sought to understand and define him from your earthly perspective? Faith is about surrender and trust.
Reflect and Respond:
How might the Lord be calling you to release your doubts so that you may better receive him today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Why is trust so difficult? Unlike all the broken promises of this world, God’s redeeming promises are absolute, trustworthy, and true. The covenants of God afford us with abundant reasons to trust God with his plan for our lives. Trusting God: Redeeming Promises of the Word explores the six major redeeming promises of God found in his Word. Learn more about God’s commitment to his people, the nature of a covenant, and how you can find your security in being a child of God’s redeeming promises. Learn more about God’s promises today.
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