In most of our minds, our hometown has a very special place. It may be small or large, city or country and in any part of the world. Yet, wherever it is and whatever it is like we tend to have good memories of it and anticipate going back there, at least for visits. But we don’t always have the reception we long for when we are in our hometown.
In Mark 6:1-6 the story is recorded of Jesus going back to his hometown of Nazareth, along with his disciples. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach the people. Many of those 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?” They took offense at him. Jesus responded that “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” He couldn’t do many mighty works there and he marveled because of their unbelief.
All around this set of verses are stories of Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons from people, stilling the storm and feeding multitudes of people with a little boys sack lunch. But in his hometown, he was rejected. They were certain they knew him in ways that the rest of the world around them didn’t know him. They had known him as a boy. They had used him as a carpenter. They knew his whole family. The fact that Joseph’s name isn’t mentioned by the people, likely means that he had died by this time and Mary was left alone to bring up her large family. Jesus may well have been honored among them as a family man and as a worker who made things for the support of the family. But he was now in a role they had never imagined him doing. They could easily see him as the carpenter, but not as a rabbi who would teach them more correctly the word of God. After all, he had gone to the same synagogue as they had to study the Scriptures. How could he have learned more than they had and now think of himself as one who would teach them? How could a local boy be a miracle worker? Perhaps most puzzling to them was the reality that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah that had been promised for centuries and the people were believing that.
Notice the result of their unbelief was, they didn’t accept the teaching he gave. Matthew’s account of this same event tells of him taking the scroll of Isaiah and reading Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah who would heal the sick, raise the dead, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk and the deaf to hear and that the poor would have the gospel preached to them. He then declared to them that today this is fulfilled in your hearing. So, he made it clear to them that he was indeed the promised Messiah or Christ. They resented such a claim from a hometown boy they had known all their life.
Prejudice can run in many directions toward multiple people. We tend to think of prejudice as a racial thing in our day and it certainly is on many occasions. But prejudice isn’t limited to just that one area. It often raises its head toward women or children. It is prevalent against those who have a different political stance from us. It can be for those whose religious beliefs differ from ours. And it is there for those we are very familiar with.
Think about why Jesus would be judged so harshly and wrongly by those who had known him down through the years. They had likely played games with him and his brothers and sisters. They would have eaten with him. They may have had him working at their homes as a carpenter. They had watched his life from the beginning. I suspect that many of these same people had talked about his character as a man many times before this. But, none of that set him apart as the Messiah, the savior of the world. To imagine this hometown boy as God in the flesh just didn’t add up for them. Their doubts and contempt for Jesus would affect his actions and their whole lives. Sadly, the background they knew kept them from accepting the truth from God that could save their souls and give them eternal life with God.
How many times in our lives has the prejudice for all kinds of reasons kept us blind to the realities that God puts before us? Having an open mind to whatever God may reveal to us is wise and will bring tremendous blessings our way.