Jesus Rejected by Those of His Hometown
Translated by Allan Liang
Mark 6:1-6 The apostle John said thus concerning Jesus: “10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11). This clearly pointed out the blindness of mankind to grace and the extent of their arrogant and foolish nature. Today the passage we read of, Mark 6:1-6, records the first instance of Jesus facing opposition from the common folk. What appears perplexing is that those opposing Jesus are none other than the people of his hometown, Nazareth. Perhaps you may instinctively ask: “is it because Jesus’ ministry had only just begun, and out of sheer ignorance, the people of Nazareth simply misunderstood Jesus and what he was doing?”. Not so. Jesus did not begin his ministry in his hometown Nazareth, but rather began in the city of Capernaum of Galilee (Mark 1:21). From there, he went from place to place preaching the word, healing sicknesses and casting out demons. Luke mentioned that prior to Jesus’ return to his hometown, “news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.” (Luke 4:14-15) According to our common understanding, Jesus, whose name had spread across all the land, taking his disciples with him and returning to his hometown, must have been greeted in an exceedingly grand fashion. We must know that the place Nazareth does not appear even once in the old testament, and even the neighboring people of Galilee looked down on the people of Nazareth. (John 1:46). Finally, there came one from Galilee, his name being Jesus, who had obtained some level of recognition, could the people not receive him with much joy and excitement? However, what happened was quite contrary to all that. What happened? Let us look at the text together. Indeed, the people initially received Jesus as he came to them. The people of his hometown received the preachings of Jesus with the same sense of amazement exhibited by those from other places,“because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” (Mark 1:22). But the following reaction was different. Instead of praising, they spoke among themselves, “Where did this man get the ability to do these things? … is this not the carpenter? Is this not the brother of James, Joses, Simon, Judas, the sons of Mary?” They thought that they had more knowledge about Jesus than those from other places, that is, knowledge concerning Jesus himself, yet that became the stone over which they stumbled. There is a certain saying, “a man having returned from a three day journey is no longer the same”, Jesus in returning to his hometown, taking with him the fame of performing miracles, and the ability to speak with authority, possessed enough to challenge the previous understandings of these people towards him. At the very least, even if their understanding did not change, they ought to have dealt with Jesus reasonably, given their relationship as people of the same town. However, we shall soon see that the matters were quite different. This was a matter of jealousy and a host of other sins. They clearly felt that Jesus’ teaching possessed a power that greatly exceeded the scribes from the rabbinic schools, and ought to have seen the source of such distinction, resulting in greater respect and submission. However, according to their knowledge which was indeed accurate, Jesus grew up under their sight and did not attend a day of school. Who they saw was a carpenter, the eldest son of their neighbor Mary. With what authority then, was he able to instruct and rebuke them? (Luke 4:23-30) Where did Jesus receive such power and wisdom unlike that of any man? Were his words consistent with scripture? They were not concerned about such things. Dear brothers and sisters, today we have perhaps better understood the words of Jesus in saying, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”(Luke 4:24) Prophets were called by God to proclaim a message of repentance, yet those of his hometown, because of their previous knowledge, hardened their hearts to the message and would not listen. Because they thought to themselves, “Things concerning him may not be known to others, but are certainly known to us.” In those days, the Jews had such a self righteous belief in themselves. Their partial and incomplete knowledge of the scriptures became the stumbling block to their acceptance of the salvation of Jesus. We gentiles, who were once looked down upon by the Jews, have now received the mercy of God, and by faith have been declared righteous, becoming one belonging to the family of God. How amazing is this! Please meditate, reflect and pray about: Do I in many areas, resemble the people of Jesus’ hometown, and with my preconceived notions and prejudices, judge my brothers and sisters and church leaders? Has my inability to reap much from reading the Bible and listening to sermons, served as a reminder for me to ask God for a humble and accepting heart?