Why Was Jesus Not Respected in His Home Town?

Jesus was working for God. One of many of gifts of Jesus was being a prophet. Jesus goes home to Nazareth. It always feels so good to go home. Yet, Jesus didn’t receive much honor there. The people of Nazareth, who knew him as a child and young man, didn’t have much faith.

  • Jesus did not let that stop him. Jesus did not get discouraged.
  • Jesus saw the core of the problem.
  • Jesus challenges us to not be stubborn. Stubbornness gets in the way of faith in Jesus.
  • God’s goal for us is to believe in Jesus, the Messiah.

Jesus knew what to do. Go to other places where faith and believe would be unleashed. Others would be ready for miracles and life changing transformation. The harvest is bountiful. It just may be in another field. Jesus knew not “to cast your pearls before swine”.

He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.

English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 6:1–6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Jesus returned to Nazareth where a year before He had been rejected by the people and evicted from the synagogue. It was certainly an act of grace on His part to give the people another opportunity to hear His Word, believe, and be saved; and yet their hearts were still hard. This time, they did not evict Him: they simply did not take Him seriously.

Our Master’s reputation had once again preceded Him, so He was allowed to teach in the synagogue. Keep in mind that He was ministering to people who knew Him well, because Nazareth was His “hometown.” However, these acquaintances had no spiritual feeling at all. In fact, Jesus reminded them of what He had told them at that first dramatic visit, that a prophet is without honor in his own country and among his own people.

Two things astonished these people: His mighty works and His wonderful wisdom. Jesus did not do any mighty works while He was there, so the people must have been referring to the reports they had heard about His miracles. In fact, their unbelief hindered Jesus from having a greater ministry among them.

  • What was their problem?
  • Why were they unable to trust Him and experience the wonders of His power and grace as had others?

They thought that they really knew Him. He had been their neighbor for nearly thirty years, they had seen Him at work in the carpenter’s shop, and He appeared to be just another Nazarene. He was a “commoner” and the people saw no reason to commit themselves to Him!

“Familiarity breeds contempt” is a well-known maxim that goes all the way back to Publius the Syrian, who lived in 2 B.C. Aesop wrote a fable to illustrate it. In Aesop’s fable, a fox had never seen a lion, and when he first met the king of the beasts, the fox was frightened to death. At their second meeting, the fox was not frightened quite as much; and the third time he met the lion, the fox went up and chatted with him! “And so, it is,” Aesop concluded, “that familiarity makes even the most frightening things seem quite harmless.”

The maxim, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, can you imagine a loving husband and wife thinking less of each other because they know each other so well? Or two dear friends starting to despise each other because their friendship has deepened over the years? Phillips Brooks said it best: “Familiarity breeds contempt, only with contemptible things or among contemptible people.” The contempt shown by the Nazarenes said nothing about Jesus the Messiah, but it said a great deal about them!

A carpenter was a respected artisan in that day, but nobody expected a carpenter to do miracles or teach profound truths in the synagogue.

  • Where did He get all this power and wisdom? From God or from Satan?
  • And why did His brothers and sisters not have this same power and wisdom? Even more, why did His brothers and sisters not believe in Him?
  • The people who called Him “the son of Mary” were insulting Him; because in that day you found a man by calling him the son of his father, not the son of his mother.

The people of Nazareth were “offended at Him,” which literally means “they stumbled over Him.” The Greek word gives us our English word scandalize. Kenneth Wuest wrote in his book Wuest’s Word Studies (Eerdmans), “They could not explain Him, so they rejected Him.” Jesus was certainly a “stone of stumbling” to them because of their unbelief.

Twice in the Gospel record you find Jesus marveling. As this passage reveals, He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews, and He marveled at the great faith of a Roman centurion, a Gentile. Instead of staying at Nazareth, Jesus left and made another circuit of the towns and villages in Galilee. His heart was broken as He saw the desperate plight of the people, so He decided to send out His disciples to minister with His authority and power.

M. Wilson

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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