Lord, keep my relationship with You ever fresh and vibrant.
Read MATTHEW 13:53–58
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Only begotten Son and Word of God, who, being immortal, deigned for our salvation to become incarnate; you were crucified, O Christ our God, and by death have trampled death” (John Chrysostom, c. 344–407).
The quiet work of the kingdom of heaven exposes us to rejection. Some dictators and their acolytes so dominate their subjects that no one can demur: criticism is stifled, all opposition crushed. The kingdom of heaven, however, which will ultimately exercise judgment over everyone, is a kingdom of gentleness—and this opens it to potential vulnerability. The seed grows but is choked, the weeds grow among the wheat, and the net contains all kinds of fish. Opposition is normal, even for our King himself. His people may take offense at him, treating him as nothing to get excited about, as they do in this passage. He opens himself to that very thing by being with people as he returns to Nazareth (54), where he was brought up. It is the challenge of our Lord’s incarnation which constantly poses the question about whom we spend time with and whom we avoid. Would we ever be accused of spending too much time with outcasts and skeptics (Matt. 9:11)?
Books have been written to demonstrate the historical impact of faith and Christian values on society (e.g., Nick Spencer, The Evolution of the West: How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values). Western civilization benefits hugely from the influences of Christianity, but it can very easily be taken for granted or even forgotten. It can become like the children who demand a pet, then fail to clean its cage or take it for a walk—the exciting deteriorates into the ordinary. Nazareth’s view of Jesus is essentially: “We know him, he’s nothing special.” The danger for us is to allow our familiarity to breed a complacent lack of faith or expectation. Jesus’ ministry gets curtailed in Nazareth (58). Hard hearts impede ministry. It is profoundly unsettling to see Jesus restricted like this.
Could any of this happen to us? Do we know Jesus so well that this limits what he can do for and with us? Are there any surprises left?
Lord, prevent familiarity from turning into contempt in my life where spiritual matters are concerned.