Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
Parallel Texts: Matthew 13:54-58; Luke 4:16-31
A number of years ago, a family member asked me about a news story that came out of Washington. It dealt with a particular matter of which I was the project manager, and in this instance, the family member had read a news articles in the Times that cited an unnamed source who ‘explained’ the rationale of the decision involved. The family member asked me what they had been thinking when they decided the matter, and I told them. Nobody in the room believed me, after all the Times said… It makes perfect sense, why would you believe the project manager who was there when the Times, that wasn’t there had a source without a name… who wasn’t there either, that said something else? My family is convinced that either I’m never serious, or that I’m just nuts; they never believed anything I told them, not even when they asked me if the West Wing looked like the TV show, and I told them that it is nothing like the TV show… how would I know what my workplace looked like?
Do you really think they work in dark offices that are illuminated by back-lit statues? No, it’s nothing like that!
But then how would “little brother” know anything?
In this text, Jesus runs into this phenomenon in Nazareth. He speaks in the synagogue, the people are amazed just like the people have been all over the rest of Galilee, and then they remember who He is… the carpenter’s kid. How can the carpenter’s kid announce the Kingdom? No, that’s nuts… it can’t be! Remember the time he and those other boys…?
Verse 3 is controversial in some circles, naming Jesus’ four brothers and mentioning that He also had sisters. It seems pretty clear to me, even though some see it differently; another example of the role played by presuppositions, because if your presupposition was that Mary and Joseph had no other children, then you will find a way to change the meaning of the words to maintain your presupposition.
It is often difficult to reach our own families and close friends for Christ because the relationship is too close. Yes, this can be an advantage, but just as often it’s a disadvantage, and this is troubling for many, even heartbreaking. Yet we can still maintain influence, even though someone else may bring in the harvest. This frequently is maintained simply by our quiet example of faith, rather than our clever words. We don’t have great detail on this, but we do know that Jesus’ family, or at least many of them, came to faith later in the gospel story, and that should give us hope for our own family members who may be less than responsive to our pleas.