And they were offended by Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.”
Have you heard the phrase, "Familiarity breeds contempt"?
One possible understanding of that is in the context of a boss and a worker. It’s possible for the worker to become so jovial, friendly, and personal with the boss that he or she may begin to think they should be on the same level as the boss—in terms of understanding, power, and authority.
When the boss needs to correct that worker or explain how to do something differently, that overly familiar worker might grumble and say, "Who is he to correct me?” or “I know all about you. You can't tell me what to do!” Their familiarity with the one in authority might make them feel above the law.
In our reading today, we have the people of Nazareth, Jesus' hometown, grumbling at His wisdom and mighty works in their community. They couldn’t fault Jesus because He knew no sin nor practiced it, but they did know Him from being raised in their town. He grew up among them.
Let's put our verses in context. In the previous chapter in Matthew, Jesus did many miracles and taught in the surrounding area. Then His mother and brothers came to him, interrupting His teaching and ministry so they could speak with Him.
Based on Jesus' response, their reason for wanting to speak with Him may have been due to their discomfort with what He was saying. Jesus responded harshly: “‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother’” (Mark 12:48-49).
What did He say to His listeners that was so radical? What was He doing to make even His earthly family uneasy?
In that same chapter, just before His family wished to speak with Him, Jesus declared with authority that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” This was in response to the Pharisees' objection to the disciples' plucking grain to eat on the Sabbath.
As well, he declared directly to the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, "Or haven’t you read in the Law that on Sabbath days the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here” (Mark 12:5-6).
Wow! He went on to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath in defiance of stiff, Pharisaical law and tradition. It was the kind of law that left men without help and healing on the Sabbath but allowed the rescue of a sheep caught in a pit. After all, a sheep was a good source of income.
Right before the end of chapter 12, Jesus declared to the Pharisees and scribes that they were "an evil and adulterous generation" for asking to see a sign from Him. They were looking for a magic trick, entertainment with no purpose other than to see it.
He declared that men from pagan Ninevah in Jonah's time would’ve risen up and condemned these present religious leaders on the day of judgment. Because those pagans responded to the word of God and repented. These religious leaders neither heard nor repented.
That's when His mother and brothers asked someone to bring Jesus back into the house so they could speak with Him or hear Him. It was as though they wanted Jesus to run this by them first to make sure it was alright before He went gallivanting around saying these things.
The teaching of Jesus was uncomfortable and got right down to the heart of the matter.
In our verses for today, Jesus returned home to Nazareth from teaching in the surrounding area.
Out in the countryside, He told the now famous parables of the sower, the mustard seed, and the pearl of great value. “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked those who heard Him. Scripture records they say, “Yes.”
Jesus then taught in the synagogue in Nazareth. It most likely the same synagogue mentioned in Luke where He declared at the beginning of His ministry on earth that the Word of God spoken through Isaiah some 700 years before had been fulfilled in their hearing. They didn't respond well to that either.
Mark records that Jesus "marveled because of their unbelief" in our companion passage. Why did they resist Him and His teaching?
One summer, right out of college, I worked in a Wal-Mart garden center. There was a couple in their mid-60s who came up to me fresh from doing yard work together.
The man had a Weed-Eater in his hand and asked me what it could do. I mentioned a few things, including edging the sidewalk.
The man said, "Go on. Show my wife.”
She jumped in and said, “I know it can edge. I edge with it all the time.”
I showed her how the head could swivel so that is was just as easy to use as an edger as it was a trimmer. The man clapped me on the shoulder and said to me, “I've been trying to show her that for years and she won't listen to me. She just keeps complaining all the time about how hard it is to use.”
In sort of the same way, Jesus' mother and brothers, as well as the men of Nazareth, wouldn't accept or were uncomfortable with Jesus' teaching because it came from Him. They put themselves on par with Him, feeling capable of correcting His teaching or rejecting the hard teachings because surely He wouldn't say those things to them!
It depended from where or from whom the Word of God came if they were going to accept it. And Jesus was too familiar.
Do we do that? If the pastor delivers a message that pokes at our comfort zones, do we turn up our noses at what God might be saying to us? If you have children, would you listen to them if they had an observation about you that might be something you need to hear? What about your spouse? An old friend?
Most importantly, what if Jesus speaks into your life about a possible inconsistency in your spiritual talk from your spiritual walk? What if He showed you a better way to live? Would you listen? Or is Jesus too familiar?
- Do you read the Bible and pray to God expecting to hear from Him or waiting for Him to guide and possibly correct your life?
- Do you have a know-it-all attitude when it comes to yourself and your spiritual walk?
- Would it make a difference if Jesus were not only your Savior and Redeemer but also your Lord? If you took His teaching in Scripture and the movement of the Sprit in your life more seriously, would it be uncomfortable at times? Would you listen and respond if it were?