Summary: When Jesus went home to Nazareth, he took his disciples with him. Why? What did they learn from the trip? What message does it offer for us?
"IT CAN BE HARD WHEN
EVERYBODY KNOWS YOU"
There is an unwritten "rule" that exists in ministry. It’s a "rule" most ministers recognize. The rule: "Never return as pastor to your childhood church." So often going back home just won’t work, because folk in your childhood church often know you too well to ever accept you as their pastor.
In the 17th century, a writer, Matthew Henry, commented: "...ministers are seldom so acceptable and successful in their own country as among strangers; familiarity in the younger years breeds a contempt, and the advancement of one felt an inferior begets envy."
My return to my childhood church was greeted by many ministry friends with skepticism and doubt. I must confess I had some concern myself. It had been a number of years since I left home for college, but that thought was in me, "will be I accepted, or will I be that little Haun kid who ran around in the sanctuary and generally caused a bunch of trouble?" I know that sometimes it doesn’t work, but in my experience it did, and we spent 18 wonderful years as pastor of my boyhood church.
In the scripture this morning, however, Jesus seems to have had a different experience. Let’s share together from the 6th chapter of the Gospel of Mark
1 Soon afterwards he left that section of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he went to the synagogue to teach, and the people were astonished at his wisdom and his miracles because he was just a local man like themselves.
3 "He’s no better than we are," they said. "He’s just a carpenter, Mary’s boy, and a brother of James and Joseph, Judas and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us." And they were offended!
4 Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown and among his relatives and by his own family." 5 And because of their unbelief he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he could hardly accept the fact that they wouldn’t believe in him.
Mark 6:1-6 (TLB)
THERE ARE ISSUES WE’D DO WELL TO CONSIDER
FROM THAT SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF JESUS’ RETURN TO NAZARETH.
A. Why go back home?
It had been about a year since he left. Some months earlier, before his reputation spread, his home town acquaintances tried to explain away his claim of being God and to protect the reputation of his family and the community by saying "He is beside himself." Not too long before, Jesus had stirred up such controversy that his friends and family came to take him home because they feared he was out of his mind Mark 3:21 (TLB)
Can you picture it. Jesus went home last year, and his neighbors and friends decided he was crazy. "Maybe now," he might of thought, "time has passed. "Things have happened. Maybe now they will believe." So he went home again. He went back because he wouldn’t give up on the people he loved. Jesus never gave up. Even hanging on a cross, he wouldn’t say "no."
B. Why take his disciples with him?
Jesus didn’t need the disciples to go with him. That was his home town. He could go there alone. Why take the disciples?
He took the disciples for the sake of the disciples. They needed to see how Jesus acted in times of denial. They had been part of his successes. They had witnessed miracles at wedding feasts, seen a bleeding woman healed, and the miracle of a dead daughter given life. Now the disciples needed to witness how Jesus reacted to rejection, so they would know how to react when they faced rejection.
On the Sabbath, Jesus preached in the synagogue, and the Scripture says the people were amazed. They "knew" Jesus. They knew his background and his family. They knew that his claims for himself couldn’t be true. It’s been said that an expert is anyone who has come from out of town. There’s truth in that. People so often hard a hard time looking beyond what they "know" from the past to see the truth of the present.
An article in US News and World Report on August 1991 tells of an experience with Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas. When Thomas was judge of the Appeals Court in Washington, he drove his car one morning from the courthouse parking lot. Waiting for an opening in the traffic, Judge Thomas was shocked to have a man open the back door of the car and climb in. He gave the judge an address and asked him to hurry.
Seeing a black driver in a luxury automobile, the stranger assumed the car to be a limousine available for hire. The man "knew" what the driver and the car was, but he was wrong. The people in Nazareth "knew" Jesus. They knew him as a school boy. They knew him as a teen age neighbor. And even the people who knew him turned their back.