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Saturday, February 23, 2019

“Casting Out the Unclean Spirits”

Mark 6:1-6a

Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth.  However he is hardly welcomed.  The fact that people probably remembered him from childhood and knew his family led to their basic dismissal of him.  The parallel account in Luke 4:16-30 is even more disturbing.  Here the townspeople are ready to throw Jesus off a cliff!

We would think the citizens of Nazareth would be proud of Jesus.  They could certainly have treated him as a favorite son.  Why is their reaction so negative?

Jesus makes the comment that “Prophets are not without honor except in their hometown, and among their own kin and in their own house.”  That may well be but prophets do return to their home environment even if they do so without receiving honor.  A clear example is Moses who returns to Egypt and in fact is rejected by his own people.  Isaiah returns to Jerusalem.  Paul returns to Tarsus (Acts 9:11).

It is also important in this context to remember that Jesus’ own family initially didn’t believe in him.  In fact they tried to restrain him because people thought he was out of his mind (Mark 3:21).  So why was this?

One issue could be that the family and neighbors were so familiar with Jesus’ background that they thought they knew all about him.  His ministry however challenged that idea.  To this day this is why some people reject Jesus.  They think they know all about him when they don’t.  If he doesn’t conform to their image they dismiss him.

There is also the point that not only do they know Jesus at least superficially, but Jesus knows them.  This could be more than a little disturbing.  Jesus grew up as the ultimate perfect child.  However as such he didn’t challenge his family and his neighbors.  His teaching now is challenging.  They are not ready for it.  Their familiarity with him leads them to resent the message he presents them.  They were comfortable with a superficial knowledge of Jesus.  They are not prepared for the mature Jesus who is nothing less than the Son of God.

Merciful and gracious God keep me from thinking that I already know enough about you.  Keep challenging me.  May I see you as you truly are.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen,