The old saying goes that an “expert” is somebody who comes from at least 50 miles away and carries a briefcase.
It appears that Jesus was a victim of this way of thinking. After he had traveled a bit and wowed the crowds with his teaching and his healings, he came back to his hometown, to Nazareth – a dusty little village with little to commend it. As was common for a Jewish teacher – or rabbi – Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach on the Sabbath day. He was, to put it delicately, not well received. His old neighbors couldn’t fathom that he was a great man of God.
Or maybe they did see it, but didn’t want to accept it. After all, they seem to acknowledge that Jesus did great deeds of power. They realized that he taught with unusual wisdom. But he was just Mary and Joseph’s son! They knew his brothers and sisters – all ordinary folks, putting on no airs.They didn’t like their small world-view turned upside down by Jesus. Who did he think he was, anyway?
Oh my goodness, we are all so much like those Nazarene neighbors of Jesus. However good or bad our lives may be, we have a certain comfort – a familiarity – with things as they are. As they say,“Better the devil you know.” We are very resistant to new voices, strange ideas, questions about the way we do things. We are especially resistant when that voice is somebody near us, someone we know well. We already have a set opinion of the people around us, so they’d better not upset the applecart of our preconceptions.
Where in your life is somebody crying in the wilderness, and you don’t want to hear it? Who might have a word for you from God, but is so familiar to you that you can’t imagine such a thing? What would it take to open your ears to hear God say a new thing, call you in a new direction, question your assumed path? JBM