Tuesday in the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6

And His Own Knew Him Not

We come now to a sad event.  Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth once more; we do not read that he ever went there again after this.  You will remember that he returned there just after he began his ministry, preached the good news, and was almost killed for it (Luke 4:16-30).  Perhaps Jesus wanted to give his old friends, acquaintances, and even relatives another chance to receive him.  At any rate, the coming of Jesus to any town or any one is always an act of grace and mercy that should never be rebuffed – for eternal reasons.

We only know that Jesus taught in the synagogue.  The people were amazed by him.  Why?  All the wisdom he possessed!  And the mighty works he performed!  One might think that they would have immediately embraced him, especially considering how awful they treated him the first time he visited.  One might even have expected that they would celebrate their hometown boy turned prophet of God.  But none of that.  It seems to be human nature that familiarity breeds contempt.  Instead they say, in effect, “Who does he think he is, coming in here and talking this way to us?  Why I remember when he was just a boy, knee-high to a grasshopper!”  In Mark’s gospel, they say something that might well have been a finger in the eye: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?”  A man was usually considered the son of his father; to say “son of Mary” might have been a reference to his miraculous birth, which they assumed to be illegitimate.  Thus, instead of embracing the Messiah, they took offense at him.

And what was the sad result of this hardheartedness, this skepticism, this unbelief: “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”  The Holy Spirit does not force himself on those who reject Jesus, and God does not drag people kicking and screaming into heaven.  Apparently, the people of Nazareth were so blind that they could not see a difference in him when he was growing up amongst them.  Granted, his divinity was cloaked in humanity, and Jesus himself had to grow and mature as all children do (Luke 2:52); but he would have been a sinless two year-old, a sinless ten year-old, a sinless….  If their hearts were so hard and cold to perceive the Son of God growing up amongst them before, why should they perceive anything different later?

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11 KJV).  May we never be so cold and blind to the Lord’s work in and around us.

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