Devotional—Mark 6:1–6 Jesus rejected in Nazareth
After healing Jairus’s daughter, Jesus led his twelve disciples to his hometown: Nazareth. Jesus had lived and worked there for nearly thirty years. So, the man was well known in this small community.
On the Sabbath Day, Jesus was given permission or invited to teach at worship by the leader of the synagogue, a man like Jairus. Jesus’s friends and family were astounded by his knowledge and his powerful presentation. They began asking each other: “Where and how did he become so wise and powerful?”
Then they began to reason with each other: “Isn’t this Josepth’s son who is also a carpenter? And isn’t he the brother of James, Judas, and Simon and also brother to his sisters?” With that they took offense at him. This in itself is a premonition of how Jesus will be ultimately treated by his countrymen.
Jesus confronted the problem head-on. This is remarkable, and it describes his entire ministry. He taught, healed, and dealt with everyone in the open. In contrast his enemies planned their strategies in secret. They were also concerned with how the public would react to their plans.
Jesus stated a theory that was quite realistic: “Prophets seem to be respected everywhere but among the people they know best: their families, the villages they live in, etc.” Familiarity breeds suspicion and, in this case, led to Jesus being rejected. He marveled at how they would not accept him and his message.
Having grown up in the church, I have had similar problems with this Jesus of Nazareth. Having been shown pictures of the Bible at home and in Sunday School made the characters familiar. As I continued my education, the familiarity made me feel I could with impunity put Christ on the defensive. I dared question his authority, and I treated him as an equal.
I was similarly amazed with Jesus’s treatment by his family and friends when he did not defend himself. Even when I questioned his divinity, he listened, treated me with respect, and did not threaten me for being so bold.
My dialogue contained listening. His words have been created, so I was inspired to learn more about him in the context of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament. These words both comforted me with new knowledge. But I was also disturbed by some of the things that were said.
The point is: along with my questions and Jesus’s acceptance was a growing knowledge of both Christ and the world, including myself. What bothers me are people who are sure they know all of the answers and refuse to continue listening to God by reading his Word. So often it seems the agnostics and atheists know the Bible better than the rest of us Christians. They are serious about issues of faith, and read the Scriptures. Often the motivation is to put God to the test as much as possible. When they make a decision or realize that no decision can be made, they have at least attempted to understand.
The key to listening is to develop curiosity. What is important here is to get some help from the professional clergy as to where to look. The problem is that many of the pastors do not know the entire Bible well enough to help us in our search. Many of us are Biblical illiterates.
Jesus was initially rejected by his family, the Nazarenes, the Galileans, and ultimately the entirety of Judaism. Yet Jesus was victorious. Of course, there are many who do not believe Jesus to be God, but the battle for our lives was fought and won on the cross.
Prayer: Lord, we are grateful you do not reject us when we openly reject you. May we learn to listen to you by reading your Word. Amen.