Mark 6:1-5, Matthew 13:54-58 and Luke 4:14-37 – all tell about Jesus returning to his hometown, Nazareth, in the early days of his public ministry.
Just a Carpenter
He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He stole the show, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”
But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.
Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. Mark 6:1-5 MSG
Jesus Revisits Nazareth
When Jesus had finished these parables, He left there. And after coming to [Nazareth] His hometown, He began teaching them in their synagogue, and they were astonished, and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers [what is the source of His authority]?
Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not [living here] among us? Where then did this Man get all this [wisdom and power]?”
And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58
Matthew 2 and Luke 2 have most of what we know about the early years of Jesus in Nazareth, but the people who lived there would have been involved with his life for all of his years growing up from childhood to manhood. Even though rumors of what he was doing possibly preceded his visit to his hometown community, it must have been hard to perceive him as other than what he seemed to be was during all those years.
If I’m honest and I didn’t have the whole Bible in a variety of versions and a great many fine teachers and study materials, I might have responded like the people in Nazareth did. I can read more about Jesus, who he is, what he did, how he treated men, women, and children. They only had the Law, the Prophets and what they had experienced of him for 30 years.
Both the Mark and Matthew accounts mention that he did some healing miracles, so there were some unnamed people who trusted him, but the majority did not. I wonder what those people did after they received healing from Jesus. Perhaps the experience and transformation of a few, planted seeds of change in the community over time.
This week read and meditate on the scriptures mentioned in each of the devotionals.
Also read Luke 4:14-37 for an additional description of Jesus’ return to Nazareth.
And join in on Friday’s podcast with Alex and Aaron.
I’ll be praying for you this week.