Summary: Who do you see, a Messiah or a carpenter?
What Did You Expect?
For most of us, the most powerful negative feeling we will ever experience is the feeling of rejection. People are rejected by their parents, children, spouses, co-workers, friends, peers, and even fellow church members! In our scripture for today, Jesus visits his hometown, where he is rejected!
These six short verses tell of a homecoming, a reunion of sorts, which ends on a bad note. Jesus, a local boy, has come home. But he has come home as a prophet, not as the “carpenter” who left town. In the eyes of the town, he’s not a prophet. They’re too familiar with him, know him to well, to accept the “new” Jesus.
We must note that Jesus has come home to the church of his childhood, the place where he was nurtured, the place where he first learned the scriptures. Obviously he had learned his lessons well. But the people could not get past “little Jesus” to Jesus the teacher and prophet.
Jesus had been gone for awhile now. He had spent some time wandering with his cousin, John the Baptist. He had assembled a group of guys to assist him with his ministry. He had met people who were hurting. He had met people with bruises, tears, suffering, pains, beggars and other people that would never be welcome in church on a Sunday morning. And he ministered to them.
So his travels bring him home. And he’s prepared to minister to them, because that is what he does now. But he is snubbed.
“Wait a minute! Who does he think he is? That’s Mary’s boy. He just a carpenter!” You see an artisan, a carpenter, bricklayer, etc. was pretty low on the social scale compared to the prophet he was now calling himself. Prophets were up here and artisans were down here below peasants and just above beggars.
“And he was amazed at their unbelief.” Jesus knew who he was. Why couldn’t they see it?
This reminds me of the movie that came out many years ago called “Oh God”. John Denver was a store manager who meets God, played by George Burns. John Denver gets a letter telling him he has been called to meet with God. He thinks it just a big joke but he goes to the designated meeting place anyway.
There is just an empty room and the voice of God. He wants God to show himself. Reluctantly God appears, looking quite a bit like George Burns. God stands there as an old man with thick glasses, dressed in baggy pants, tennis shoes, a windbreaker, and a golf hat! John Denver stares, mouth open. God replies, “Well, what did you expect?”
This is what happened in our scripture for today. God, in the person of Jesus, stands before these people in Nazareth, the town where he grew up, in the church where he was taught. He had the right to say, “What did you expect?”
I can relate to this story. I spent 18 years in another church, so I guess you could say that I grew up in that church. I was taught in that church. When I became a Methodist pastor, I thought it would be great to be the pastor at that church. I realized later that would never work. Many of the people in that church had known me since I was a baby. It would never work.
Case in point. Many of you know Dean Ribordy, a farmer who lives north of here. When I was a little boy, he told me a joke. “How do you top a car? You tep on the brake, tupid.” 35 years later he always greets me, Hi Tupid. I could never be his pastor. He knew me too well. I would always be “Pastor Tupid”. It would never work.
Lee Parsons was my bus driver the first seven years I went to school. So he has known me since I was 6 years old. He told me the other day when I was visiting with Him in Celia’s hospital room that he never imagined I would grow up to be a preacher. He knew me too well. To him I would always be the little boy who sat up next to him operating the flag sign that comes out form the side of the bus when it stopped.
Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” Their hometown, their own kin, and in their own house.
We need to remember the image of Jesus that people had in their minds. He had left Nazareth alone, the carpenter, and returned with 12 guys, a prophet. Now Nazareth is a town probably not a whole lot bigger than Union Mills. Probably, like Union Mills, many of the people were related. And possibly upset because Jesus had his family when they needed him.