The Difficulties of Ministry At Home

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. Luke 4:23-24

It’s hard for Nazareth folk to take Jesus seriously. Can you imagine their comments that precipitated Jesus’ response to them?

  • “Can you believe what we’re hearing about Jesus? We knew him all those years and he never did one miracle in Nazareth!”
  • “We knew he was special but claiming to be God? What’s gotten into him?”
  • “I’m curious. Let’s see if Jesus will come here so we can see if what he’s doing other places is legitimate.”
  • “Quite frankly, it’s a little much to believe the stories being told. I mean, he’s just Mary’s son.”

Rodrigo Santoro plays Jesus in BEN-HUR. ©Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. CR: Philippe Antonello.

To the curiosity seekers of Nazareth, he was an anomaly to be explored. To the unbelievers of Nazareth, he was someone to watch perform in order to discredit. Were there any true seekers? Perhaps, but they were the tiny minority. Why would Jesus indulge his hometown people when they merely wanted to see what he could do?

Hometowns don’t give their prophets much credence. They will forever regard them as the children they once were; as the student they taught in school, as the playmate they engaged on the playground, as the person they once dated, and even as the teenager who once rebelled. The stereotypes are cast in stone in hometown settings and rarely are people willing to see someone new.

As one who came out of a small town of 1200 people, and as one who grew up to gain some notoriety, I can attest first hand to some of the challenges. In my youth and immaturity, I wanted nothing more than to prove myself to family and friends. I could see early on that they weren’t bent to take me seriously and that made me work all the harder. At some point, I gave up and a period of bitterness set in. If only I had reviewed and understood this passage about Jesus and his own hometown. I’d have better understood the dynamics and let it go.

How the people of Nazareth missed out! Never had any villager loved them like Jesus loved them. In his childhood and adolescence, he forgave every sharp word spoken to him. He answered every angry tone with gentleness. He was a loyal friend to the underdog. And yet love was spurned when the truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom were preached. Convulsive reactions to the conviction of sin will always trump any warmth someone might feel when in the presence of Love. Human pride runs to the core of our DNA. Oh, what we miss when we refuse to stand in the presence of Jesus and see our sin and His holiness – then His great love and mercy.

Don’t let my familiarity with You blind me. Amen

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