We get to go home with Jesus today. No, not His real home, but back to where He grew up. We are going to Nazareth. After leaving Egypt, after fleeing from Bethlehem because of Herod, Joseph and Mary settled in Nazareth to raise their family. Many of His family members still lived there.
Jesus left Nazareth when He started His public ministry. He moved to Capernaum and used that city as His home base. Jesus had a very good reason for doing this. Today’s visit home proves He made the right choice.
Jesus and His disciples travel back to Nazareth. We are not told why they came or even how long they stayed. We do know that on the Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue, as usual, and became one of the readers who are allowed to expound on their reading, as usual. Jesus did this everywhere He went. Many times he astounded the listeners with His knowledge and authoritative way of teaching. Today His listeners were astounded too, but they had a bad reaction.
Jesus’ teaching was remarkable! I wish His message would have been included in Mark’s narrative. Whatever He taught on that morning, the crowd rated it as very insightful and full of wisdom. They also saw and heard about the miracles Jesus performed.
In many small towns, when one of their members goes out into the world and does something big, they cheer for that person and ascribe pride of ownership to some of their success because of sharing their hometown. But when that same “hero” comes back home and tries to share what he/she learned while out in the world, defenses go up. It’s no longer “hometown pride” but “somebody’s too big for his/her britches.” The people “at home” adopt the attitude that the returning person believes themselves better than those who stayed in town.
I believe this is the attitude prevalent in Jesus’ hometown. “Who does He think He is? Coming back here trying to tell us how to run our lives. We knew Him when He was nothing. We were doing just fine before He came back into town and we will continue to do so long after He leaves. His own brothers and sisters are still with us today. We know the kind of family He came from. There is not a special one in the lot of them. They are all the same as us.” They did not trust Him. They had no faith in His abilities and did NOT believe He was who He claimed to be.
Jesus received this “not so warm” welcome wherever He went in His hometown. He offered healing to anyone willing to accept it. But very few availed themselves of His power. Jesus, I’m sure, was saddened by His hometown’s behavior. Jesus stated that, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household” (verse 4).
The people in Jesus’ hometown missed out on a very special blessing. Jesus came to offer them each the same love and miracles that He was sharing freely throughout all His travels. But He wouldn’t make them accept it. He still doesn’t make anyone accept His free gifts. He offers His best to each of us every day but it is up to us to accept those gifts.
Jesus, I’m sorry Your own family didn’t believe in You. They would come to faith later, but while You were walking among the people, Your family was trying to get You under lock and key. Thank You that You persisted anyway. You didn’t lack confidence and You knew that if You stayed in Nazareth, anything You did would come under attack. You needed to be somewhere where the people were open to what You had to offer, and judging by the people’s reaction in Capernaum, You made the right choice. You had a limited time to impact the world, and staying close to home would have significantly dampened the reach of Your ministry. As always, You knew what was best.
Help me Lord not to be blind to the talents You have placed in my family. I have discounted some of them in the past. Forgive me for my attitude. Help me value each member of my family, along with the talents You placed in them.