Jesus goes home for a visit. Jesus just finished teaching and explaining many parables. He taught only in parables to the crowd but provided explanations to many of His parables privately with His disciples. During one of His times of teaching His earthly family came to take Him away. They thought He had gone off the deep end and were trying to save Him from Himself. Jesus refused them an audience and distanced Himself from them. Is He returning to Nazareth to make amends? Let’s see how it goes.
Jesus has been teaching, drawing HUGE crowds, and performing miracles for some time. The other day His family came by and asked to talk with Him. Normally, hearing from one’s family is a happy event. But He knew the real reason they had come. They thought He was making a fool of Himself with all His references to being the Messiah and running around healing people. Sure, He was able to handle what was thrown at Him, so far, but sooner or later He was going to get Himself into real trouble, and then what? He had to realize how dangerous His actions were, especially for someone like Him. He was just a carpenter’s son. He didn’t even have any training for what He was doing. His family believed that it was time to put a stop to all His foolishness.
Jesus refused to go out to them, refused to let them come in to Him, and even refused to acknowledge them as His family. What nerve! Who does He think He is!?! That’s it. He has made His bed, now let Him lie in it! And off they went, back to Nazareth, nursing their wounded hearts. They were just trying to help after all. He didn’t have to be so rude.
A couple days later, Jesus decides that it is time to go home and address this issue with His family. He loves them each dearly and doesn’t want them harboring bitterness in their hearts on account of Him. He wants this to be an informal visit so He asks that only a few of His closest disciples accompany Him. Along for this trip are Peter, James, and John. As they get closer to Jesus’ home town, the crowds start thinning. Peter notices this but decides to say nothing about it for now. It is Friday morning when Jesus and the disciples reach Nazareth. Everyone seems to be going about their business as usual.
While walking through the streets towards Jesus’ boyhood home, a few people come to Jesus to ask for His help. This is nothing like the throngs of people Jesus is used to dealing with on a daily basis. Jesus doesn’t complain or seem to worry about it. A couple of the people He helped had some pretty awful diseases that Jesus delivered them from, but that didn’t seem to draw the kind of crowd the disciples were used to. John has noticed the difference but decides to kept quiet too.
It’s about midday when Jesus and His disciples make it to Jesus’ home. Jesus greets His mother with a warm and lingering hug. He loves her and respects her for all she has done for Him throughout His earthly life. Her faithfulness to God is and always was crucial to God’s plan. He wishes she could see how truly special she is, and also understand the complete plan in motion right now. If she truly understood she wouldn’t be swayed by His brother’s words against Him and the work He is doing.
Mary had heard through the grapevine that Jesus was in town, so she had prepared enough to feed Him and His disciples a proper noon day meal. She had also arranged for the whole family to be together for the evening meal, in honor of Jesus’ visit. It would be a simple meal as it was also the evening before the Sabbath.
Jesus asked His disciples for a little private time with His family tonight, so they have agreed to have their dinner in the garden. They said they were sure they could entertain themselves for the evening. Jesus’ boyhood home boasted creek access just past the back garden. When Jesus’ family begins to arrive, they notice the three men hanging out in back. They seem to be having a good time splashing each other in the creek. Peter looks up and sees one of Jesus’ brothers looking their way. He politely smiles and waves before telling James and John that they should probably all cool it so Jesus wouldn’t be disturbed. James and John look up and notice their audience and quickly apologize. All three exit the creek and move over under a tree, where they quietly sit down to the supper Mary has arranged there for them. Jesus noticed the small group of His brothers observing His most beloved disciples. A broad smile brightens Jesus face as He watches the two groups watching each other. Jesus walks over from His vantage point by the house and introduces the two groups to each other. Jesus then ushers His brothers into the house for dinner.
Inside the house Jesus is apologizing to His brothers and sisters for not having the opportunity to visit with them earlier. He says His schedule has been so packed lately that this was His first chance to get away for a trip home. Jesus then addresses each of His family members individually, emphasizing His love for each of them while speaking a word of prophecy into their hearts. To His mother He says that one day her role as His mother will set her apart from all other women on earth. That she will be revered by all for her willingness to submit to God’s plan for her life. To His brother Jude, He tells Him that He understands his hesitancy to believe everything He is sharing, but to diligently check out His claims for himself. Jesus tells him that one day his diligent search for the truth will witness to countless others and his voice will be heard throughout history itself. To His brother James, He tells him that he realizes how hard it is for him to believe too, especially when they grew up together as children. But that one day James will be used mightily by God in instructing future generations. To His brothers Simon and Judas, He speaks of God’s plans for their lives too and of the blessings God has in store for their businesses and their families. To each of His sisters, He speaks of their children and the glory each will bring to God through their lives.
