Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. (Mark 6:1-6)
This is one of those passages of scripture many people are aware of, whether or not they are all that familiar with the Bible. You may have heard it put this way: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his home town.”
Let’s look at this truth first, and then we will see how it relates to Jesus.
In our hometown, people know us…or at least they know who we used to be. In reality, who we used to be isn’t who we are, so hometowns rarely get it right. While it is true we all have characteristics that follow us through life, it is unfair for anyone to judge us based on our childhood. Maybe our parents had issues that tainted our family name. It doesn’t matter. We might have struggled in school, or been a social misfit. It doesn’t matter.
Once we move away from our hometown, we become different people. We learn through a formal or informal education, gain experience in the workplace, sometimes marry, have children, and experience various levels of success and failure. The people in our hometown will probably never see us apart from the child they remember. Therefore, some will never accept us an authority figure. I am not saying this is the case all the time. Certainly, a host of successful business people and civic leaders never leave home, and are respected for their work.
But when someone moves from popular to celebrity to mega-star, things change. I would put Jesus in the last category and believe His reputation was just too magnificent for anyone who knew Him “when” to accept.
You see, most of us can understand how others have greater success than we do, and we are able to deal with some inequities in our giftedness. But most of the time we are able to tell ourselves if we had a few more opportunities, or if we hadn’t had a hard knock here or there, we could have done just as well. However, when someone starts raising the dead, casting out demons and living out the life of the Messiah, that is a different story.
In short, Jesus’ hometown crowd simply didn’t believe the Messiah was going to be a carpenter’s son from Nazareth. His family was nothing special, and if they knew what was good for them, they should continue to talk Jesus down from His pedestal.
I think it is probably clear to us what was going on in Nazareth. What may not be clear is whether or not we treat Jesus the same way. Have we ever made Jesus out to be less than He is to avoid any unnecessary conflict with our “hometown” associations?
Dear God, show me when pride gets in my way of worshipping You as Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.