Summary: Could it be that we are living just like the people in Jesus day, could it be that we are so familiar with Jesus that we dismiss his authority and perpetuate the dominance of evil in our lives?
Billy lived in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. She was born in a sod shack to pioneer parents, had less than a high school education and spent her entire life in the local area, she hated to travel – yet at least twice every year, a team from Gourmet magazine and Bon Appetit magazine would arrive at her home to cook a fantastic feast with her and talk about cooking. Billy was an unbelievably phenomenal cook. Her lamb roasts: tender, succulent, delicious – oh they were good; Her soups and stews: Irresistible; Her desserts: Something to savor. She could take the most ordinary everyday item and make it extraordinary. Billy had this innate understanding of how to take simple everyday flavors and make them, pop.
I remember arriving on a pastoral visit. We sat in the living room to talk and there was this plate in front of me, piled high with chocolate chip cookies. We were chatting and at some point I took one of those cookies and…wow! This cookie was…breath taking, I was stunned. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what in the world we were even talking about. I had never tasted a chocolate chip cookie like this before, and have not since. Billy was just laughing, “I always get the same reaction with those cookies”. The cookies were the tip of the iceberg, his woman was pure genius.
What I found so curious was this: She was very well known in town; Many had tasted her fabulous food – and no one seemed to care. Why was it that experts in gourmet cooking would travel over one thousand miles just for the opportunity to cook with her, but to a neighbor down the street, she was just, Billy? Was it cluelessness, jealousy, familiarity? Maybe a little of each, but I can tell you this: No matter what any of her neighbors thought of her, Billy was by far, the best cook in town, and possibly the state.
When we look at our Scripture this morning we see that Jesus is rejected by those in his hometown. They grew up with him and as we read this passage it is obvious to us that their familiarity was a roadblock to their faith in Him; because they thought they knew all about Jesus, they had difficulty believing in Him – we’ll take a look at this, how familiarity with God can cause us unbelief - but, that is only the first level of understanding in this passage, there is something more, there is something deeper, something that stopped their faith cold, something that literally stopped the blessings of God from entering their life – and unfortunately, the thing that cursed the people in Jesus hometown, curses us as well today.
Let us look into our Scripture today and then take a serious look at our own lives – could it be that we are living just like the people in Jesus day, could it be that we are so familiar with Jesus that we dismiss his authority and perpetuate the dominance of evil in our lives? The short answer is yes, absolutely, and without a doubt, we can.
We all know the old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt”, Mark Twain had some additional insight on this, he said, “Familiarity breeds contempt; and children.”
As we look at the first part of our Scripture it is very hard for us as Americans to understand the full impact of what is being said here. Our reading in English gives the impression that the people in Jesus home town are amazed at Jesus’ words, but since he is a friend and neighbor, the guy down the street, it is hard for them to get past the fact that he was, to them, an ordinary guy. When we read this in the English text it may sound like the people of Nazareth are scratching their heads, mulling over things, not really able to put two and two together– but this is far from the case. Looking at the Greek with the Hebrew culture behind it we see something very, very different - the people of the town are out right hostel and disparaging to Jesus.
By the way, this is a good point in the sermon to have your bible open, if you don’t have it open already, so you can follow along and catch the nuances of what Mark is trying to communicate to us this morning.
So, when we look at the first part of this passage we see the contempt that the local folks have of Jesus. Right there in verse 2 we see that the people were amazed at his teaching. This in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, we read in John 7:46 that the temple guards were impressed with Jesus teaching, ‘“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared”’ and you can be sure that those guards had heard a lot of teaching, you can be sure they heard the best and brightest speakers of the day. But here the amazement spoken of is not of wonder in the sense that the guards were talking about: This is great stuff, no, it is of shocked disbelief.