To the whole group He acknowledges how His comments must have hurt them when they had come seeking Him. He explains, as much as He can, how important it is for Him to finish the work He is engaged in. He states that He recognizes the danger He is putting Himself into and that He will protect them from any leakage of that danger with His life. He doesn’t want to hurt them, but tells them plainly that His mission is so important, that if forced to choose, He will choose it above them at every turn. Jesus concludes His address by stating that He knows not every one in His family will eventually accept His truths, but as the eldest son and head of the household, that they are required by Jewish law to follow His dictates for the direction of the family. He is not ordering any of them to leave their homes and follow Him, but to continue on in their daily activities and trust Him as He goes about the work He has been called to do. He affirms to them that He will not neglect the care of their mother and will provide financially for her needs, as is His responsibility.
Jesus personal words of encouragement had softened the hearts of His family members enough for them to bear the strength of His final words on the subject. They each truly loved Jesus. He was an amazing brother and son. He had proved Himself trustworthy over the years, so they would respect His instructions. They would not interfere again with what He believed was His life’s calling. But they would also not offer Him their support for His message.
Dinner concluded and the family dispersed to their separate homes. Jesus joined His disciples in the garden under the tree. When asked how things went, Jesus said that things had gone as expected. The group sat silently for a little while each contemplated Jesus’ statement before rising to make their way to bed for the night.
Morning finally arrived and everyone prepared to go to the Synagogue for Sabbath services. Mary asks Jesus if He is going to volunteer to read from the scrolls this morning, as is His custom when He visits. He gives her a rueful smile and says that He will not disappoint her.
The family sits together in two distinct groups. Mary and her daughters on one side with the women and Jesus’ brothers together on the men’s side. As Jesus reads from the scrolls He begins to expound on what is written there. His teaching is captivating and thought provoking. He teaches as if He has personal insight into God Himself. Some of those thoughts are not easy to swallow. Anger begins to cloud the eyes of several in attendance. “How dare He make such assumptions!” “Who does He think He is anyway?” Someone in the back of the room stands to his feet and challenges Jesus. “Where did You get such knowledge? You and I both know You never were trained by the scribes. You are just a simple carpenter. Even your brothers and sisters, who are right here with us, can testify of Your humble education.” Another man stands and says, “Yah. And what was that all about in the street yesterday? I saw You talking to Mark, who is sick with the wasting disease. Do You presume to tell me that You believe You actually cured him of his disease? You may have him fooled but not me. No sir; I’ll keep trusting my doctor to treat me. Would probably wind up dead if I tried what You have been peddling.”
Jesus bows His head for a moment. When He looks up again He sees the tears in His mother’s eyes. He also notices the agreeing nods coming from some of his brothers, and the color of shame creeping into his sister’s faces. Jesus steps away from the scrolls and looks directly out into the crowd. “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown”, Jesus pauses and looks directly at his brothers, “and in his own household” (verse 57), He finishes. Jesus motions with His head for Peter, James and John to follow Him out.
The four of them slowly make their way back to Jesus’ Mother’s home. After service is over Mary rushes home as fast as the law will allow, to see if Jesus is there. She doesn’t want Him to leave without at least being able to say good-by. When she reaches her gate Jesus is there to meet her. She buries her face in His robe and cries softly. Jesus lets her weep for a few moments, then pulls back slightly, lifts her chin with His finger until their eyes meet. He smiles warmly and says, “I told you I wouldn’t disappoint you.” Mary smacks Him playfully with her hand and laughs. “No Son, You never do.”
Mary composes herself and goes on into the house to prepare the mid-day meal. Jesus, Peter, James, John and Mary quietly pass the remainder of the day together. Tomorrow morning Jesus and His disciples will be on their way again. There is little they can do for the people of Jesus’ home town.
Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for the disbelief You had to face in Your own home. Children tend to live up, or down, to the expectations of those around them. From the one story we have of Your childhood, You were not shy about stating Your purpose on Earth, even as a young child. I can imagine the taunting and teasing Your brothers and sisters engaged in. They probably started trying to put You in Your place very early in life. It’s a good thing You were the oldest. No telling how bad it would have been if You were the youngest. But no matter how often Your brothers discourage You, You held fast to the truth. Nothing they said could compare to the knowledge You held. I’m so glad at least some of them finally saw the truth before it was too late.
Thank You God for the family You placed me in. No. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, perfect. But I know without a doubt that my parents love me and support me in whatever I put my heart into doing. I know that no matter how much we children fought growing up, that each of us would do anything we could if another was in trouble. The bonds that we forged will last a lifetime. The thing I treasure most though is that my parents introduced each and every one of us to You from an early age. All of us have struggled to define our own relationship with You after our lengthy introduction. You continue to place our needs and our future on the hearts of my parents. Thank You for teaching them to pray for each of their children.
Thank You for the promise You gave to all parents in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I stand on this promise, alongside of my parents and many others. Please bring our wandering children home. I won’t say “amen” because I’m not done praying for them yet. Teach me to pray like my grandmother did. Thank You for that legacy.