St. John the Evangelist, Smiths Falls, Rev. Brian A. Burrows.
Text: Mark 6:4,"Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin and in their own house." NRSV.
Jesus had the knack of pin pointing the truth about people, not only in his own village, but in our world as well. On the surface the text appears to say that prophets are not respected in their own community. Yet there is more to it than that. Human beings have a problem with whom they know and whom they don't know! This verse should remind us that despite our human failings there is a divine power to help us overcome our prejudices.
1. Not from here!
When my son went to a new community, he was met with this remark, "You are not from here!" There are lots of things in our lives which prompt this statement. It could be one's accent, the colour of one's skin, the lack of or the excess of education and so on.
Local people are wary of anything different. I suppose it is very basic, rather like the herd instinct in animals. People are challenged by anyone different. Yet common sense tells us that there are bound to be differences in people. People need to see that there are different ways of doing things, for example. In one sense 'being not from here' can be an advantage. In the church, for instance, it has been the custom not to send clergy to their home parish, because as the old saying goes,"familiarity breeds contempt."
People are comfortable with people they know and have been brought up with. However, as we read about the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth, we can see the down side of being 'from here'. When Jesus came to teach in the Synagogue on the Sabbath, he met opposition. They said in verse 3,"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon and are not his sisters with us?" They knew Jesus's family and his background. Instead of being comfortable ,knowing his background ,the congregation was offended. Was it jealousy, envy or as we might suggest, a lack of faith. They could not believe that a local man from their village could do such incredible things.
There is a lesson here for many of us who lay great store in being contented with the familiar. We can indeed check people out, learn their family history and so on, but in matters of faith, something else must be taken into account.
3. From God!
The good folk of Nazareth couldn't help but be impressed by Jesus' teaching,"Where did this man get all this?" They realized that Jesus had wisdom and the power to heal, but where did all this come from? As believers, you and I know that Jesus' wisdom and power to heal came from God. Indeed, as we read about Jesus in the Gospels we come to the conclusion that it is truly a matter of faith. We believe in Jesus. We believe that he is the Son of God, the Son of man, the Saviour of the world. His mighty deeds of healing and the force of his parables show us clearly the God who sent him.
If we have the faith, which Jesus said some of the people of Nazareth did not have, then God's great mercy and forgiveness can be experienced in our world too.. Think hard about this when you value 'being from here yet question those who are not from here'. Jesus said in John 10:38b,"...and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."