“A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Jesus declares.
Why does familiarity breed contempt? Why are those closest to Jesus the ones who had the hardest time accepting who He was?
For nearly 30 years Jesus was with them in the small town of Nazareth. They played tag with Him as children, broke bread with His family, worshiped with Him at the Synagogue, possibly even purchased furniture He built. They knew Him. They knew His character, His kindness, His work ethic, His compassion. Surely they saw these things over the years.
And now Jesus returns after a year or so. They have heard rumblings about His popularity and many miracles. Jesus begins to teach in the same synagogue they likely witnessed thousands of teachers share the Word together.
They are astonished by what they hear. The wisdom with which He teaches…like no one before Him; the mighty works done by His hands.
But...they know His mother, His brothers & sisters, His aunts and uncles. A family of little social standing or importance. They know His educational background. No formal training. A mere carpenter.
And because of their preconceived notions about Him; because of their insistence they that know Him so well, they miss the most beautiful part of who He is. Instead of believing, they show contempt. Their wonder based on things they just witnessed turns to offense. How dare Jesus come back here and say things like He is the Messiah? Does He think He is better than us? We know who He really is! It doesn’t make sense.
Jesus, the carpenter, they know. Jesus, the Anointed One, they can’t wrap their head around. It just can’t be this guy we grew up with. Yes, He is kind. Yes, He is a good man. But, He is no Messiah. Familiarity left them blind.
Similarly, the highly educated, read, and trained religious leaders missed the Messiah. Though they didn’t personally know Jesus since childhood, they knew the Scriptures. They could recite them from memory. They thought they had it all figured out. Familiarity left them blind.
Think about who didn’t miss Jesus: the poor, the outcast, the untrained, the desperate. They were ripe for learning and open to truth. Jesus says we should come to Him as children. Eager to learn. Not overly familiar with anything. No preconceived notions or ego that thinks we have it all figured out.
So, why did Jesus go back home if He knew this would be the reaction?
Certainly one reason was to show His disciples He was about to send out…and to show us, His disciples and messengers today, that rejection is part of the story. It happened to God Himself, and it will happen to us. Often at the hands those closest to us.
But even more important, I think, is a valuable warning that we can often think we know something or someone so well that we miss what God is saying or doing. We miss or dismiss how God is anointing someone – maybe someone very familiar to us. We miss or dismiss how God wants to speak a new truth to us – maybe about a topic very familiar to us. God continues to work through His people, and He continues to carry out His plans. When we think we have it all figured out, we miss the best parts; we miss the beautiful.
God, let me never feel so familiar with You and Your Word that I think I know it all. Let my familiarity never breed contempt, indifference, or offense. Instead, let my familiarity become a craving for even more revelation and understanding. I want to know You – all of You. I want to see new things You are eager to reveal to me. Let me never tire of learning about You and never lose the wonder of who You are.
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