Mark 6:1-6a (NIV): 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.
Jesus had traveled widely, and people from all over the country were clamoring to hear Him and to receive His healing touch. But when He went back to Nazareth, His hometown, the people there responded differently.
Some spurious gospels have been written that try to convince people that Jesus was a miracle worker, even in His childhood. But the response of the people of Nazareth to Him on this occasion prove that to be false. Their basic argument was that they had known Jesus since He was a kid. They also knew His parents, and His brother and sisters. He had never done miracles before; He was just a carpenter. He hadn’t been a great scholar with all kinds of insights into Scripture; He had always been just a normal person, as far as they could tell. But now here He was teaching in the synagogue with amazing wisdom and insight. Here He was doing the mighty miracles that they had been hearing about: healing sicknesses, casting out demons, even raising the dead!
Instead of welcoming Jesus as God’s messenger, all they could see was Jesus as they had always known Him, as he was growing up: the carpenter, the faithful son, that nice young man who really seemed to care about people. Their worldview did not allow them to embrace the concept that, while Jesus was living in their midst, He had always been the Messiah, the Son of God. He had simply been biding His time until God called Him into action and empowered Him for His mission. He had been a carpenter, and to them a carpenter He would always be. And their unwillingness to believe in the difference between the Jesus that they had known and the Jesus that was now standing before them actually prevented Jesus from doing the great miracles for them that He longed to do. He would not “perform” just to persuade them. So He healed a few people, and then moved on to the surrounding areas, where the people would be willing to receive what He had to offer.
In a very real sense, the difference that they people could see in Jesus demonstrated the “new creation” life that God brings about in each of us when we come to Him for salvation. God takes normal, everyday people, and remakes them into powerful, wise, faithful workers in His kingdom. He takes wicked and sinful people, and remakes them into godly, holy, righteous people, who will be powerful witnesses to His grace and power. But often, just like the people in Jesus’ hometown, those who knew these people before their relationship with God transformed them often have a hard time accepting them for who God has made them, instead of for who they once were. And sometimes even the people themselves find it difficult to believe what God can make of them, and so they limit God’s ability to completely transform them into the men and women of the kingdom that He wants to make of them.
Father, I know that many who knew me before I was transformed by You have a hard time believing that I really have been remade into the person that is so much better, so much more, than it ever looked like I had the potential to be. But by Your grace and power, I am what I am, and all the glory goes to You. Help me to never limit You by trusting in the view of others, or even of myself, of what I can be. Instead, Lord, keep molding and shaping me, all the way until I reflect the very image of Jesus to the world. Amen.